Feeding for Breeding and Horses at Rest

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Here we take a look at feeding for breeding, including broodmares and stallions, and horses at rest…


The nutrient requirements for feeding broodmares or stallions are not significantly different from general maintenance.

For the breeding stallion there is approximately a 5% rise in nutritional requirement, whilst for the broodmare it is initially equivalent to maintenance. After five months the requirements rise proportionately so that, by peak lactation the mare needs x2-3 maintenance levels.

To achieve a realistic feeding program, especially in the mare where increasing needs are countered by decreasing appetite due to a growing foetus, two approaches can be taken.

Firstly, one can increase the nutrient density of the diet and secondly, improve the efficiency of digestion.

For the stallion the marginal increase in nutrient need can be achieved by either path, whilst the broodmare may need both tacks.

Improved Efficiency

Speedi-Beet: Technical, in vitro, work has shown that the process of micronisation increases the rate of fermentation of beet pulp and so Speedi-Beet releases more slow-release energy. Data also shows that the fibre profile of beet has a prebiotic effect, which is enhanced by the physical disruption of fibre by the micronisation process. It has been shown that digestive improvements from using Speedi-Beet is enhanced when fed alongside forage.

Improved Efficiency/Nutrient Density

Fibre-Beet: The constituents of Fibre-Beet include Speedi-Beet, alfalfa and oat fibre. Independent data shows that beet’s prebiotic effect increases the effective degradability of alfalfa by up to 25%, whilst the presence of oat surfactants and emulsifiers can also aid and improve digestive processes.

Fibre-Beet has a higher specification than Speedi-Beet, regarded as being more of a conditioning feed, and so can provide a higher plane of nutrition, ideal for the increasing nutrient requirements of the breeding mare. Simply by increasing its proportion in the diet, a large phase of pregnancy can be catered for.

Nutrient Density

Cooked Linseed: It has a high protein, high oil – and therefore high energy – specification. As these requirements increase, mainly during the third trimester and lactation, an increase in the amount of linseed may be needed, potentially offsetting Fibre-Beet levels.

In addition, there are specific benefits from these and other products that are suited to the breeding phase. These include:

Pectins: Pectin’s – a form of soluble fibre in high levels in beet – can stimulate the production of mucosal secretions along the length of the gut. This supports the gut barrier function and microbiome, which is the base line for the ensuing health of the horse. Being in peak health is very beneficial to breeding.

Omega fatty acids: Omega-3, -6 and -9 all help in the support of fertility, from maintaining a healthy vascular system to providing a natural source of antioxidant components that interact with the inflammation systems, to sperm viability – all provided by linseed oil.

Bioactives: The process of both pregnancy and sperm production/virility are complex and involve many anabolic and catabolic processes. In many cases this can give rise to biochemical inefficiencies that release oxidative processes that give rise to oxidative stress and inflammatory cues. Provision of products that can help mitigate oxidative stress. These include those found in linseed, but also the range of Golden Paste Products. As a general wellbeing product, TurmerAid is probably best suited to the health and status of breeding horses.


The individual requirements for those horses in rest/recovery may vary depending on the nature of their “rest”.  A horse could be on box rest following injury or during a period of rehabilitation or could be enjoying an out of season break from competing and training.

The British Horse Feed products are versatile to provide a range of solutions, whilst maintaining fibre intake as with breeding animals, the oxidative/health status is particularly important, and behavioural/environmental stress may have impact on internal systems resulting in inflammatory processes. Again, the supply of bioactives can help optimise wellbeing and mitigate oxidative stress.

Therefore, the British Horse Feeds and Golden Paste Company range of products have particular relevance to Breeding Yards and owners with horses on rest.

By Dr Tom Shurlock, consultant nutritionist.