December 20, 2012
Tips to ensure horse health during cold weather.
Keeping mares healthy throughout pregnancy is important for the delivery of healthy, happy foals. For owners of American Quarter Horse mares waiting for the spring foaling season, it’s crucial to remember to take extra care of these mares during the cold winter months.
Winter care for pregnant mares should focus on maintaining healthy nutrients in their diets and ensuring that mares are maintaining their current body condition. They will no longer have the nutrients in lush grass to supplement their diets, so ensuring that they have adequate, good-quality hay can help them maintain optimum body condition. You might need to adjust the amount of grain they are given if they are not able to maintain an adequate body condition on a hay-only diet. Also, make sure they have enough clean water. Horses will consume more water if it is kept around 45 degrees F. If this is not feasible in your barn, make sure that any ice is removed at least twice daily. Your veterinarian can help determine what body condition your mare is in. Keep in mind that pregnant mares will need extra feed during the last trimester.1
Additionally, be sure to follow recommended vaccination schedules. The American Association of Equine Practitioners recommends that core and risk-based vaccines be given to breeding mares at four to six weeks prior to foaling.2 All broodmares should be vaccinated against tetanus, eastern and western equine encephalomyelitis (EEE and WEE), West Nile and rabies.
Get more tips for taking care of your broodmares in AQHA’s FREE Mare Care: Breeding Tips report. Download your copy today!
Most pregnant mares are also vaccinated against equine influenza and equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1). In the fifth, seventh and ninth months of gestation — generally fall and winter, depending on when you’ve bred — mares need a rhinopneumonitis (EHV-1) vaccine, as the disease can cause pregnant mares to abort. PNEUMABORT-K® +1b, an equine rhinopneumonitis vaccine, can be given to help prevent abortions. Other vaccinations may include strangles, rotavirus and Potomac horse fever. Your veterinarian also can advise you on which vaccinations are likely to be beneficial in your situation and when they are best administered.
Finally, it is essential for good health to keep your mares comfortable and their body temperatures regulated during the winter. If your horses have been body clipped or exposed to freezing rain, sleet or snow, consider putting dry blankets on them to help them stay dry and warm.
The winter months also can be a good time to prepare the foaling stall. Make certain there aren’t any sharp objects or hazards that could cause harm to the new foal and its mother. Also, inventory first aid supplies to use with foaling.
Overall, as long as pregnant mares are getting enough to eat, receive proper nutrition, are vaccinated against diseases and are kept warm, they can generally fare well during the winter months. Using a routine schedule makes it easier to maintain each mare throughout the year, so be sure to work with your veterinarian to create a year-round wellness program that incorporates parasite control, vaccinations, routine veterinary care, dental exams, nutritional guidance and barn hygiene. This will help keep your broodmares in peak condition, no matter the weather.
Want more tips on keeping your broodmares happy and healthy? Download AQHA’s FREE Mare Care: Breeding Tips report and start getting more tips!
For more information on PNEUMABORT-K® +1b, contact your Pfizer Animal Health representative, call 855-4AH-PFIZER (855-424-7349) or visit www.pfizerah.com/pneumabort_k_1b.
1 Cleary Lake Veterinary Hospital. Preparing your broodmares for the winter. 2012. Available at: http://www.clearylakevets.com/preparing-your-broodmares-for-winter. Accessed September 26, 2012.
2 AAEP Guidelines for the Vaccination of Horses. 2012. Available at: http://www.aaep.org/vaccination_guidelines.htm. Accessed September 26, 2012.
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