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Effects of Maternal Nutrition Manipulation on Mares and Their Foals
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Previous research documented the fetus is sensitive to nutrition of the dam, but this has not been thoroughly investigated in horses. Objectives of the current studies were to determine effect of manipulation of maternal nutrition during the last third of pregnancy on mare performance, intake, hormones, foaling parameters, colostrum, and foal passive transfer of immunity and growth, and effects of supplemental arginine. Plane of nutrition influenced mare performance, and DMI was influenced by time with the first trial finding all mares consumed less in the 10th month of pregnancy compared to the 11th month, and the second trial finding all mares consumed less during the 11th month. Additionally, the second study determined arginine supplementation has no detrimental effects on DMI. Both studies indicated the dual marker system was sufficient at estimating DMI. Neither trial found an influence of treatment on foaling parameters or physical measurements obtained following parturition, and the second study determined arginine supplementation also did not affect foaling or measurements. The first study determined maternal nutrition did not affect foal growth or ADG. When colostrum quality was evaluated, the first study determined mares consuming only hay had increased specific gravity and Brix% indicating higher quality. This was confirmed by IgG analysis finding a tendency for increased IgG concentration. However, colostrum volume was not affected by nutrition, nor was total g IgG. The second study found contrasting results with greater specific gravity in mares on a high plane of nutrition, and a tendency for moderate plane of nutrition mares to have greater volume. Additionally, the second study determined that arginine supplementation does not influence colostrum volume or quality (measured by specific gravity or Brix %). In the first trial, maternal diets affected glucose and insulin AUC in mares, which altered insulin dynamics in the resulting foals. Foal insulin AUC and peak insulin concentration were greater in foals from mares supplemented with concentrate compared to foals from mares fed hay alone. These studies have provided a wealth of information to help elucidate the impact of maternal nutrition in late gestation on mares and their foals.
Winsco, Kelly N (2013). Effects of Maternal Nutrition Manipulation on Mares and Their Foals. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from