Infectious diseases can cause abortion so it is critical to have vaccinations kept up to date. Consult your vet for advice on your vaccination schedule.
Vaccination against influenza and tetanus is essential, while the mare should be vaccinated for equine virus abortion (Herpes virus I & IV) at five, seven and nine months of pregnancy.
Equine herpes virus can cause respiratory disease, severe loss of form, abortion and paralysis. It can remain dormant and be reactivated by stress factors such as transport, competition or breaking.
Routine foot trimming should be kept up to date and your mare should be seen by a farrier every six to eight weeks. Mares with broken or cracked feet, long toes, flat soles and weak heels can become lame.
According to Teagasc, most mares can be kept without shoes but those with bad feet may require shoes in front. Hind shoes should not be put on to prevent injury to other broodmares or foals.
The mare's feet should be picked out regularly, which will allow you to assess her foot condition and also prevents stone bruises. The mare should be able to support the added weight of pregnancy without undue pain or distress.
An annual dental check should be scheduled to allow the dentist to correct any problems. Teeth problems mean that the mare cannot make the most of her diet, which is essential when she is carrying a foal.
Stressful dental procedures should not be carried out in late pregnancy.
During winter, breeders must ensure that broodmares receive adequate food, which is usually based on a good quality pasture or forage, and often supplemented with a concentrate feed.
For the last three or four months of pregnancy, the mare should be on a rising plane of nutrition to allow her to cope with the increased demands from her unborn foal. However, the mare should not be allowed to become overweight or obese as this causes complications at foaling.
According to the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, if the broodmare can maintain a moderate to slightly fleshy body condition on forage alone there is no need to feed her grain.
However, adequate mineral and vitamin intakes are imperative during gestation in order to maximise opportunities for sound, healthy foals.
If mares are receiving less than 2.5-3kg of a typical commercially prepared grain mix, then supplemental minerals and vitamins will need to be provided. Due to the fact that mares are usually in a critical period of gestation when pastures transit between seasons, it is beneficial to know how pasture nutrient content changes from month to month, especially in relation to calcium and phosphorus.
Excessive calcium intakes should be avoided during gestation, as they are associated with increased incidence of contracted tendons and toe-in conformation.
Excessive phosphorus intakes need to be avoided even if the calcium and phosphorus ratio is adequate, since they have been associated with increased orthopaedic disorders.
The use of organic trace minerals in the mare's feed during gestation has been proven to increase mineral stores in newborn foals and increases immunity.
Breeders should use the mare's body condition as a guide to how she is faring and adjust the ration accordingly.