Feeding the Broodmare in Pregnancy and Lactation

Taking care of your mares’ nutrition in pregnancy and lactation will ensure that you maximize the return on your investment, will ensure better welfare for the mare and developing foal and will hasten your return to the breeding shed.  Foetal development in the mare is not linear, the majority of growth taking place in the last trimester of pregnancy.  Nutrition of the mare throughout her pregnancy is critical to ensure optimal skeletal development of the foal and quality colostrum production.   Although the foetus only gains about 35% of its foaling weight in the first 7 months of pregnancy, a well balanced diet will provide nutrients that can improve the health of the foal and ensure normal development.  Early pregnancy will often coincide with the availability of energy rich grass; excessive weight gain in early gestation is undesirable therefore, control grazing where necessary.  Close attention to stocking rates, strip grazing, mixed grazing or using a grazing muzzle are all ways to control access to pasture.

 

Another result of the ‘artificial’ breeding season is that thoroughbred mares are often heavily pregnant in winter, foaling when pasture quality is poor and temperatures are low. At the same time, broodmares are getting heavier as they approach foaling and they may become more sedentary. Brood mares in pregnancy have specific nutritional requirements that must be met. In late pregnancy (the last 3 months of gestation) the foetus begins to develop rapidly. Digestible energy requirements increase only by about 15% at this time, however, protein and mineral requirements increase to a greater extent since the foetal tissue being synthesized is quite high in protein, calcium and phosphorus.  Trace mineral supplementation is also very important during this period because the foetus stores iron, zinc, copper and manganese in its liver for use during the first few months after it is born.  Feeds that contain Bioplex® or protected trace minerals will deliver these nutrients more effectively versus those containing only inorganic minerals.  GAIN Stud Cubes and GAIN Stud Mix contain a comprehensive specification of all the nutrients required during late pregnancy with a particular focus on the quality of the vitamin and mineral content.

 

Mares in late pregnancy are often overfed in an attempt to supply adequate protein and minerals to the developing foal.  If the pregnant mare becomes fat during late pregnancy (later foaling mares are most susceptible particularly in areas where grass has become plentiful in spring months), she should be switched to a feed that is more concentrated in protein and minerals e.g. GAIN StudCare 32 Balancer. This will restrict her energy intake while ensuring that she receives adequate quantities of other key nutrients.

 

Barren mares in particular will benefit from being fed prior to conception and then through pregnancy on GAIN Stud Cubes, GAIN Stud Mix or GAIN StudCare 32 Balancer, all of which provide essential micronutrients and quality amino acids during the early and later developmental stages of pregnancy.

 

Vitamin E is also vital for broodmares during pregnancy.  Broodmares that have little access to green grass or good quality hay/haylage are at risk of a reduced vitamin E intake. GAIN Stud products contain high levels of vitamin E and Proviox® a natural plant antioxidant.  This should result in desirable blood levels of vitamin E which have been shown to have improved immune responses to vaccination and increased immunoglobulin IgG in the milk.

 

After foaling, the mare’s milk is the main source of nutrients for the growing foal and her nutrient requirements increase significantly during lactation.  It is essential that new born foals receive adequate quantity and quality of colostrum in the first 24 hours of life to provide them with immunity from microbial challenges in their environment.   During the first three months of lactation mares produce milk at a rate equal to about 3% of their body weight per day.  This milk is rich in energy, protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins. If she does not receive adequate nutrition during this period she may dip into her own body reserves and lose condition.  Rebreeding may then be problematic.  Therefore, the mare should be fed appropriate concentrate such as GAIN Stud Cubes or GAIN Stud Mix in conjunction with good quality forage to meet these increased requirements.  Later foaling mares or those foaling at a time of peak grass growth may be fed a high specification; low calorie feed balancer such as GAIN StudCare 32 Balancer.  Keeping regular checks on your mares’ body condition score throughout her breeding and lactating cycle will help you to manage your feeding programme, if at any stage you are concerned it is best to contact a feed specialist or nutritionist.

 

Joanne Hurley is a nutrition specialist with GAIN Equine Nutrition. She holds a Masters in Animal Nutrition and Production from UCD. She is based at Glanbia Agribusiness Head Office in Kilkenny and can be contacted on 087-7958573 or by email at jhurley@glanbia.ie

Winter Feeding Horses At Grass

Grass remains a major component of the diet of most horses and ponies in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Pastures vary in their composition from season to season and also from region to region.  Certain geographical areas may have pastures which are deficient in certain trace elements particularly copper, zinc, manganese and/or selenium.  Hence it is important to know if the pasture you graze is deficient in any trace elements especially if the pasture is the main source of nutrients. This is especially important to bear in mind during the wintertime.

The nutritional quality of forage in pasture varies tremendously throughout the year – from very good (or too good) in spring /summer to poor in winter. As the cold winter nights draw in and the temperature falls, pasture stops growing and eventually (if cold enough) becomes dormant. This pasture may look green and plentiful but actually contains indigestible woody fibre and fewer vitamins with a much-reduced feed value. This also means that the horses’ energy intake from pasture falls and they can consequently lose weight quickly, as more dietary energy is needed just to maintain body temperature.

It is a good idea to plan ahead and begin offering smaller quantities of hard feed and conserved forage, such as hay or haylage, in late autumn. This way the digestive system adapts minimizing the risk of digestive upsets. Concentrate supplementation is generally required during the winter months in order to meet the nutrient requirements of horses/ponies fed on forage-based diets. Feeding concentrates will also provide much needed amino acids, minerals and particularly vitamins that may be lacking in winter pasture and hay/haylage. The choice of concentrates will depend upon the factors such as:

-Condition of the horse/pony
-Workload
-Age

As the nutrient requirements increase the level/type of supplementation must change accordingly.  A good quality forage (grass/hay/haylage) supplemented with a ‘balancer feed’ such as GAIN Opti-Care cubes (containing all the essential trace mineral and vitamins) would be suited to ponies in light work and easy keepers over the winter period.  In contrast horses in harder work will have an increased energy requirement. GAIN Easy Go cubes would be ideal for such individuals as it is a balanced feed, free from oats, low in starch and contains a comprehensive specification of trace minerals, vitamins and antioxidants tailored for the competitive animal. It is essential to monitor the health and condition of all horses and ponies over the winter months and adapt your feeding programme accordingly.

It is important to remember that hay, haylage and concentrates etc., all contain less water than fresh grass and so horses in the cold winter months will need to drink more. This is important if impaction colic is to be avoided. As water temperature falls horses drink less and so if possible, hot water should be added to take the chill off drinking water. A salt block is important as forage can be low in salt and this should be made freely available if more salt is required.

Grassland management can have a major influence on the quality of grass available to your horses and ponies during the winter. Good management practices include:

pasture rotation, mixed grazing; stocking rates can vary depending on level of supplementation of the diet.  The general rule of thumb for stocking rates is 2 acres for the first horse and 1 acre for each subsequent animal.  It is important to rest some pasture during the winter months in order to ensure optimal grass growth in early spring.  Overstocking of paddocks, particularly on wetter land can lead to poaching and hence reduced growth in the growing season.

Adhering as best as possible to the above advice will help your horse maintain condition and health over the winter months.

Christmas opening hours and delivery cut off for bulk feed and online orders

To ensure timely deliveries and to avoid disappointment over the holiday period, please ensure orders are made in accordance with the below recommendations.

Online Delivery Times:

Order Type Pre Christmas Delivery Cut Off 
Standard orders Thursday Dec 17th  (Noon)
Non Standard (Hazchem, bulky items & pallet deliveries) Thursday Dec 17th (Noon)

Normal delivery service resumes after the 4th of January 2021.

 

Bulk Feed Delivery Cut Off:

Monday the 21st of December is the last day to order feed if you wish to receive it before Christmas.

Delivery Date Order Cut Off
Fri 18th Dec Wed 16th Dec
Mon 21st Dec Thurs 17th Dec
Tue 22nd Dec Fri 18th Dec
Wed 23rd Dec Mon 21st Dec
Tue 29th Dec Tue 22nd Dec
Wed 30th Dec Wed 23rd Dec
Thurs 31st Dec / Mon 4th Jan Tue 29th Dec

 

Branch Opening and Closing Times:

Date Time
Christmas Eve Half Day
Christmas Day Closed
Saturday 26th Stephens Day Closed
Sunday 27th Closed
Monday 28th Closed
Tuesday 29th Open
Wednesday 30th Open
Thursday 31st Open
Friday Jan 1st New Year’s Day Closed
Saturday Jan 2nd Open

Normal trading hours resume on Monday the 4th of January 2021.

 

Please check with your local branch as some times may vary depending on branch location.

Customer Service Centre Lo-call 1890 321 321

Christmas Eve Closed
Christmas Day Closed
Saturday 26th Stephens Day Closed
Sunday 27th Closed
Monday 28th Closed
Tuesday 29th 8.30am – 6pm
Wednesday 30th 8.30am – 6pm
Thursday 31st 8.30am – 6pm
Friday Jan 1st New Year’s Day Closed
Saturday Jan 2nd 9am – 1pm

GAIN OPEN THE NEW YEAR AT CORK RACECOURSE

GAIN Equine Nutrition are delighted to announce our new title sponsorship of the first meeting at Cork Racecourse, Mallow for the 2021 season.

The partnership will see the GAIN Equine Nutrition race day take place on 2 January with a card of seven races, which includes the Handicap Hurdle, Handicap Chase and Novice Chases throughout the day.

‘Morosini’ was the victor in the feature race of the meeting in 2020 winning the Handicap Hurdle for jockey Mark Walsh and trainer Mrs. Jessica Harrington. This year, the GAIN Equine Nutrition Handicap Hurdle will hold a purse of €25,000 and will attract some top national hunt horses to the meeting.

Andrew Hogan, General Manager Cork Racecourse Mallow said: “In these challenging times we are thrilled to welcome GAIN as sponsors of the inaugural GAIN Equine Nutrition Race day in January 2021. GAIN have been long time major sponsors of the racing sector and we are very excited to collaborate with them for the opening fixture of the year.”

Joanne Hurley, Irish Country Manager, GAIN Equine Nutrition, commented; “We are delighted to partner with Cork Racecourse for the opening meeting of the New Year.

National hunt breeding and racing is so important to rural Ireland and we are thrilled to be able to support our trainers and bloodstock customers within this sector of the industry. We wish all connections the very best of luck”

Building Condition Without Fizz

There are a great number of horse owners who find it difficult to maintain condition of their horses and ponies particularly when they are working and during winter months where pasture is scarce. Horses such as these will mostly need higher calorie feeds which will not make them fizzy. Pregnant and lactating mares may lose condition and need to be built up before the next breeding season.

There are many reasons why some horses lose weight and it is important to check with the vet that there are no underlying health problems, such as poor appetite from ill health, worms, poor dentition and/old age, liver/kidney disease or intestinal malabsorption. These conditions require specific veterinary attention. Wormer resistance on a stud for example may lead to permanent damage, malabsorption of nutrients and general unthriftiness.

More commonly, otherwise healthy horses are often underweight because they are simply not meeting their energy needs due to one or more of the following reasons;

-Inappropriate choice of feed

-Forage is of poor nutritional quality

-Quantity of feed is not enough for the workload/breeding status

-Quantity of feed is not enough for their size

-Excitable or fizzy temperament

For example, horses in hard work need 100% more energy or calories than comparable horses at rest.

It is important to keep an eye on condition especially when horses are outdoors 24/7 and rugged up. Monitor bodyweight with a portable weighbridge or a weigh tape. When too few calories are supplied horses will take the extra calories they need from their fat stores first and they will lose condition sometimes quite rapidly. When fat stores are depleted energy will then be drawn from muscle tissue. This process is known as catabolism.

Forage first

Ideally forage should be really good nutritional quality and if possible, it should be fed ad lib. This means good levels of digestible fibre and very low levels of indigestible fibre which sits in the horses’ hind gut and reduces the natural appetite. Good quality forage is a natural feed providing fibre that is broken down to volatile fatty acids (VFA’s) by hind-gut microbes in the gut. Many of these VFA’s are converted to energy sources in the body i.e. fibre is a vital source of calories for horses.

Hay has a higher dry matter (less moisture) than haylage, so if feeding haylage a greater quantity should be fed than if feeding hay to achieve the same dry matter intake. If possible, the forage should have been tested by the seller before purchase, so the better forage can be chosen.

Feeding poor nutritional quality forage (e.g. late cut hay) which contains higher levels of indigestible fibre results in characteristic “hay bellies”. This makes horses appear fat when actually the top line shows horses are underweight. Feeding poor quality forage also reduces voluntary intake of feed.

The bigger the horse the more feed is required, some owners call their bigger horses “summer horses” as they do well in the summer on good grazing. Once the summer grass has gone they tend to drop off condition very quickly. These horses need significantly more calories to replace those missing from good pasture.

 

Feeding

Horses in poor condition will need more calories from hard feed, choosing a nutritionally balanced conditioning compound feed to provide the additional calories required. Often increased amounts of low energy feeds such as cool mix/cubes are fed but conditioning feeds are a far better choice, supplying more appropriate calorie levels, vitamins, minerals and quality amino acids to help build lost muscle and general condition. Ideally feed a concentrate feed with a Digestible Energy (D.E.) of 12MJ/kg or more but don’t feed more than 2.5kg of concentrate feed in any one feed.

Some horses waste energy through over excitable or “hot” behaviour and are less able to maintain weight. This can be natural i.e. a genetic tendency or highly-strung types or it may be the environment including feed.

Excitable horses should be turned out as much as possible and fed a high calorie but low starch, high fibre/oil concentrate feed such as GAIN Freedom Cubes or mix containing 12.5MJ/kg to help maintain a calm temperament.  Some conditioning feeds are high in starch (as much as 26%) and this can make horses overly temperamental without owners realising it so choose a high calorie feed containing a maximum of 10-15% starch.

Stabilised rice bran such as GAIN Infinity contains 19MJ/Kg of Digestible Energy and supplies only 8% starch, and this may be fed additionally to the diet to supply extra calories to help build condition without fizz.

Other high calorie fat sources, such as linseed or soya oil can be fed to increase the energy density of the diet, but extra vitamin E may be required if not feeding a nutritionally balanced formulated feed. Vegetable oils contain three times the energy of oats; one cup of oil has the same number of calories as around 0.7 kg of oats. Unmolassed beet pulp provides readily digestible fibre, soothing pectins and mucilages contributing to the energy supply and is an excellent mixing feed if extra supplements are being fed.

Feeding a yeast and/or prebiotic supplement will help ensure optimal fibre digestion in the hindgut, thereby increasing VFA’s for energy and helping to nutritionally stabilise the hindgut. The feed ranges from Gain contain added yeast to support digestive function.

If horses are poor feeders and in bad condition, feeding a B-complex vitamin supplement may help horses with reduced appetites. B vitamins are essential for efficient energy metabolism and are often low following illness, stress, injury and antibiotic treatment.

Zoe Davies MSc.Eq.S.,R.Nutr.

Donate a Christmas dinner to horses in need this Christmas

GAIN Equine Nutrition will launch our ‘#DonateAChristmasDinner’ campaign across our social media channels. From Monday the 30th of November, we want you to upload a picture of your horse tacked up for the festive season ahead onto our Facebook or Instagram  pages and tag ‘GAIN Equine Nutrition’ in your post. For every entry we receive, we will donate a Christmas Dinner to the Irish Horse Welfare Trust (IHWT). The campaign will run until 16th December so there is plenty of time to get into the festive spirit. This is a very worthy campaign to help horses and ponies in need this Christmas and every entry counts!

Established in 1999, the Irish Horse Welfare Trust (IHWT) set out to help the plight of horses in Ireland and has grown over the past twenty years to care for on average 65 horses and ponies.

Located in Woodenbridge, Co Wicklow, the IHWT are dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of abused and neglected horses and ponies.

The work of the IHWT also includes promoting ex-racehorses for equestrianism; as well as promoting equine welfare awareness and running educational programmes.

Sharon Power, Co- Founder of the IHWT said, “We’ve had a very busy year here at the IHWT with an unprecedented number of cruelty cases coming in last spring and through the summer. We are really grateful to GAIN for their ongoing support for all these years in helping us to rehabilitate and give these horses and ponies a new life.”

Joanne Hurley, Irish Country Manager at GAIN Equine Nutrition mentioned, “GAIN have a long standing relationship with the IHWT and we are delighted to continue our support towards such a worthwhile charity. The IHWT do fantastic work in the rehabilitation and rehoming of both horses and ponies and we are very happy that we can offer them nutritional support to help them enrich the lives of these horses and ponies.”

GAIN Equine Nutrition is the official feed partner to the IHWT and is committed to supporting the charity in their fantastic efforts to rescue and rehabilitate neglected horses and ponies.

GAIN Mares Series 2020/2021

GAIN Equine Nutrition are delighted to continue their sponsorship of the ‘GAIN Mares Series’ for the 2020/2021 point-to-point season. For over forty years, GAIN Equine Nutrition has supported the grassroots of the National Hunt sector through this partnership.

The opening race of the series will take place at the Kilkenny point-to-point on November 1st at Damma House and conclude in the spring with the much-coveted final taking place in Ballynoe, Co. Cork.

GAIN Equine Nutrition, along with the Ballynoe Point-to-Point committee will provide a €3,000 bonus for the winner of the final, as well as a half-tonne of feed for both second and third place in the race.

Unfortunately, we did not get to crown a 2019/2020 winner due to restrictions in place last March, however, the team at GAIN Equine Nutrition are looking forward to following this seasons fixtures and presenting a winner of the series next spring.

Ballynoe Point-to-point committee member, John Mangan remarked, “We are very much looking forward to hosting the GAIN Mares Series final at Ballynoe Point –to- Point in 2021. Over the years, we have seen some great winners of the series, the most recent being ‘Dime-A-Dozen’ who won in 2019 and went on to win two more bonus races for mares under rules. It is great to have the incentive to keep mares in racing and we are looking forward to the final.”

Joanne Hurley, Irish Country Manager, GAIN Equine Nutrition, commented; “We are delighted to continue our support of the GAIN Mares Series for the 2020/2021 point to point season.  This partnership reinforces our commitment to our point-to-point and national hunt trainers and breeders at grass roots level who have shown us such strong support over the years.

We are proud to be associated with such an important part of the industry. We wish all connections the very best of luck.”

IMAGE: Dime A Dozen on her way to winning the 2018/2019 GAIN Mares Series at Ballynoe Point To Point. Trained by John ‘Shark’ Hanlon and ridden by Tom Hamilton. Photo credit: Healy Racing

GAIN EQUINE NUTRITION UPDATE – 14th OCTOBER

14 October 2020:

In line with our commitment to keep our customers fully informed, GAIN Equine Nutrition can confirm that the following equine feed batch numbers may be impacted by the presence of an unapproved feed supplement.

  • Cubes (2029 – 2040)          Muesli (2028 – 2040)

The above batches were manufactured using a consignment of molasses supplied by ED & F Mann, who stated in their recall notice issued on 10 October:

“ED&F Man Liquid Products Ireland Ltd is informing you that products listed below are suspected of containing minute traces of the substance zilpaterol. Although the initial levels detected are extremely low, the substance in question is banned in the European Union.”

Zilpaterol is a prohibited substance under the rules of sales and competition in the European Union.

Fresh product

GAIN sourced and verified alternative molasses supplies on Monday 5th October and resumed the production of equine feed following consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), who are the regulatory body responsible for the feed sector in Ireland.

Deliveries to customers and retail outlets recommenced on Wednesday 7 October and the team are working to replenish stocks as quickly as possible across all markets.

For details on returns and replacement products, please contact your GAIN Equine Nutrition Business Manager or your local GAIN stockist.

We again apologise sincerely to our valued customers for any inconvenience caused. The entire GAIN team would also like to thank customers and the equine community for the support shown to them in recent days.

If you have any queries, please contact us:

Ireland 1890 321 321; International +353 56 883 6600

info@gainequinenutrition.com

www.gainequinenutrition.com

GAIN Equine Nutrition Update – 11th October

October 11th

In line with our commitment to keep our customers informed, GAIN can confirm that at 9pm last night (Saturday 10 October), ED & F Man, an international supplier of the feed ingredient molasses, issued an “urgent action & recall notice” which stated:

“ED&F Man Liquid Products Ireland Ltd is informing you that products listed below are suspected of containing minute traces of the substance zilpaterol. Although the initial levels detected are extremely low, the substance in question is banned in the European Union.”

Following the confirmation of an equine feed issue on Friday 2 October, GAIN undertook a forensic investigation which swiftly and accurately pinpointed the source.

GAIN switched molasses supplier on Monday 5 October and resumed the production of equine feed following consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), who are the regulatory body responsible for the feed sector in Ireland.

Deliveries to customers and retail outlets recommenced on Wednesday 7 October and the team are working to replenish stocks as quickly as possible across all markets.

We again apologise sincerely to our valued customers for any inconvenience caused. The entire GAIN team would also like to thank customers and the equine community for the support shown to them in recent days.

GAIN Equine Nutrition Update – 9th October

GAIN Equine Nutrition wishes to confirm that equine feed production resumed on Monday, October 5th after a temporary pause over last weekend.

Deliveries to customers and retail sales outlets recommenced on Wednesday and the team are working to replenish stocks as quickly as possible across all markets.

The swift return to full production was made in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), the regulatory body for feed production.

On Friday, October 2, we advised our customers to refrain from feeding their existing stock of GAIN equine products to their animals. We believe that this is the appropriate advice and it remains in place pending further discussion with DAFM.

GAIN has made significant progress in the investigation into the source of the issue and is working closely with DAFM on this matter.

Martin Ryan, Head of GAIN Equine Nutrition,

“We apologise sincerely to our valued customers for any inconvenience caused. The entire GAIN team would also like to thank customers and the equine community for the support shown to them in recent days.’’

Zilpaterol is approved for use as a feed supplement to enhance performance in some beef production systems outside the EU. It is important to highlight that this substance is not approved for usage within the EU and has never formed part of any formulation in any GAIN animal nutrition ranges.