Feeding Stallions In Breeding Season

horse2According to Dr. Lon Lewis, author of Feeding and Care of the Horse, a well-managed breeding farm should attain or exceed a foaling rate of 70 to 80% of mares bred or on pasture with a stallion. However, in the United States, only 55 to 60% of mare bred annually produce live foals. There are many factors that can affect breeding performance of horses, but the primary issue should be the feeding program.

In many situation, the stallion is the star of the breeding farm. Mare owners spend thousands of dollars on breeding fees, veterinary care, and possibly on artificial insemination shipments. The stallion is then expected to be in excellent physical condition, able to perform when a mare arrives for breeding or when semen is artificially collected. Nutrition is certainly a key factor in maintaining the stallion in top health before, during and after the breeding season.

For optimal performance, stallions should be maintained in a moderate body condition score of 5-6. Stallions require additional energy during breeding season since they are working harder. A thin stallion may not have the energy store to make it through the season without compromising performance. On the other hand, obese stallions may have increased risk of laminitis, arthritis, or even causing a heart attack. There have also been reports of obese stallions exhibiting lowered libido.

Since a stallion works during breeding season, he should be fed similar to a performance horse. A stallion with a heavy breeding schedule may require 25% or more calories during the breeding season than the non-breeding season. The increased energy needed for the act of breeding is small, but the increased physical activity associated with breeding such as nervousness and pacing may increase the stallion’s energy needs up to 1/3 above the energy required by a horse at maintenance. Protein, vitamin and mineral requirements may also increase during the breeding season, but the increased needs are usually met when the diet is adjusted to meet the increased energy requirements. Some breeders feed Vitamin C and E supplements to enhance the stallion’s reproductive performance, but research has shown that even large doses of these vitamins are not beneficial for this purpose. Purina Strategy Professional Formula GX Horse Feed or Omolene #200 Horse Feed, fed a recommended with good quality hay, would meet the stallion’s nutrient requirements without additional nutritional supplements.

Source: Dr. Katie Young, Consulting Equine Nutritionist, Purina Mills

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