Nutrition has an impact on horse health throughout the life cycle of the horse. During the horse’s growing years it is critical to provide adequate and balanced nutrition. During pregnancy, the mare is working to lay down the foundation for bone, muscle, joints and more. There are several key requirements for the mare during pregnancy and lactation that are important to pay attention to when developing a horse’s feeding program. Calcium and phosphorous are two well-known and important nutrients, but there are other, not so familiar, minerals that are also essential for health and growth including Cu, Co, Mn and Zn.

Diet, including a pregnant mare’s diet, plays an essential role to ensure steady energy and nutrients are provided without causing huge peaks and lows.  It’s important to avoid changing the diet too often and make sure to adjust feed quantities according to growth phase.  Good feeding regimes around weaning are also important to avoid growth slumps.

The difference is in the little things, the smallest but most critical ingredients: vitamins and minerals. Good nutrition is a long-term investment in your horse’s health. Cavalor has always recommended feeding all nutrients, in balance, without too much excess as this will ensure your horse stays healthy long term, from the unborn foal through his or her senior years.

Key micronutrients

With minerals it is not only important to have them in adequate amounts, but more so it is important to have the right ratios present in the diet. Minerals are highly interactive with each other and one mineral can increase or decrease the availability of another. See the chart to the right to see how different minerals interact.

Reference “Complementary & Alternative Veterinary Medicine Principles & Practice” Alan Schoen & Susan Wynne

During late gestation and especially lactation the Calcium requirements of the mare increase dramatically to support foal growth and milk production. To meet these requirements, some Calcium is released from the mare’s skeleton, which is typically replenished after lactation ends. To protect the mare’s skeletal integrity, it is therefore essential that the diet of the broodmare contains enough Calcium during pregnancy and in particular during lactation and the post-weaning period.

DID YOU KNOW: The energy requirements of broodmares are typically much higher than horses competing at the top of their sports?

So, aside from Ca levels, an adequate Ca:P ratio is important to ensure proper metabolism of these minerals and maintain a strong bone structure.  Ca and P are major bone mineral components and it is well-known that deficiency of these elements can compromise normal skeletal development.

Adequate dietary supply of Ca and P in the right ratio is essential to produce foals with strong and healthy bones and joints.

The most important and well-known ratio is that for Calcium and Phosphorus, which should be min 1.5-2(Ca):1(P).  If the ratio is inverted (i.e. more P than Ca) this leads to decreased absorption of Calcium and consequently to Ca deficiency which can cause serious health issues.

Ca plays an essential role not only in bone metabolism but also in most cellular functions (e.g. Ca influx in cells for example leads to secretion of hormones and muscle contractions) therefore Ca levels in the blood are super tightly regulated.  When Ca becomes deficient (not enough from diet or inverted Ca:P ratio) the body will start extracting Ca from bones immediately to bring up Ca blood levels. Long term, this will lead to decreased skeletal integrity (bone degradation, deformities) and in the case of young growing horses, this will inhibit proper bone/joint development and increased the risk for deformed legs, joints and therefore also OCD.

Excessive Ca intake on the other hand seems to cause less issues, and as far as science has shown, horses can tolerate up to a Ca:P ratio of 6:1.

There is also some research suggesting that excessive Ca can cause ulcers and also affect bone development, therefore sticking to the optimal ratio is recommended.

Quality over quantity

Poor quality vitamins and minerals are not very useful to the horse as they are poorly absorbed or can even be toxic if they build up in the body when not metabolized. Sometimes “cheap” minerals are contaminated with other (sometimes bad) compounds, again compromising the health of the animals.

Cavalor’s ingredients are reliably high quality because of strict European regulations. These factors can make feed more expensive, but owners can be sure that their horses are actually absorbing the ingredients instead of pooping/peeing them out. They will not harm them but only contribute to optimal health.

DID YOU KNOW? Feed additives including vitamins and minerals undergo a much more extensive inspection process in Europe as the animal could end up in human food chain. Cavalor utilizes these premium quality additives in each of the feeds, including Cavalor Probreed and Cavalor Juniorix.

Steady growth curve

With growing horses, it is essential that their growth curve is steady, meaning not too fast, and not too slow. This is to help avoid negatively affecting bone/cartilage development. During growth, bone and cartilage are vulnerable as they are in process of making new tissue (weaker) and remodeling (e.g. growth plates closing). Both too much and too little of these nutrients can impact proper development.

If owners try to push growing horses to get bigger and taller more rapidly by feeding lots of energy and nutrients, the bone/cartilage growth will be stressed. In particular, if the body weight of the foal is too heavy relative to the stage of bone/joint development. Because young joints and bones are still subject to remodeling, any improper management can cause deformities and disorders such as OCD (osteochondritis dissecans).

Evidence and research indicate that a steady growth is essential to avoid developmental orthopedic diseases.

Cavalor Probreed

Cavalor Probreed is a feed developed specifically for mares in foal and foals through one year. It is rich in essential amino acids which are necessary for the growth and development of unborn foals in utero and during their first year. Probreed contains the highest quality vitamins, minerals and trace elements in their most bio-available forms.

Choose Probreed for broodmares year-round, or at least during the last three months of gestation, for lactating mares and young foals (up to 12 months). Both broodmares and growing foals have an increased need for the top-quality and highly digestible nutrients provided. It contains an ideal and highly absorbable mineral formula, that will support skeletal health of both the broodmare and her growing foal.

Cavalor Probreed is an ideal feed for growing horses because of the highly digestible organic minerals, particularly copper, manganese and zinc. These minerals are absolutely essential for proper musculoskeletal development of the growing horse.

Cavalor Juniorix

Cavalor Juniorix is specially formulated for young horses from about 1-3 years old. During the time when the young horse fully develops, playful yearlings need specific growth-supporting nutritional elements. Those nutrients guarantee the progressive growth of bones, joints and organs. It is formulated to support steady and healthy growth which is crucial to the development of strong and healthy horses. This feed is designed to ensure proper bone, tendon and joint development by supplying the perfect calcium to phosphorus ratio and optimal availability of copper, zinc and manganese.

Juniorix contains that optimal balance of nutrients needed to support steady growth of the growing horse (e.g. protein, energy and especially its minerals). The Ca:P ratio is optimal to support steady growth of bones/joints and avoid excess or deficiency of both minerals. The proper mineral balance will ensure optimal bone/joint development thereby reducing the risk for OCD.That makes Juniorix an excellent growing horse feed, Cavalor pays attention to all minerals and all are provided in optimal quantity, quality and ratio.

The difference is in the little things, the smallest but most critical ingredients. In the end it’s not the quantity of feed but the quality and the extensive selection process that Cavalor ingredients go through, from grains to minerals and herbs. This is what makes the difference between a good feed and a premium feed.