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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • foal;
  • nutrition;
  • growth;
  • developmental orthopaedic disease;
  • fetal programming

Summary

The nutrition and nutritional status of the mare, as well as foal's nutrient intake from colostrum, milk and creep feed, are critical factors that are known to influence the growth period of the foal. Long-term effects of mare and foal nutrition are not well recognised or understood in the horse but may have the greatest impact on the animal's health and use when mature. Both under- and overfeeding can negatively influence important characteristics such as bone development and neurological function. The risk of developing debilitating diseases such as metabolic syndrome may also be increased by mare, fetal and early foal feeding, supporting the importance of providing a balanced diet to mare and foal throughout gestation and beyond.