From the moment when the mare accepts service to the time when she foals, her food should be ample without being excessive, and carefully apportioned to her work. Good feeding is indispensable to the due nourishment and growth of the foetus, while feeding in excess of what is required to meet the demand of parent and offspring may jeopardize the health or even the life of both. In addition to good corn and hay, the pregnant mare should be liberally supplied with pulped roots, or, failing them, a daily small ration of bran or linseed, or both.
It should not be overlooked that roots when frosted or decomposed are a standing menace to gestation and a fruitful cause of abortion.
Some mares when pregnant develop a morbid appetite, which prompts them to eat many hurtful things in dangerous quantities. One will take every opportunity of devouring earth, another will consume its own excrement, and others lose no opportunity of ingesting large quantities of litter, both clean and dirty, or drinking filthy water to which they may have access. Where this unnatural desire exists, measures should be adopted to prevent its being indulged.
Many mares are allowed to remain idle during the whole breeding-season, and although it is not a commendable practice it is one which cannot always be avoided. In such circumstances many run out in the open pasture during the whole year, and if they are allowed ample range, an open shed, and plenty of good food, it is much to be preferred to cooping them up in stables or confining them together in the narrow limits of a yard.
Besides affording them an opportunity for exercise, an outdoor life fits them and their produce for an early return to pasture after foaling, -without incurring the risks incidental to pampering in confinement.