Good Nutrition in Broodmares Supports Healthy Foals

When a mare passes antibodies (immunoglobulins) on to her foal, it is known as passive transfer. These antibodies help to protect the foal from diseases until its own immune system gets up and running. Failure of passive transfer results in foals with weak immune systems that are at risk for serious health problems.

Research has shown that pregnant mares supplemented daily with 2,500 IU of water-soluble, natural vitamin E (Elevate W.S.) from the last month of pregnancy into the first few days of lactation had higher levels of vitamin E and the antibodies IgG and IgM in their colostrums and milk. Subsequently, higher blood levels of IgM and vitamin E were reported in the foals of the supplemented mares (Bondo and Jensen 2010).

IgG, also known as “Immunoglobulin G,” is one of five main classes of antibodies and is considered the most versatile immunoglobulin because it can perform all the functions of antibodies. IgM, aka “Immunoglobulin M,” is the first immunoglobulin produced by fetuses.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that supports a strong immune response and reduces oxidative stress.  High levels of the IgG, IgM and vitamin E in the mare’s blood and colostrums tend to predict successful passive transfer. High levels in blood samples from foals indicate that passive transfer has occurred.


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