Many criteria go into a successful breeding program and while nutrition is a very important component it is often overlooked.
A well planned feeding program will serve to maximize conception rates and litter sizes, and to support healthy deliveries increasing the survivability of the newborns. Poor reproductive nutrition will not only minimize these criteria but can have a negative effect on the health of the female.
When you take into account the entire spectrum of the female reproductive cycle nutrition plays a critical role in her requirements. Starting at the beginning of her heat cycle on through the process of lactation, there are demands on her body that necessitate proper feeding strategies. Through the estrus cycle, pregnancy and lactation she has changing nutrient requirements that breeders are responsible for addressing. And don’t forget, the male requires appropriate nutrition to capitalize on his performance as well.
Only those females that have a proper body condition score should be used for breeding. Females outside the proper body condition score range, whether malnourished or obese, are associated with lower ovulation rates. Other common problems seen are smaller litter sizes and insufficient milk production. Silent heats, prolonged interestrous periods and anestrus are also associated with body condition scores outside the desired range. A thorough physical exam by your veterinarian before breeding will serve to identify and or correct challenges that may compromise successful breeding.
Another often overlooked but critical component and nutrient is the availability of fresh water. During lactation the demand for water is substantial. Not only does fresh water provide for the production of milk but it also aids in thermoregulation. Feeding a highly digestible diet during each stage of reproduction makes it easier to meet her changing demands. A proper balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat as well as the correct levels of vitamins and minerals is needed to maximize successful breeding’s.
Another angle of an effective nutritional program is the storage and hygiene of the food itself. The distribution of high-quality pet food in appropriate quantities plays a key role in preserving health; provided that the food is stored in proper conditions. It is imperative to keep the kibble in its original packaging for protection. Once opened the original bag should be placed in plastic containers and tightly sealed to ensure protection from moisture, oxidation, contamination and pests. Store the food container off the floor and keep it protected from high humidity. It is also a best practice to keep the original packaging to ensure traceability in the event you would run into a problem. Any leftover food should be removed daily and always used by the best buy date on the bag.