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  1. #1
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    Dec. 9, 2002
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    Default At what age do you wean your foals?

    I'm just curious: around what age most of you wean your foals? Also, does anyone give gastroguard or do any preventative measures to lessen the effects of the stress on their systems?



  2. #2
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    Aug. 26, 2003
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    The good 'ole State of denial
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    For me it depends on the size of the foal and how much they are dragging their mom down. My '05 Irish colt lost his dam and was sadly weaned early at 3 months but the plan had been 4 months because of his size and dragging her down. Our Febr foal of this year will be weaned at 4 months because she is HUGE and her and dam are already mentally weaned. Ideally if the foal was smaller and they are still bonded I'd like to wait until 6 months or so.

    I would like to tack on to your question ... how do folks prevent mastitis? What is your protocol to help the mare dry up with out dropping even more weight? I've never had to deal with that part of weaning before.



  3. #3
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    Six months is the youngest. Foals and mares are so much more prepared to let go then. Nursing less and feeling more confident. Mother nature is already taking charge, and the mare gets the message across at that point (usually). We used to wean at five months, but after really thinking about it, what's the rush? Depending on the individual (s) we have given something to ease the separation.
    Last edited by VirginiaBred; Apr. 14, 2008 at 10:35 AM.
    Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse



  4. #4
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    Dec. 31, 2005
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    I wean between 4 and 7 months, when all these factors are in place

    1. foal has been eating well for at least 2 months. eager for grain, munches hay.
    2. foal is independant, plays with other foals, is vigorous and thriving.
    3. foal is easy to lead and handle.
    4. no weather extremes (ie never in August, in my part of the country-- too hot) Realistically, this means I usually wean in late September or October. I don't rush it, my mares hold their weight almost TOO well, so it's not a problem.
    5. I'll be home for at least a week to monitor things
    6. availability of a foaling buddy.

    A week or so before weaning, I reduce the alfalfa to two flakes per day, and I cut the grain ration. Ideally, the foals have a creep feed area, but if not, I still cut the rations.

    Then, the way I wean, is with 3 stalls or pens, in a row. The two babies go in the middle one, the moms on either side. They can see, sniff noses, hear. They simply eat seperately. Once they are seperate, the mares get grass hay, very light grain, and just one flake of alfalfa per day (enough to keep system moving and avoid them being sure they don't think they are starving). After a day or two like that--when they are "settled" I take one or both mares away. If they are going to have a babysitter (old mare? old gelding?) I bring that one over to an adjacent stall. I like to have an adult horse next door, even if that won't be their buddy.

    Usually this is a low stress weaning. My babies usually GAIN weight when they are weaned, and have not been stressed. Sometimes they cry a little when the mares are first removed, but they have each other, and I spend time with them.

    As for the mares, I give them all the grass hay they want, and they are out where they can graze--but once they are no longer nursing, I cut grain quite a bit-- to a maintenance ration. (I use ration balancer, so this means 2# per day of ration balancer and 2# per day oat mix-- a total of 4# per day). They live outside, and move around-- which helps them dry up. I check the bag, and feel for heat. Usually they are pretty good after a week.



  5. #5
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    Jan. 13, 2003
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    We don't wean before abou 6 months unless the mare is being pulled down alot. Studies have shown the longer the foals are nursing the less chance of ulcers. We also feel the mare's milk is the most balanced diet for them. If the colts are going to be cut - we now do it when they are on the mare - which helps them deal with that stress.
    Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Inc.
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  6. #6
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    Nov. 14, 2004
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    6 to 8 mos depending upon the mare and foal. It goes much easier that way, and if the mare is holdig her weight okay, it is better for them to be together.



  7. #7
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    Aug. 13, 2002
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    Suffolk, VA
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    Same as Edgewood 6 or 7 months and we wean in a group and across the fence so they can still touch. I have done it other ways but have found that this is the least stressful for my group.



  8. #8
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    Nov. 28, 2003
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    I have weaned anywhere from 3-6 months, depending upon circumstance. Usually ends up being 4-5 months. If I'm going to castrate, I do it before weaning colts from their mommas.
    Many studies have shown that after about 3-4 months of age the nutrition of the mare's milk rapidly declines and foals actually need to begin eating an additional ration at that point as the milk no longer contains all the nutrition that a foal needs. So nutrition of the milk is not a reason to wean later.
    Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
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  9. #9
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    Oct. 2, 2003
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    4-5 months and across the fence from each other. Rarely does anyone care as they are used to being in a "herd" environment so I just put buddies with each. Seldom is there a whinny and they seem quite content.
    Cindy's Warmbloods
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hillside H Ranch
    Many studies have shown that after about 3-4 months of age the nutrition of the mare's milk rapidly declines and foals actually need to begin eating an additional ration at that point as the milk no longer contains all the nutrition that a foal needs. So nutrition of the milk is not a reason to wean later.
    No, but the mental ability to deal with the separation comes at a later age, and that's what keeps them from going through the fence, etc.
    Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by VirginiaBred View Post
    No, but the mental ability to deal with the separation comes at a later age, and that's what keeps them from going through the fence, etc.
    Oh, I don't disagree with that. It certainly depends upon the maturity of the foal. I have a filly this year that I am weaning at 4 mnths of age (she's now 2 1/2 months). She cares nothing for her mother and is very independent. The other day, I had difficulty catching her in her paddock, so my husband took the dam inside and figured the foal would come up to me and I would be able to catch her. Nope; she never ran or called for her mom, she just nibbled on grass and meandered around the pasture. I finally caught her when she laid down to take a nap. Never seen a foal that young so unconcerned about being alone.
    That being said, I know that some foals aren't ready for that seperation until 6 months or later.
    But, I've never had a foal go through a fence at weaning, or even be upset for more than a day, really.
    Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
    --Winston Churchill
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hills...h/112931293227
    www.HillsideHRanch.com



  12. #12
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    Apr. 25, 2006
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    Another question,

    I have my foal at a small farm. She has 1 mare and an old gelding that it. The baby is 1.5 months old now and already started on creep and eats his moms hay! He actually doesn't nurse a lot and he is very independant.

    So question, when to wean and how? They have a walk out stall and we were thinking of closing the mom in for a little time and increasing that every day. I think the mare will care more than the foal.

    Should I wait for six months? I want to do what is best, but he is so big and healthy, and already eating like a horse!

    Then when I wean, can I just put him out with the older gelding? (there are no other babies)

    I wanted to wait until October to castrate him because of the inspection, is that wrong? Does it matter? (it is also going to be very hot here until October and I don't want to do it in the heat)



  13. #13
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    Mar. 4, 2008
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    A friend of mine recently told me about the way she does it and I'm thinking about trying it this year. She separates the mare and foal at night and puts them in stalls where they can still see each other. During the day they are back together again. She does this for a week and during this time the milk starts to decline due to reduced nursing frequency. After that she separates them completely because the dam is producing less milk and starts to wean the foal herself due to that. Has anyone tried this method and if so what is your experience?

    I've weaned previously by separating with a fenceline or a paddock in between where they can still see each other but this year I've got at least one very good jumper who has already jumped a 5' gate and I'm afraid she would not hesitate to challenge the fence to get back to her dam. I really don't want anyone to get hurt.
    Altamont Sport Horses
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  14. #14
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    Nov. 28, 2003
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    I know that gradual weaning, as mentioned above, works great for some. I do the cold turkey, as I can't bear to hear them call to each other every day that gradual weaning is going on. I'm fortunate, in that I have two separate properties, so I just load the mares up and leave the babies in the environment that they are used to. I would be too nervous weaning over a fence line, I think.
    Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."
    --Winston Churchill
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    www.HillsideHRanch.com



  15. #15
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    Dec. 1, 2007
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    Provided the mare and foal are healthy and thriving, we wean across the fence at 5-6 months. So far we have not had a problem with foals dragging the mare down, but we would wean sooner if that were the case.
    Epona Farm
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  16. #16
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    Jul. 14, 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hillside H Ranch;
    But, I've never had a foal go through a fence at weaning, or even be upset for more than a day, really.
    We haven't either, but we always wean by the signs, too.
    Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse



  17. #17
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    We do 6 months at the earliest (unless there are complications of course) but usually more like 7. By then, the mares are downright sick of them and half the time we put them on the other side of the fence and they never look back! It is very easy and seems to be much less stressful.
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  18. #18
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    Apr. 17, 2003
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    Mobile, AL USA
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    Samoitis,

    I do separate stalls or pastures overnight for about a week to 10 days, then take the mare or the foal off the farm. The 12 hours without nursing helps decrease the production of milk, because lactation works on a supply and demand factor. Think of how many times per day a dairy cow has to be milked to keep production up.

    My first two foals were weaned at 4 and 5 months because Hurricane Katrina blew my barn into the neighbors lake, and trashed my weaning plans (literally!). The mares and foals had been separated for feeding starting at 2 months, so the foals were used to being kept in adjoining paddocks. I separated the foals from thier dams during the day and together at night for a week prior to the foals leaving the farm for thier new homes. The dams dried up within 5 days of them leaving, and there was hardly any calling.

    Last year I weaned at 6 months. I was able to keep the foal with the old gelding at home, and the dam went to the trainers for a while. The foal cried for the first day, and was over it quickly. Trainer said the dam was only uncomfortable the first morning away from foal. She was dry a week later. I re-introduced her to the boys 6 weeks after she left, and the foals first response was to try to nurse. She doesn't allow it, so he has stayed weaned. I have heard others say thier mares will start lactating again because they allow the foals to return to nursing, and have to re-wean, so it's something to watch for.
    Megan



  19. #19
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    Jan. 15, 2004
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    Generally around 6 months...as noted above emotionally/stress wise they take it better. Around here the fillies seem to take it harder/the colts don't seem to care much.



  20. #20
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    Jan. 14, 2003
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    Rawley Springs, Virginia
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    Quote Originally Posted by camohn View Post
    Generally around 6 months...as noted above emotionally/stress wise they take it better. Around here the fillies seem to take it harder/the colts don't seem to care much.
    I have had the opposite experience. Colts harder than the fillies. I do it around 5-7 months just depending on weather, castration, general attitude, etc. I do castrate prior to weaning.
    Chris
    Ladybug Hill--Hunters and Ponies
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