So, my "surprise foal" (see thread from June) is going to be weaned in October sometime. She is already Miss Independence and I would rather do it in the fall before the weather gets nasty here in PA.
What are your experiences and what has worked for you? I already have her & mom out in the field with two seniors at night. She will stay with them during weaning & mom will go to the mares field. They are within calling (faintly heard) distance but not close and they cannot see each other.
Can any of the sage Cothers out there give me some pointers on the process, how long and what NOT to do?
Our horses know our secrets; we braid our tears into their manes and whisper our hopes into their ears.
We have to wean on-farm as well, so mares and foals are withing calling/seeing distance of eachother. Tried and true for us has been to put the foal in a stall with a full screen and take everything out for a while and turn the mares out in the big field with the rest of the herd (they've been out together before). Mares are kept busy re-integrating back into the herd and foals are usually very good - circling and crying a bit, but we put the radio on and I stay with them until we know it;s okay to put the water buckets back in (usually in a 1/2 hour or so). We normally back the the mares down in the amount of grain we give them for a week or two previous to weaning (to help with their milk bags and to reduce the chance of mastitis). Once separated from the foals, we take all grain away from the mares for at least a week and watch the bags carefully for any sign of mastitis and to make sure they are drying up.
We normally have the the foals in for 4 days and then turn them out together in a small field as far away from their dams as possible. We stand watch to make sure they don't try to get to their mothers - if they are acting "iffy", back in the stalls they go (never had to do that though).
This is how we do it and always have. Others we know put the foals in together or with another horse in the stalls, but we find they get too herd bound that way and have to be weaned again from whoever they were in with. Learning to be in a stall alone is a good thimg IMO, and they are side by side with eachother, so can hear and see eachother (the foals).
I was in your position of having a surprise baby, so I know how you feel!
I weaned at about 6 1/2 months but wish I had waited a bit longer. Both mom and baby seemed done with each other until I actually weaned and even though mom went back to her herd and baby stayed with his herd, it was still difficult on both of them. I wish I had done gradual weaning where they spent time apart but along a fence line so he couldn't nurse. Unfortunately, I board and didn't have that option.
If I could do it over, I would have for sure had them spend time away from each other for longer and longer periods of time so it wasn't such a shock to them. Of course, I'm a softy so that's just MHO!
What's funny is when I have them together at times, he LOVES being with his mom again and she wants nothing to do with him unless another horse shows interest in him and then she gets protective.
Last edited by jenm; Aug. 6, 2009 at 02:45 PM.
Reason: fixed a spelling error
I weaned mine when she was about 6 months old and it helped that she was pretty independent from the moment she got her legs. For the first week or two, I only separated them during the day. Mom went in the barn with her buds, baby stayed with my mini in the paddock with the run in. I think there was only neighing like once. Then at night mom would go back out with baby. After 2 weeks or so I kept them separated--mom just went out in field across her paddock so she could see her and that was that. Both were a piece of cake.