I usually wean at around 6 months, I've even been known to let them go longer if mum is open and is happy with having a youngster with her.
For the first time ever I have a mare who is being drawn down by the baby elephant she is raising, he is HUGE, and growing rapidly. I'm pouring the food into her, but she is barely holding her own with him.
He is 10 weeks old, eating well, he is used to being separated from momma, she comes out twice a day for feeding, and then I take her out for in hand work some days as well. The colt never worries, in fact the only time I've seen him upset is when I take my Appaloosa gelding who has been in the same paddock as them out, seems that losing his friend is more traumatic than not knowing where momma is.
When should I look to be weaning him, and anything special that I should do for mare or colt?
Last edited by KBC; Jun. 10, 2011 at 09:36 AM.
Mother of the son of UsedtobeHaffy
Practicing Member of the Not too Klassy for Boxed Wine Clique
Have her teeth checked and be sure she has been wormed. Keep good quality hay available. Try to wait as long as possible (five months) if you can and wean by the signs (see above in the Breeding Sticky). Good Luck!
Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC - ~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse & I Sell Tack.com!
We had a clients mare here last year that went through the same thing. Mare's teeth were fine, we have top quality 75% alfalfa hay and she was on a regular deworming program. She is an older mare who ended up having a very large colt...and he just started sucking the life out of her, plain and simple.
The colt was already eating his own hay and grain at an early age, so the owner opted to just go ahead and wean him at 2 1/2-3 months. We didn't care about weaning with the signs or anything (actually, I've never followed that), as our main concern was making sure the mare was going to stay healthy.
The key for when we weaned him was making sure he was fully eating on his own and making sure he had a companion to wean him with so he could still continue to learn socializing skills.
Have you tried beetpulp or something like Satin Finish for the mare to see if that helps put on some weight?
The longer you can wait, the better it will be for the foal. In the meantime, VABred has given you some good suggestions for keeping the mare in decent weight.
Don't think for a minute that weaning young won't be stressful on the foal.... it doesn't matter how independent he acts right now. I would rather spend a little bit more on the feed for the mare than hundreds of dollars on GastroGuard for a foal with ulcers.
Just my opinion....
Siegi Belz www.stalleuropa.com
2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.
Let's also remember that our opinion of a healthy horse is often a too fat one.
Provided that you are doing all that you can (and I mean... ALL.), your mare "can" be kept on the thin side until her foal his weaned at a normal age and she'll bounce right back. It's not necessarily unhealthy for her to be in that condition as well. As long as her mineral needs are well met, yes, she'll "look" horrible, but might not be in horrible condition health-wise.
As well, it depends on the rest of her attitude through this. Does she behave like a drained down mare or is she otherwise normal? If she's otherwise normal, she's probably able to take it.
Last year, my TB mare colicked post-foaling, lost a ton of weight and didn't bounce back as long as the filly was still nursing. I weaned the filly at 5 months or so and within a WEEK, she looked so much better. She's expecting another foal in 3 weeks from now and looking absolutely gorgeous.
I was in a similar situation adding that the mare had ulcers so feeding her was it's own sort of fun to begin with! She was being fed 4 meals a day to try and keep up with baby's demands and not upset mom's belly. Foal was weaned at 3 1/2 months with the advise of my vet. He said that after 100 days foals do not get much nutrition from the milk anymore. Foal was big and healthy eating just fine on her own. I started taking mom away for short periods and putting her in the adjoining stall with the top of the wall out so they could touch over the wall, but high enough that baby could not get over said wall. In a week baby was living all day on her own, still going out with mom at night. I then brought over the weaning buddy to live on the other side of baby, she was so interested in him, we slipped mom out and stuck her in the trailer with yummy hay. Mom did not care and baby was to busy checking out her new neighbor, so friend drove off with mom and baby did not even notice! Later she did call for mom a couple of times, but went out that night with new buddy and never looked back. As I was selling the mom, we never let her return to the farm and new owners picked her up from friend's place. Baby is now a 16.3h 4yr old that just had her own foal!
On another note, most of my foals are weaned gradually as I personally like that method better, my foals seem to do very well that way. I think how you do it has more to do with it than how old the foal is, of course assuming foal is healthy and eating and such.
I've weaned as early as 3 months without damage to mare or foal. Never went by "the signs" as in a moon, but more by the signs the mare and/or foal give -- in an independent foal, eating plenty on his own, no worries.
However you might try (if you haven't already), starting to feed baby & mom separately once or twice a day...maybe in stalls next to one another or adjoining paddocks, where they can still see each other and touch noses.
This will fill up baby so he doesn't suck mom down quite as much + make sure Mom gets all her chow.
A month or so of that and you can buy yourself some more time + weaning will be a snap.
And, as others have suggested, add more fat to Mom's diet. I use canola oil or corn oil; buy the gallon jugs from Wal-mart.
My broodies end up getting about 1 1/2-2 cups a day.
My BO has some big mares who have BIG foals, one hit the ground looking a month old this year . He routinely weans the big colts at 3-4 months, and has no problems. One 3 yro is 17H and a 2 yro is 16h, so I don't think they were stunted.
He had a filly orphaned at about 2 months (Mom hit by lightening) and kept her with another mare and her filly for the rest of the summer. That one just didn't look good.
I have a mare that can lose a lot of weight very quickly when lactating. The only thing that I have found that works is Amplify by Purina. I am usually not a fan of Purina products but this one has really worked well for me. You might want to give it a try.
Thanks for all the input, lots to think about here.
She is up to date on worming, no reason to think that her teeth are an issue, but we'll get them done anyway, she is due for a check up.
She is now out on grass, YEAH we have some growing at last, she also has free access to alfa hay. As she is living in a group situation I take her out to feed her separately, she is getting beet pulp, oats and Equine Power 2000 twice a day.
I have moved two yearlings next door, and this morning put Stewie through with them for breakfast, It's scary how close they are in size, I'll have to grab pics later
I think there is a lot in the fact that I have become accustomed to seeing fat horses as normal, something I'm trying hard to get away from. This does explain some of my concern over this girl, she has always been on the fat side of healthy, and now she is just a touch under a healthy weight, so she looks bad to me, but actually she isn't that far under.
I think that the new grass will help her as well, we'll hold off as long as possible on weaning, just see how she (and he) goes.
Mother of the son of UsedtobeHaffy
Practicing Member of the Not too Klassy for Boxed Wine Clique
I'd try some of the things others have suggested to fatten the mare. I would never - voluntarily - wean at such an early age. After all...breeding is about producing the best, healthiest, psychologically developed foal. The mare will bounce back after weaning at a normal time..that's what mares do!! Weaning early does affect mental health of the foal. JMO
At last we have a decent amount of grass, and a combination of adding some flax to her diet, and green grass means that she is now holding her own, so I'm happy to leave him on her for another month at least.
Here is my 'little' boy at 3 months, I'm 5'9" BTW, and his daddy is 14.2 hh
According to info from my vet and others mares milk quality peaks at about 3 1/2 months and goes downhill rapidly after that point. Foals still nursing but aren't getting that much nutrition from mom any longer. I'd consider making a creep feeder for the foal or feeding him and mom separately but next to each other and even keeping them in for several hours at a time next to each other with food in front of them....she'll gain and he'll eat more on his own while still maintaining the social contact (this is one of two methods I use to wean foals anyway.....put two foals in a single pen with moms on either side but with fencing between that they can't nurse through....give them a week to learn that eating on their own with a buddy works well and then turn moms out...foals almost never fuss and if they do it is for maybe an hour.....the other way I do it is to pull the mom of the oldest one out of the herd and let him live out there with his buddies...put mom where he can visit but not nurse. Continue to pull moms out by age of foals until there are foals and no moms in the field then switch them out so moms are out, foals in and I can work with babies....have never had screaming, fussing, running back and forth or any injuries while weaning...as stressless as I can make it).