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5 week old orphan foal questions

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  • 5 week old orphan foal questions

    I tragically lost one of my best broodmares last week to colic. She left behind a beautiful 5 week old colt. Tried bottle feeding him for a few days but he never really go the hang of it. Thankfully though he IS now drinking milk replacer out of a bucket very well.
    Do I let him basically have the milk free choice (as much as he wants) or can that cause growth problems? (he is a Welsh/WB cross) I also have out foal starter and milk pellets which he does not want to eat at all yet. He is nibbling on some grass hay. I also give him the progressive foal mineral paste once a day, and some probiotic paste as well.

    Any other tips on raising an orphan? I am very lucky that I have never had to do this before but want to get it all right now! It has been a week now and he is still in a stall- I am working on finding a good buddy for him.
    Cabalito https://www.facebook.com/CabalitoStallion
    Telynau Falcon (Section A Welsh stallion)

  • #2
    So sorry to hear about your mare. How tragic!

    I'm pretty sure it was Fairview who posted the link to how to raise an orphan using an igloo cooler as a milk holder. This allows the foal to drink as they please and still be out with the other horses. It's brilliant!

    I don't have much more to offer as I've never had an orphan (of course, now I've jinxed myself...) Jingles.


    • #3
      So sorry to hear about your loss. Here is the link to Fairview's cooler system:

      "If a horse has a "warm" back—loose, supple and oscillating—he can lift the rider...on a "cold" back—low and stiff—the rider achieves nothing other than growing old sitting on it." —Charles de Kunffy


      • Original Poster

        that cooler system looks GREAT!
        but i never did get him to nurse from a bottle very well- tried several different nipples. And now he has been drinking out of a bucket only for about 4 days. Should I go back and work on the nipple some more?? hopefully Fairview will see this soon!
        Cabalito https://www.facebook.com/CabalitoStallion
        Telynau Falcon (Section A Welsh stallion)


        • #5
          If the foal is drinking out of a bucket I wouldn't worry about trying to get him back unto the bottle.

          We let orphan foals have pretty much free choice milk and watch their condition and growth. At 5 weeks old you missed some of the hardest most crucial times anyway. We find that a lot of the orphan foals wean themselves of the milk replacer at about 2 1/2 to 3 months.


          • #6
            When we had our filly orphaned at 6 weeks old our vet had us make sure she was getting alfalfa hay for calcium and protein content. Luckily she was easy because though she refused milk replacer she was precocious about starting on solid feed early.
            Providence Farm


            • #7
              So sorry for your loss.

              I agree I wouldn't try to get him back on the bottle if he is already on the bucket.

              I wouldn't let him have the replacer completely free choice, as some foals will gorge themselves on it. Monitor his intake and try to keep a happy medium right around the recommended amount for his age/weight. Also, replacer does spoil... so unless you're using the cooler method, you won't want it out 24/7.

              It takes awhile for orphans (and all foals) to accept the pellets, especially without a mom to mimic. Usually they'll have a lightbulb moment after a few days. You can try placing a few in his mouth every now and then if he isn't showing any interest on his own-- eventually he'll get one down the hatch and realize they taste good!
              Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


              • #8
                We have raised 4 orphans in just under 6 years so I can speak with some authority.

                Once on a bucket, don't go back. Trust me on this one. Our latest one we are raising was 6 days old when we got him and he is not a thriving 3+ month old. Because we were in the middle of winter here when he came (he came December 23), we could not leave milk out or it would freeze solid. Even when our stallion, who is nearly 6 and my first orphan (he was orphaned at 10 hours old) and born in April, we did not leave it out for long.

                Go by the directions on the back of the package of replacer. For the overnight we would give PJ a "double" and he finished it and was just fine until early in the AM. Now that it has warmed up a tad, we also have a smaller water bucket in his stall and he gets a small amount of grain 3 times a day-a total of about 1 pound, if that.

                As for other tips, look for signs of ulcers. Treat him like any other horse, not like a puppy dog. Make sure he gets turnout-in a safe and enclosed area where the other horses cannot hurt him. Socialize him WITH other horses. Have others handle him as well so he does not get 100% attached to you.

                It's all a learning curve with your baby and with you. Best wishes. I am more than happy to help in any way.


                • #9
                  Your doing just what needs to be done. We have been raiseing foals for 30 yrs now. Free choice Milk replacer, Buckeye, Land o Lakes, Blue seal Non medicated and I'm sure there are others. We do not use Foalac. Foals don't like the taste of it along with other faults. Feed a good quality hay with some alphy. Sandy always puts Grain in the corner bucket,down low so the foal can see it. Put your milk pelets on top. Do as the vet suggests also. Now get the foal a companion, this is very important. Another foal would be the best. Check around your area. The vets should know of any orphans. Maybe theres a nursemare farm down there. A companion is very important, it will keep your foal from getting depressed. Most orphans die because their depressed. They never do good alone. Companions will teach one another. they will be in the grain just because. You know,one will eat because it don't want the other to get it first. They will push one another in and out of the bucket. This is good,because it teaches compatition. There no limit to what they can teach eachother. Good luck and if you have questions email Sandy at Nursemareone@webtv.net


                  • #10
                    I have a 4 wk old who is an orphan as well. Or hid mother rejected him. He is being fed out of a bucket and is doing really well. He gets Foal-Lac replacer and milk replacer pellets. The Foal-Lac directions say to throw away milk after 3 hours. Has anyone kept a free choice bucket of milk with the foal overnight for longer than the 3 hour recomendation?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Loki View Post
                      The Foal-Lac directions say to throw away milk after 3 hours. Has anyone kept a free choice bucket of milk with the foal overnight for longer than the 3 hour recomendation?
                      Different brands (specifically Buckeye and Progressive) are formulated to keep longer without spoiling. They keep about 10-12 hours or so, depending on on the conditions.

                      The orphans I've raised usually drink up pretty quickly, though. I'm normally not leaving full buckets for any extended period of time.
                      Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                      • #12
                        So sorry about your loss...I so hope it wasn't Godiva. I Loff that mare.

                        Good luck with the little one, hope you are able to get him a buddy and hopefully an auntie type soon.
                        Home of Sea Accounts xx
                        AHS/HV, ATA, GOV, RPSI, JC, AQHA, APHA, APtHA
                        "LIKE" www.facebook.com/SeaAccounts


                        • #13
                          Sorry to hear about your loss. Personally, after raising one on the igloo, I would do anything possible to use it. It is just amazing. You can know that the foal that it is intended for is getting the milk. No one else is spilling it. No flies, keeps for 12 hours, sitting in the sun in July. It is so comforting to the foal to nurse like he was born to. They do still drink water from a bucket, so it is not like you have to do anything more at weaning time. My foal continued to "nurse" for 5 months, and I was able to send him to his new home with the igloo for that long stressful trip.

                          Your foal will be fine, but the igloo just made my life so much easier, and nicer for the foal too.


                          • #14
                            We brought an old mare back into milk using the hormone protocal for ours orphaned at one month...(have to look up the details on the protocol as it was a couple years ago)...we supplemented the foal as well but he and his auntie took right to each other and he had a "mom" to nurse on. It worked great...we knew the milk wasn't as nutritious as his mom's would have been so kept him on pellets...he wouldn't touch milk in a bucket and I was afraid we'd lose him since he would NOT nurse on anything we tried or take milk from a bucket. Finally got him to drink water, eat pellets and then once he started on his Auntie he was a happy guy.

                            So sorry for your loss and best of luck with him!!!!
                            Andrea Clibborn-Anderson
                            Home of Pinto Dutch Warmblood Palladio


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks everybody for all the great suggestions! He is doing great with the bucket now and has QUITE the appetite for the milk replacer. He does not touch the foal pellets though. So far his favorite friend is his daddy who I have up next to him for half the day! They seem to love each other. He is the closest thing is size I have to him and is a very gentle and socialzed stallion, so he may end up being his buddy! I haven't turned him out yet but may do so in the next few days.

                              It was one of my GOV Tristarr mares, Nightstarr (Ivy) that I lost. She herself was very nice, I showed her in the hunters, but she was really an outstanding producer. This was only her 2nd foal, and of course I sold her filly last year, so I just have this colt to keep out of her. My other Tristarr mare, Gandina WH, aborted her foal 3 months early also this year. I have never lost a mare OR foal in 12 years of breeding and got both hit to me this year. Not fun I miss that darn mare so much!
                              Cabalito https://www.facebook.com/CabalitoStallion
                              Telynau Falcon (Section A Welsh stallion)


                              • #16
                                I had one orphaned at 5 weeks...

                                I soaked some of the pellets in the milk replacer and offered a tiny bit of that (a cup? two cups tops) all the time. Eventually curiosity and mouthiness won out.

                                My stallion has weaned many of my foals. He ADORES the babies and actually puts up with far more than the mares do. So that could be an excellent choice for you too.

                                Good luck. You *are* over the worst, but it is still hard.
                                InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                                Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                                • #17
                                  Sorry to hear about your mare - we just had our first orphan - lost her mama when she was less than a day old. We called a friend with a TB breeding farm for a nursemare suggestion & she said, "Bring her here! I need her!" meaning she already had 2 orphans [one just a couple days older than our filly] & wanted more so they could socialize & learn to be horses. The filly learned within hours to drink from a bucket & the last time I saw her, was wearing a lovely leopard-print baby blanket & sleeping with her best buddy.

                                  I asked one of the experienced workers there what else I needed to know about orphans. She said no matter how much milk replacer they get, they usually don't grow - at first - like the others, but catch up later.

                                  And if they are raised with other horses as horses, by the time they're in the weanling herd, you generally can't tell the difference, in size or personality. So I'm passing it along, just because I had this very discussion over the weekend.

                                  Good luck with yours.
                                  Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.


                                  • #18
                                    I raised an orphan last year too - he went straight to the bucket. We pretty quickly introduced pellets (Elk Grove Milling Get Go and Stablemate, and Calf Mana) to him - soaked in water at first, mixed w/ some of his milk. Gradually weaned him to more and more of those pellets and less and less of the milk. To this day (he's now a yearling), he loves his food soaked in water, so he gets Elk Grove Milling Performance every evening with a bucket of water poured over it.

                                    Since your guy is old enough to start eating some solids, I wouldn't leave him a bucket of milk overnight unless it is something that won't sour. The stuff (we used FoalLac) goes bad pretty quickly! But make sure he gets about 5 to 6 feedings/day for a while. Easiest if there are two of you, one to give a late evening feeding, and one to feed early a.m. And leave him pellets to nibble on whenever he wants.

                                    By the way - my orphie is about 15.2 at one year old - definately didn't miss out on any of his growth!
                                    www.MysticOakRanch.com Friesian/Warmblood Crosses, the Ultimate Sporthorse
                                    Director, WTF Registry


                                    • #19
                                      I'm so sorry for you.........and that nice baby.
                                      Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse & Jennifer Oliver Equine Insurance Specialist


                                      • #20
                                        I remember seeing Ivy, Ann. Again, so sorry for your loss...really sucks when they make it through foaling okay and then you lose them weeks later.

                                        I need to come see your new little guy, he looks awfully cute!

                                        Best wishes for your wee one and the rest of your foaling season.
                                        Home of Sea Accounts xx
                                        AHS/HV, ATA, GOV, RPSI, JC, AQHA, APHA, APtHA
                                        "LIKE" www.facebook.com/SeaAccounts