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Orphan foal

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  • Orphan foal

    My filly was orphaned at 2 1/2 months. Here we are 3 weeks later and she is still depressed and lethargic. She eats her grain very slowly (but does eat it - maybe 3 cups a day) and eats free choice hay. She drinks well and has a babysitter.

    I have two questions. How long will the depression last or has she been permanently scarred by this experience? To see a larger than life baby lose her joie de vivre is desperately upsetting And secondly, she hasn't grown - will this be permanent or will she catch up eventually?

    (She won't eat milk replacer. Will.Not.)
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  • #2
    First- I'm very sorry for your loss.

    Are you certain this filly is depressed? She may just be settled but also a little less confident/gregarious as a young weanling.
    At this age, my foals don't eat that much grain either. They share some of mom's, and are starting to be introduced to a RB, but they don't eat large volumes.

    Are there any options of putting her with some more youngsters?

    Best of luck to you and your filly, and again, sorry for your loss


    • #3
      Poor little lamb. I'd try her on a course of Omeprazole for a week or 2 to see if it makes a difference (ulcers can affect mood and apetite). I would also try to boost her immune system and perhaps try something like Rejuvenade for the next month.
      Of course, lots of physical touching, hugs, pats grooming, just standing with her, in addition to her babysitter, so she really feels special. Good luck. I'm sure you are worried for her.
      Sunny Days Hanoverians


      • #4
        Which brands of milk substitute?

        I'm sorry for you and your filly's loss. Is there another baby that she could be with?


        • #5
          In addition to Omeoprazole, I'd also give her a course of Hemo 15. Babies aren't built to have a grain regime that early in life, so I'd bet she needs a vitamin boost.

          Also, there are a lot of milk replacers and sometimes a foal will reject one but not the other. Try another brand.


          • #6
            Is she by herself or with others? When I managed a TB farm, I had two fillies (several years apart) orphaned around 3 months. The first one was strongly bonded to another colt and his mom, and she didn't miss a beat. She couldn't nurse, of course, but she nibbled at grain, nibbled at grass, and was never stressed about the loss of her dam. She was a bit smaller, and topped out about 15h (very muscular), but her sire was on the smaller side too...it's hard to say if she was "stunted" or if it was just genetics.

            The second filly was stressed for the first couple days without mom. We put her out with another very gentle mare and younger filly, they bonded and she perked back up.
            “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
            ? Albert Einstein



            • #7
              I am sorry I have nothing to add but just wanted to send my condolences.
              Elegant Expressions Farm

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              • Original Poster

                Thanks everyone. There are no other youngsters for her to be with - she's out with a very kind and gentle coming 4 yr old and just over the fence to the other mares. She had a 2 week course of ulcer meds at a month old and I don't see any reoccurrence of the symptoms that prompted that. I'll look into the Hemo 15 and get her some probiotics (not sure why that didn't occur to me!).

                I started her on foal lac pellets as soon as her dam got injured - after 6 weeks she was up to 3 tbsps but refused to eat any more than that. Then after we lost her dam she refused to eat them at all (well, anything actually - it's been a battle getting her to 3 cups). She was born a drama queen and the loss of her dam has absolutely flattened her.
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                • #9
                  Have you tried making a mash by adding warm water and milk replacer ?
                  Mare's Match comes both in pellet and powder form.


                  • #10
                    Have you tried liquid milk replacer? If the foal is hungry, she is likely to be able to be taught to drink from a bucket or igloo. She really is too young to digest adult feed quite yet. My orphans never were fond of the milk pellets. I kept them on milk replacer (used Buckeye's because it is acidified and does not spoil for 12 hours) until they were 5 months old and could digest a ration balancer.

                    I had one orphan that had major challenges early on - pneumonia, clostridia, etc. She ended up smaller than I had expected, but as a broodmare she has had tall offspring. The first 4 months with her were very hard - a real roller coaster. But she pulled through and was a very normal baby at 6 months.

                    Hang in there. Jingling for your filly and sending you hugs. I know how hard this can be.
                    Mary Lou


                    Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


                    • #11
                      Cyriz's Mom raised a foal as an orphan a few years ago.
                      I bought him in utero and things were a bit touch and go for a few days. He was very tiny ( not even small, he looked like a newborn pony foal at 4 weeks old ).
                      He was dysmature and was unable to stand without help for several days.

                      He stayed small till about 2 1/2 and then he decided to grow. He is 16.2 as an adult. He shows as a Hunter and won three JC T.I.P awards this year so there was no long term effect on him.

                      However, he was very independent from the start and has a few interesting personality quirks. Smartest horse I've ever owned.
                      Cyriz's Mom has posted about her experiences with him. She calls him a 'fuppy' because he wasn't quite sure if he was a puppy or a foal. Send her a PM, I'm sure she will share her experiences with you.
                      Fan of Sea Accounts


                      • #12
                        I may get slammed for this, but...I'd find another weanling...cheap, grade, warm body...and put her with it. Babies need playmates to perk them up. I've been lucky enough over the years to have wonderful broodmares with foals that welcomed an orphan under their wing. Once you address any health issues, I think you have to look at mental health. Best of luck for your lttle one.
                        Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


                        • #13
                          Only one of my foals ever had another foal with them and they all did fine. I would continue to treat for ulcers and switch to bucket feeding for a while.
                          McDowell Racing Stables

                          Home Away From Home


                          • #14
                            No advice except to say--so sorry and we have one also this year orphaned at two months--she fortunately had her sister as her touching nose stall neighbor at the start and that mare was a air-headed but kind nanny.She has always eaten grain well and also said no to foal milk replacer. She too is small--but robust looking. I was told to do the gastroguard when she was first orphaned--which I would try-- as I understand foals can get ulcers in a blink of an eye.

                            P.S. she loves TC Growth
                            Last edited by omare; Dec. 9, 2012, 07:03 PM.


                            • #15
                              OP have you tried the milk and not the pellets? I'd even add a little molasses in it to tempt her.


                              • #16
                                Poor baby...try giving her yogurt. I use a huge syringe and squirt it in their mouth a little a time. Mine would not eat it out of a bucket and perferred to have the mama like feeding. I mix 3 parts plain yogurt to 1 part strawberry yogurt. It really perks them up. Hope baby feels better soon!


                                • #17
                                  I forgot to mention....you could induce lactation in a mare that has had one foal in the past. It takes about 10 days to bring the milk in on a dry mare...sometimes a bit longer. It would allow her to live a more 'normal' foal life if the new mare accepts her. Talk to your vet about it if it sounds like something you might want to try.
                                  Last edited by Ticker; Dec. 9, 2012, 06:04 PM. Reason: Spelling


                                  • #18
                                    Im so sorry Fiona - I had no idea you lost your mare ...

                                    I really second the suggestion about getting her a playmate her own age. If there one local you could borrow perhaps?

                                    Poor wee thing - hope she bounces back okay

                                    True Colours Farm on Facebook


                                    • #19
                                      She is so close to the age when she can start digesting adult food. Perhaps until then you can sprinkle some dry milk replacer over her feed and mix in a tiny bit of water and brown sugar for taste. Start really slowly so it is not so noticeable and then increase gradually? I am grasping at straws here. But, my gut feeling is that she is feeling bad because she can't digest what she is getting very well.

                                      I second the probiotics and a buddy her age if one can be found. Jingling...

                                      I am so very sorry for the loss of your mare.
                                      Mary Lou


                                      Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


                                      • Original Poster

                                        I wish I could find a foal her age, but it would also have to have a trustworthy dam. As she was born so late, finding her a playmate is hard (and I did ask locally when it happened if anyone had any babies - the colt I had here was huge and his dam is a witch so I didn't dare try it). She's now 3 months and 1 week old, so theoretically should be able to digest grain.

                                        I'll have a word with my vet tomorrow about dosing another tube of ulcerguard - it can't hurt, right?
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