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Weaning (big) baby...

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  • Weaning (big) baby...

    I tend not to wean early but this is getting ridiculous. I've never had a problem with the mare before but the last time I tried to wean her colt, about a month ago, the mare developed a HUGE edema in front of her udder which slowly migrated to the point of her belly where it stayed for quite some time. It finally went away and now I'm praying it won't happen again. I've separated them again and the mare's bag is filling. I've relieved the pressure a few times this afternoon. The colt is fine with it. He's just around the corner ignoring his mother's pleas for relief. How many of you had this happen, with the edema? Is it common to just quit nursing cold turkey? I think the TB people do that. What about the mare? Should I be stripping some milk every few hours? Or just leave her be.
    Dark Horse Farm

  • #2
    Most people wean em' cold turkey. I prefer to completely separate them to where they can't see each other - foal safely in a stall with horses on either side that it can see and touch, and the mare is out to pasture. They both usually carry on for awhile, but with in 24 - 48 hours they all usually chill out. The mare needs to dry up, so definately don't milk her or she'll just keep making more milk.

    I had a mare one year that had major edema on one side. That one side was so engorged and painful, I was worried about mastitis. Guess that can happen in severe cases, but the vet wasn't worried. The mare eventually dried up and never had that problem in consecutive years of breeding.

    Can you turn the mare out so that she will be more concerned about grass as opposed to her foal around the corner?


    • Original Poster

      The field is too close to where the colt is. He is not worried at all. The other smaller grass paddock is definitely where she can't see him, but she just tears it up so badly it's not worth it. She's calm right now. I guess she has to go through this the hard way. The vet is coming over soon to do shots, so she can check for mastitis if it gets swollen again. The edema was the worst I've ever seen. But I don't spose that means there's an infection. I was hoping she would wean the colt gradually herself. I wonder how it goes in the wild, cold turkey once the new foal is born?? ...so I wonder if the wild mare has a constantly full udder...interesting.
      Dark Horse Farm


      • #4
        I've got my own views on that and it is not cold turkey. Poor little tummy not being buffered by milk while he makes the change to being a big kid. A standard rule of feeding is to make no sudden changes, and then people go do that to their foals. We don't wean our kids that way, we just nurse less and less because it would hurt not to.
        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


        • #5
          There is a huge difference between weaning when they are very young (like 4 months) and frequently nursing, or weaning when they are 8 or so months old - independently exploring the pasture, infrequently nursing, and eating primarily an adolescent diet. I am talking about the later. Cold turkey at that point is no big deal. I agree that CT weaning when they are very young is very hard on a foal's stomach.

          It sounds like the dbaygirls colt is pretty mature?


          • #6
            I`m going to throw out another somewhat related question (not a breeder, as I loff my geldings!) but anyhow...over the past couple of weeks I`ve driven past two different farms where I`ve seen `youngsters` who have to be at least yearlings, if not 2yos, still nursing off their dams - in both cases, the horses were less than a hand difference in height if not the same size.
            Isn`t that a bit hard on the mare to NOT wean? I remember the foal we did have in my childhood - his dam was VERY firm about when the milk bar closed!
            Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
            Official member of the "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique


            • Original Poster

              Okay, I was embarrassed to reveal age of said "foal"...he is 10 months old today. His mother nurses her kids right into adulthood if you let her. She is a huge milk producer and a darn good mother. Last year I gradually weaned her filly off her quite late as well and especialy because mom was pregnant. This year the colt was getting rough. I don't know what happened, but Sunday morning they both had cuts and scrapes and there is nothing to get cut on where they are at. So, I thought it's definitely time to help her get this bratty colt out on his own. He has always been very independant and really does not need milk at all.

              Foxtrot, I am so with you on this subject. I don't believe in weaning little babies like a lot of people do these days. It's not only hard on their system but it affects their psyche and socialization skills. My foals are definitely off to a good start in both ways. In fact, the first time my filly went to a show, it was not big deal, no screaming on the first trailer ride. They are very confident and secure when raised and weaned properly and humanely.

              I think my mare would only kick a foal off her if she was ready to foal again. What I did was, last night, I milked her by hand and there was tons of milk but just enough to take the pressure off. I was worried that all night would kill her but she was okay. This morning I let the kid drink it out as it takes so long for me to do it. Then I separated them again. They are fine with that, in fact, kid didn't even go to the milk bar right away nor did she ask him to when first put in together.

              Sorry this is so long. ...:-) I guess I can stop freaking now. Hopefully she will dry up in a week or so.
              Dark Horse Farm


              • #8
                If you are set up for it and can do it, that will eventually reduce her milk. Of course , in nature, the next baby takes the place of the older one. It is just hard to do for some people. Also, OCD issues force a quick weaning sometimes. My now 9 month old was weaned at 6 months and gelded at five months.
                Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                • #9
                  I was forced to wean my filly at 3 months because she was dragging my mare down so much. The mare was about a 3 on the BCS, and that was with feeding her pretty much free-choice alfalfa cubes, and probably 12 pounds of grain a day, in addition to grazing, bermuda hay, and some rice bran and oil for good measure. The filly was just huge and muscular. I did it cold turkey, but they were thru the hotwired fence from each other, and the filly had ger gelding buddy.

                  My filly is just fine. She was put back in with mom at 5 months, never tried to nurse. My mare was uncomfortable for about a week, but I continued to ride her lightly, left her out almost 24/7, and she dried up just fine.


                  • #10
                    Weaning cold turkey when a foal has already been eating hay,grass,grain etc for a while is totally fine. I dont remember exactly, but I think its around ~6 months when the milk isn't making up a huge part of their diet. As foals get older, the nursing is mainly just fills an emotional need, not a nutritional one.

                    So for the OP, with a colt thats 10 months no need to worry about him! I would try and get your mare outside though because moving around will help to reduce her udder size and keep the edema down.
                    ~ Scarborough Fair Farm ~


                    • Original Poster

                      ILUVGOLDIES, never fear. I do not believe in confinement. I don't even have doors on my shelters. I should for the purposes of moving horses around, but all my horses have run in shelters with large gravel paddocks and they take turns out on the grass. Yes, 10 months old is puhlenty big enough to depart from the milk bar scene. He definitely was using it as a security blanket. He was getting a little too cocky and now he seems quite 'nice" compared to when he could run to mommie for shelter from the big bad human handler. tee hee...even though he is only separated from mom by a teensie electric wire setup.

                      Thanks for the all the input. I figure 12 hours on and off will be okay as I'm returning to work tomorrow and I/they have no choice.
                      Dark Horse Farm


                      • #12
                        The Thread Weaning By the Signs is now buried in the Q & A sticky at the top of the Forum, but the dates for weaning for mare are:


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                        Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse & Jennifer Oliver Equine Insurance Specialist