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Discuss Need info on Weaning at the Horse Breeding forum - Horse Breeding Forums.

Totally agree with Spacelys suggestions. Foals need to be foals...
  1. #11
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    Totally agree with Spacelys suggestions. Foals need to be foals

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    Planning on sending my mare to a trainer in the next month or so. Just wanted to make the transition a little easier for everyone involved. Have been separating them in the day for a while and they seem to do alright. Probably just gonne keep this up. Thanks for all the helpful advice!

  3. #13
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    When I wean foals I leave them in the field with other horses they are use to. So my broodmare field also has two yearlings in it. There were 4 foals to wean. I have a small pen at the front of the broodmare field (50x80) and this is where the broodmares go. The fence is four board with electric on both sides of it so no mare or foal is going through it. I do 2 at a time. The mares get put into this smaller pen and the foals stay in the big pasture. The mares have free choice hay in thie pen and usually much away most of the day and dont call to the foals. The foals hang around the outside of the pen for an hour or so and then venture off with the rest of the group. The foals do come running up a few times during the day to make sure mom is still there. She is Then after a week when the foals are out back one day, I move the mares to another paddock further from the foals. DOing it this way there is not a lot of stress on the mare or foal. No screaming to each other, no pacing/running circles in panic. It is kept very calm and quiet. After a couple weeks the mares are moved to the back pasture where they share a fence line with the foals. Again no issues because by now the foals have learned how to be little horses on their own.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spacely View Post
    4.5 months old is way too young to wean unless there is a medical reason. Try to leave them together until at least 6 months, or even longer if the mare is holding condition. You can do a fenceline weaning, and that usually works well, but as mentioned above, make sure the foal can't nurse through the fence. I don't put foals back with their dams until the following spring, if ever. I know people say 30 - 60 days is sufficient, but I would wait longer. I would not lock anyone in a stall. The foals needs to move, but so does the mare as her bag is going to be big, tight & uncomfortable for a few days.
    This. Fence line weaning can work very well if the mare/foal are already comfortable being forced apart (ie stalled for meals, stalled overnight, separately of course).

    100% agree on waiting to wean as long as reasonable. 6-8 months is great. I weaned at 8 months, fence line weaning and it was wonderful. I kept them apart for 4 months or so - basically all Winter.

    Just because foals do "fine" at 3-4 month weaning does not remotely mean they wouldn't do better at 6-8 months. Studies have PROVEN the foals are more well-adjusted with a longer weaning. People who force weaning earlier say 'but the milk isn't offering nutrition", and while that IS true, those folks are totally ignoring the other factors of a mare/foal relationship that help shape the foal.

    I see 2 horses in the picture - foal, and then dam and 2nd mare? They are currently living together? Just the 3? It's not the end of the world, but it's going to be unfair to keep the dam by herself for however many months it takes. And yes, with the foal living with ONLY the other mare, there is going to be a lot you will need to work on to teach the foal that he can exist by himself LOL. Do you have any neighbors/friends with whom you might be able to swap the dam for another mare for the Winter?

    I know you didn't ask, but since you're new to this - please get a breakaway halter for the foal Either breakaway, or leather. He will break long before that nylon one does if something goes wrong.
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  5. #15
    Senior Member+ DelP's Avatar
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    My parents stopped breeding when their stud died of old age a few years ago, but when we were breeding STB's it was very similar to JBandRio's setup. Foals were left until 8 months unless there was a problem that required weaning earlier. Mares and foals were separated regularly so mares got mental health breaks, and the babies got time to realize being away from mom wasn't terrible. They also got a lot of turn out time. The goal was to have foals who were well adjusted, self muscled, with good bone density. Since many of our horses were racing sound past 9 (one of our geldings got his lifetime mark and set a track record at 9) I think it helped them get a good start.

    At 8 months the weaners would also start the first steps of training (getting used to a harness, trailering, getting used to everything especially cars, short intense workouts to improve bone, and eventually line driving). Fenceline weaning always seemed to work and no one seemed traumatized.

    I'd give the foal more time and use the next couple of months getting them used to being separate. Slowly increasing the amount of time they can be away from each other, and then work on weaning. JBandRio has a good suggestion about seeing if you can do a trade for the winter so you can keep a healthy heard dynamic. If you can't maybe see about getting some sort of companion for the mare until spring when you can put them all together again so she isn't alone.

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    I'm lucky that my one mare knows VERY well what weaning is all about. I only had Lilly away from her for 2.5 weeks and when i put her and April back out with the herd last night, May didn't want Lilly anywhere NEAR her!

    I also like to wait longer to wean (6 months usually) but I wanted to give mine 2 months to get settled after weaning before being shipped off.

    this was last night, about 10 minutes after i put them back out in the herd.
    yes, my mare can be quite witchy! lol
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    How one goes about weaning depends largely on the set up you have. When I was breeding I weaned one of several ways...they all worked well and there were no injuries to mares or foals as a result. If the mare herd was in a field and I had another such field to use I simply pulled the dam of the oldest foal out and put her in a separate field, leaving the foal with the other foals and mares. If I didn't have a field for the mare she might go into a largish corral or even the round pen for awhile.....somewhere where she had room to move around. This continued until all dams were pulled from the field leaving the foals with dry mares, my gelding that I had at the time and older (yearling) siblings (except for colts....removed to prevent breedings). That was one way and it worked well. The foals were often taken in and out of the field and even off the place prior to weaning so mom leaving them was not a big deal. We weaned at about 4 months, maybe 4 1/2 as mare's milk was no longer supporting the foal and with winter coming it was felt that they needed to be past any weaning stress and on their own and the mares needed to replenish any reduced resources of their own prior to winter (and most of the mares were rebred at that point so were carrying the foal for the next year and reaching the point where nutrients for that coming foal were needed). The other way also worked well....I'd put two foals in a pen with one dam in a pen on one side and the other on the other side. The fences separating mares and foals didn't allow for nursing through the fence and the foals were fed in the middle of their pen and the mares on the far sides of theirs so that feeding areas were separated as much as possible. They were in this arrangement for anywhere from a day or two to maybe a week...the mares and foals could see/smell/touch noses but not nurse so the mares dried up. The mares were then moved to pens a little further away for several more days and then back to their field while the foal had a corral or large pen in which to move around. In neither of these scenarios was there screaming, fussing, fence running or other stress behavior. The foals ended up with adult or at least adolescent companionship and learned herd manners there.
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  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by spacely View Post
    They need Mom for more than just a food supply and recent studies have shown that longer is better. And stalling your colt is about the WORST thing you can do for him, but that is of no surprise either. What would be best for him is to have playmates his own age, even if that means sending him to another farm. It might actually be the best thing in the world for him and might undo some of the damage you have done (your videos say it all).
    Agreed as well, though I have not watched any videos. I cant understand the good of stalling a baby? Most, probably all animals need time spent learning to be a horse/cow/giraffe/pig/human being, whatever, and all babies need time to be physical.

    I dont always follow the herd,, so to speak, but I am kind of shaking my head here.

    Its up to the OP to sort through the advice and weigh the pros and cons of each suggestion for themself, yes. But I would suggest crossing off the less prudent advice first.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by coloredcowhorse View Post
    How one goes about weaning depends largely on the set up you have. When I was breeding I weaned one of several ways...they all worked well and there were no injuries to mares or foals as a result. If the mare herd was in a field and I had another such field to use I simply pulled the dam of the oldest foal out and put her in a separate field, leaving the foal with the other foals and mares. If I didn't have a field for the mare she might go into a largish corral or even the round pen for awhile.....somewhere where she had room to move around. This continued until all dams were pulled from the field leaving the foals with dry mares, my gelding that I had at the time and older (yearling) siblings (except for colts....removed to prevent breedings). That was one way and it worked well. The foals were often taken in and out of the field and even off the place prior to weaning so mom leaving them was not a big deal. We weaned at about 4 months, maybe 4 1/2 as mare's milk was no longer supporting the foal and with winter coming it was felt that they needed to be past any weaning stress and on their own and the mares needed to replenish any reduced resources of their own prior to winter (and most of the mares were rebred at that point so were carrying the foal for the next year and reaching the point where nutrients for that coming foal were needed). The other way also worked well....I'd put two foals in a pen with one dam in a pen on one side and the other on the other side. The fences separating mares and foals didn't allow for nursing through the fence and the foals were fed in the middle of their pen and the mares on the far sides of theirs so that feeding areas were separated as much as possible. They were in this arrangement for anywhere from a day or two to maybe a week...the mares and foals could see/smell/touch noses but not nurse so the mares dried up. The mares were then moved to pens a little further away for several more days and then back to their field while the foal had a corral or large pen in which to move around. In neither of these scenarios was there screaming, fussing, fence running or other stress behavior. The foals ended up with adult or at least adolescent companionship and learned herd manners there.
    Agreed =) Would you say you have weaned most of your foals at 4-4 1/2 months and they adjust well?

  10. #20
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    Even if CCH weaned at 4-4 1/2 months her youngsters were still left in a herd situation to be 'youngsters'. I don't think they were stalled alone or dinked around with endlessly.

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