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How to Wean a Horse Foal

Foal with mare grazing in a field.

Before the foal is weaned be sure that the weanling is consuming enough food per day. General guidlelines suggest that a foal should consume at least 1 pound per month of age. Therefore, a 3 month old foal should be eating at least 3 pounds of feed per day. Keep in mind that beyond two months of age, the mother's milk is not sufficient to maintain adequate growth and nutrition. The foal should also have access to high quality forage, loose salt and fresh, clean water.

Also make sure that the foal has been vaccinated and de-wormed according to its health care plan. Do not vaccinate or de-worm at the same time that you wean the foal, as both are stressful to the foal, especially when done in combination. It is also not a good idea to change feeds when weaning. Wait until after the weaning process to make any changes to the foal's daily routine. The foal should also have been handled (imprint training is a great tool), taught to lead and have had its feet trimmed.

What to do While the Foal is Being Weaned

It is best to keep the foal in the pen or paddock where it is accustomed, but separated from the mare. Moving could be an added stress, which should be avoided during this time. If more than one foal is being weaned, it may be a good idea to keep them together. A few days prior to weaning, reduce the mare’s grain intake to prepare her to dry up from milk production. Her udder is going to be somewhat swollen, so don’t plan on cinching her up right away for a trail ride.

Always monitor foals after they have been weaned to check for health, growth and body condition. Some foals may take in too much forage, and too little food, leading to a bloated belly.