View Full Version : Weaning

17-01-07, 01:17 PM
Ok, I'm 90% decided on what I'm going to do with this filly, but I was wondering what others' opinions are on the matter...
I have a filly that's two and a half months old...
She's very bold, she was born big, is almost as big as her mum (mum's 12hh, dad's 14hh), I think she's going to go much closer to her dads size than the mares...
She eats her own fair share of hay and hard feed when the mares get fed (and she does eat not just nibble), and she bosses her mum into letting her drink HEAPS... She's already very round, and I'm thinking she will have to be weaned earlier than six months, or she'll end up huge!! I know it's bad for foals to have too much weight on them and I"m worried by six months on mum she will be too fat...
Obviously I'm going to be sensible, she still a baby and I'm not going to pull her off her mum too early...
Just wondering what others think would be a reasonable time to wean a foal like this?

17-01-07, 01:28 PM
Our boy Lou was weaned and then travelled from Qld to SA at the age of 5 months, and has had no ill effects & was in excellent condition when he arrived.

I have also been watching our 3 month colt, he is definitely not drinking huge quantities of milk nowadays... I am sure he just goes under there to pester his mother, and is fairly independent. He is also very well covered, so more likely he may get weaned around 5 months instead of later.

As long as the babies are still getting well fed with a supplement for growing youngsters, there should not be any problems.

17-01-07, 04:35 PM
It's not just the nutrition they receive though. It's the whole reassurrance and security of mum that they need, ideally up to 7 months. Whether they need the milk is not as relevant as whether they need their mum.
Please also remember that fillies are more strongly attached than colts, and so should never be left isolated from other horses until they are 2 years old.
Is there a way the filly could be weaned close by her mum but not able to drink, if you were that concerned about weight gain?
You may not notice immediately the effects of too early weaning, but it will show up later in a less confident, more herd-bound adult horse.
Like human babies, the more cuddled and securely attached they are, the more independant they will be as children and adults.
Sounds like you've made up your mind, but don't kid yourself that it's in the fillies best interests to be weaned early.

18-01-07, 02:45 AM
She's not going to be weaned at a rediculous age, I was thinking about the 5 month mark, she is very independant and actually spends a large amount of her time "making friends" with the other mare in the paddock and is more often with her these days then mum...
She is already being well gradually weaned I suppose you could say, I can stable feed her mum and shut the stable door and take the filly into the yard that's attached to the stable and do things with her and neither her or her mum stress about it any more... We are gradually getting her to walk further and further away from the stable, but not to a point where either one of them will "panick" and do damage to themselves...
My main concern is I've been warned by the vet in the past about having "fat" weanlings through to yearlings...
I really would not consider weaning her off her mum until 5 months, and I'm hoping with using this gradual method of seperating them that I will be able to paddock her next to mum (in the stallion paddock), with the other mare that she is already fascinated with and then move mum one paddock away at a time as they both get comfortable with being apart...
I'm not really a firm believer in "ripping" them off their mum all of a sudden one day, and locking them in a stable and putting their mum at the other end of the property and letting her stress herself silly for a few days, as well as risking the foal hurting itself as they don't really have the reasoning to know how much is too much throwing themselves around a stable...
I will have to get some pics of this filly posted so you can see what i mean, especially in reference to the size of her compared to her mum, by the time she is six months she will be as big as the mare and she already plays very rough with her, as the mare isn't really a spring chicken anymore I'm also worried about her getting hurt if this filly stays on her until 7 months... She really is a tank of a thing, there is a gelding in the padoock who gets told off by her and gets chased away from his food by this little foal...
The main reason I posted the first topic was to find out people's varying thoughts on when to wean "bigger" foals and foals in general...

18-01-07, 03:00 AM
This is another topic that will have varying opinions I would say - I NEVER isolate the mare or foal when weaning - The way I do it is:

1. Have another horse in with the mare and foal if you don't already.

2. let the foal pal up - I usually use a younger filly 2 - 3 year old.

3. simply remove the mare from the paddock. Take her as far away as possible - out of ear shot is best.

I have used this method for all my foals with no problems. I understand about a foal needing its mum as mentioned above, but all of mine without exception have taken no notice when the mare was removed - most didn't even bother to watch her go!!

As for when?? How long is a piece of string?? lol

I weaned my last colt at 3.5 months as the mare was going down hill and I didn't think she could handle it anymore - both mare and foal never looked back. Colt ran with his sister - who was weaned at 2 months cause her mum died - for a few months, and both are now in paddocks on their own, happy healthy yearlings!

18-01-07, 07:47 AM
'The main reason I posted the first topic was to find out people's varying thoughts on when to wean "bigger" foals and foals in general...'

It's become fashionable to wean early. It's not a fashion that I like.

18-01-07, 08:04 AM
I was advised to wean my paint early due to his size, the mother losing weight and leg issues due to fast growth. He was weaned at about 3 months and now at 3 years old shows no negative effects. I left him stabled at home with an old friend and took the mare away. He called out a couple of times but didn't really act any different. He was a very independant colt and spent lots of time with the other horses since birth. I'm not sure if the early weaning helped but it hasn't seemed to have hurt.

But that said I am not going to wean my own baby early so maybe if I had had her when I had the colt I wouldn't have done it to him either.

Lisa an Gypsie
18-01-07, 08:22 AM
Gem was weaned at 4 months due to her mother being unable to hold any weight. She was left in a paddock of her own for about a month (if that) while I searched for suitable agistment for her. She was then turned out with a 3yo filly for a few months. Then she was moved to where she is now and she shares the paddock with 2 other yearlings.

If the foal needs weaning earlier don't be afraid to do it, it was the best thing for me at the time and it did not harm my girl one bit. She's a very independant horse and is not mate happy or have any other problems


Duct tape is like 'The Force'. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together


18-01-07, 10:10 AM
The thing is....ok, I'm sure it doesn't appear to have harmed your early weaned foals. BUT. It's still not the best thing to do. Because nature never has something occur for no reason or benefit to that species, and for horses, the natural time, the optimum time for weaning is around 10 months, when mum may have a new foal.
The couple of months before this they will be emotionally distancing themselves from mum, so her eventual rejection is not at all traumatic.
Nature has designed horses this way, and why would she have, if horse babies could cope fine emotionally being weaned at 3 or 4 months? The upset that is clearly evident to anyone watching a 3 or 4 month foal in the hours and days after being seperated is all the proof you need. They ARE stressed, and events in young animals lives CAN affect their entire outlook on life.
It's possible to justify any practise, that is really just for human convenience, by saying ' oh, they are fine now, no harm done. '
I am buying a yearling soon, and I would reject one if I heard that it had been weaned before 6 months.

18-01-07, 10:37 AM
I agree that yes naturally horses were designed to feed on the mother longer but using the same theory - in some cases mother dies or feed runs out and foals are/were forced to be weaned early. So they have the ability to cope with that as well. So I agree in many cases it may be hunam convenience but also in the cases listed here it is for the horses welfare (either mum or baby). After reading stuff on the internet I was scared when my bloke was weaned. I had my dad standing next to the stable with the mobile already dialed to the vet. But there was no drama. I would have prefered to leave him longer (as I said with my own baby as nothing is better that mums milk) but it may have killed my mare and the vet suggested may have resulted in bad legs. So in my defence I consider I did the right thing and if faced with the same predicident I would do it again, but I also would leave a foal with the mare longer if there wasn't an issue.

18-01-07, 10:53 AM
I do get tired of hearing in the wild, in the wild. Our horses are NOT in the wild. They may well retain some instincts, but their levels of nutrition & exercise are nothing like a horse in the wild. Most of our horses are fed too well & exercised too little. They don't even have to move around much to find their feed or water.

Foals do not need their mothers for protection from predators or to learn other survival skills such as foraging. Most of them do not even have to learn how to behave in a large herd anymore.

These days our foals get fatter faster than anything ever got in the wild & it is the main danger for their limbs, together with the lack of exercise to strengthen bone & muscle. Most of them have grown up with humans anyway & see us as part of their herd, so I doubt that they're going to suffer psychological damage from being weaned a little earlier than 6 months.

18-01-07, 12:23 PM
I know it hasn't harmed my early weaned foals.

I understand where you are coming from. But personally disagree that there is definate stress, not in mine anyway. I remember watching a 12 month old colt being weaned - locked in a 6 foot solid yard - on its own, it screamed and ran the fence for days. That was stress, it was so horrible and is the reason I wean mine the way I do. I have watched mine in the hours, days and weeks after removing their mum, very closely - when I say they take no notice I mean it - they went on with life as normal. They had already made friends with the horse in the paddock with them, so I guess they got any reassurance from it. I would have stepped in and bought the mare back had they showed any inclination of actually wanting her - but never needed to. Sometimes it is beyond our control, not just a convenience - as others have noted - ensuring the health of the young foal, or the mare herself.

Guess we will never know for sure hey? After all it isn't like we can ask them, we can only act in a way we believe is best for them.... :D

18-01-07, 02:35 PM
I said in NATURE dragonlady, not 'in the wild.' I realise horses are domesticated, not ' wild '.
But nature, thru 1000s of years of evolution, has designed a baby horse to be dependant on its mother for a set period of time. In the same way that human babies, despite our modern lives, still thrive with close body contact (even though we now have heaters so they don't ' need ' the warmth) and to be breastfed ( even though we now have formula).
Humans have always thought they can improve on nature, or that nature is now irrelevant. Well humans have only been in horse's lives for a fraction of their existence on this planet, and if you released domesticated horses back into their natural environment they revert very quickly (mustangs, brumbies).
Nature is stronger than you think.
So foals get too fat now, due to what?? Insufficient room to excersize? Too much supplementary feed? Poor breeding practises ( sire too big for dam) ?
Instead of fixing our mistakes, lets interfere even more with nature by weaning early. Great idea!
BTW I understand in some instances, medically, foals have to be weaned early, and that sometimes mothers die and so on. I am just saying ideally, if at all possible, to wean close to their natural weaning age.

18-01-07, 03:29 PM
There is plenty of scientific evidence to show that weaning foals from three to four months onwards, if they are very large for their age, can help to prevent the onset of OCD and other related diseases (eg wobblers, DOD, etc.). There appears to be no ill effects to the foal, but it's probably best to discuss this with your vet or equine nutritionist. I also have a very large foal and am going to wean her at 4-5 months to ensure she stays healthy and happy.

19-01-07, 02:01 AM
The main thing that I'm worried about here is both the mare because she is a brilliant mum and gives this filly EVERYTHING she's got... Also, about the future soundness of the foal, being Arabian Riding Pony she has VERY petite legs, and I was told by the vet when I brought my colt (her dad) as a weanling that it's very lucky he was weaned when he was because he was getting too fat and could have ended up with soundness problems/growth problems especially due to how fine he is...
My colt was weaned at 4 months and it has had no negative effects on him at all because he was looked after properly, he was still fed everything he needed but his weight was kept in check so as not to give him problems in the future...
I don't agree with weaning them and letting them fend for themselves on grass (especially in the current feed situation)... So she will be fed and given supplements accordingly...
I've got the vet coming out to look at another horse after the weekend so I will be getting him to have a loko at her and tell me if she is a good candidate for being taken off her mum earlier rather than later...

19-01-07, 04:21 AM
I could sum up that two wrongs don't make a right:

Inadequate space for natural exercise + early weaning and supplementary feeding does not equal good management.

Even if a vet says so.

They, like us, are human. They say and believe twittish things sometimes.