Foal Nutrition – Weaning to Adulthood

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Foals are the cutest and before you know it they are growing by leaps and bounds. Knowing what to feed them and when can feel like its guesswork, but it’s a science.  Continuing with our previous post , we’ve come up with some quick notes on where to start developing your foal and young horse feed program.

  • Creep Feeding is often overlooked but can be instrumental in helping the weaning process. Creep Feeding provides the foal with supplemental nutrients to continue optimal growth as your mare’s milk begins to wane in nutritional quality. It also helps foals and mares deal better with weaning stress. Once your foal has adequate teeth with which to chew their food, you can begin creep feeding. Typically, this is after one months of age, which also coincides with production of enzymes to help your foal digest sugars and starches that are found in concentrated feed. If your mare produces a normal amount of milk you can begin feeding one pound of creep feed per month of age for the first 3 months. Once the foal is successfully consuming four pounds of feed per day it can typically be weaned. Crude Protein should be about 14-16% and the dietary ratio of calcium to phosphorous should range from 1:1 to 3:1.
  • By yearling year, their rate of growth has begun to slow down. When foals hit 12-15 months they’ve achieved 90% of their full height potential. Most yearlings may need 1 ¼ to 1 ½ lbs. per 100 lbs. of body weight of a balanced grain mix daily when grazing on winter or poor pasture. Insure your grain is nutritionally balanced to support growth with high levels of calcium and phosphorous, copper and zinc. Yearlings should get about 12.5% crude protein. Providing amble good-quality legume or mixed hay will encourage your yearlings not to chew on each other’s manes and tails.
  • Young horses should be fed at a moderate, steady rate to promote optimal growth over maximal growth. Rapid weight gain can lead to developmental orthopedic disorders or unsoundness related to weight gain. Good grazing and forage will always be the keystone to any winning feed program. At 2 you can begin your adult horse feeding program. Feeding a ration balancer along with rice brain and flax oil will help your young horse get all their nutrients and fill out.

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You can always call the friendly staff at Mary’s with your questions and for suggestions (858) 755-2015. Our knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you design a good feed program for your growing foals and blossoming young horses. We offer many different concentrated grain formulas specifically for your needs as well as high quality forage. Don’t forget to share your pictures and stories! Always consult your veterinarian about your horse’s dietary needs.

For further information regarding young horse nutrition please refer to the following resources: Equine Feeding Development, Feeding Yearlings, and Nutrition for Weanlings and Yearlings

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