Weaning Nutrition - Having a Plan
Weaning is like growing up and moving out.
We won’t discuss ages, but I vaguely remember stepping out into adulthood.
Car payments, insurance, rent, and groceries. Suddenly, your paycheck is no longer yours, it belongs to a lengthy line of people holding their hand out. Adulting comes with a little shock, a little excitement, and a lot of cheap food that you know your mom would not have approved of.
Weaning your foal should be easier than becoming an adult. Thank goodness! I know some adults who haven’t done so well with it. It can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. You just need a plan and then work the plan.
Our goal in weaning is to produce even, steady growth. To reach that goal we focus on good nutrition, reducing stressors, and providing adequate exercise.
As our last article in the foal series we wrap up by preparing for weaning. Specifically a creating a nutrition plan but we should mention the other two factors that affect our goal before we dive into nutrition.
You may be watching over your foal, but he doesn’t know that. Suddenly mom isn’t there to protect him, feed him or tell him when something is dangerous. Depending on your facilities and situation you may be able to use some of these recommendations to reduce stress during weaning.
· Foals weaned together experience less stress.
· Foals weaned gradually where they can still see the mare but cannot nurse usually stress less.
· Maintaining familiar surroundings by moving the mare instead of the foal helps lower the stress level.
· Lastly, foals who start on rations before weaning stress less about losing mama (and mama’s milk).
As we discussed in previous articles, research suggest that differences in a foal’s exercise patterns have more of an impact on bone metabolism than differences in nutrition patterns. Experts recommend a minimum of 10 to 12 hours of turn out per day to increase bone metabolism.
Start With A Foundation
Nutrition is critical but an area where many owners miss the mark.
It is the foundation needed for good muscle, bone, and tendon development.