I've begun weaning my four month old foals. I've cut back on the dams' alfalfa, substituting oat for some of it (my horses are never really hungery-have something to nibble on all the time). I cut out their grain and their bags are getting smaller.
Here is the problem. I don't have a separate "creep feeder" pen that they can go into all day, while keeping moms out.
I figured I could just grain the babies. Trouble is, they won't eat enough at one time to get enough nutrients. I've tried grain and manna. They nibble on it, then go over to eat alfalfa.
I can get grow colt and try that. My dealer didn't have any today. Would that be the solution? To cut down on mares' food and give babies vitamins, alfalfa and oat hay? Will they get enough of what they need, as their mothers' milk decreases in quality and amount?
I'm sorry for the confusion Diana. I looked at the time I wrote it. I'd been up all night. And I'm not even doing foal watch! Go figure.I'll do my best to be more clear here, although I think I have solved my own problem.
Bottom line is this; for weaned foals, is a vitamin/mineral supplement, plus alfalfa, enough, as long as they are eating well?Or asked another way, what is the best feed for weaned foals?
I read about one way of weaning young babies, while leaving them with the mares and like the concept. You feed the mares less of quality food, so the foals don't get enough through nursing. They begin to nurse less and eat more food. They stay with the mother, but stop nursing. I have noticed that the mares' bags have gotten smaller.
With this method you have a pen with an opening just big enough for the babies (not mamas) to enter. They can free feed that way without moms gobbling it all up. I don't have a pen set up yet. Thought creep feeders would work; they don't. More wasted money.
Now, about the "I think I've solved my own problem." I think they are not eating enough of the new grain, which consists of hard pellets, because they are used to eating their moms' senior grain. It is much softer. I think they will eat enough of that. I can gradually add in the harder pelleted grain.
I am just concerned about the foals staying healthy. Speaking of which, I think I'm overdue for vaccinations. I need to check that schedule.
I start creep feeding my babies as soon as they start to eat mama's grain. I have an adjacent pen they can go into but mama can't and they soon realize that is where the goodies are. If you don't have an adjacent pen, I would leave the gate ajar enough to let them in and out of where mama eats...I use strategy or now Ultimum and feed about 1 lb per 100 lbs of foal wt. This method makes weaning a snap....gradually the foals stay away from mom longer and longer until I remove mom altogether and they are a little herd of their own at about 4-5 months....
All 6 of my babies are eating together now at dinner time and come into their pen on their own...don't even think to go to mama during dinner....
Terry thanks for your response. That is what I was trying to do, but was waiting for some corral panels that someone was going to lend me, but that hasn't materialized. I like the gate idea. I have one that just might work, and I wouldn't have to build much to make it work, as a temporary creep feeder.
Thanks for the nutritional advice. I was going to try and get away with just vitamins for now, as they don't eat much grain at one time. I didn't know if they would get enough calories that way though, with reducing mare's milk quality by cutting down the moms' feed.
So thanks very much for your comments. I appreciate them.
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