Help with suckling ages? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 11-24-2011, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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Help with suckling ages?

I honestly had no idea whatsoever, about where I should put this thread. Since those who normally comment here probably have atleast a little experience with foals, I figured I'd stick it here.

These are the first full sized horse foals that I've really dealt with, besides Duke and Dynamite (and I was only 11-12 at that time). I generally work with the miniatures- so I'm used to a 16-18 inch baby. Not a three foot tall one!

As a brief overview- these two sucklings are the product of a back-yard breeding situation. A local shelter rescued them along with their dams and two fresh OTTBs from this lady, and we're housing and rehabilitating them until they are adopted out. All six horses were kept in three race-sized stalls, unable to move more than a few inches- and getting only about half a flake or so of hay every day. Ofcourse, they're all quite thin and scrubby looking. More of the story and pictures here

We were told that the that the suckling filly is probably about 4-5 weeks old, and that the colt is about 3 months old by the rescue. Honestly, I think they were just guessing.

I'm wondering though, if they could be wrong? The colt seems older than three months old. He's about 13.2hh (give or take, he was quite squirmy, since he thought my measuring stick was a monster) already, which seems really big to me. Ofcourse, I could just be totally wrong, but his mother is only about 15.3, and I looked up his father; he's 16.2. So 13.1hh at 3 months just seems a bit...GIANT.

Anyways. I was hoping you guys could tell me what you think about his age. Do you agree with the rescue, or do you think he could be older? I'm attaching a bunch of pictures. Are there any developmental milestones I can look out for that will tell me his aproximate age, or something? His mother isn't doing very well, and is pretty thin- so we'd really like to wean him as soon as possible. He's already eating quite a bit of hay, as well as his mother's milk- but I'd hate to wean him, thinking he's one age when really he's younger, and I'd also hate to have him weaned at a supposive 4 months, when really he's 6 or 7, and he's just making his mother worse.

Either way, he sure does love his freedom!

I'm also attaching pictures of the filly. What you think about her age? Her mother is doing poorly also, but we can't wean her because she's quite obviously young, whether he's 2 weeks or two months old.

The colt.

The filly

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post #2 of 10 Old 11-24-2011, 01:42 PM
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I agree with the estimates. Look at the manes and tails. That colt is probably 3 months old. Especially since he's still nursing. Wait until the colt is keeping his weight up and you barely ever see him nursing. Thats when its time to wean him. As for the filly. She's a month at the oldest.

Foals can be weaned as soon as 4 months but that doesnt mean they NEED to be weaned at 4 months. My colt was weaned at 5 months and he didnt lose a bit of his weight. Weaning a colt who isnt ready at 4 months could stunt his growth.

As for the colt being large... he does seem extremely large for his age, he will probably reach 16 hh or so after the initial first 3 or 4 years he will fill out more than he will grow straight up. They grow the most the first few year and inch up a little bit slower after that. He's just a big boy. I wouldnt worry about his size. He is a TB and TH's tend to grow a LOT in their first year. My TB filly is two and she's already 16hh. A lot of yearlings are 15 or 16 hh by their first new years. While genetics has a lot to do with his height, so does his health. From the sounds of it, his momma produces a lot of milk and has a very healthy boy!

Last edited by TexasBlaze; 11-24-2011 at 01:45 PM.
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post #3 of 10 Old 11-24-2011, 02:20 PM Thread Starter
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thank you for your opinion! I think we're going to let him continue nursing, and we've set up a creep feeding system for him, and for the filly once she's a bit older. He already seems to be weaning himself a little, which is good. His dam is a good 75-100 pounds underweight and it's going to be tough to get it back on her whilst he's still nursing. So I guess we'll just hold off for now, and see how things go.

He really is a solid boy. You'd never know the kind of situation he's come from unless you saw his mother. I'm amazed that he wasn't stunted, considering the terrible nutrition that his dam was taking in. She's an honest mare though, and although she's paying for it now, she kept him in very good health, considering. He's probably in the best condition of all of them.

I'm just glad we got them out of there. Wasting such a nice, intelligent boy on a year or two of racing doesn't make much sense to me.

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post #4 of 10 Old 11-24-2011, 03:55 PM
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Personally, as long as he's eating a good amount of grain/hay he can be weaned. All of our babies are weaned at 3-4 months, depending on the situation. All of our babies have turned out to be great equine citizens and none were stunted in growth. In fact the most recent(not bred by us) was weaned cold turkey at 3 months. He's now almost two, and a beast. Close to 14 hh and about 700-800 lbs. He's a monster.
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post #5 of 10 Old 11-24-2011, 05:35 PM
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He's definity old and big enough to be weaned but I wouldn't. For one it will stress the mare out but moreso, if he's had limited exposure to other horses, I would want him taught some life skill by others first. His social skills need to be developed and only horses can teach those. Get the filly on a creep feeder as well. There's no reason to hold her back. Every mouthful of grain and hay she eats is that much less she has to take from the mare. At the very least, give her her own bucket chest high next to the mare so she can mimic mom's eating. Honestly, the mares don't look bad. If you've ever raised a large colt, it doesn't matter what the mare eats, she going to get pulled down. One thing to watch for is the colt becoming very bold and aggressive in his play with the filly. When he gets to that point where he can harm her, it's time for him to go away, get gelded and wait for the filly to catch up with him strength and sizewise.

Both foals appear to be put together well and should be easy to adopt out. I think they're ages are pretty close. Their coats and manes are a good measure of how old they are.
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post #6 of 10 Old 11-25-2011, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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The mare's weights bother me, but what I'm most worried about is the fact that both of them are wormy, and the filly's dam has thrush. Both mares have stocked up legs, and the colt's dam is really lethargic, in comparison to the others. I'll probably keep the colt with her a little longer though, and see if he'll wean himself even more with the option of grain and hay, then we'll put him in with our 'uncle' gelding when the time comes to wean him. Right now he's jut figuring out his feet (I'm not sure that he's ever been pastured, like he is now) and having a grand old time, but I can definately see him getting a little too rough with the filly. She's a petite little thing. I'll also give her the option of creep feeding.

Maybe two or three weeks, then pull the colt out and wean him? I just don't want to give him too much of a 'culter shock' since he's already gone from being crammed into a stall so tiny he could barely move to a 3 acre pasture, and from one location to another.

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post #7 of 10 Old 11-25-2011, 03:14 PM
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I'd get him creep feeding a good feed, for maybe 2 weeks, and then I'd pull him off of her. Not far away, but into the next corral where they can see but not nurse.

The baby, is just that, a baby. I'd be feeding her and her mom a good feed and his mom as well. I like Omolene 300 for my broodies and the weanlings, they love it, and they all stay in good weight and the mares don't seem to get pulled down.

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post #8 of 10 Old 11-25-2011, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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We actually just started the mares on Omolene 300! I've heard a lot of good about it. Hopefully it can help these girlies out.

Why seperate them to where they can see eachother though? IME, it just makes it that much harder for both of them. We've had out shetlands and minis pace ruts into the ground, trying to get to their babies, and even had one baby try to jump the fence and bruise his cannon bone (poor boy). And the racket it terrible. Not to mention that it riles all of the other horse.

We've always just kinda gone 'cold turkey' on them. Wait until they're a good weight and eating well, then take them out and put them in paddocks at opposite ends of the land (30 acres) with an 'uncle' gelding to keep them company, and we've never really had problems ^^

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post #9 of 10 Old 11-28-2011, 06:49 PM
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Personally, and you don't have to pay attention to my opinion. I would take the colt off of his mother. I don't think it would tramatize him if you could seperate them just by a fence where he could still see his mother. He is just going to continue dragging his mothers weight down. Though if you insist on keeping him on, yes I would start giving him creep like everyone suggested.
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post #10 of 10 Old 11-29-2011, 09:05 AM
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With the colts mom being in such poor condition i would wean immedietly. Put him with other foals if possible and if not geldings or mares will make him less upset. As long as he is eating hay/grain he can be weaned. Watch his intake very closesly for the few weeks following weaning. no matter how much grain you shove in that mare at this point it is going to go to milk production first.
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