Lactating mare acting very reculant to nurse foal?

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Lactating mare acting very reculant to nurse foal?

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    12-01-2012, 06:09 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
Question Lactating mare acting very reculant to nurse foal?

For those who may not know, I have a four and a half year old miniature horse mare named Sour. She foaled a healthy miniature mule filly on 9-11-12 and the baby is now 11 weeks old. They're both doing ok, the baby is plump and very healthy, Sour has been having some trouble maintaining condition but I think we have it settled now.

However, for the past week I've noticed that whenever Honor (baby) tries to nurse, Sour gets very fidgety and pins her ears. She often squeals when Honor first latches on and acts like she really doesn't want Honor to be nursing. Today she even nipped Honor in the butt twice to try and evade nursing her. Besides nursing, she's being a great mom...very patient and watches her baby like a hawk. So I'm wondering if maybe its hurting her to nurse the baby? Surely she isnt already trying to wean the baby if she's only 11 weeks old... Should I call the vet or is this normal? This is my first baby to deal with by myself so maybe I'm just being a worry wart, but better safe than sorry...

I felt her udder today and there werent any lumps, bumps, or anything, and it wasn't hot. It didnt seem very full though, even though Honor hadn't nursed in a few hours. Barely anything came out when I squeezed. She was reculant to let me touch her udders but she's reculant about it anyways and always has been.
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    12-01-2012, 06:47 PM
She could very well be starting to wean her on her own. If she's 11 weeks, that's almost three months. The majority of the mares and foals that we have had pretty much self weaned between 3-4 months. As long as baby is eating solid foods she should be fine. Mares milk tends to lose nutrition after about 3 months, as well.
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    12-01-2012, 06:50 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
Alright, thankyou. She's grazing a bit on her own and drinks water. I don't have a set up where I cam creep feed her but I've been giving her a few handfuls of mama's feed at meal time and she eats about half of it. I haven't seen her try to eat much hay but she's probably just doing that when I'm not looking.

I plan on weaning her myself at four months since she's doing really well and Sours having a hard time, I just wasnt sure if Sour's self-weaning was normal or not at this age, or if there was another problem. I'm relieved!

Goodness time goes fast >.> seems like she was just born yesterday and now we're already talking about weaning! D:
    12-01-2012, 07:03 PM
Have you tried feeding them both in a pan on the ground? That's what we usually do, or put a pan on the ground a little ways away from momma with some feed in it, to get them used to it.
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    12-01-2012, 11:01 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
They're both fed from one of those flexible rubber pans. Sour gets about 1/2 a pound of it (Nutrena Safe Choice) with about half a handful of rice bran and free choice hay, the baby is getting about two good handfuls of Safe Choice. Once I wean her I'll put her on a baby formulated feed but I didnt see a need just yet, since she's still getting milk. They eat besides eachother. I think Honors problem right now is just attention span. She's very spactic so she'll nurse a little, play a little, grab a bite of food, play a little more...dump her food on the ground...

As for hay, Sour gets a flake in the morning and a flake at night right now, and I've never seen Honor eat any of it but I guess I could just be missing it. Should I offer her 1/4-1/2 of one with each of their meals as well?
    12-02-2012, 12:36 AM
I would. I've also seen people pretty much free feed babies their grain/hard feed/whatever they get once weaned. My grandmother does this, shell put say, 1/4 lb, maybe more or less, in a bucket or tub and let baby pick at it. If she goes out to the barn and the bucket is empty, shell put another maybe 1/4 lb. She only does this for a few weeks though, then they get gradually switched to a normal feed schedule. And all the hay they can eat. If they run out, they get more. I've not seen bad results ith this, all our babies ended up very nice with no health issues because of it.

Eta. Also wanted to add that I've never met a baby that didn't have ADD. They go at their own pace, play some, eat a bit, nurse a bit, beat up on mom a bit, take a nap...and repeat in different orders lol
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    12-02-2012, 01:21 AM
I had a mare that used to pin her ears and nip her foals butts when they nursed.

I think they are fine as long as she isn't actually hurting the foal.

My mares foal just got to where she's kick her mom when she bit her butt.. Lol
    12-02-2012, 01:53 AM
It sounds like mom has had about enough of the baby. I'm going to preface the next bit with the caveat, I don't raise minis, don't know if you feed them way differently from regular horses, so take what I say with a grain of salt and maybe consult with your vet.

I would not feed my mare or the foal Safe Choice because I want my lactating mare and the foal to have a minimum of 16% protein. My full sized mares eat an INCREDIBLE amount of mare and foal feed, starting approximately 2 months before foaling. A lactating mare will eat 12 1/2 lbs of the feed I use to maintain 1000 lbs and build up a good bag. Once the foal is born, I keep mom on 12.5 lbs of feed plus free choice hay while the baby is nursing. I will add a couple of pounds if mom starts to lose condition.

Once the baby starts to be interested in mouthing solid food and starts stealing from mom's pan, I tend to put a little bit in a separate pan just so baby learns to start eating a little ways away from mom. LONG before I'm ready to wean. As for hay, I let them eat what they want when they want but I've noticed that at first they don't seem to eat much hay, they don't know how to chew it, it seems.

When they come in like little tanks and BAM, headbutt into mom's udders, it can't feel good and none of my mare's will tolerate that. They will squeal, grunt, move away, kick or bite the youngster (gently, not kick across the stall or anything) to teach some 'table manners'. I have one mare that at 3 months is getting tired of her little succubus and by the time 4 months comes along, that's it, the milk bar is CLOSED. She loves having the baby around is takes very good care of the foal but after 4 months, they get their own rations and she stops lactating.
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    12-02-2012, 02:48 AM
We had this problem, but that was because the baby wasn't nursing often enough. It turns out it was our foal who was sick. She was laying down almost 100 percent of the time due to ulcers so the mares bag filled up. When she did go to nurse it was so painful for the mare that she was squealing and threatening to kick. When we milked her down and treated baby for the ulcers everyone went back to normal. So make sure your foal is ok in addition to the mare!
    12-02-2012, 11:15 AM
Teen Forum Moderator
Thanks so much for the replies guys.

DreamCatcher- do you think you could suggest a feed to me, then? I had her on Purine Miniature Horse and Pony feed but the price went up ($26 a bag!)and she wasnt doing very well on it so I bought the Safe Choice. I would have bought an actual lactating mare feed but I wras just really worried about the sugar content and richness of the feed (she's very hot with much sugar and I am not exercising her very much right now)that our store carries. I might be able to find another at a feed store farther out from our stables though. I really do want her and the baby to do well, but I'm very new to this!

I only have her on one pound of feed because normally she's on only hay, no feed at all. And that keeps her even a little bit overwight. I didnt want to be upping it too much and causing founder. Should I up it even more? I hate to think that I might be the cause of her possibly not having enough milk...

I'm definitely weaning Honor at 4 months as long as she starts eating hay, but hopefully she'll allow Honor to stick around for another 4 or 5 weeks xD

Ali, how horrible! Thankfully I don't think that there is an issue with ulcers atleast yet. Honor rarely ever lays down it seems xD she's too busy going 'snorkling' in the water trough, beating up on her mom, playing with her 3 month old friend, and getting into things that she isnt supposed to be getting into but she does nurse. Definitely not as much as she was, but I see her go to mom atleast a few times a day.

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