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This is a discussion on Weaning within the Horse Breeding forums, part of the Horse Breeds, Breeding, and Genetics category
  • How long should you wean horses
  • How long does it take to wean a fosl

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    11-21-2009, 02:48 PM

So, I know approximately when to wean, but how long does it take after the foal has been separated from the dam for the foal to be completely weaned? In other words, after the foal is weaned, can you put them back in a herd with the mom? If so, when? Any info would be appreciated:)
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    11-21-2009, 05:25 PM
I'm one of those people who let the mares decide when to wean unless it's too hard on her, and I wouldn't wean before six months either. My opinion.

BUT, it's best to wait until your mare bags dries up. The foal will go to mamma, but she won't let him nurse and won't baby him anymore.
    11-21-2009, 07:58 PM
Okay, brilliant. I was going to wean my foal in January or February, which would put him at about 7 or 8 months, so I think he'll be just fine. How long does it take for the bag to dry up, or does that vary? This is the first time I've ever raised one up through weaning, so some of the specifics escape me. I know how to train and feed youngsters and have done that, but I've never actually had one quite this young before, so it's good to hear from some more experienced breeders.
    11-21-2009, 09:24 PM
It varies by mare, but their udder usually has totally quit making milk after 3 to 4 weeks of not being nursed on. (Some mares may take awhile longer than that for the udder to totally "shrink" once the milk production has stopped.) I wait another few weeks after that before allowing any direct contact.

MOST mares are done with allowing nursing after there have been around 45-60 days of separation-- if turened back in together, they will likely tolerate baby hanging around, but not allow nursing. MOST. LOL Be warned though, some mares will STILL take the foal back and let it nurse even after months of separation. They might even start producing milk again. Not many, but a stubborn few....
    11-21-2009, 09:41 PM
EasttoWest is right. It depends on the mare. Her bag should dry right up, she'll start to cycle normally, and when she really starts to get back to her nomal habits and attitudes.

I've had some mares stop nursing foals at 4 months old, and I've got two that'll let him nurse up to past a year, even if I seperate them or not. Some mares are super protective mother's (the late nursers) or they really don't care, and they won't bother too much when you remove their foal after a day or two.

Kudos for not being afraid for asking questions and not being afraid to ask! If you've got anything else I, or anyone else, can help you with, please me know! :)
    11-21-2009, 10:15 PM
Well, I don't want to traumatize either of them or risk their health, so I figure, always better to ask. Thank you for being so helpful! I did some online research, but it wasn't very helpful, so I thought I'd ask here, which turned out to be much more productive.

One more thing is, I don't have any other horses his age. I just have his mom and two horses aged 3 and 22. I have heard that it's best to have a weaning buddy, but I'm unsure as to whether it's best to have another weanling or whether an older horse is just as good. If it's best to have another youngster, I can probably make it happen, but if older horses are fine, then that would definitely be more doable for me. Does it matter that much?
    11-22-2009, 06:17 PM
I think it matters most if the buddies are compatible with a baby or not. The reason people recommend putting weanlings together is that they will be around the same size and strength and stage of development and will usually not be too hard on one another, and since both are missing mom, they will even depend on one another to a point-- they are both looking for a friend. An adult horse doesn't always appreciate the advances of a weanling, and can seriously injure or kill a weanling during a show of "bossiness"-- and some adult horses are downright intentionally aggressive toward a youngster. You can't always tell by observing how the adults get along with baby before weaning, as momma is there to supervise and direct and protect, so other horses are usualy respectful of the baby-- once momma is not there relationships can change.

On the flip side, there are adult horses that are very tolerant of weanlings and make great "babysitters". I had a mature older stallion who was super to turn out with weanling colts (a stallion is not a horse I would recommend acquiring as a babysitter, I just happened to get lucky with the old guy I already had). Elderly retired broodmares ("aunties") are usually a pretty safe choice. It will totally depend on the individuals.
    11-22-2009, 10:13 PM
Thank you! Oh cool, I have the absolute perfect mare. She's a really sweet older horse that is way low on the totem pole as far as bossiness but she's incredibly confident, so we usually keep her with our 2 and 3 year olds to show them the ropes. I've never met a horse that she didn't get along with, and I've never seen her be aggressive with any horse. Plus she already lets Kihei (my foal) chew on her halter over the fence and doesn't get pissy about it, so odds are good she'll be okay with him.

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