07-24-2012, 06:03 PM
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It really just depends on the individual horse and foal. Generally we try to wean our foals at 5 months, but if they're dragging their dams down or seem to be really well developed for their age and are eating almost only feed, then we'll occasionally wean at 4 months old.
We have a 40 acre property that is divided by a creek/bridge, so what we do is we wean by bringing both the mare and foal over to our weaning area, letting them stay there for a week to accustom the foal to it's new 'home', then one day we just calmly walk the dam away and put her back in her old pen. They're far enough away from eachother that they can't see or call to eachother and by this time the foal is already used to it's new home. Its the least stressful way for both of them, and we do a lot of work with both prior to weaning on learning to leave eachother for short times (30 minutes to an hour) so that the dam can be worked starting when the foal is a month old.
If we have more than one foal that year, when its time to move the dams and foals to the weaning pasture, we generally put them together so that the foals get to know eachother and wean them all at the same time. If we only have one, we introduce an uncle gelding or a retired broodmare into the pen while the dam is still there and when we take the dam out, we leave the gelding or mare to 'babysit' the weanling until its about 8 months old. At this point we feel like most foals are old enough to be adapted into a larger herd setting, and we introduce both the foal and gelding into a herd together.