Orphan filly

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Orphan filly

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  • Feeding 3 month old orphan foal
  • Feeding 3 month orphan foal

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    02-23-2012, 06:40 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
Orphan filly

Many of you have heard about our OTTB mare Sierra and her little filly, Kenzie. Well very sadly, the mare died unexpectedly last night, presumably of a stroke. Its strange really. She seemed to actually be doing a little better the night before, then this morning we came out she was dead in her shed, and she took an entire wall down. That's why we think she had a stroke, because she was in a large 3 sided shed with a connected paddock, but she had thrown herself against the wall and slid down, bringing it with her. Poor gal. The vet says she probably felt no pain though, and since we were going to euthenize her next week anyways due to health problems and lameness/bad teeth- we're glad she was able to pass naturally, even though it was unexpected.

But now we have a 3 month old filly to care for, and we have no experience with orphans. We tried to get her to take a bottle, but its not working. However, she's already grazing a bit and was creep feeding before her dam died, so my question is: is it safe to just feed her omleen 400 (what she's creep feeding) at this age? What else should we do? Should she have a buddy? She's very skittish because her dam was, so I will be working with her as soon as I recover from my surgery. Are there any suppliments we should get, or vitamins that can keep her immune system up? And suggestions or advice is taken gratefully. Thanks!
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    02-23-2012, 06:47 PM
Green Broke
If you want to use a milk replacer, she is more likely to take to a bucket than a bottle at this point. She isn't *too* far off from the age some would consider weaning (early weaning at 4 months, for example). Did the vet not advise you as to her care and feeding now that her dam is gone?
Yes, she should have a companion of some sort - does not *have* to be a horse, though.
    02-23-2012, 09:06 PM
By 3 months of age, foals can easily be removed from any milk and placed on a regular hay and concentrate diet. I wouldn't waste any time and money trying to get her to take a bottle. She doesn't need it. Think of all the PMU foals that do just fine being weaned at 3+ months of age. Why the 400? I'd want something with a better protein profile for foals not a forage replacement feed. She absolutely needs someone to keep her company. Another horse or pony is best because it will teach her some social skills and herd behaviors that will shape her her entire life. I'd limit your contact with her so she doesn't become a pocket pest. Borrow a friend's horse if you don't have anyone to put with her.

She will be depressed and probably won't eat much the next few days. Don't get too worked up about it.
    02-23-2012, 09:16 PM
She should be just fine on hay and some type of grain. You could mix in milk replacer with the grain if your really concerned. We had to wean a foal at 3-1/2 months before and she turned out fine. She was already eating hay though so that was a big help. She never dropped weight and our other horses took care of her and acted as surrogates (without the milk) Just ask my gelding...

That's sad to hear about the dam. But at least she knew some kindness the past few weeks of her life.
    02-24-2012, 11:26 AM
Teen Forum Moderator
Thankyou guys

TheMacPack- Its quite the situation actually. You see, we don't actually 'own' these horses. We are 'fostering' them as well as three others for a local placement home for OTTBs. This mare is a bit of a rescue piece, as she and the others were brought to our farm directly from the track, where all six were crammed into 3 stalls in order to cut costs. Their trainer was a backyard breeder at best and so had all of these scraggly guys cooped up for who knows how long, two of them with young foals.

For that reason, we actually are only paying for feed and shavings/pasture, etc. The shelter has their vet come out to care for the animals. I personally don't like him, but he hasnt really done anything wrong persay, so I can't say anything. He told us to just stall her, get her used to people, and to feed her a milk replacer (which he gave us) and some feed. We have omleen for some of our other, older foals that are 10-19 months old, and mentioned it. He said that would be fine so we believed him. I'm TOTALLY open to suggestions though! :)

She definitely is depressed though. Very lethargic and unresponsive. I'm worried about her.

I have a little coming four year old miniature horse that I might be able to put in with her. Our 'uncle' gelding is actually over with the other foal from the rescue situation, because we just weaned him (7 months old) a month ago. And being so frail and young, Im not putting her in with that rowdy colt. Especially because he isn't gelded.

I'm not 100% sure putting Sour in with her would be a good idea though, because Sour is antisocial with humans, at best. I'd hate for Kenzie to learn from her! XD my other option is a 7 year old lesson horse. She can be a bit grumpy but is generally easy going. Which would be best?

What do you mean about not spending too much time with her though? At 3 months old and completely shy of humans, shouldn't I be working to gain her trust? As of right now I really can't even touch her.

And yes, it is very sad that Sierra died. We really tried to get her healthy, but her past neglect, her prior racing life and poor care while pregnant and nursing, coupled with bad feet from the beginning and horrendous teeth, there just wasnt anything we could really do for her. Poor thing.
    02-24-2012, 01:26 PM
Many people who raise a foal who has been regected or loose their dam tend to overcompenasate and smother the foal with human interaction. Get her broke to lead, stand for the farrier, stand tied but don't become her new best friend.

The problem I see with the lesson horse is everytime she gets pulled out for a lesson, is the foal going to freak? She sounds like the type of foal who will latch on to whomever you put with her because she doesn't have a confident personality. Try it. I'd even try both the mini and the lesson horse. Let them figure it out. They'll cut the foal some slack while she's still a baby but the sooner she starts learning to take care of herself and read other horse's body language the better off she will be. If she's never been locked up on a stall, I wouldn't do that. You're really stressing her out. Are there other horses next to her?
    02-24-2012, 04:38 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
I see. I'll make sure not to baby her then. The last thing we need is a bratty foal. I don't think it will be a huge problem though, since I barely have time for my other jobs, let alone an orphaned foal. But I know that if I don't do it, she'll turn into a monster who can't be touched because no one else will mess with her, and we don't need that either. I can spare about an hour of time every week to work with her, and that's about it.

You're right about the lesson horse. I didnt think about that. She works for about 8 hours a week, so I can definitely see either her or even Xcia (she's a rather clingy mare herself) putting up a fuss. Good idea about putting both of them in there though. Sour (the mini) works almost as much as Xcia, since Im training her to pull a cart, so without both of them she'd be alone for part of the day either way. I'll just have to make sure that Xcia and Sour get along with eachother first, since I have Sour in a different pasture than Xcia. If they do though, I'll definitely do that.

As for stalling the foal, she was stalled for the first month or so of her life but it wasnt a good experience for her. She was crammed in with her mother and another huge bay mare who stole their food into one 12x10 stall. Poor thing has had quite a traumatic life. She's currently alone in our quarentine area, because we ran out of room. With the destroyed shed, her old paddock is unusabe until we get the funding and time to fix it. Her paddock is 40x40 with another shed that's probably about 10x15. Will it be alright to put her and the two others in there until we fix the other area? Im not hugely worried about space since the other two get a lot of exercise otherwise.

There arent any horses near her since its our quarentine area. She can see a few of our geldings from where she is, but can't really interact with them at all. Theyre about 30 feet away from eachother.
    02-24-2012, 05:31 PM
You will need to offer her free choice hay & offer her a Feed designed for foals.It may take her a bit to get on to eating the grain ration.Finding her a good buddy will help alot.I found the mares better than geldings for this.
I just raised an orphan foal this summer,lost her mother just days after birth.She was bucket fed milk replacer & weaned from bucket at 3 mths.She was eating hay & a grain supplement from just over 1mth. I brought in my one mare to be with her as a surrogate mom.They were stalled next to each other for a week or 2 then gradually introduced them to same stall & paddock.She looks at that mare as her mom & she has taken her on as her own. Lucky that she was boss mare in my herd so integrating the baby to the pasture with the rest of herd went pretty smoothly.They now all watch for her
    02-25-2012, 02:11 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
Thats great! I'm so glad you were able to give her a second chance.

We're giving her free choice high quality hay- 2/3 timothy 1/3 alfalfa. We're also allowing her to graze on whatever sparse grass she can find in her pen. I still have her eating the omleen but I really would like suggestions from anyone on what to change her to!

I introduced Xcia and Sour to eachother today, and they don't seem to like eachother but neither are acting agressively. If all goes well I'll bring them into Kenzie's pen tomorrow or Monday.
    02-26-2012, 09:06 AM
Theres a website that takes care of orphan foals. They have a page on their website that talks about feeding orphan foals. How much to feed them/what to feed them/when to feed them. Here is the link:

Last Chance Corral :: Ohio Horse and Foal Rescue - Dr. Smith's Checklist

Last Chance Corral :: Ohio Horse and Foal Rescue - Caring for a Foal

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