weaning naturally - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 09-02-2013, 10:06 AM Thread Starter
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weaning naturally

I have read so many different ideas I would like to get some opinions from this group. I bought a mare in November of 2012 and she turned out to be in foal unbeknownst to the seller and of course us. In March of 2013 she foaled a gorgeous appy colt. Now I have never raised a colt and am fairly new to owning horses myself. So all has gone very well but we are at the point now where we are thinking about weaning. So here is our dilemma. We want to keep the colt and don't want to cause them so much stress with an abrupt separation. I have read that this can cause many issues down the road. The colt has developed a wonderful relationship with a new mare I just bought 2 months ago. He hangs out with her as much as his Mom. We also have a POA gelding (herd boss) I have read that letting the mare decide when to wean is a good thing and I am not opposed this but need some help for my mare. She has lost weight and we worry about this. From what I read if I boost her grain she will only make more milk perpetuating the problem. If I take her off grain won't she lose even more weight? My mare is a fleabitten Quarab just under 15HH. I have since discovered her colt was sired by a Sugarbush stallion which is a Draft/Appy cross. I am sure this colt is just drawing quite a lot from Mom for his growth needs. How can I balance this with the least physical and emotional damage to the Dam and her colt? I also have a small place with only a 70 foot round pen to separate the two. (I was not planning on a baby but here we are)
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post #2 of 34 Old 09-02-2013, 10:14 AM
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At 6 months old, that colt is ready to be weaned. Plus, you need to get him gelded or he will impregnate both his mother and his female companion, which means more babies you don't want or have room for.

You need to separate him from both mares immediately, even if it's just to stick him in the round pen until he's completely weaned and gelded. Some mares never self wean, and will continue to nurse a foal as long as they'll suckle. Sounds like your mare is one of these.
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post #3 of 34 Old 09-02-2013, 10:51 AM
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Agreed, some mares will never self wean and some mares will even adopt a young'un that isn't theirs and let it nurse.

He needs to be separated and gelded ASAP. Especially since your mare is having trouble keeping weight. All the food she eats is going toward making milk for a baby that doesn't need it. So long as he's nursing, she won't gain weight.
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post #4 of 34 Old 09-02-2013, 10:56 AM
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I'd put mom in the roundpen, to dry up, leave colt with the " herd", then start, after mom is dry, feeding her extra to gain back her weight.
I let my mares wean the babies, usually happened when they approached a year, but it was a herd situation and very easy on all involved. And I had moms and babies on a feed, so babies didn't " overuse" the moms, so I didn't have weight problems.
What I would do in your situation is take her out and in the roundpen starting with an hour, and watch how colt holds up without her.
If the gelding is boss, you shouldn't have to be in such a hurry to geld the colt. He won't stand much chance. But I would get it done before spring for sure. MHO, I don't believe in gelding super early.
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post #5 of 34 Old 09-02-2013, 11:17 AM
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At 6 months old, it's time to take him off of her and let him lose his "parts". I actually like to geld as early as possible if they're dropped. I did this year's colt at 2 1/2 months. He went to sleep intact, woke up and nursed as a gelding. He never even blinked about the operation. Just fyi if you ever have another colt.

My place isn't huge, and I prefer not to listen to the bawling and squalling that goes on with both of the horses if they can see/hear each other. I have a boarding farm that's about 5 miles away from me, has lovely grazing land down by a river, and that's where mom goes for some "me" time. I put her colt in a stall, load her in the trailer and then come back and let him back out into the bachelor pasture, or if a filly in with the mares, and in just an hour or so he's settled and not really even looking for mom. I pay for mom to have 30 days at the "spa" and when she comes back neither is particularly interested in the other. Very easy.

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post #6 of 34 Old 09-02-2013, 11:29 AM
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I too feel that going cold turkey is best. No use in separating them only to put them back together after a short while. Humans are very emotional beings. We don't like hearing them cry out. Horses are not the same. They get over it much easier than we do.
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post #7 of 34 Old 09-02-2013, 12:35 PM Thread Starter
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My foal

I appreciate all the advice. I have done quite a lot of reading and feel that cold turkey weaning is not best for our horses. It can cause behavioral issues down the road. As to gelding the colt will be gelded in October or November when he reaches 8 months. My vet will not geld in summer months when the flys are this bad and they have been really bad this season. He does not cry out and or act bad when Mom is in the round pen by herself. He just runs off to bug the other horses LOL or at times will run off all by himself. I want to keep encouraging his independence and confidence and I feel taking his Dam away completely would hinder that. He really loves the other mare Willow who does not put up with his nincompoopery so he is learning respect from her and I appreciate that. In our situation putting his Dam in the roundpen would be best and she is not bothered by it terribly. Especially at feeding time so she can eat all she wants with no distraction. The new mare I bought came to me underweight so this also helps allow her to eat since my Mare Star (dam of the colt) will always run her off the hay. I will try a few hours per day in the round pen for Star and see how it goes. The colt eats hay and grain really well so he should be asking for less of her but like some said he may just keep nursing if she lets him. We do not breed horses so this is a one time deal for sure. I am looking into some feeds that may keep weight on her as we get through this. I guess most people plan to sell babies born on their farms so things are done with this in mind. This was a surprise baby for us and I can't see letting him go now that we have him. He makes the Fantastic 4 so we are good!
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post #8 of 34 Old 09-02-2013, 12:40 PM
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It causes NO behavioral issues down the road.

And these are HORSES not people. It will not hinder his confidence or independence to wean him.

Horses do NOT think like that.

What it will do is keep the weight on the mare.

I've also seen colts not much older than 8 months breed mares too.
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post #9 of 34 Old 09-02-2013, 12:57 PM
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Ditto what palomine said.

If cold turkey caused behavioral issues there a majority of the horses in the world would have some serious issues.

You are anthropomorphizing your horses' relationships way, way too much. Horses are not people and do not think or feel the way people do or look at relationships the way people do.

Personally I would be separating him from the mares to avoid any chance of impregnating either his dam or the other mare.
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post #10 of 34 Old 09-02-2013, 01:04 PM
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I can understand waiting to geld until the flies have died down for the season, but you need to separate him from the mares NOW.

He won't have any psychological problems from being weaned cold turkey, nor will his mother. They're horses, not people. At 6 months of age, he's past time to be weaned. Pretty obvious his mother isn't going to do it, so you as the human responsible for their care and well being need to make that decision.
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