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weaning naturally

This is a discussion on weaning naturally within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category

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        09-03-2013, 02:37 PM
    We also had our little pony colt gelded at 3.5 months too.
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        09-03-2013, 03:46 PM
    Green Broke
    I'm curious as to what long term issues are caused by abrupt weaning. I did a little researching and all I could find was this:

    "Foals are often taken to strange surroundings, dewormed, vaccinated, castrated, halter broken and may be offered feed for the first time. In response, foals frantically neigh, fret, run, get hot, donít eat (or overeat), etc. The most common physiological response to stress is an increase in cortisol (an adrenal gland steroid) circulating in the blood. Several studies suggest that high levels of cortisol may suppress the normal function of the immune system and impair disease resistance in foals. Therefore, anything that minimizes weaning stress should also aid foals in resisting infection or disease. These stress responses are often accompanied by losses in weight, injuries, lowered resistance to diseases, etc. Foals weaned in an abrupt manner often take 3-4 weeks to recover from the weaning process."

    Copied from http://immuvet.com/weaning-stress-in-foals/
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        09-03-2013, 04:23 PM
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    There's no doubt that incorrect weaning will cause problems which is why it's so important to do it correctly. By the time a foal is weaned it should already be eating well and not totally reliant on its mother's milk
    If the foal is going to be handled for shots and castration etc then its best if this is done well prior to weaning - all my foals were handled as soon as possible, usually on the day they were born so they could be checked over and the umbilical cord area treated. A foal that sees its mother calm and trusting around humans is less traumatised and more accepting of being touched and restrained
    I prefer to take the mares away for a month and leave the foals in familiar surroundings amongst other horses that they feel secure with. I've never had one whinny for long or get distressed as they're already quite secure and socialized with a group and each other.
    ***As for the question on getting the weight on the mare - she is going to keep producing milk on a supply and demand basis and as the foal gets older it will drink a lot more than it did at 2 months old even though its eating other stuff. Sometimes just seeing the foal will cause her to produce milk and will give her as much or more stress as taking the foal away altogether because in a few days she'll forget about it
    OP - you are in a Catch 22 situation where you are now. The foal smells the milk and will want to feed off her. If you remove her grain she'll pull on every other resource she has to feed her baby - which is why many mares in the wild die of starvation in hard times. To get weight back on her and keep weight on her you are going to have to feed her a lot more and she will keep producing milk as long as the colt keeps asking for it
    This is why the only real answer to your question is that the solution to your problem is to wean now.
    I wouldn't castrate while there are still flies about but once they've gone over if he's dropped it needs to be done before the frosts get too severe
    The older he gets the higher the risk of him breeding with any mares you have and if they don't want his attentions he's going to get attacked by them. Even in an adjacent field there's a good chance that he'll try to jump out or break through the fence to get to them especially if you have a flirty mare that plays up to him.
        09-03-2013, 06:40 PM
    Agreed, it shouldn't all be done at once. If the foal needs shots, castration, etc, then it should either be done before or after weaning. Not at the same time.

    Also, the best way to keep the foal from freaking out after weaning: DON'T LEAVE HIM COMPLETELY ALONE. It's best to put him with at least 1 good gelding so that he has someone to buddy up with.
    NdAppy likes this.

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