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ThirteenAcres 07-04-2012 11:00 PM

Question about foal not interested in nursing?
My colt was born on April 23rd. I've had him a little less than a month now, and in that time, he's shot up like crazy. His mother is recovering in weight, and only stands about 14 hands at max. She's very small boned and just generally a small horse. She's been on a diet to help her gain weight. She is on 4 quarts of mare and foal feed twice daily, 24/7 grazing, 24/7 access to a coastal round bale shared with 5 horses, (we are putting a 2nd round bale out and dividing the herd up this week into two pastures), and I give her a pound of soaked beet pulp at night.As I said, she's pretty small, and right now the colt has grown up so tall that he ducks down pretty far to nurse. In the past week he's become extremely independent and wanders off quite far frequently. The mare quickly realizes he's wandered and goes and collects him after a while. He follows the other maiden mares around and spends a lot of time with them away from mother but never tries to be a baby with them (if that makes sense).Anyway, I've noticed he's lost a lot of interest in nursing and is much more interested in eating grain and hay with mommy. I know he's a growing boy, and I just guess I'm not this accustomed to such an independent colt at this young. Should I be concerned and possibly change his diet to continue supplementing him with the less he's nursing? He is playful, at a good weight, and growing like a weed, so I don't believe it is an issue with being ill. Any advice from those with more experience with independent foals?

Dreamcatcher Arabians 07-05-2012 12:15 AM

I'd just fix him up a creep feeder and let him do his thing. As long as he's growing and at a good weight, he's either stealing the mares' grain and/or nursing when you're not looking. Colts can be independant little shizniks. I had one who would nurse from mom, run off to play with "auntie Patti", come back nurse, run off, on and on through out the day. I think his mother rather liked the arrangement, she had peace and quiet, nursed him a few times when he'd check in and he'd go run and play with the other mare. I set him up a creep feed in the corner of a shelter, so that other horses couldn't steal his feed and he'd go in and out and life was great for him.

ThirteenAcres 07-05-2012 01:14 AM

He's very very interested in chowing down on grain and hay. To be honest, I kind of feel like he's weaning himself.

I guess I was just so concerned because of his age.

His momma is definitely happy with the situation. She gets a lot of "me" time whole he hangs with the other ladies. And honestly, it's good for my maiden mares I think.
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Dreamcatcher Arabians 07-05-2012 11:53 AM

It's good for the colt too! Those other mares will teach him how to be a good and respectful horsey citizen, I love independant foals.

Faceman 07-05-2012 06:50 PM

Heck, he is about 2 1/2 months old. At that age they nurse mostly for security and comfort more than anything else. The more dependent ones nurse a lot, the more independent ones not so much. I wouldn't worry about it - he could be weaned at that age with no problems, although I wouldn't recommend it. As long as you are feeding him he will eat what he needs...and then some...

Endiku 07-05-2012 07:11 PM

I wouldn't worry about it. The moment our miniature mule filly Tempest, hit the ground, she was independant. At a day old she was already wandering to the other side of their paddock (1 1/2 acres) all by herself, and at a week old she spent 98% of her time bothering her fence neighbors and spooking at rocks, and the other 2% sleeping or nursing. She was even attempting to graze at less than a week old and we had to start giving her own ration of feed at that point because she was stealing all of her mama's. Now she's 2 1/2 months old and only sipping at her milk every once in a while. She'd much rather blow bubbles in the water tub or use her dam as a punching bag.

As long as his weight is good and he's getting a good amount of creep feed, I wouldn't worry. You might look into going ahead and weaning him at four months, too- if his mama is having a hard time coming back into good shape and he's already eating and drinking well.

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