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- - Weaning (http://www.horseforum.com/horse-breeding/weaning-59220/)
Our mule foal is now 3 1/2 months old. When I was young, we weaned foals "cold Turkey" or by just seperating the mare and foal to where they couldn't see each other and after a few days, all was well. But now I am hearing that you should wean slowly. Like seperate them, but take the foal in and let him nurse morning and nite for a few minutes at a time. Does anyone want to offer up some advice on how they wean foals? And we did it at 3 months old back then, is that still a good age?
We wean after 3 months of age. Exactly when depends on how well the mare and foal are doing. We also factor weather. If it's very hot (August), we may hold off a couple of weeks to not add to the stress of the heat.
Cold turkey. Occasional nursing could lead to mastitis.
I did mine cold turkey but I had baby in a barred stall next to mom. I would have waited longer than 3 months but mom had health issues and bad habits. After a week I sent mom back to her owner. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
Some prefer cold turkey, some (myself included) prefer slow. I won't wean younger than 4 months, prefer to wait until 5-6 myself.
Usually, my barn weans cold turkey. I think drawing out the process would only make it harder, and quite frankly, all it takes is another stall and good fencing. After a few days the foal is fine and the mother is too.
I generally do things based on the individual case. My boy was a very independent from the start and started eating solid food on his own regularly at two and a half months. He could easily have been weaned at three months with no ill effects, but I left him on her for a couple more months because of issues with the place I was boarding at. On the other hand, an acquaintance of my father's had a filly that they had tried weaning at four months and she did not do well at all. She had a very difficult time adjusting as she had not started to eat solid food except for browsing. It took her quite a while to adjust and you could tell that she just wasn't going to be on the same level as the other foals.
I personally don't like the idea of weaning a baby before 5-6 months unless the health of either him or the mother makes it a necessity. After that, it is all cold turkey because by that time, they should be eating solid food and drinking often. My baby was weaned at like 8, maybe 9, months (I didn't have a secure place to put him until then). I just put him in a nice solid pen and fed him there for about 10 days. Then I turned him out to pasture with all the geldings and neither him nor mom have ever looked back.
All my foals have been weaned cold turkey around that 5-6 month mark. All have done really well with no ill effects.
I wean between 3-4 months and do it cold turkey. I have tried the slow way and it was harder on the mare and foal then just separating them and being done with it.
Cold turkey. Horses are not humans - realistically, it's actually crueler to keep putting them through the process then having them scream for a day or so. Every time you separate them, it's like the first time all over again - they'll never understand, never learn, they just know you're taking baby away.
Realistically though, the best thing you can do is get them used to being apart at a young age. Zierra was only a couple months old when I started taking her dam out on rides alone. She had Playboy to snuggle up to, and it never much bothered her. The more they're accustomed to it as youngsters, the easier weaning is going to go when they're eating solid food anyway.
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