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Best Feed For Weanling Foals

author
James Smith
• Tuesday, 29 December, 2020
• 9 min read

This can be a stressful time, both emotionally and nutritionally, but keeping these tips for weaning horses in mind can ensure a smooth transition and continued healthy growth. Foals will start to show interest in feeds very early on and, by around two months of age, their mother’s milk will no longer supply all the nutrients needed for optimum growth.

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Contents

For example, a 3-month-old would ideally be eating about three pounds of feed per day, in addition to milk and free choice hay or pasture. A weaning horse already accustomed to eating an adequate amount of dry feed will transition to life without mom much easier and will be ready to maintain nutrient intake at a level that can sustain optimum growth. Feeds formulated for adults will not provide the necessary nutrients for your baby to fulfill their genetic potential and may cause deficiencies and increase the risk of growth abnormalities.

Purina feeds formulated for growing foals include Cultism ® Growth, Imogene #300 ®, Strategy ® GO, Equine Junior ® and Enrich Plus ®. Plotting your weaning horse’s height and weight over time should show a smooth, steady growth curve with no obvious peaks or valleys.

Weaning horses are growing to their genetic potential when they are being fed a well-balanced diet in amounts to maintain slight cover, so ribs aren’t seen but are easily felt. We want to share some strategies and equine feeds that can help achieve healthy, sustainable growth while minimizing the risk of developmental orthopedic disease (DOD).

If he is growing too quickly, putting on too much weight, or showing signs of DOD, you may need to consider weaning on the early side. On the other hand, if the foal has been ill or isn’t a good doer in these early months, you may want to have him continue to nurse.

No matter how old the foal will be when he’s weaned, it’s important he has already started eating pasture in addition to equine feed. We recommend an equine feed with a protein content between 14% and 16%, fed at a rate of 1 to 1.5 pounds a day for each month of age.

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However, because these swings in condition can stress the young horse’s skeletal system, carefully monitoring his growth is essential. Also, it should provide key nutrients like lysine (an amino acid), calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, manganese, and vitamin E.

Stamina is equally effective in maintaining gestating or lactating broodmares and providing required nutrients to growing young horses. • Edge 14 : Our reduced-starch equine feed is custom-crafted to support proper skeletal development, replacing cereal grains with super fibers and vegetable oil.

Like Edge 14, KG 14 replaces cereal grains with super fibers and vegetable oil and is fortified with Stamp 30. It’s highly palatable, contains 14% protein, includes beet pulp as a soluble fiber, soy oil to increase the fat level and overall calories and is fortified with Stamp 30 to ensure the weaning receives necessary micronutrients.

• Super 16 : This extremely palatable equine feed helps support consistent growth and body condition. For estimating weight, measure around the heart girth and the length from point of shoulder to point buttock. You can track growth over time by checking your horse’s body weight with a scale or measuring tape.

Plug these measurements into the body weight equation below to estimate your horse’s weight. Optimal growth Ideally, you should feed young horses to grow at a moderate, steady rate.

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The National Resource Council (NRC) recommends rates of average daily gain for horses. Recommended average daily gain values for horses of different mature body weights range from 0.28 to 0.39 percent and 0.15 to 0.21 percent of the horse's body weight for weaklings and yearlings, respectively.

Maximum growth Feeding a young horse for a maximum growth rate is undesirable because bone hardening lags greatly behind bone lengthening. Ideally, young horses should gain weight at a rate that their developing bones can easily support.

Growing bones don’t have the strength to support rapid weight gain from overfeeding, especially energy. Rapid weight gain can also make other skeletal anomalies worse.

In these cases the risk of developmental orthopedic disorders (DOD) and unsoundness increases. For example, switching an underfed, slow growing horse to a good diet that allows quick growth, increases the risk of DOD.

Always provide horses free access to fresh, clean water. Young, growing horses need a diet ratio of Ca to P between 1 and 1 and 3 to 1.

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Common feed stuffs usually don’t provide enough trace minerals. Maximizing forage intake will mimic natural feeding behavior and bring about gut health.

Thus, don’t rely on pasture alone to provide your young horse with all the nutrients they need. Concentrates A horse’s ability to efficiently use forage develops over time.

Only feed enough concentrates to achieve the desired growth rate and maintain a moderate body condition score. Always consider the expected feed intake when calculating your horse’s daily ration.

Digestible Energy (Meal/lb of BY)Crude Protein % Crude Protein % Ca UP ICU ppm Zn limit A IU/bit E IU/expected feed consumption (% BY) Weaning 1.2514.0-16.00.70.41040910372.0-3.5 Yearling 1.1512.0-14.00.50.31040910372.0-3.0 Feed young horses to grow at a moderate and steady rate.

Foals between the age of 3 and 9 months are at greatest risk for developmental orthopedic disorders. Maximizing forage intake will mimic natural feeding behavior and bring about gut health.

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Nutrition is important for growing horses between weaning and 2 years of age. During this time, bone formation and size greatly increase as well as muscle mass.

Thus, these horses need the proper amount and balance of energy and nutrients in their ration. Most foals are weaned at about 4 to 6 months, just when their nutritional needs begin to outpace their mothers' milk supply.

Designed to provide all of a foal's nutritional needs at birth, a mare's milk yield naturally starts to decline after the first month or two. By the time the foal is 4 months old, he must supplement his nursing with other food sources, such as forage (hay and pasture) and grain.

Accustoming him to these nonmilk sources well before weaning time not only will help him maintain consistent growth throughout the transition, it will also help to avoid the “kid-in-the-candy-store” syndrome. But because the microorganism populations in newborns' hind guts need several months to develop fully, he will have trouble digesting this forage initially.

As he ?matures, his forage intake will increase and play a larger part in his diet. Turn him out on a productive pasture or entice him with good-quality, palatable hay (fresh and clean, early-cut).

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If you plan to feed your weaning grain, introduce him to it when he's about 1 or 2 months old, starting with just a handful at a time and increasing the amount incrementally. One good way to introduce nursing foals to grain is with a creep feeder: a four-sided, single-railed enclosure built either in the corner of the fence line or standing alone in the center of the pasture (the latter is preferable for group feeding, as it allows escape on all four sides).

This feeding method thus reduces the risks of digestive problems, such as colic and ulcers, brought on by large meals. If you have only one foal, make the creep feeder sides about 8 feet long, set at your mare's chest height.

He can eat out of her feeder?in which case, be sure the feed meets his nutritional needs, which are higher than the mare's in some respects. Or mount a foal feeder, which has openings too narrow for an adult horse's muzzle to access, for him on the wall of her stall.

To encourage what nutritionists call “optimal growth,” you can provide up to 60 percent of a weanling's ration, based on weight, in the form of a concentrated feed designed specifically for growing horses. Encouraging even more rapid growth by feeding excessively large grain portions can contribute to long-term development problems, for example in the bones and joints, particularly in certain breeds, such as warm bloods and Quarter Horses.

The best proven method for supporting healthy musculoskeletal growth is to provide a properly balanced diet? Be careful not to confuse a potbellied foal (with a bloated belly and no layer of fat over the ribs) with an overweight foal; a potbelly may indicate a parasite overload and/or poor hay quality, especially when accompanied by a poor hair coat.

Weaklings turned out in groups rarely get too fat, even when fed free-choice forage and given adequate concentrate to support growth. Stalled youngsters, on the other hand, may overeat out of boredom and, without plenty of exercise, may become overly fat.

Throughout that time, periodically reevaluate and adjust his diet to address his growing needs, as well as his exercise needs, until he reaches full maturity. Dr. Christine Kelly is an associate professor and equine extension specialist at Michigan State University.

Some individuals will slow down their growth rate at 6 to 12 months, while others continue to grow rapidly. It is important to feed the horse’s physiological growth rate, not necessarily its chronological age.

Many yearlings grow as fast as weaklings, and must be fed a diet to support such a growth rate in a sound manner. A common belief is that high protein diets can cause developmental orthopedic disease (D.O.D.).

This can be accomplished by feeding a ration balancer designed for the forage being fed at recommended levels. Then, if more calories are needed for body condition, we can add a fat supplement or complimentary low NSC product.

This approach might be slightly more expensive in cost per day, but can save many times the cost in veterinary bills and lost sales value due to D.O.D. The requirements for crude protein, lysine, calcium and phosphorous increase faster than the energy requirement.

There is evidence that copper levels 3-4 times higher and zinc levels 2-3 times higher than the current Nutrient Requirements of Horses (NRC, 2007) recommendations may help alleviate the incidence of D.O.D in many situations, especially programs with faster-growing horses. We believe that low copper and zinc levels are a major contributor to D.O.D.

And must be addressed from the 1st trimester of pregnancy until the resultant foal has ceased growing. The concentrate (grain) component of the diet should be carefully chosen to complement the forage (hay and pasture) source, with particular attention given to the calcium to phosphorus ratio in the total diet.

The ideal calcium to phosphorous ratio in the total diet of growing horses is between 1:1 and 2:1. Growing horses consuming forage sources composed of 50% or greater alfalfa or other legumes should be fed a concentrate specifically designed to balance the nutrient profile of legumes.

Young, growing horses require a specially designed diet to meet their unique needs. With many poorly designed feeds, horses may have to be fed more to meet the requirements of non-calorie nutrients, thereby developing excess body condition, which can aggravate D.O.D.

Try to keep young, growing horses in moderate flesh, with a body score of 5-6, and monitor body weight with a scale or weight tape every 2-4 weeks, so adjustments can be made as growth rate increases or decreases. Make sure the total diet (forage and concentrate combined) is balanced for the weaning and yearling.

C. Monitor growth rate and keep young horses in moderate body condition (body score 5-6). D. Consult a qualified EQUINE nutritionist to help balance diets and adjust to problem situations.

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Sources
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2 onlinestudbook.com - https://onlinestudbook.com/horses/220096
3 onlinestudbook.com - https://onlinestudbook.com/horses/217034
4 onlinestudbook.com - https://onlinestudbook.com/horses/225505
5 onlinestudbook.com - https://onlinestudbook.com/horses/218807
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7 bookstore.mbsdirect.net - https://bookstore.mbsdirect.net/vbm/vb_buy2.php