After Weaning Behavior

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Ferin

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Stetson was a very happy colt when he was nursing. He was full of life and loved to play. He spent all day chasing the mares around the field jumping on them and enjoyed playing.

Since we have been weaning him from Skyler he has gotten extremely depressed looking. They have been apart for about a month and he still hasnt gotten over being away from her. We cant let them be together unless we are right there because he will try to nurse and she will let him do it. She is almost completely dried up but we dont want him to cause her to make milk again....she has just gotten weight back on her and is looking good. We have him pastured with a yearling filly and a 4 yr old mare. Stetson looks like he doesnt enjoy life. He grazes and eats grain and hay but he never plays anymore. I havent seen him run in a long time even when our other horses run. His head hangs almost all the time and he just looks sad.

This is the first baby we have ever weaned so it is new to us. Is this normal behavior when being weaned or does it sound like something is wrong with him? We really want Stetson back to normal....I hate seeing him this sad!

Thanks in advance for any help!
 

Margaret

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Most people put weanlings together and wean at the same time, as these babies get depressed easily when they are isolated by them selves. I had only one colt this year and was fortunate to be able to put him in a pasture, following weaning with a gentle three year old filly that is also his half sister. It was amazing to watch how happy he was once they were together...He must have exchanged scratches for at least 20 minutes, once all the running was over with.. Even a goat is better than all by themselves, but a gentle horse is a better option if you have one.
 
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kaykay

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margaret he is pastured she said with two other horses

jmo but i think this is cause for worry. He sounds to me to be lethargic and depressed. How much and what are you feeding him??? weanlings need a lot of protein. How old is he??
 

Ferin

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He is almost 5 months old. We are giving him 1 1/2 cups Omolene 300 (Mare and Foal) and 1 1/2 cups Equine Jr. He has great pasture that he is on all day and free choice hay at night.
 

Margaret

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Ok Kaykay sorry I didnt see that. In that case I would suspect that perhaps something in his diet is possibly lacking. To my colt I give a portion of race horse oats with a ration of Professional Nutrition- (recommended by Little King Farms), mixed in morning and night. along with pasture and hay. What type of suppliment are you giving? Can he at least see his mother thru a adjoining fence- mine is allmost 5 months old now, and will go nuts at night if I dont let them be together-(seperated by a fence of course.) Have you also checked his temp to make sure he does not have a fever? - All things I would consider.
 

Miniv

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Once you go through the list of physical possibilities......including ulcers, and all those are ruled out -- then tackle the emotional.

Was wondering -- can he see him momma? He needs to be totally pulled from any reminder of her right now and given new buddies and activities.

Just a thought,

MA
 

Ferin

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What type of suppliment are you giving? Can he at least see his mother thru a adjoining fence- mine is allmost 5 months old now, and will go nuts at night if I dont let them be together-(seperated by a fence of course.) Have you also checked his temp to make sure he does not have a fever? -
We were thinking about giving him Grow Colt made by Farnum but were unsure if it helps. Have you ever used it? If so do you think it is a good choice or is there something better?

He is able to see his mother. They are in patures right next to eachother.

We checked his temp a few days ago and it was normal but we might go ahead and check it again tommorrow just to be sure.

Once you go through the list of physical possibilities......including ulcers, and all those are ruled out -- then tackle the emotional.
What are the signs of ulcers? Do we need to have our vet out to check him for ulcers or is there something we could give him to prevent them?

Was wondering -- can he see him momma? He needs to be totally pulled from any reminder of her right now and given new buddies and activities.
He is able to see his mom...they are in pastures right next to eachother. We had him at a friend's stable for a couple of weeks with other weanlings but he was so depressed there. He wouldnt play with them and just wanted to stand around. We figured that maybe if he was with horses he knew at our place he would be happy again so we brought him home.

Thanks for the help!
 
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Miniv

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I would suggest having your vet rule out the ulcer possibility. However, you can give him Tagament (sp) from "over the counter".

If it is ulcers, it would be directly related to the stress of being apart from his mom. If that is the case, you may want to put them back together for a little while longer. We had a colt last year that did this to us and with a combination of vet perscribed ulcer meds and allowing him back with his mom - he cleared up and hasn't been sick again.

Some mild ulcer symptoms include depression, not interested in eating much - especially grain, and spending a lot of time around the water trough/bucket - but not always drinking that much.

More severe ulcer symptoms look a lot like colic. Often the foal will roll onto his back and stay there with his feet in the air.

Wishing the best for your little guy!

MA

PS: Forgot to mention another symptom -- they will often grind their teeth!
 
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ChrystalPaths

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The first thing that strikes me is...I get the feeling you "removed HIM" from the mare. Am I correct? I find with a single foal (which I also have and am putting off weaning) it works better to remove the "mare mom". This way the baby still has the same surroundings and friends to be with and help with the emotional separation. I feel he is sad and stressed. Some ulcer meds may be a good thing to "avoid" an ulcer because he is sad and doesn't like the "new herd" he's been put with. Some probios and Nutri-Cal will help perk him up. Can you switch this around? Begin again? Are you keeping Stetson or selling him? Is mom worrying herself over him being gone? Most important.."talk" to him and explain what's going on. Tell him he's a big boy now and so on. Extra love helps. JMHO
 

Ferin

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I would suggest having your vet rule out the ulcer possibility. However, you can give him Tagament (sp) from "over the counter".
Stetson does have almost all of the symptoms you have mentioned. He is depressed, he's at the water bucket constantly drinking, and he grinds his teeth. No change in his eating though and he hasn't been looking colicky at all.

If we got Tagament for him how much would you give him? Or do you think we should ask the vet for a perscribed ulcer medicine?

The first thing that strikes me is...I get the feeling you "removed HIM" from the mare. Am I correct? I find with a single foal (which I also have and am putting off weaning) it works better to remove the "mare mom". This way the baby still has the same surroundings and friends to be with and help with the emotional separation. I feel he is sad and stressed. Some ulcer meds may be a good thing to "avoid" an ulcer because he is sad and doesn't like the "new herd" he's been put with. Some probios and Nutri-Cal will help perk him up. Can you switch this around? Begin again? Are you keeping Stetson or selling him? Is mom worrying herself over him being gone? Most important.."talk" to him and explain what's going on. Tell him he's a big boy now and so on. Extra love helps. JMHO
We did move him away from his mom instead of moving mom away. We could begin again except that Skyler is just now getting weight back on her. One of the reasons we started weaning him was because he was pulling Skyler down and she was getting extremely skinny. She is now almost back up to normal weight. It really doesnt bother Skyler that he isnt in the same pasture as her. We are unsure yet as to whether we will keep him or not....if the right person came along then we would sell him but if not he is most likely going to be a show gelding.

We really appreciate your advice! We hate to see our little boy unhappy!
 

Miniv

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Short&SassyStables said:
I would suggest having your vet rule out the ulcer possibility. However, you can give him Tagament (sp) from "over the counter".
Stetson does have almost all of the symptoms you have mentioned. He is depressed, he's at the water bucket constantly drinking, and he grinds his teeth. No change in his eating though and he hasn't been looking colicky at all.

If we got Tagament for him how much would you give him? Or do you think we should ask the vet for a perscribed ulcer medicine?

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I ALWAYS recommend consulting a vet about stuff like this. The Tagament is just a " just incase" stop-gap. It won't hurt him. Since he's 5 months, right? -- I'd give him the adult dose. I'm sure he's over 100 pounds by now.....or close to it.

If you think he's weighs less, then give him a half dose......

MA
 

SunQuest

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Put Stetson back with the original herd if you can and remove the mare instead as the orginal herd is his extended family that he has known all of his young life and that he trusts. This makes weaning a little more tolerable for him as he has the rest of his family around him. When I wean, I never wean a foal by it's self. If I can't take the mare out of the herd, then I always wean with a "babysitter" that they have been together with for at least 6-8 weeks and in which the foal is well bonded with. (Poor Uncle Bullet.... This little gelding went from a show horse to a babysitter.... He just loves being an Uncle!) This way it is not as stressfull as they have a security blanket to help them learn the new routine.

And I agree with the others. Get your vet out and get a health check up and also get him started on ulcer preventatives just in case he is suffering from them. It is not normal for a colt to be lethargic for that long.
 

Miniv

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I'd also ditto Nila. Since he's not with any buddies, having him with other horses that he was with before he was weaned would probably be much easier on him.

It's funny how each foal can be different.....and each mare for that matter. Some are okay at four months, but some are stressed and it can be easier at six months.....it just depends on the individuals.

MA
 

wpsellwood

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Cant you put him back in with mom and double up on her feed? Then start again sounds like you have gotten good advice her. Im dreading mine hes a big mommas boy. Cry baby all the time. Just started seperating them a big so he wont be so stressed out when I wean next month.
 

Ferin

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Ferin, How old is your little boy? just curious.
He is 5 months old.

Cant you put him back in with mom and double up on her feed?
We could do that but I would hate for him to pull her down again. We doubled up on her feed when she started to get skinny when he was nursing and she still got extremely skinny.

He is with horses he knows.....a yearling and a 4 yr old. He has been with them since he was born. He's always been buddies with the yearling so we made sure she was in his pasture. His mom is buddied up with another mare and is in a pasture right next to Stetson. They can touch noses whenever and graze right next to eachother alot of times.

We are going to call our vet tommorrow morning and talk to him about ulcers.

Thanks so much for all the help!
 

Michelle@wescofarms

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We wean in groups, and take the dams out, although all ours have an adjacent fence. It seems to stress them less when they can be near their dam, as they're fed close to 1/4 mile away from each other, the mares and the babies soon get tired/hungry from standing on the fence and will just visit for awhile - generally only a few weeks.

We just put the next group of mares/foals to weaned in with the already weaned ones. The mares will be pulled out around the 15th, so we know the babies are comfortable with the other foals and the 3 mares that stay in with the babies.

When we've had to wean a foal individual, I do it as late as possible 6-8 or later as by then, Mom is a source of comfort only and generally sick of the nursing anyway. We have one mare that is difficult to wean she gets very upset (had a foal die a few years ago) so we're letting her wean her daughter this year when she's ready or by January at the latest. Right now she's in good to a bit chunky weight, so I'm not worried about that.

If your colt is acting depressed like this for so long there is probably a physical problem - ulcers or nutrition (I find low protein often the problem).
 

Becky

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Lots of good advice here, but it definitely sounds like you are dealing with ulcers (depression, playing in water, teeth grinding, etc). You need to have a vet see him ASAP or his condition could go down hill quickly. I wouldn't put him with his dam again at this point, but I would keep him with the yearling filly if she doesn't pick on him. He does need company. Good luck and keep us posted.
 

Ferin

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Thanks for all the info and advice!

We took his temp today and it was 98 degrees. We also talked to our vet. He said to give him Zantac for a couple of days....1 pill twice a day. If the Zantac doesnt greatly improve the way he is acting then he would need to come out and see him.

I am going to be at nationals until the 19th so I wont be on to give you all an update for a while. My parents are going to be home with Stetson to keep an eye on him while I am away.
 

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