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DonnaL

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It's that time of the year, Weaning! I hate it, it breaks my heart. Any suggestions to make it easier? Thanks, Donna
 

Magic

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There are a lot of different ways to do it, and a lot of different opinions, but the way I do it is I wait til the foals are a little older than most do (at least four months old but many times five to six months old if the mares are doing well physically with the foal nursing). I set up a creep feeding area and start feeding the foals twice a day with Equine Junior at least one month beforehand. I also give them just a little hay, though they are on pasture, so they are used to eating it. Once I'm ready to wean the foals, I separate them from their dams for an hour or so at a time at first, where they can still see them, and build up the amount of time they are apart, until they are just briefly with their dams long enough to get a quick nursing in, once or twice a day, then after that it is easy to permanently separate them. I like this method because the foals never do get upset about being separated from their dams, nor the dams from their foals, and the mares gradually get used to their foals nursing less, so have less milk bag discomfort. Is it labor-intensive? Oh yeah. Is it worth it? To me it is.


But like I said, there are many many ways to wean foals, and many different preferences by different people. You will be able to choose what you think will work best for you.
 

Lucky-C-Acres-Minis

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We wean in buddies around 4-5 months old.. The foals usually already have a buddy or two that they get along great with so if they're around the same age, both doing well on feed etc. then they are weaned together.. If I don't have foals of the same age or have just one foal to wean then we have a gelding and some young stock that we can wean with so they have a buddy.. I've found the buddy system works the best
 

Songcatcher

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I do pretty much the same as Magic. I have weaned one so far this year (she was sold before weaning and went to new home at four months). I usually like to wean at least two at once, but did not have another one close to the same age this time. I put this one in the back yard adjacent to the lot where I feed the mares. When the mares were up in the feed lot, the baby had no problems, but when the mares went out to pasture, she would circle and whinny. The mare seemed to care less, but the filly did much better when I put a couple of other mares and foals in the yard with her for company.
 

Boss Mare

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My very first foal ever.. I tried to wean her so many times and each time it would break my heart, so I kept putting her back with her dam.. until she was around 10 months old.. I know.. slap me on my hand.. Until finally I weaned her and it wasn't that hard on the filly at that age.. I had another buddy for her.. Even after a couple months I put her back with her dam and they were best buds..

NOW.. I wean at 6 months.. granted the mare is doing well and I prefer to separate during the day, stall together at night for a few days to a week.. then.. cold turkey.. I free feed the foals.. but I always seem to have the fatties that are always eager to eat their share..

Good nutrition all around is key.. even my babies come out plump and hit the ground running (and eating)!
 

dannigirl

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I always wean by the moon sign (geld that way too). We wait until the youngest is at least 3 months old and then at the next moon sign, we wean all together. The babies have buddies and the mares will usually stop looking for their foals within 12 to 24 hours. I leave the mares in their usual environment and move the foals.

I put all foals together for a week or two and then allow them to pick a buddy to seperate in stalls at night--2 in a stall. Then in a couple more weeks, I will put them in individual stalls at night.
 

Miniv

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As has been mentioned........everyone chooses to do it differently. We have always done the "buddy system". So if this means allowing our first foal to be 5 or 6 months old, so be it.

We used to wean them gradually by separating foals from moms for part of the day at first and then increasing the time apart over about a week or so........ Many people like to do this.

In the last very few years we've changed things to cold turkey (still the buddy system). Our observation was that the gradual weaning was actually harder on the mares -- physically for drying up -- and also upsetting for both of them to be separated and then returned.

Occasionally this means waiting until the foal is slightly older and emotionally ready, more independent, for the final separation. But once it's done, there is about a day's worth of calling, maybe two, (which is hard) and then it's over.

Oh, and when you pull the foal off mom, no matter which method you choose, stop graining the MOM.
 

mini1

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When we weaned it was no younger than 4 months and we always did the whole bunch at once (make sure all foals are eating good). We weaned by the sign of the moon (check a Farmers Almanac for dates). We put the foals where they could see and hear the mares but not touch them. We would hear an occasional whinny for a day or two but little to no stress or trauma on either mares or babies.

Once we started weaning by the sign of the moon, we would not do it any other way. It always seemed to be very easy.

Kelly
 

eagles ring farm

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at about 4-5 mos depending on the foal

and our schedule as we want to be sure to be around alot to keep an eye on things

We usually wean by putting the foal in the stall next to the mare so there is no panic , after a couple nights that way we move the mare to a different stall and replace her with a mare the foal likes in the herd

then during the day we leave the foal with the herd

of other broodmares and foals and put the Dam in a different

field. That way the foal will be in farmiliar surroundings with other horses they know

The only thing missing is the trip back to mom for a drink

We have one field where the foal could go up and visit mom through the gate

They get tired of missing the action with the rest of the herd and visit mom less and less because they cannot nurse and Mom usually knows its best not to hang by the gate.

Then mom is removed to another field away from the foal

we make sure our foals are eating grain and hay and drinking water before we would do that

we usually bring them in the hallway of the barn and give them

some grain while mom eats hers before weaning to be sure they are eating grain.

We may drag it out more than total cold turkey but it works well for us

Our vet recommended Pro Bias for mare and foal for about 2 weeks when weaning starts to

keep a settled stomach we have done that since our 2007 foals
 
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barnbum

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I think I'd win a ribbon for most gradual weaner...hmmmm, that doesn't sound good and I don't know what color the ribbon would be...but.....


I start when they're about a month old--one of my mares gets mean if her foal tries to eat her food about then. So when the two mares come up for dinner I get the foals in the habit of eating separately from their moms. Babies eat Contender, moms eat Gro N Win. The foals, and mares, seem to look forward to this brief break. I extend that dinner break to 30 minutes after several weeks--but I'm always there in case someone decides they need to be back together.

Then at about 4 months I start separating them when they change pastures in the late afternoon. (They get bored in the same old pasture all day, don't cha know.
) Everyone is right next to each other, and no one seems to even notice because of the dinner separations. The times are gradually increased from there, until at about 5 months the foals spend the nights away from moms, but they are in a situation where they can groom over the mares' stall doors. Once that's lasted 2 nights, I check the mares' udders and might let foals sip to relieve pressure, but if the foal is uncooperative about it--meaning she drinks mama dry before I can stop her--I'll milk the mare out just enough so it's not uncomfortable.

I found out last year that foals are much happier if they are pastured beside their dams, rather than in an adjoining pasture where they can't see her quite as easily. Claire whinnied for her dam the first day apart, but once I moved her beside Chloe she was quiet. Another lesson learned.

And that is how I wean babies.
 

DonnaL

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Thanks so much for all of the different types of info, basically I do the same things you all advised. I have never heard of moon signs though, what sign would you look for, full moon?? My filly will be 4 months on the 19th of this month. I have been separating Mom and filly for 1 hour a day just to let her know the time is coming soon. Do you vaccinate the filly before taking her away from the Mare or after. I usually like to vaccinate about a week before taking her away so it won't be so stressful. Thanks, Donna
 

Donna

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It's that time of the year, Weaning! I hate it, it breaks my heart. Any suggestions to make it easier? Thanks, Donna
Donna, I registered online with the web site Old Farmers Almanac. Every year when the youngest babies are around 4 months old, I look at the Astrological Calendar and posted on the site is the best days to wean, castarate, cut your hair to grow, lots of good information. I take all the babies the same day and move them to a pasture that is away from the mares. I have never had any issues what so ever. Not even the whinnies for Momma.

I have been doing that since I have been breeding and even my vets have been amazed at how well everyone does. Give it a try.

Donna G.
 

Genie

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We use the "Buddy System" here as well.

I just hate the weaning process but have found that having a buddy, and "cold turkey" is the way to go.

This gives the first born foals more time with Mum but it's easier for everyone if they all move to their own pasture at the same time.

All the foals are with their mums and the other foals for a month or so prior to weaning and are used to frolicing together when it comes time to move on to "life without Mum".

The youngest age we will wean is always past 3 months.
 

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