What is the latest you ever weaned??

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Well-Known Member
Mar 27, 2004
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Central Michigan
I see alot of posts on how soon can you wean, but my question is how long can you leave the mare and foal together without ill effects??

I was hoping to leave our mare in with the foal thru winter (filly born 6/7/05), as I don't plan on letting our mare get pregnant for next year. Is there a problem with this?? Will a mare eventually wean on her own if given time??

yes I have herd they start weaning there own baby at around 6 months old!!

I am not sure though since I am not a breeder......YET!!

I haven't raised too many foals, but the few I did raise I left on the mare until they were almost 7 months old. I never had any ill effects and I thought the foals matured better being with mom that long. I never bred the mares back though so I wasn't worried about the foal "pulling her down" so to speak. I've known people to not wean at all as well. They run their herds out on the desert, run them in about twice a year and give shots, worm, trim feet etc.... They also sort off all 3 year olds to start breaking them to ride and such. The mares will wean the colts off themselves and he has some of the nicest colts I've been around. This is one I bought from him as a yearling shown here at two.

Not always, will they wean on their won, When we bought Night Lady the folks who had her had not taken good care of her. She was not in good condition (she'd foundered from neglect with her feet and left on grass pasture) and was in with her yearling colt who was still nursing. Wish we could have taken him also, but the guy wouldn't let him go, said he already had folks wanting to breed to him.

His feet were "elfed" and I worried about the trauma of taking his mom away. They told us to "just take her" and no one was home at the time. The poor little guy was running and screaming when we left.

One of the most neurotic horses I ever knew was an 8 year old gelding who had NEVER been weaned. He and his Mom were the only two horses their owners had, and he was still nursing at 8 YEARS! His teeth were out of adjustment and his mind was a mess when they were seperated!

When letting foals nurse for extended periods, keep in mind that colts can become fertile at less than a year, and have nothing against breeding their own mom...
Not weaning, in a herd or single situation does untold damage mentally IME. Lets start with the natural weaning myth. There is NOTHING naturally about weaning. In the wild the stallion either drives all the yearlings out or mates anything that will stand still depending on which behaviour pattern his type belongs to. If there is no stallion present the mare will continue to suckle the yearling if another foal is not born or drive it away if she has any sense. If she does not the yearling will take the colostrum and even the milk and the new foal will die. In a domestic situation, where we would not allow this to happen, the yearling never learns to stand on it's own feet. It never learns that it cannot take certain liberties as it has it's mothers standing in the herd and she continues to protect it. It has a most immature attitude when dealing with humans, acting like a foal, and weaning, when it comes, is twice as hard. You do get the occasional, sensible mare who will turn her foal away but continue to look after it in a slightly less motherly way, but I would never rely on this happening. The latest I have ever weaned a foal was eight months- it was a very late foal and I thought I'd let it run through the winter. BIG mistake. I wean my late foals early now, around three months, and they are fine. Bear in mind also that once the "milk hairs" on the nose- the little fine ones, have been replaced by the coarser hairs of maturity, the foal can no longer digest milk and needs proper feed, which, if it is stalled with Mama, you have no way of making sure it gets. I have had foals change these hairs as early as two months, and, obviously, they still need their mothers at this age, but it also means they need feed or good grass as well. Mother love is not enough nourishment.
Thanks for all your input and experience with this. I will take it all in and make the best decision based on my observation of my mare & foal.

Thanks again.
That is ABSOLUTELY the best thing you could do- every one is different.
Now that was well said Jen. The latest I weaned was Thera and she was my first baby. I weaned at 6 mos. It went well and when I put them back together (the mare was rebred) and the baby would give it a try the mare would swish her tail and turn away. In an hour Thera got the idea and just lived nest to mom doing as she did. Eariest was Grady. 3 mos. Totally pulled Feather down and he was wolfing his feed and doing super. Best of luck with you lil darlins. Mares milk loses most of it's nutrional value by 4 mos, so they are really pacifying themselves as opposed to really eating anything great.
I didn't have the facilities to separate my then-baby Cody from his mom (Misty) and decided to let them do it on their own. I'm waaaay too embarrassed to say how old Cody was when he stopped nursing (even though Misty had dried up) - I KNOW some of you here already know!

Let's just say it was something out of Jerry Springer, and I'll never do that again!
I generally wean my mini babies between 3 1/2 and 6 months. While my broody sort of tries to wean them, I suspect the discomfort of a full udder keeps her and most mares from following through with the plan.

We have had several QH that weren't weaned until their yearling year. The mares and offspring both were fat and sassy. I have yet to have a baby, either mini or QH that wasn't eating hay, grass, and ration, and just nursing because "they could." So, they were getting plenty of nutrition, and obviously the mares were too. Depending on the individual, they could be bears to wean whether the babies were a few month old, or 14 months old, both the mares and the babies! We have held off at times hoping the baby would be less reactive, and more likely to be aware that the stall walls were indeed solid! Sometimes it worked better, sometimes they were still idiots, just seemed like they could inflict more damage on themselves and the facilities. Our QH are bred every other year, and are for our use rather than for sale. So, everyone stays "on-sight." It works OK for weaning, but have found it actually seems to go best if they go to separate farms for the weaning process.

Regardless of the age of weaning, we've had no emotional problems for having weaned late. All have gone on to be successful show horses and broodmares.
There is someone local here that left her mini mule with the dam for over 2 years. Talk about a neurotic animal. You couldn't take the mare away with out him going nuts and almost hurting himself everytime.

I prefer to wean anywhere from 4 to 6 months. My last mule was a little harder and he is still attached to his dam although he doesn't nurse. He just follows her around everywhere and is protective of her.
Yep, weaning is a must IMO. I like to wean late compared to most as I feel the horses are just mentally more mature and able to handle the process. Around 6 months of age is my favorite, but we have gone as late as 9 months once to avoid weaning in really harsh winter weather where the baby may be pushed out of the run in shed if it's mom is not there becuase of the foal's new herd mates.

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