Foal Care: 6 Foal Nutrition Tips You Don't Want to Miss!
Posted by Gabby Gufler on Thu, May 01, 2014 @ 10:15 AM
By: Dr. Kelly Walter
The arrival of a new foal is an exciting time for a horse owner. A lot of time, effort, and money have been invested in order to reach this point. You have also potentially lost a lot of sleep waiting to watch your mare as she foals, so that you can assist if necessary. You’ve done everything you can to ensure your foal gets the best start to his life. It is important to continue this level of interest and care as your foal grows throughout his first several months. This is the most rapid period of growth, with most light breeds of horses reaching about 40% of their mature weight by six months of age. The dam’s milk will usually serve as a complete nutrient supply for the foal for the first six to eight weeks of life, but he will quickly seek solid sources of feed to supplement his diet.
Here are a few tips to help you manage the nutrition of your growing foal:
Find a high quality mare and foal concentrate feed for your mare during lactation. These are usually around 16% Crude Protein, but beyond having a higher quantity of protein, these feeds should also contain higher quality protein. This means the amino acid content of the concentrate is important. A good starting point is to look for a concentrate that includes the amino acid content on the feed tag, and select a product that contains at least 0.8% Lysine. Follow feeding recommendations for the concentrate of your choice for lactating mares. Your foal will learn by watching its dam, and will gradually begin to share meals with your mare at only a few weeks of age.
- Provide this same concentrate as a creep feed for your foal. This means you should offer the concentrate in an enclosure or feed bucket that restricts the mare’s access and allows only the foal to consume the feed. There are several commercially available creep feeders as well as guidelines available through your state extension service to help you build your own.
- Offer creep feed at approximately one pound per 100 pounds of the foal’s body weight. For most light breeds, this is about 1 pound of concentrate per month of age. (Consult the feed tag to double check feeding rate recommendations for individual products.)
- Place your creep feeder in an area where the horses are likely to spend the majority of their time. Young foals will not want to stray far from their dams so placing the feeder near the mare’s feeding area or a place where she spends the majority of her time will help encourage the foal to consume the feed.
- Clean out your creep feeder regularly. To encourage consistent consumption, be sure to clean out any feed that has not been consumed after about 24 hours. This is especially important if your feeder is exposed to the elements and could get wet and result in moldy feed.
- Continue to provide this concentrate through the weaning process. Your foal will be accustomed to consuming this concentrate which will help decrease the amount of stress your foal experiences during weaning.
Dr. Kelly Walter is an Assistant Professor at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO. She teaches a range of courses in Agricultural Science and Equine Science. She earned her MS and PhD from Texas A & M University in Animal Science, and her dissertation and thesis research focused on mare and foal nutrition. She enjoys riding and spending time with her personal horses, and is currently waiting on her mare to foal any day now!
Why supplement your mare and foal with Calf-Manna?
- High-quality proteins: Calf-Manna includes multiple sources of high-quality protein. This protein provides a wide array of essential amino acids that meet the needs of your growing foal.
- Digestible Carbohydrates: Calf-Manna’s digestible carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy. It’s often called “energy dense” which means it delivers more calories per mouthful.
- Palatable: Calf-Manna’s unique aroma and palatability attracts foals to feed and keeps them coming back for that great taste!
- Brewer’s Dried Yeast: Brewer’s Dried Yeast improves palatability, encourages earlier and more consistent intake of dry feed, and promotes optimal digestion of other nutrients.
- Linseed Meal: Provides protein and oil to help add sheen and luster to your foal's coat.