Weaning Options for Foals

Weaning time can be stressful, but proper preparation of the foals and the mares for weaning can make the process much easier for everyone!  Most foals are weaned at about 4-6 months of age, depending on the condition of the broodmares and the management plan of the owner.

There are a number of different ways to actually handle weaning, depending on how many foals you have and the physical layout of your facility.  Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • There is probably less stress on the foal if it remains in the pen or paddock where it is accustomed to being instead of being moved to a new location.  Move the mare, not the foal if possible. 
  • Misery loves company.  If you have more than one foal, wean at least 2 at a time and keep them together.  If you have only one foal, perhaps you have a nice old tolerant gelding who can be a babysitter?  Mares also do better with company.
  • Make certain the pen and paddock are safe with good fencing and no hazards.
  • Out of sight (and hearing), out of mind.  Mares and foals tend to quiet down faster if they cannot see and hear each other after weaning.  There are some differences of opinion on this element of weaning management.
  • A few days prior to weaning, reduce the grain intake on the mare to prepare her to dry up from milk production. 
    • Her udder is going to be somewhat swollen, so don’t plan on cinching her up right away for a trail ride. 
    • Her milk production started decreasing significantly at 2-3 months of lactation
    • Make certain that she can continue to get exercise to minimize swelling and discomfort post weaning.

Monitor the new weanlings fairly closely and adjust feed intake to maintain growth and body condition.  Foals should be consuming about 1 pound of a suitable foal feed per month of age at the time they are weaned.  (Ex: a 4 month old foal should be consuming 4 lbs of feed per day.)  Some weanlings become a bit pot-bellied and look a little rough following weaning.  This is frequently due to inadequate feed intake and too much forage.

Proper preparation can minimize the stress of weaning for foals and broodmares and make for a more pleasant experience for all!

6 thoughts on “Weaning Options for Foals

  1. I weaned a single foal from a first time mare last year. The way I weaned the foal was easy and stress free. My horses run as a herd all summer so when weaning time came I double stalled the foal with a pony gelding she was buddies with. Mare never cared that her foal was seperated, most likely because my barn is open and I have gates for stalls. I still have the buddies together and I do have to say it has benifited them both. She has made the gelding who was extremely passive start sticking up for himself while she is learning how to become part of the herd without momma.

    • Hi how long does it take to wean
      at present I have two and a Gelding lock up in yards feed hay
      the mums removed to another paddock and have been there approx. 7 days
      they all run as a herd normally mums have been removed t anther paddock at present away from them.

      • Hello Lindsay, thank you for your questions! You want to be sure the mares milk is completely and properly dried up and wait 8 weeks or maybe even more to ensure the mare has dried up. If the weanlings are introduced and begin to suck and the mare hasn’t dried up then the weaning process will need to start over again. I personally like to wait longer to be sure the mare is dried up and weanling will not be interested in sucking.

        Thanks-Shelby

  2. We have a mini with a foal,that we have just brought,the foal is 4 to 5 mths old ,we have never done this before please help

    • Hello Levanne & Collenn, Thanks for the question, and congrats on your new horse! For the mare, since she is in later lactation at this point, she simply needs to be on a good quality feed. If she’s an easy keeper, Empower Balance is ideal for mini’s. If she’s a little harder to keep weight on (perhaps the former owners can tell you), then try SafeChoice Special Care.

      For the foal, he should be on a feed specifically for growing horses until he turns two years old. From our product line, we’d suggest SafeChoice Mare & Foal. This will provide him all the necessary nutrients, from protein to vitamins to minerals, that he needs to develop properly.

      Hope this helps – if you have any more questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to let us know! Thanks ~ Gina T.

  3. I was finally able to rescue and move the two mares my ex husband ended up with after our divorce. The younger mare is the older mare’s foal and he never separated them in order for her to wean. She is now 4 years old and still occasionally tries to nurse. Does anyone have suggestions for weaning her or and cautions I need to take. I have them in separate pastures now but they can still see each other from a distance.

    Thank you for any advice!

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