Weaning is likely to be one of the most traumatic times in a horse’s life. For first-time breeders, it can be similarly daunting.
There are many tried and tested methods, but until recently there has been little published research to ascertain which is best.
Much depends on individual circumstances and whether a foal is being weaned on its own or has company.
But in any case, careful preparation and planning will help reduce separation anxiety and other problems.
Consider pairing up with somebody else if you only have one mare and foal. The foals can then be weaned together
Ensure that foals are eating the appropriate creep feed ration prior to weaning
Make sure that foals are appropriately wormed
Ensure you have a safe, secure environment for both foals and mares. Check all fencing, gates and water
Wean early in the day, so mares and foals can be observed before it gets dark
Wean if a foal seems slightly off-colour: treat any health issues first, however minor they may seem
Wean if the weather is bad – pick a warm, settled period if possible
Administer routine vaccinations in the pre- and post-weaning period. The stress of weaning can affect the immune response and may increase the incidence of post-vaccination respiratory disease
Forget to introduce your foal to a headcollar and get it used to being led before you wean it
To read the full feature on weaning foals see the current issue of H&H (3 August 2012)
Read more about breeding