How To Wean A Miniature Horse? (Real Answers From Real Owners)


Mini Foal Weaning From Mare

Maybe you are looking to breed your horse or your first time buying a mini whatever it is we have you covered with weaning your new little one. There are many things you need to get setup for your little mini so not having to worry as much about weaning will eliminate one of those things.

So how do you go about weaning your mini horse? 

The quickest way to wean a mini horse for many is to remove the mare and put the foals together in a pasture. Best to remove the mare from the farm if possible so they cannot hear each other. The most used way for small farms is to remove the mare for extended periods of time continually increasing that time until the weaning is complete. Always remove the mare if possible so the foal is in a comfortable familiar place. 

There are few other practices and strategies as well for weaning mini’s we will go over these two are the ones we have used in the past. When you are weaning it is best if you can wean multiple foals at the same time so they can buddy up or with other young horses around they can get along with. They don’t have to be in the same pasture just able to see each other.

Other Ways To Wean Your Mini Horse

So far we briefly went over abrupt separation and prolonged separation so we will finish up with those first before moving onto the other steps.

1. Remove The Mares Completely – this is best if you have a friend you can bring your mare too or another farm they can stay for awhile. The mini foal should remain in the same area they have been with the mare so they are familiar and the most comfortable they are going to be there.

With big horse farms this is still the main practice they remove all the mares and put the foals all together making it easier on them. So they actually have what is called a weaning pen so all the mares and foal are put in one pen for a period of time to get familiar with surrounding and feeding. Then the mares are all removed at the same time.

So this doesn’t always work best with small farms or personal breeding. Weaning two foals together can be best otherwise the foal can get a little rowdy and end up hurting themselves. When weaning a foal by themselves you should probably take extra precautions like bringing the foal into a box stall so they can harm themselves.

2. Slowly Separate The Two – this is simply removing the mare maybe putting in a barn further away from the mini foal so they can separate completely. This may start with as little as 15 minutes to hours at a time. It will create independence with the foal and also spread out the nursing time. You can spend time with the foal when this is happening and play with he or she. Feed them give them treats, etc. Keep them occupied the entire time at first if possible.

As time goes on it will get easier and the foal will be completely independent. The easiest time to separate them will be at feed time so the foal will hopefully pay more attention to the feed then the mare.

3. Fenceline Weaning – this may be the least stressful way to wean a mini foal from a mare. Basically if you have adjacent pastures you remove the mare and put in an adjacent pasture so they can still touch and see each other. Eventually the goal is to have the mini foal be completely free and independent of the mother.

Sometimes this can take as little as a few days or longer. There usually isn’t as much fuss between the two due to being able to see each other. For most personal breeders this is probably the way to go if possible. It also creates less stress on the owner as we have seen before with our family.

Weaning Miniature Horses (Opinions From Other Owners)

We love our minis and regular sized horses. But we don’t want you to just take our word for it so we have gathered information from other mini horse owners so you can get their take on it as well.

We curated the content from a number of different forums and sub reddits. We corrected grammar and spelling where needed but outside of that the answers remain the same.

Here is what the owners at to say:

Real Mini Owners

1. Debby – LB “We Don’t Put Foal Mare Back Together At All” – She needs to be content and eating well on her own before she is relocated. Each foal is different so it’s hard to say but maybe a couple weeks at least. Will she have a companion at her new home? If so then I think that once she’s eating well on her own, and is not stressing about her Mom, you could send her on – but if she’ll be alone there then I’d keep her with me just a little longer. Have you got some type of creep feeder set up for her? She’s almost 6 months old now right? You usually won’t put the foal back in with the dam at all when you wean, it’s very stressful for the foal to be taken from it is mom several times like that..when it’s time you just separate them. Good luck with your little one! Sagittarius is one of the best signs to wean under so you have that going for you. If you have some photos we’d love to see her.

2. Amysue “Not Back Together Until Milk Dried Up” – Generally once you start the weaning process, you do not put them back together until the dam fully dries up. Allowing the foal to nurse will make the dam continue to lactate, and not letting the foal nurse at will while she is still producing milk can cause more stress and discomfort for both mare and foal because Momma’s bag will be uncomfortably full for long periods of time since she will still produce milk as long as the foal nurses, this runs a higher risk of mastitis for the mare and the foal runs the risk of colic episodes due to frequent increased stress and anxiety and a disrupted diet. Weaning through wire fence is hard, as they can see each other and in some cases, baby finds a way to suckle, the risk of injury is greater when foals can see/smell/hear their dam, but cannot get to her not only because it creates high anxiety but because they may panic and attempt to scale the fence or injure themselves trying to squeeze through it. Momma may hurt herself trying to get to her distressed foal and it is possible for mares to get downright nasty when trying to protect their foal, that poses the potential risk of you getting injured in the process. It is best to keep thwm as far apart as possible for a few weeks until the process is complete. As Debby mentioned, a buddy is very important for her companionship, as horses so not do well alone being herd animals and they need to learn how to socialize and behave within a herd environment. Weaning is stressful, moving to a new home is very stressful but being alone is incredibly stressful for a herd animal who instinctively seeks companionship for safety and security. As long as she is growing and developing properly, eating hay and grain consistently and appears healthy (no respitory issues, stress induced upsets, colicky behavior or diarrhea) then I would say she is ready to go to her new home, especially if they have a buddy for her. Even though going to a new home is stressful, it may be less stressful then being right next to mom during weaning. It’s like ripping off a bandaid, better to do it quick and get it done rather than agonizingly peeling it off a bit at a time. Good luck with her. They grow up so fast.

3. Jean_B “Nothing Better Then Cold Turkey” – I’ve been raising horses for over 40 years. I wean cold turkey. Babies are in a paddock on one side of the barn – mares are way out in the woods where they cannot see the babies. As soon as I separate them I make sure there is plenty of feed and water to occupy their brains. Very little bellering this way, and they get over it much quicker.

4. MiniNHF “Never Back Together” – We raised Thoroughbreds for years and we never put them back together once the weaning process started and we would actually put them in a field on the opposite side of the farm. Usually after a week I would say they would calm down and not really worry about their moms. The most stressful days for them was of course the initial day and then maybe a day or two after but most would be content after about a week.

5. Joann “Gradually Since We Are Small” – i only have 3 minis. my stud, the mare and foal. i did gradually decrease maare grain for 2 weeks until she was no longer getting ant. then i put the mare in an area right next to where she and the foal have been since the birth. they can see, hear but no touching each other. i really dont have much room to separate them so they can not see each other. the foal is in the same area and stall that she was born it. we are trying to find a place to move the mare so cant see each other. but that is on my lawn by my pool!!!! we could move her further down from the foal and put our stud next to foal. but she could still see and her each other.

6. Chandab “Whatever You Can Do” –¬†Sometimes circumstance dictates how we do things.

One year, I left a filly with her mom all winter, due to snow and shortage of corrals; mare was fat and sassy the whole time so I wasn’t worried about her.

Last time, due to snow, the colts were only across a single fenceline from their dams, but I was able to put up safe mesh so they couldn’t nurse.

This time, lack of space means the mares are just one paddock away from their babies; I pulled the mares to a separate pen and left the foals with mares they had been with all summer. Mares also had to stay on feed, as these foals pulled them down quite a bit, so it took a bit longer for them to dry up; but with winter coming, I need to do what I can to get weight back on the mares before it really hits.

How Long Does It Take To Wean A Mini Horse?

You can wean a mini horse in as little as a few days if you remove the mare completely or it can take up to a month if you do it the gradual way. Both have their benefits and negatives so it will be up to you to make the choice on the path you want to take.

Weaning A Single Mini Foal

Weaning a single foal is tough because if you have multiples you can put them in the same pen then remove the mares. So it may be best to try them in a smaller pen or in a box stall so they can’t run around as much. If they get too jumpy after the mare is removed they can hurt themselves trying to run through the fence or something like that. It may be best to try removing mare for short periods of time and work your way up or set them up in adjacent fences.

How Long To Separate Mare And Mini Foal For Weaning?

If you want to wean quickly you want to separate the mare from the mini completely. As in no bringing the mare back in with the mini foal. If you are using a gradual method just start at what you are comfortable with which may be 15 minutes then increase to 30 minutes then an hour, etc. It will take a lot more time, but eventually the foal will become independent and lose interest in the mare.

Weaning Miniature Donkeys

Weaning mini donkeys is just like weaning mini horses. You have options, but if you want to get it done quickly remove the hinny (mom) from the farm so the foal can adapt quickly. If you don’t have the heart to do that it is completely okay it is tough. Just either put the hinny in an adjacent pasture or remove out of sight for short periods of time increasing as the days go on.

Weaning Mini Foals At 3 Months

This topic has come up a lot of weaning mini foals at 3 months. In our opinion we would wait until at least 4 months maybe even 6. They just aren’t normally independent enough at 3 months of age. If you have experience with doing it this way that is fine we just prefer to wait until that 4 month mark at least.

Weaning Foals At Night

This can also be an issue what to do with your mini foal at night when weaning. There are options for this as well. If you only have one foal I would definitely suggest either bringing back in the mare or at least putting the foal in a box stall so they feel more comfortable and protected.

Final Thoughts

This can be a very tough situation to go through so make sure you have support especially if it is your first time. Pets and horses are just like our kids for most people. That is why we suggest different methods that can work for every situation. The gradual method can be combined with the fenceline method to make it even easier.

There is no hurry unless your mare is having issues with nursing or is starting to dry up then you may need to speed things up a bit. The end goal can be reached quickly or as long as you want outside of that.

 

Danielle

Hello welcome to our blog. We are avid horse riders and horse lovers that are looking to provide free information to those looking to get into horses or horseback riding.

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