Baby horses otherwise known as foals are a beautiful sight to see. They are very active all the time driving their mothers crazy just like any toddler. Since they are so active they need to be fed a lot and filled with nourishment.
So What Do Baby Horses Eat? Baby horses or foals eat only mothers milk for the three weeks before adding grass to their diet shortly afterward. By the time the foal reaches 2 to 3 month the mother will stop feeding and the baby horse will have to look for other food sources such as grass and horse grain.
Baby Horse Facts
The first few weeks is the most important as the bonding with the mother and them being left alone to do their thing. After this the mother will force the foal to find other food so be ready for this.
- Baby horses have a great deal of strength for their size after being born in order to keep up with their mothers.
- They depend solely on their mothers in the beginning because that is all they need .
- Female baby horses are called a filly or fillies for plural.
- Male Baby Horses are called colts.
- Other names include Weanglings (as they are in the process of being weaned) and yearlings after you guess it they are over a year old
- They are weaned usually at around 3 months but sometimes up to 6 depending on the owner
- Foals are born with shorter necks so it is hard for them to eat grass at first which is why they used to always eat leaves and taller plants
When Can I Start Giving Feed/Grain to A Baby Horse?
Even in the early days a foal make take a big interest in eating grass and snacking a bit on mothers grain normally just as an imitation. As long as the mothers milk is coming out the foal should be gaining anywhere from 2-3 lbs a day just on that.
If the foal isn’t and is feeding longer then 30 minutes at a time you may need to check to make sure the milk is coming out may be clogged. At that point may be time to call a vet.
Of the early signs your foal is getting ready for solid food is sometimes when they start eating manure yes that is correct.
So at around 13-24 weeks your foal may be ready to start having a supplemental feed to balance their diet. As their mothers milk will be deteriorating so you will need to follow the feeding schedule a bit.
It is essential to get them a well balanced diet so they grow strong. Just like human babies this is the most important time in their life.
One main reason is that young horses can develop bone and joint disorders if not taken care of correctly.
Most people do what is called creep feeding which is basically feeding the mare and foal separately. You do not want the mare eating what the foal has too. There are many ways to do this.
Make sure you read up on metabolic bone disease as well it is never a bad thing to get as much information on this situation so you can do your best to prevent it from happening. It can be a combination of growing to rapidly or gaining weight to quickly or an imbalanced diet.
Best Feed For Growing Horses
Foal feed needs to be nutrient dense but not a big bulky amount at the same time. Here is a combination in the feed you should be looking for:
Nutrient / Recommended Amount
Crude Protein / 16-18%
Calcium / 0.8-1.0%
Phosphorus / 0.6%-0.8%
Copper / 10-30 mg/kg
Zinc / 40-120 mg/kg
Ask around locally for what horse feed to use and to help with your creep setup if needed. You can do this very simply with some posts and a feed box. These are just for a foal once the horse becomes a weanling the recommended nutritional amounts will change.
They should average around 2-3 lbs a day in the beginning slowing down to 2lbs or less at about 4-5 months.
What is Weaning?
This is basically breaking the mother-baby bond with a horse or other animals as well. There are many ways to do it and none of them are easy at first because it is a sad time to break this bond up.
Sometimes the best way is to just separate them abruptly so the process is short but definitely not sweet. This will come down a lot of times to the way you parent your kids when you go from a bottle to no bottle or sleeping by themselves, etc.
What Do I feed A Newborn Horse?
The mother will feed the horse during its first 3 weeks. If the mare is not taking or has passed you have usually two options to milk the horse by hand using a milk replacer or you can even lease a nurse mare.
Do Baby Horses Drink Milk?
They do drink the mother milk or a nursing mare if needed. You can also use a milk replacer if need to do by hand.
How Long Do Baby Horses Nurse?
Baby horses nurse for the first few weeks and slowly switch to grass and grain after that. It can last up to 6 weeks as well if the mare is really pumping out the milk still and it is not deitorating.
When Do Foals Start Eating Grass?
They start eating grass after the first few weeks. Sometimes they will start eating sooner or later. When they do sooner it is usually to mimic their mother.
Bringing a foal into this world is an amazing thing. The process can be quite fun to go through. Make sure you get your friends and families involved. Foals are amazing creating watching them bond with their mother is full of heart felt moments. The are very strong for how small they are and will play a lot throughout the day and sometimes night so it can be very stressful for the mother just like with humans.