Weanlings: Management and Care of Young Horses

Horses July 13, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Morgan foals in field

The process of weaning foals and managing young horses after weaning can become a stressful and high maintenance process. With the correct management practices, however, this process can become less daunting and easier on both the horses and owner.

Typically foals are weaned between four and six months of age. Foals of this age are usually becoming more independent, and are consuming more grass and/or grain and hay, relying less on their mother’s milk. Other factors such as the foal’s physical maturity and overall health should also be considered when determining when it’s time to wean the foal.

Weaning methods range from abrupt and complete separation of the mare and foal, to gradual separation. The weaning method used will often depend on the owner’s preference, the facilities available, and the condition and temperament of the mare and foal.

Find out more about weanlings and young horse care using these eXtension Horse resources.

  • Reducing Weaning Stress in Foals - Careful evaluation of management conditions can lead to the selection of a weaning method that minimizes stress to the greatest extent possible. This article discusses the stress posed by different weaning methods, as well as management practices that can be implemented to make the weaning process less stressful.
  • Foal Management During the Preweaning Period-Creep Feeding & Halter Breaking  - Certain management practices such as creep feeding, halter breaking, and vaccinating foals prior to weaning can benefit the foal’s health later during the stress of weaning. Read more about the management steps a horse owner can take during the pre-weaning phase of a foal’s life to ensure optimum health and future productivity of the foal.
  • Weaning a Foal  (Webinar) - Weaning a foal is an important milestone for the young growing horse. Preparing the foal prior to weaning and then ensuring that the weaning process poses as little stress as possible, will provide the young horse a definite advantage from both a health and psychological standpoint.
  • Feeding a Growing Horse – Ensuring that young horses get the proper nutrition during the first 12 months of their life is critical, because 90 percent of mature height and 80 percent of mature weight are achieved during this time period. This article discusses the nutritional requirements of young, growing horses, as well as post-weaning nutrition considerations. 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.