We may be able to answer some of your commonly asked questions below. However, we know it's sometimes more reassuring to speak to a person and we have a team of vets and performance horse specialists available to support you, so please don't hesitate to call our helpline on 01270 782223, or talk to us below on live chat.
What should I feed my foal after it is weaned?
The nutrient needs of the growing horse are somewhat different to that of a mature adult horse. It is vital that young horses receive optimal levels of all vitamins and minerals. Good quality protein is also essential to ensure that they grow and develop correctly. It is important that young ponies are provided with adequate but not excessive amounts of energy (calories) in the diet, which could lead to developmental problems. The best way to judge youngster’s energy requirements is to monitor and condition score them regularly; you should aim to be able to just see their ribs. They will look leggy.
If your youngster is currently in good condition I would recommend that you feed him Suregrow. You may also like to consider feeding some Alfalfa Chaffas this is an excellent source of both quality protein and calcium. This is particularly useful during the winter when the grass is poor.
If your foal needs additional calories then we would recommend Mare & Youngstock Mix, which has been specifically formulated to be fed to native types between the ages of 1 to 3 years. Mare & Youngstock Mix provides:
- Good quality protein
- All the essential minerals, vitamins and trace elements required for normal growth and development
- Fortified with more concentrated levels of minerals and vitamins than a conventional stud feed, which makes it ideal for low feeding rate
- Particularly useful for native breeds, part-breds and warmbloods because they generally hold their weight easily and do not require as much concentrate feed as a Thoroughbred foal.
The quantity needed will depend on his growth rate, pasture quality and quantity. However, as a guide for a 1 year old that is expected to mature to 13hh and approximately 350kg, feed 1kg per day in order to meet his vitamin and mineral requirements. Split this daily quantity in to at least 2 feeds. You should continue to provide adequate amounts of hay or haylage and turn-out when possible. Ideally you should aim to feed little and often, remember that young horse's stomachs are relatively small. You should try to split a youngster’s daily ration into at least 2/3 feeds per day.
My mare is going to have her first foal this summer, will I need to feed the foal or will it get all the nutrients it needs from its mum’s milk?
Milk is low in certain key vitamins and minerals, for example copper, which are vital for correct growth and development. The nutritional composition of mare’s milk changes throughout lactation and typically begins to gradually decline in the second month of lactation.
Usually foals will begin to show an interest in their dam’s concentrate feed at approximately two weeks of age. At this stage it is a good idea to introduce a small quantity of good quality specifically designed concentrate feed. Introducing concentrate feed at this time will: a) Help balance the nutritional deficiencies in mare’s milk, preventing any deficiencies or imbalances. b) Aid the anatomical and physiological maturation of the digestive tract. c) Teach the foal to eat on its own, thereby helping to reduce stress and the risk of digestive disturbances post weaning.
You should also aim to weigh your foal and record its height every few weeks in order to monitor its growth rate. Abnormal growth rate may increase the risk of developmental problems such as epiphysitis.
Dodson & Horrell produce creep feeds specifically designed for Thoroughbred and Native/Warmblood foals.
Typically Thoroughbreds grow more rapidly than other breeds and have higher nutrient requirements. Dodson & Horrell’s highly palatable Foal Creep Pellets have been formulated specifically to meet the needs of the rapidly growing Thoroughbred, providing high quality protein and optimal levels of energy, vitamins and minerals to ensure optimal growth and development.
Native and Warmblood foals tend to maintain their weight and body condition reasonably well, but still require high levels of vitamins and minerals for correct growth and development. Mare and Youngstock has been specifically formulated for low intakes and therefore contains elevated levels of vitamins and minerals. This means that energy intake can be limited, preventing the foal from putting on too much weight, which stresses their joints, whilst still ensuring that they receive all the essential vitamins and minerals they require for correct growth and development.
As with all horses make sure that any changes to the foal’s diet are introduced gradually.
How should you feed a broodmare prone to weight gain in early pregnancy?
It can be tempting to over-feed a mare in early pregnancy (the first eight months) but it’s important that she is not allowed to become overweight at this stage. Good doers generally don’t need a specific stud feed in early pregnancy. However, it is important that the mare gets a fully balanced diet to support both her own health and that of the developing foetus. Feeding a low intake, low calorie balancer such as Ultimate Balancer or Suregrow is ideal. This will provide good quality protein and all the essential vitamins and minerals, without supplying many calories thereby helping to limit calorie intake as part of a calorie-controlled diet.
I have an orphan foal; how should I feed it?
If the foal was orphaned at birth or very soon after, the first thing you need to do is to make sure it gets colostrum. This is the sticky, yellow first milk produced by the mare. The foal needs to consume colostrum ideally within 12 hours after birth, as it contains vital antibodies, without which the foal is likely to become very ill. If possible, the colostrum should come from the foal’s own mother; alternatively your vet should be able to provide a source of donor colostrum.
Next you will need to decide how you are going to provide the foal with milk. A foster mare is the ideal solution but if this isn’t possible then you will need to bottle or bucket feed using our specially formulated mare’s milk replacer, Equilac. Your foal will need to be fed Equilac until weaning, at around 3-4 months old. If your foal is doing well we can feed this alongside a vitamin, mineral and protein balancer, Suregrow, from 2 weeks old. If your foal needs extra support we can use Foal Creep Pellets instead.