Choosing a Feed for Weanlings

As we inch toward summer, it’s getting to be time to wean some of the foals born in January or February. We want to share some strategies and equine feeds that can help achieve healthy, sustainable growth while minimizing the risk of developmental orthopedic disease (DOD).

When to Wean

Generally, foals are weaned somewhere between four and six months. It’s important, however, to consider the health and progress of an individual foal before determining when to wean. If he is growing too quickly, putting on too much weight, or showing signs of DOD, you may need to consider weaning on the early side. On the other hand, if the foal has been ill or isn’t a good doer in these early months, you may want to have him continue to nurse.

Before Weaning

No matter how old the foal will be when he’s weaned, it’s important he has already started eating pasture in addition to equine feed. He should be getting most of his nutrients from this combination.

We don’t typically recommend feeding foals individually before 60 days of age. Nursing should provide all of the necessary nutrition for the foal to grow properly during this time. After the foal is 60 days of age we can introduce a feed. We recommend an equine feed with a protein content between 14% and 16%, fed at a rate of 1 to 1.5 pounds a day for each month of age. For instance, at four months, a foal can receive between 4 and 6 pounds of equine feed per day. This should provide him sufficient calories and nutrients as he learns to eat feed.

Post-Weaning Slump and Growth Spurt

It’s not unusual for a weanling to lose weight/condition; a growth spurt often follows this. However, because these swings in condition can stress the young horse’s skeletal system, carefully monitoring his growth is essential. In some cases a low-starch equine feed to support proper skeletal development can be considered for proper growth.

Ideal Feeds for Weanlings

As with mature horses, forage should be the basis of a weanling’s diet. However, even the best grass or hay won’t have all the necessary nutrients for optimal development. Therefore, you’ll need to supplement his diet with an equine feed.

When choosing a feed for your weanling, keep in mind what his dam was eating. Horses prefer consistency and will be happy eating whatever they learned to eat with their mothers. As mentioned previously, it should have a protein content between 14% and 16%. Also, it should provide key nutrients like lysine (an amino acid), calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, manganese, and vitamin E.

Hallway Feeds Recommendations

Depending on your weanling’s individual needs, we recommend one of the following equine feeds:

Staminoats®: Staminoats® has long been the recognized measure of premium cubed equine feeds. Staminoats is equally effective in maintaining gestating or lactating broodmares and providing required nutrients to growing young horses. Staminoats is a 14% protein fortified with Stamm 30 to provide all the proper protein, vitamin, and minerals.

Edge 14: Our reduced-starch equine feed is custom-crafted to support proper skeletal development, replacing cereal grains with super fibers and vegetable oil. Developed with 14% protein and fortified with Stamm 30, Edge 14 provides proper nutrition for a growing horse.

RG 14: Another reduced-starch choice is RG 14. Like Edge 14, RG 14 replaces cereal grains with super fibers and vegetable oil and is fortified with Stamm 30.

Prep 14: With 20% more calories than conventional sweet feeds, Prep 14 is an excellent equine feed for weanlings who need to increase body condition. It’s highly palatable, contains 14% protein, includes beet pulp as a soluble fiber, soy oil to increase the fat level and overall calories and is fortified with Stamm 30 to ensure the weanling receives necessary micronutrients.

Super 16: This extremely palatable equine feed helps support consistent growth and body condition. With 16% protein and Stamm 30, Super 16 offers complete nutrition for weanlings (as well as older horses).

If you’d like help determining which of our highly nutritious equine feeds would best suit the needs of your weanling, give us a call at 859-255-7602. We can set you up with the perfect nutrition program.

Chestnut and grey Throughbred eating grass in a field.