Orphan Foal

Performance Horse Nutrition

Several factors cause a foal to be treated as an orphan; unforeseen death or illness of the mare leaves the foal orphaned, or sometimes the mare may just simply reject the foal or may have no milk production. There are two main options from this point on, either a nurse mare or raise the foal by hand using a milk replacer formula and eventually a milk replacer pellet. A nurse mare is the easiest option as the foal will receive the precise nutrition it requires and will be able to maintain a normal feeding behavior. During the 1st week of life a healthy foal nurses from its mother up to seven times an hour for 60 to 90 seconds each time. For foals orphaned on the first day of life it is important that they receive adequate colostrum to build a healthy immune system. Milk replacers designed to mimic the nutrient profile of mares milk should be given to the foal. On a dry matter basis milk replacers should contain 15% fat, 22% crude protein and less than ½% fiber. Young foals should be fed a liquid based milk replacer and as they get older supplemented with high quality forage and milk replacer pellets. Orphan foal can be weaned from milk replacers by 10-12 weeks of age and changed over to a growing horse supplement. Fresh water should be available to foals at all times.

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