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Feeding tips for your young foal

Foals are a wonderful addition to your farm but need a great deal of attention and care to develop into strong, active members of your family. The moment they’re born, they’re already starting to grow up. Know how to give them the proper nutrients they need from the start to get them on their way to a long, healthy life.

The first day
When your foal first arrives, their natural instinct will lead them to nurse from their mother. Here, their immune system will acquire passive immunity from the antibodies in the mare’s colostrum.

If your foal is unable or unwilling to nurse from their mother or from another mare in the herd, make sure you have colostrum replacer readily available. The nutrients from colostrum or colostrum replacer are essential to your foal’s development in the first days of its life.

If your foal does not begin to nurse, you will need to start bottle feeding a colostrum supplement such as Sav-A-Caf® Multi Colostrum Supplement within two hours and then 12 times per day. This is when the newborn foal’s intestines are best equipped to absorb the formula’s critical nutrients.

The first week
Once that first day has passed, you can switch to milk replacer if your foal is still not nursing adequately. This will be their primary source of nutrition up until weaning. When looking for which milk replacer to use, always choose one specifically formulated to feed foals, such as Ultra 24™ Multi-Species Milk Replacer. This product provides the optimal blend of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals for proper foal development.

For the healthiest development, it is best to feed your foal the milk replacer by bottle in small amounts eight times per day because smaller, more frequent feedings will increase digestibility and minimize digestive upset.

Weeks 2-3
In the next two to three weeks, continue to feed your foal milk replacer six to eight times per day if they are not nursing. During this time, start introducing a foal starter or creep feed concentrate and forage into the foal’s diet to get them used to consuming solid feed. For optimal digestion, feed them fine-stemmed hay or pasture.

Weeks 4-Weaning
During the following week, feed milk replacer three to four times per day or allow your foal to nurse. You can begin the weaning process once your foal is eating 1-2 lbs. of feed, forage and water regularly, usually at weeks eight to12. Begin this process gradually by reducing the number of milk or milk replacer feedings and monitoring their forage and grain intake. Water is another important element of a foal’s nutrition, and having fresh water available for them at all times will encourage your foal to stay hydrated.

Now that you know the basics of feeding your foal in their first weeks of life, learn more about foal care and nutrition and follow My Farm Journey on Facebook and Instagram for additional insights.

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