Everyone loves an adorable baby. And here on the horseOlogy farm, we’re excited when the babies are born. Baby horses are known as foals, as you know, and they go through a lot of development between the time they’re born and when they’re weaned from their moms or dams. So what are these milestones? Let’s take a closer look.
From Birth to Standing
Horses have always been impressive creatures. One of the reasons for this is their ability to run shortly after being born. This is an evolutionary advantage since horses are prey animals, so babies being able to run from predators was incredibly important for them to survive. They are driven to stand within an hour of birth. It doesn’t take long from standing up on their little wobbly legs to frolicking in the pasture. Domestic horses are significantly safer than their wild ancestors, but this stage of development remains the same.
Suckling and Milk Production
Like all mammals, mares produce milk for their foals. For the first few days, the mares produce colostrum which is vital for their developing foals. Then they will continue to produce milk for several months. Their growth is rapid at these stages but steady.
The mares will produce between 2 and 4% of their body weight in milk per day. And when the foal is tiny, they may nurse as often as every ten minutes. The milk production begins to slow down in the second month of the foal’s life.
Learning to Eat
It doesn’t take long before foals test out big-horse food. They’ll begin by nibbling and sampling grass and grains. It can be as soon as 14 days old when they’ll start experimenting, though their mother’s milk will supplement their nutrition.
At approximately 10 weeks old, milk won’t be sufficient enough, so foals will need to be given a broader diet. Providing access to a grazing pasture, hay, and high-quality grain is essential.
Weaning from Mom and Independence
Weaning, as with any child, can be stressful for both mom and baby. It typically begins when the foal is between four and six months old. There are several methods, including abrupt weaning and more gradual separation.
As this process happens, the foal will begin to gain their independence from mom, but as herd animals, they will always feel a strong bond with other horses.
horseOlogy is involved in the breeding and weaning process for racehorses. With our pinhooking process, we buy weanlings to sell as yearlings and yearlings to sell as two-year-olds. If you want to know more about the development of winning racehorses and how to get involved in investing, contact us today.