Foals are susceptible to viruses, bacteria, and parasites that cause diarrhea. Severely affected foals might become dehydrated and have electrolyte imbalances, particularly low sodium and chloride.
A foal’s environment, management, and nutritional factors, including adequate vitamin D levels, all play an integral role in the balance between health and sickness.
The importance of calcium in the diet of horses and ponies is crucial. When coupled with phosphorus, the two minerals compose up to 70% of the total mineral content in the body. Calcium is necessary for skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle function, nerve conduction, and a host of other metabolic reactions.
Using aggressive feeding practices for maximal growth in young horses can be a common cause of physitis, an inflammation of cartilaginous growth plates.
Weaning methods range from the “quick and clean” approach, where the foal is completely separated from the mare in one step, to various procedures in which the weaning is more gradual.
A foal is driven to stand within an hour of birth and nurse within two hours. How do you know your foal is nursing enough (or too much) and growing appropriately? When should “real feed” be introduced?
Pushing foals for fast weight gain can be a recipe for bone problems, so managers should keep track of weight and adjust the foal’s diet to keep a smooth, steady growth plane.
Nursing supplies 100% of the nutritional requirement for six to eight weeks after a foal’s birth. Mare’s milk is 98% digestible and is thus the perfect food for young foals. By nursing as often as 10 times an hour on the first day, a foal consumes about 15% of its body weight in colostrum and milk.
In the rare cases when mares ignore, reject, or even attack their foals, managers must intervene quickly to make sure the foal is fed and protected from injury. A common problem is an overly full udder that is sensitive to pressure from the foal’s attempts to nurse.
“Mealtime” means different things to different animals: toddlers despise it, chefs drool in anticipation, hibernating animals abuse it prior to winter, and athletes covet carb-rich meals before competing. For foals, their first meal could mean the difference between life and death.
|Putting Weight on a Skinny Horse|
|Hot Blood, Warm Blood, Cold Blood in Horses|
|Swollen or Filled Legs: What’s Wrong With Your Horse?|
|Stabilized Rice Bran–Just the Facts, Please|
|Drinking Behavior of Horses: Six Facts About Water Intake|
|Freezing Equine Embryos to Maximize Transfer Success|
|How is Nutrient Digestibility Determined in Horses?|
|Four Keys to Perfect Pony Weight|
|Antianxiety Supplements: Do They Work In Horses?|
|New Approach to Equine Asthma Treatment|