• Carolyn Wright

Weaning

The mare gradually weans her foal, some still occasionally nurse at the age of two. Unfortunately, breeders will wean too early. The foal is dramatically, abruptly separated from the mare at approximately six months of age, although foals of that age suckle every two hours. The dramatic weaning at such a young age can cause traumatic psychological damage in the foals.


Damage caused by early, abrupt, tramatic weaning includes:

  1. Normal play and inquisitive behaviors are suppressed, because the foal does not feel safe.

  2. Extreme distress and anxiety is more likely when taken away from the mare, which can lead to physically harming himself.

  3. A study of 225 young Thoroughbreds showed thirty five percent of foals developed emotional stereotypes following early weaning:

  • Cribbing: 10.5% median age 20 weeks

  • Weaving: 4.6% median age 60 weeks

  • Box-walking 2.3% median age 64 weeks

  • Wood-chewing 30.3% median age 30 weeks

4. Horses separated, especially studs, from the family too soon lacks the social skills that are

essential to courting and breeding with a mare, characterised by overly eager or not

interested.


In order to allow a foal to become a confident, well-adjusted invidual, it is obvious that a horse's natural behavior is the most logical and humane way to wean foals.

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