Feeding the foal

Isabel Stewart BSc (Hons)
SPILLERS Nutritionist

Throughout the first few weeks, the foal is completely dependent on its mothers milk for nutrients, after this time milk quality will decrease and the foals requirements will not be met fully by the mares milk.
At about 14 days, foals will start to nibble the mares hard feed and at this time a creep feed such as SPILLERS Youngstock Pellets can be given. A good rule of thumb is a pound of feed per month of age for thoroughbreds but this should be restricted by half of for those of native breeding. Forage intake is naturally low at first to allow time for the hindgut microflora to establish.
Aim for constant growth, avoid overfeeding as this may predispose the foal to Developmental Orthopaedic Disease (DOD). The best feeding regime is to offer several small feeds each day whilst gradually increasing the forage part of the diet.

Whether you have bred the foal yourself or have just collected him after weaning knowing, what to feed can often be confusing. We all want to do the best by our foals and until now most of their requirements have been taken care off by their mother. Now it’s time for us as their owners to make the best feeding decisions for them.
Weaning usually takes place between the 4th and 7th month and can be one of the most stressful periods of the horses life. Often weaning can result in some weight loss and temporary slow down in growth, any temptation to increase the concentrate ration to make up for this should be avoided. Rapid weight gains may aggravate or cause Developmental Orthopaedic Disease (DOD). Ensuring the foal is eating enough forage approx. 0.5kg/day per 100kg and concentrates 1kg/day prior to weaning should help to prevent set backs.

SPILLERS Youngstock Pellets or Stud and Youngstock Mix are ideal to feed to your weanling right up to 18-24 months of age. Both are formulated with controlled levels of starch and an optimum balance of energy sources from cereals, oil and digestible fibre for a balanced growth curve, they also contain high levels of vitamin E important for muscle integrity in growing horses.

Native ponies or good doers
Native pony or warmblood foals need special dietary consideration due to their propensity to put on weight. Stud feeds should be fed at a lower level, or a lower energy feed used. This topped up with a breeding supplement such as EQUIVITE Stud Formula will provide all the important vitamins, minerals and proteins without the calories.

If you require any further advice on feeding your foal or youngster please contact the SPILLERS careline on 01908 226626 or email: careline@spillers-feeds.com

SPILLERS Speciality Feeds Ltd
Old Wolverton Road
Old Wolverton
Milton Keynes
MK12 5PZ

Tel: 01908 222888
Fax: 01908 222800


If you would like to have an article included in this section then please send your article to editor@arabianlines.com

© Arabian Lines 2002. All Rights Reserved