Saga of Supplementary Feeding
In the middle of May we were delighted
when a lovely Pure Bred filly foal was born. She was very pretty,
chestnut with a neat blaze and three white feet. She was very
"laid back" and did not seem to worry about anything
although very inquisitive and active. She was the first to get
her head in the manger at feed times and galloped around the field
with tail erect when she went out.
When she was about a month old things
suddenly seemed to change; she did not seem keen to eat, when
she went out she only walked with her tail down. In the stable
she just seemed to stand around whereas previously she was often
to be found lying down "crashed out" when it almost
needed a "bomb" to disturb her. Now she just stood with
her head down near mum.
I watched her on and off over several
days, and although I could not see anything really wrong she just
wasn’t "right". Having thought about the problem continuously,
it came to my mind that perhaps she was not getting enough milk
from mum – I don’t know why I came to that conclusion, but I did.
So I decided to do something about it.
I have reared one foal completely
and supplemented another while her mother was very ill so I did
not think this would be too much trouble. I mixed up some formula
(more about that later) and went to the stable armed with bottle
and jug. Neither of the previous foals I had fed used a bottle
– they both fed direct from the jug. This was NOT to be the case
with this one!!!
After more than an hour of trying
we had succeeded in giving her - or spilling - about and ounce!
At this point my daughter had a brain-wave and suggested we use
a syringe to carefully squeeze the milk into her mouth – success
at last. We managed to give her about a pint. The procedure was
repeated later in the day and she gradually got the idea of putting
her head on one side as she would do to feed from mum while we
dutifully squeezed in the milk. We continued to feed her three
times a day, two pints to a feed. The improvement in her manner
was quite dramatic - after a day or two she no longer stood head
down, and before the end of the week she was "crashed out"
again. Soon after that she trotted out after mum with her tail
starting to come up. It was several weeks before she was galloping,
but it came in the end.
After about three weeks we reduced
the number of feeds to two but kept the quantity the same. I fed
her in the morning and last thing at night and this seemed to
suit her well. We had several tries to get her either to drink
from a jug or to use the bottle, to no avail. She would rather
starve than do either!! SO we plodded on.
It was well into October and we were
still going out armed with jug and syringe, but we cut her to
one three pint feed, which seemed to be sufficient, for her (
she terrorised mum, going around the box bucking and kicking hard
while waiting to go out) She galloped around the field full of
the joys of Spring although it was Autumn! She had begun to share
mum’s short feed again – and ate loads of hay and grass of course.
Earlier I promised to tell you more
about the formula I use (that was one of the main reasons for
writing this article). I hope that it may be of use to readers
if they are in need of a quick and reasonably cheap, easily obtained
and efficient mare’s milk replacement or supplement at any time.
It is one I found some years ago in one of my many books, and
as shown earlier in the article, I have found it very successful.
2 parts Cows milk to 1
part boiled water (hot)
1 ounce Brown/Demerara
sugar per 3 pints liquid
The amount of formula to be fed will
obviously vary with the circumstances and the size of the foal
and what other feed intake there is. Just as an example the Thoroughbred
foal I reared completely was at one stage having 18 pints of formula
plus hay and hard feed! Fortunately, at the time I was milking
my own cow.
Through November I gradually cut
down the supplementary feeds given to "Amber". She accepted
this with fairly good grace although she came looking hopefully
every time she saw me. Her condition and energy remained the same
and she still continued to feed from her Mum (whom she still terrorized
while waiting her turn to be let out into the field).
Amber went on to thrive and grew
on well and gallops round the field with tail and head held high,
investigation anything new or unusual. She is quite a character
with a definite mind of her own.
I hope you will find this of some
interest and help, if anyone wants to talk about it or know more
detail, I will be pleased to oblige.