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Author Topic: Weaning  (Read 1104 times)


  • Joined Jul 2013
« on: January 07, 2017, 06:27:11 pm »
I know that a few of you have horses so thought this might be useful. If, like me, you have foals now and then you will know that weaning time can be a worry. This year (just weaned the 2016 foals) I tried something new... Fence-line weaning! It was just fantastic and 100% stress free! The two mares went behind three strands of electric tape at the top of the paddock and the foals stayed the other side, mare and foal can touch noses but foal cannot suckle. Over the course of a week the foals drift further and further from the mothers until they are quite happy to spend hours out of sight! Mares not bothered, foals not bothered. Mares now back into very light work today after 10 days, foals totally  un-phased at seeing them led off into the round corral and out of sight! Its been the best weaning ever, no frantic neighing or pacing, mares dried up quicker than ever and foals didn't stress one bit. every one just carried on with their days.

In the old days people recommended abrupt weaning which i was never a fan of but we would do it gradually... never did anything work quite like this! I will never do it any other way. You can google fence-line weaning for all the subtle differences there are for doing it, above is just what worked for us. I live in south america so its summer here  :sunshine: :sunshine: :sunshine: No cold days to worry about and everything stays out :)


  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Weaning
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2017, 02:20:38 pm »
Having had horses tied up in electric tape I would be wary of using it as a means of separating mares and foals.


  • Joined Jul 2013
Re: Weaning
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2017, 03:08:48 pm »
We practice natural horsemanship on our horses so everything is worked with closely to train them carefully to respect fences and all other aspects of horse human life etc from day one. We also wean late compared to most people in the uk (10 months minimum) so the foals are more self confident. This is what worked well for us, there are variations on the theme so there is a way to suit all systems. All I know it that I have bred horses for roughly 29 years and this has been the easiest weaning ever... regardless of if you use tape or post and rail etc etc etc that is just a detail. The actual system of "fence line weaning" has been a dream, not so much as a neigh from either side. In your situation Buttermilk, I would use wtv fencing your horses are used to and respect etc.

Its fascinating reading about the trauma caused by weaning, I will never go back to the other methods again.


  • Joined Sep 2010
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Re: Weaning
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2017, 08:53:54 am »
I wouldn't use elec tape or put the 2 foals separate from all adult company at first round, but each to their own, places have their own options and limitations depending how they're set up.  Whatever works for the ease of handler and least stress for foals and mares.

The way I used to do it with 2 or more foals was to swap mums and foals over (ones that have already been running together during summer). First in a barn with gate between 2 pens and a bale each side of it so all 4 were eating beside each other but no milk exchanged.  Then moved the next bales across the pens so plenty talking space at the gates but to eat they move away rather than toward.   And so on from there in easy stages til foals were all together with older youngsters/ponies and grass while broodies were on rougher grazing to dry off faster.

With just one foal I twice decided to leave it on until the next foal, allowing self weaning.  The foal has got to  know other ponies over a fence which s/he then looks to for company.  Opening the gate is usually enough to bring the youngster running and Aidan's their uncle, Briagh and Rowena their granny, and the rest fascinating new friends to torment..

I would always leave a 'nanny' mare in with foals and youngsters once they were all together, ideally an older experienced broodie not one of their mums.
Barleyfields Smallholding & Kirkcarrion Highland Ponies
Ellie Douglas Therapist


  • Joined Jul 2013
Re: Weaning
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2017, 01:18:59 pm »

I would always leave a 'nanny' mare in with foals and youngsters once they were all together, ideally an older experienced broodie not one of their mums.

Yes all youngsters need a nanny for security and manners. This year ours have two :) They grew up around them so it's perfect.

As I say tape is what worked for our horses. The filly foal especially would have hurt herself trying to jump a gate but respects the tape. Any barrier would have worked on the colt lol!! When you are around your animals every day you get a feel for what will and won't work I guess. You need to trust your gut!

Studies on cattle have also shown that fence line weaning is beneficial and produces less stress for both mother and calf. Will be trying that later this year... won't be using tape for that though  :roflanim:


weaning donkey foals

Started by maddy

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