Many of the minerals needed by the newborn foal for the first month or so of life are actually given to the foal by the mare in utero before it even starts nursing. Ideally, from then on foals initially derive all of the nutrients necessary for growth and development from the mare’s milk and forage.
Because a number of factors are involved in foal growth rates, management and feeding practices that are successful in producing large, healthy foals in one country may not produce exactly the same results in other regions.
What’s the right feed for my weanling Hanoverian, and how much should I be feeding him?
For young horses, requirements for energy and protein, and consequently amino acids, are a function of the size of the animal and the rate at which the animal is growing.
Neonatal foals get virtually all their nourishment from their dam for the first few weeks of life, and a large percentage of their nutritional needs for several months also come directly from the mare.
A major concern with young performance horses is the high incidence of skeletal injury. Young, growing horses transferred from pasture to stalls prior to yearling sales or commencement of training may be predisposed to injury.
Your foal was born healthy, nursed well, and grew as expected until about three months of age. Then, he just seemed to slow down. What could be the problem?
A number of factors influence the growth rates of foals. Availability of adequate nutrients is important to maximizing, or at least optimizing, growth. The required nutrients change as the animal grows and the growth rate changes.
There are two nutrition resources for feeding horses of all ages: the National Research Council (NRC) and German Society of Nutrition Physiology (GIE). Both organizations attempt to provide sound nutritional information, yet in some instances differ widely in their recommendations.
Keeping a smooth, steady plane of growth in young horses is desirable because skeletal problems are somewhat more common in foals that have growth slumps or sudden weight gains.
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