Weaning

mmbower5mmbower5 Member
edited August 2012 in Thoroughbred Breeding
I hate the weaning process...it makes me a mess. :'(. I am happy that Zenny and 12Z have friends to support them...but in the future is there a possibility that they could meet again. And if so would they remember each other?
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Comments

  • I don't think they would be allowed to see each other again. Maybe it would cause discomfort between the two? Not sure but I know they wouldn't do that.
  • This is awful...could you imagine being only months old and being taken from your parents
  • And he never gets to meet his dad
  • Horses, like other animals live in the day... They don't think about tomorrow or next week. When they wean Z and baby, both will fret for awhile, calling and pacing. But, they tend to get busy doing other things, the baby boys will start playing with each other, will come in and be pampered and fed in their stalls and will pretty much move on.
    Z will hollar for awhile and call for her baby, but again, will move on.
    They move them a long ways from each other so they don't see each other and since many are weaned at the same time, the whickers and neighs going on tend to get lost in the general noise.
    Two or three days past weaning and they will move on to their new daily lives and forget all about their moms and moms will forget about their babies.
  • My mare cried for a day and a half when I weaned her colt. He cried for about the same amount of time and I did not have the luxury of long distance to separate them or other mares and colts to distract either of them. They were on opposite sides of the barn. The time was right and a few weeks later they were back in the same pasture acting like pasture buddies, not mom and son. It is the nature of the animal, whether man induced weaning or nature just taking it's course.
  • While it is tempting to give these horses human emotions, Wyominggrandma is right. Horses live in there 'day'. There will be some hollaring and adjusting as Z and Z12 get used to their new routine without one another but then they will go on with their lives.

    Z12 has an exciting future in store, full of growing, training and hopefully a successful career on the track. Zenyatta has eight months to relax with her girlfriends and then Z13 will be here for her to nurture and raise.

    Also, Z12 does not 'know' he has a 'father' the way a human child would reason it out. Z12 knows only Zenyatta, the other mares in the field with him and his buddies.

    As for Z12 meeting his 'father', that is a complex situation. Genuine herd stallions, who live with their mares and foals 24/7 or close too it, do have a role in the raising of foals. There are lessons they will teach the young ones but a herd stallion will only tolerate the presence of his 'sons' so long as they behave themselves. The minute they start showing interest in the ladies 'Daddy' will run them off to join bachelor bands.

    Bernardini is NOT a herd stallion. At best he would ignore Z12 or any foal at a mare's side and show only interest in 'Mom' at worst he could express aggression towards a foal, seeing the foal as a 'threat' to his dominance over the mare.

  • Also 6 months is around the time when Zenyatta would naturally start to wean z12, doing it early just prevents him from maybe being injured when Zenyatta tells him no when he tries to nurse.
  • You guys r right...but does anyone else get emotional when they start this process?
  • To be honest when we did it back in the nursery I worked on, we were very matter of fact.

    "Okay, Moms are going this way, you and your buddies are going that way and everything is as it should be."

    In my experiences it always seemed to help if everybody was treated calm and normal, rather than given a reason to be upset about the process. If there was too much "Oh poor baby!!" then mares and foals felt there *was* something to be upset about.
  • Its just like weaning a litter of puppies from their mom. By the time the puppies are eating on their own, have teeth and bite and need to move on, mom is only happy to have the little ankle biters gone.
    Matter of facts of life.
  • caseycasey any racetrack with camera in handMember
    And he never gets to meet his dad
    His father would not want anything to do with him. They are both stallions, and though the Prince is still a youngster, he's going to have testosterone running through him.

    As far as weaning goes, read the "Ask the Experts" #6. They go into detail on how they wean the youngsters. Really, he's ready to move on. He doesn't "need" his mom anymore. There's a huge difference between a foal and a human baby, so try not to get sucked into thinking about it from a human standpoint.
  • Wasn't it just this past march he was born? Time has flown by for little z, I'm sure the weaning process will too. Can't wait to see what he looks like all filled out
  • Its just like weaning a litter of puppies from their mom. By the time the puppies are eating on their own, have teeth and bite and need to move on, mom is only happy to have the little ankle biters gone.
    Matter of facts of life.
    Yeah and puppies can leave there moms at 6 weeks. 12Z and Zenny will be perfectly fine. She's probably about ready for him to be gone anyway. :o)

  • Sometimes it's easier on the foals when man steps in, mares that are in foal can be brutal to a weanling especially in the wild. Of course Z is not in the wild and neither is Z12, but now is the time, Z12 is big enough to handle the world with a little help from his human friends, and Queen Z needs to concentrate on her new foal soon to be born. Z is a magnificent mommy, maybe even better than the great race horse she was, I expect to see many great things from her now that she is in "mommy mode"
  • I had the pleasure, yesterday, of visiting the barn where my 14 year old grandson works. They had two "weanlings" that were not four months old yet, and had been separated from their mothers 3 days ago. They, also, were far away from their mothers, as Lanes End explained. I was struck by the difference in how this "Show" barn weaned them, compared to Zenyattas' experience. The foals had never really been led with a lead rope until now, and not handled much at all, so had never even had a halter on. As a result, one of them, evidently, fought like crazy, when first led to a small ring, nearly injuring the handler. Both foals were put in enclosures side by side, so by the time I saw them, they were buddies. They also are stalled next to each other. Very large quarter horse foals, they "nose" each other under the rails, but seem pretty independent already, until you go to put them back in the stalls. Then, whoever is last to leave, went a little "wild" at being left alone, until he was led back to the stall next to his buddy.
    They are also pretty much at home with my grandson handling them, but one is much more excitable still, and they are just beginning to get used to being groomed.
    They don't appear to miss their mothers at all...only each other, if they are separated.
    Thinking of how much Z12 was handled right at birth, and from that moment on,
    seems a much easier way to get them used to all the grooming, leading,etc.. that will be part of their daily routines, but it does show how fast they can adapt to another change in their young lives. Also, not sure why they were weaned, at so much younger age, than Zenyattas son. Even with the differences tho, it is nice to see that the foals quickly adapt to the next chapter in their lives. Reminds me of the first day a young child attends nursery school...lots of tears when Mom first leaves them, but quickly they enjoy being there, and more than happy to leave Mom to be with their friends.
  • There are vets who promote very early weaning. They cite that at 3 months the foal isn't nursing for nutrition. That it's more about comfort and having their ba ba.

    Personally I think leaving the foal on the dam for a few more weeks or months is a better plan. But I also believe it needs to be individualized for the soon to be weanlings. If they are big and strong, and can be independent I see little problem. But they need a buddy to hang with. You also need to be handling them from day one.

    When the big day arrives you need extra bodies on hand. One or two people on the mare and a couple people for the foal. You need to make the separation QUICK. Letting them hear each others cries needlessly just is torment. And you need eyes on both for several hours making sure no one gets injured.

    I remember a riding instructor who had a mare. She started earning by taking the mare out for a ride. When I asked about this her sharp reply was something to the effect of I'm not tying this mare up any longer. I bought her to ride not to make horse manure. Not sure if she had the mare bred or got her that way. When weaning came the cries were nonstop. I don't think anyone got sleep that night. By the next day the cries were less frequent. Then suddenly the baby was gone...
  • My gray, who I lost a month ago, was a yearling when I bought him. His owner was a teenage girl who had been given money by her father to go buy some horses at auction and she had bought his dam (a TB OTT mare) in foal.

    When the time came to wean the foal (my boy) they shoved him on a trailer and shipped him off to a field by himself.

    I can not even begin to describe the challenges we had with him for his entire life when it came to trailering.

    Z12 and Zenyatta will be handled like the royalty they are and have both been given all the necessary tools (human handling, regular human handlers and horse buddies) to make this transition as smooth as possible. I have no doubt we will hear that they handled it like champs.
  • All these posts have been fascinating. I have learned lots about lots of things ..Thanks to all!!!!!
  • Agree Susan. There's nothing like hearing from people with experience. Thanks to you all.
  • We always had at least 2 foals who whould be weaned at the same time, so they have a buddy, we also took the foals away from the mares a little longer each day leading up to their weaning. But our mares were the mommies they where meant to be and even though they were in foal they still pined for the foals taken from them. It is a very stressful time for mares, foals and owners. All you can do is make sure that nothing happens to any of them. Because our mares and foals had been handled from day 1, it is much easier on them, they look to humans for love and treats and the final thought I have is they trusted us, because they knew we whould not want any harm to come to them.
  • RosebudRosebud Member
    Yah same with us
  • LyndaKLyndaK Member
    Once again, with weaning, as most everything else with horses, humans have imposed their processes and procedures on what they think is best for horses.

    In the wild, a foal will stay on its dam until the dam weans the baby before the next foal is due and that is certainly not at three months or six months.

    I totally disagree with weaning any foal at three months unless the mare is sick or the foal is pulling the mare down...such as is sometimes the case in older mares.

    I also totally disagree with a foal not getting nutrition theory from the mare's milk after three months. The milk in all mammals, including humans, is rich in vitamins and minerals such as calcium which is critical in bone development, not to mention protein and fat...all building blocks for strong bones and muscles.

    There is also the bond between the dam and the foal to consider. Horses are by nature herd animals and they have a hierarchy that keeps the herd organized. Taking a foal away from its dam at such a tender age is a shock to the foal and the mare that can result in problems down the road.

    Mares also teach their foals many things such as which weeds to avoid or how to break the ice on a frozen creek and how to survive the elements of snow, wind and rain and predators and their mothers teach them manners and how to behave. I have been around horses that lived all their lives in a barn and were weaned as very young foals and they were flighty, nervous and developed bad habits such as cribbing and weaving.

    Some of you might be shocked, but my colt was not weaned until he was almost a yearling. His dam was not bred back. He nursed less and less of course as the months went by. His dam shared her grain and hay with him and they grazed together and ran and played together. Same thing with my filly. Her dam left for about a year and came back and while you might not believe this, the filly remembered her dam!

    I know that this is not feasible for the big farms...but there are ways for the process to be kinder on the mare and the foal. If you watch the PBS "Nature" program on the Lipizzans, you will see what I think was a much better weaning process than what we seem to do in this country. The foals and the mares all run together in a herd setting from the spring when they are born until the late fall. Once weaned the colts and fillies run together in a herd throughout the winter.

    So my take on all this weaning process is to, when you can, try to create a natural environment and let nature take its course.




  • RachelRachel Member
    I don't think they wean the foals at 3 months, I think Cozmic One was weaned at 6 months
  • RachelRachel Member
    By then he's almost a year old and should be a weanling
  • ZenyenZenyen Member
    I know that this is not feasible for the big farms...but there are ways for the process to be kinder on the mare and the foal. If you watch the PBS "Nature" program on the Lipizzans, you will see what I think was a much better weaning process than what we seem to do in this country. The foals and the mares all run together in a herd setting from the spring when they are born until the late fall. Once weaned the colts and fillies run together in a herd throughout the winter.
    That is actually pretty much how Lane's End did it.

    Except for the foals all being stabled in a big community stall. Mares and foals were kept together from spring of their birth, till late summer/early fall at which point the weanlings were put together in mixed groups (fillies and colts together) up until they moved to the yearling barns (no early 'dating!')
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