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Weanling Accommodations + Feeding Suggestions

I have a weanling coming to my farm sometime in November and want to be prepared. He will be 6+ months, and coming from the breeder’s farm where he is out with his dam all day and stalled overnight. At my place, he will transition to being out full time on a larger pasture in a small mixed herd (two 20+ retirees, two “middle aged” WB’s in work). It’s a mellow, well acclimated bunch who I expect will teach some manners but be fair. Everyone here is out on 6+ acres and has access to a large shelter with stalls available for really inclement winter weather.

Some people I have mentioned this to are aghast that he wouldn’t be more “carefully” managed (ie: stalled more or separated from the “big horses”). While ideally I’d love to have him with a few of his peers + an older chaperone, I don’t have local access to this arrangement. I like the idea of him being out 99% of the time in a large, hilly pasture with good fencing where he will be closely supervised. I’m definitely not trying to be reckless with his safety and understand there are risks (I too would love to bubble wrap him :cold_sweat:), but I also feel like the mental/physical benefits of being out in a herd is probably worth those risks. He will brought in daily, handled, looked over and fed in a stall. Please tell me if I’m missing something or should consider other arrangements/modifications!

As for feed: Beyond free choice grass/alfalfa mix hay or grass (depending on season), I’m planning to feed him TC balancer, flax and Vit E. I’m also considering Rejuvenade Max as suggested during the rapid growth phase by a sports med vet–would this be beneficial, or overkill? Anything I should add or subtract?


It sounds perfect! 100% keep him out as much as your property and the weather allow. 10/10 the best for joint, ligament, tendon, muscle, bone, and hoof development. There’s also no harm, and lots of benefit to, random nights in a stall, or random days, so he learns that’s still a normal part of life.

is he out now with JUST his dam, or is there a small herd there too?

Have your herd ever dealt with foals? Is there any way to put the foal with the 1 horse least likely to cause any sort of drama, even for just 1-2 days, and then add a 2nd adult, then a 3rd, and finally the 4th?

The ration balancer + seasonal-specific supplements is also perfect. Rejuvenaide is overkill if there aren’t any issues, and not all rapid growth stages cause issues.

My foal is not yet weaned, and he has been out with a full herd of adults since 3 months old (along with his dam). When I wean I plan to leave him with most of these herd mates. My youngest horse besides is the baby is 4 years old. If your herd has not been around young horses before, I would suggest a slow and careful introduction to make sure no one is extra aggressive. I had a breeder friend who’s normally chill gelding would try to kill the babies, and the only reason he didn’t was because mom was there to protect him.

But I would agree that being out more rather than in and being with a herd is more beneficial.

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Wonderful, thank you! Great suggestion about occasional stalling, so it’s just part of his repertoire.

He is just out with his dam now. My understanding is there are other horses on the property (sometime sharing a fenceline), but not in the same turnout. It’s a small (downsizing) operation without multiple broodmares or babies this year.

Our resident boss mare (one of the retirees) has dealt with foals before. I would say she tells them what is acceptable and otherwise keeps an eye on them but isn’t overly friendly or playful. The two geldings have been around youngsters but not THIS young (and not for a number of years) and the 4th (a mare) I don’t have much history on. I can definitely do slow introductions. My suspicion is he’ll be most readily accepted by my non-retired gelding who is a careful and curious type so I’d plan to start there and could add the others over time. They will all be able to see/smell each other, but it could be arranged that they do or don’t share a fenceline. Any thoughts on which would be preferable? They could either share a steel pipe fenceline or a chain link + electric wire fence.

I sympathize with the little guy–it’s going to be a lot of change (weaning, shipping, herd intros, etc.) over a month or so so I like the idea of doing what I can to set him up well and ease him in. Thanks again for all your insights!

Will he be weaned at the home farm first? Taking him from his dam, shipping, and introducing new horses all at once seems unwise.

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Yes, he’ll be weaned at home, gradually from what I understand and then fully separated from his dam for several weeks prior to shipping (depending a bit on shipper’s schedule).

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So he’s lived his short life just with his dam? That will be another challenge, in that he has no other socialization skills, and will need a VERY tolerant babysitting, but not a total pushover lol

the RBM is the one I would start him in with. It will help HIM, as well as the herd. Then add the next most likely to be the most tolerant, and so on.

Excellent suggestion. I will start with her (I can practically hear her rolling her eyes at her new assignment, lol) and work our way to the others. This reminds me, I’d like to find out from the breeder who will have babysitting duties at their farm during/after the weaning process. I wish he had a little group already, but I’m trying to be at peace with the things I can’t control (ha!).

a “Jesus, take the wheel” moment? LOL!

I have a weanling arriving soon too. Exciting!

I listened to a good webinar about weaning recently, by the WBFSH. https://youtu.be/ECYteGfjY1A?si=_PkckemIIUf__tWs

It goes into the research showing stress levels in different types of weaning, suggesting that it’s longer exposure to stressors that is more harmful as they sensitise to it, whereas a more sudden weaning + location move at the same time is more stressful initially but doesn’t last as long.


I guess our weanling missed that study as the last one we had delivered to us from North Dakota at the Morgan Grand Nationals since the breeder was coming and we were to be there also. He was five months old at the time having never been off the ranch. Nearly a thousand mile trip. There were about 1200 head at the show.

Since he was to be there he was entered into the Sport Horse In Hand class as it did not require prior qualification. Total head in the class was 32. Nothing phased him. He just did his class then waited for the results.

Exactly! Fortunately she’s been perfecting her hassled, sideways glare over many years, so as long as he can learn what that means…all should be well. :joy: Hopefully with plenty of room and no need to compete for resources (multiple water sources, shelters, hay piles, etc.) they can sort it out without incident. But I still won’t sleep well that first week…

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Oh congratulations! It is exciting. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a baby and so much research on best practices, feeding, handling, etc. has been done in the interim, I’m trying to play catch-up before he arrives. Thanks for the webinar! I think by “gradual” weaning, the breeder is just trying to expand his comfort zone a bit before they remove mom (she’s done this well and for a long time, so I’m deferring to her on what her process is and what the setup will allow). The shipping will definitely be a big stressor, but like you said…kind of have to pull the band aid off and hope for the best to get them settled in their new place as soon as possible!


Recently we have gotten two weanlings (separate shipments) that were hauled over a thousand miles, we had cameras in the trailer so watched them. They enjoyed the ride looking out at the countryside as it passed by

Neither showed or demonstrated any stress during their rides. After a night’s layover they just reloaded without an issue as they continued their odyssey from open ranch land to living in the city

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I’m in a similarish situation. Only my foal and his recipient mom have been at home with a retired pony mare and WB gelding. The foal is 4 months old and just last week we started letting them all out together. The pony mare is a boss mare and crabby at mom and baby but the big WB gelding LOVES the baby. When I wean mom, baby will go with the other two. I also wish I had another baby to keep him with and am trying to find one, but I think it will be fine. I plan to keep him outside most of the time but with occasional stalling. So your plan sounds perfect!

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