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What to feed the giant baby

So I am new to having a foal as mine is the product of having to put my mare down and doing the ICSI emotional route, so please forgive my lack of knowledge. I have a 4 month old who is giant (mom was 18.1 and I think he’s going to end up there). Right now he still has mom and they get grass hay and she gets LMF Development G which he eats some out of her bucket. They are out all day but there isn’t much grass at this time of year.

I am worried about him growing too fast for sound development and wondering if I should be giving him anything special knowing he’s bound to be 17+ (probably 18 hands).

The vet said at 3 months everything looked fine joint and bone wise, but that he is indeed giant.

I feed all my horses Foal’s First milk based creep feed until they are four months old then switch to a ration balancer. I feed ProElite Grass Balancer but there are lots of good ones out there. I would probably do some Rejuvenaide for him as well just to be on the safe side.


Ditto Laurie on the ration balancer, at least as a starting point. All of them are good enough, I have personal preferences which depend on what you can get

A ration balancer, fed at the rate appropriate his age and weight, and then a cup or 2 of alfalfa pellets. Having the alf there full time means you can crank that up to a few pounds in just a couple of meals if a growth spurt means he’s too thin, and then back down once he settles.

I also raised both my foals (bought a weanling, bred one) with soaked meals right from the start. If they’re going to learn to eat “real” meals, they’re going to just learn that it’s soaked, period. It makes life SO MUCH easier down the road for adding powdered supplements or medications.

I’m not a fan of most LMF feeds, though the Super Supplement (ration balancer) products are fine because of low feed rates. But Development (G and A both) are barley- and oat-based, which means a fairly high NSC, and that’s not what you want in foals, much less one like yours who’s likely going to grow pretty quickly the first 2 years.

So the LMF Super Supplement G would be fine, but since it’s also a higher NSC balancer due to having barley, there are others I’d prefer. That said, the lower feed rate makes the higher NSC not as much of a concern.


The only thing I will add is that I give my foal a Vit E supplement as well as ration balancer, because he is in a dry lot without much grass. Depending on your foal’s access to grass you might want to do that as well.


oh yes, very good point about the E if there’s not enough grass, thanks for bringing that up.

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It’s been quite a while since I raised a foal, but I recall with my last one that because he was out of a 15.3 mare by a 17.1 stallion, the vet was concerned about epiphysitis. For that reason, it was recommended that I feed the baby “down” instead of “up.” That is, let him be a little skinny at first so he doesn’t grow too fast. And now I’m curious - what kind of foal is it?

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Lean is fine. Skinny isn’t.

And keeping them healthy-lean does mean not loading up on calories, but in doing so, nutrition must not be sacrificed. I’ve seen too many vets say hay-only, which doesn’t provide the nutrition they need for optimal health. It can’t.

A foal has nutritional needs similar to his adult self in moderate work, and he’s starting with a based of substantially less forage.

The foal who will be around 1100lb as an adult (as an example) needs around 700gm of protein. But the 500lb foal is eating 10-12lb of hay, on average, not 22-25lb, so right off the bat, he’s getting around half the nutrition his adult self would be getting. Yes, that changes some if you feed enough alfalfa, but mostly in terms of protein and calcium, not many of the other nutrients.

That’s why the ration balancer is a great idea for keeping calories down, but nutrition where it belongs


Thanks everyone. A friend who breeds dressage horses suggested Nutrena Safe Choice Mare and Foal + vitamin E. Is that a ration balancer? My apologies if that’s not a smart question…

That’s a regular feed, so lots of calories, and with relatively high NSC (sugar + starch) that I don’t recommend at all. Higher NSC is implicated in developmental growth issues.

It’s 20% NSC, which isn’t HORRIBLE, and if you’re feeding the low end amount it’s probably fine. But IMHO, there are too many other choices with lower NSC to choose this one, not to mention the ration balancer (lower calorie) option


JB can you give me some brands/formulations you suggest?

we have been using SafeChoice Mare & Foal by Nutrena, at first the feed store we use had to special order it in for us however they are now stocking it as several other people have started buying it


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Not JB, but Nutrena’s RB is called Topline Balancer. Others are Purina Enrich 32, Triple Crown 30, Tribute Essential K…I feed Tribute, but have used Enrich 32 and TC 30, all did a good job. I haven’t used the Nutrena one.

You typically feed 1 lb. AM and PM.

I like to keep my foal where you can see his ribs lightly, but he is muscular. He has access to a alf/Tim round bale 24/7.

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Thank you-thats what I had suggested to me by a friend and JB said it had too high NSC.

need to know what brands you can get :slight_smile:

Well, it’s too high for MY preference, and it’s likely not a problem if you’re feeding the low end of the feeding range. But, for a lot of foals, a regular feed is too many calories


The problem with a mare and foal feed is that usually you have to feed many pounds to get the vitamins and minerals that are ideal, and that much concentrate isn’t great for a fast-growing baby unless they can’t maintain condition on a ration balancer.

Most WB babies only need a ration balancer. I start there are see how it goes.


I can order anything off Chewy pretty much. I’m in the PNW so slenium is needed, but I think they all have that. The local Wilco feed store has triple crown, purina and LMF. Thank you for your help!

TC30 and Purina Enrich 32 are both good.

Thank you!

Of your options, TC is generally my choice, simply due to higher levels of copper and zinc, and my soil, and lots around me, has lots of iron (which by default means less cu and zn in forage

Since the entire west coast has LOTS of iron, just like we do here in the western half of NC, my choice would also be TC - a bit more cu/zn than Purina, lower NSC than LMF


Agree. Poor choice of words on my part.