Progressive Weaning Foals

Natural Progressive Weaning of Foals: A Gentle Transition


Weaning is a critical phase in a foal’s life, marking the transition from dependency on the mare’s milk to independent feeding. While abrupt weaning can be stressful for both the foal and the mare, a gradual approach ensures a smoother adjustment. In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of natural progressive weaning and how to implement it over a couple of weeks.

Why Choose Natural Progressive Weaning?

  1. Reduced Stress: Gradual weaning minimizes stress for both the foal and the mare. Abrupt separation can lead to anxiety, weight loss, and behavioural issues.
  2. Healthy Development: Allowing the foal to learn from the mare during the weaning process promotes healthy social and behavioural development.
  3. Physical Health: Slowly reducing milk intake prevents sudden dietary changes, which can impact the foal’s digestive system.

The Process

Step 1: Introduce hard feed and hay

  • Start introducing hard feed and hay to the foal when it’s around 2 to 3 months old. Offer high-quality hay, quality feed, with vitamin and mineral supplement and fresh water.
  • Allow the foal to observe the mare eating alongside it. Foals learn by imitation.

Step 2: Gradual Separation

Weaning time comes around, preferably around 7-9 months (leave foal on as long as possible)

  • Begin by separating the foal and mare for short periods during the day. Place them in adjacent paddocks or stalls (safe fencing needed).
  • Use visual contact (such as a shared fence) to maintain their connection. Foals find comfort in seeing their dam nearby.

Step 3: Extended Separation

  • Over the next few weeks, gradually increase the separation time. Aim for several hours apart each day.
  • Observe the foal’s behaviour. If it becomes too distressed, adjust the duration accordingly.

Step 4: Nighttime Separation

  • As the foal adapts, consider separating them overnight. Ensure a safe, comfortable environment for both.
  • Continue providing social interaction during the day with a companion horse.

Step 5: Complete Weaning

  • After a couple of weeks, the foal should be comfortable spending extended periods away from the mare.
  • Monitor its weight, behaviour, and overall health.
  • Once confident, you can fully wean the foal by removing all access to the mare’s milk.

Tips for Successful Progressive Weaning

  1. Patience: Every foal is different. Be patient and adjust the process based on individual needs.
  2. Quality Nutrition: Ensure the foal receives balanced nutrition from hard feed & a quality vitamin and mineral supplement.
  3. Stress Reduction: Maintain a calm environment during separation. Provide companionship through other horses if possible.
  4. Monitor Health: Regularly check the foal’s weight, coat condition, and overall well-being.


Natural progressive weaning allows foals to grow confidently while maintaining their emotional bonds with the mare. We have found if done well, can help prevent long term separation anxiety issues later in life. By taking it slow, we ensure a positive transition into independence. Remember, each foal is unique, so adapt the process to suit their temperament and needs.

Happy stress free weaning! 🌿🐎

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