Understanding Healthy Foals’ Caloric Requirements

Foal nutrition can be complicated, making it important for owners to understand newborns’ nutritional needs.

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On the surface foal nutrition might seem simple: foal nurses mare, nutritional needs satisfied. But in reality foal nutrition is much more complicated, making it important for individuals to understand newborn nutritional needs.

Here, Mary Rose Paradis, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, reviews normal foal nutrition.

Nursing Basics

"The newborn foal is absolutely hungry and wants to eat," Paradis stressed, explaining that neonatal foals have very limited liver glycogen concentrations and experience a drop in glucose levels shortly after birth. This is likely the reason the foal feels hungry and seeks out the mare’s udder in the first place. Most foals, she said, will stand and suckle in 90 minutes to two hours

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Written by:

Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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