Most Foals Do Well in Cold Environments

Weanlings turned out with shelter access had no more respiratory issues than those housed in warmer stables during a harsh Finnish winter.

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Most Foals Do Well in Cold Environments
Researchers found that most foals handled being turned out during the winter with shelter access well. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Reija Junkkari
Trying to ensure good welfare for our horses can sometimes feel like a trade-off. That’s certainly the case with young foals in cold winters. We’d like to give them freedom, the fresh outdoors, and social contact. But we’d also like to see those babies cuddled up and cozy in a warm stable.

That’s why Finnish researchers recently investigated the respiratory health effects of loose indoor/outdoor group housing on weanling foals in cold Scandinavian winters. And they found that, generally, the foals did very well in this environment.

“With a few exceptions regarding age and breed, weanlings put out in really cold environments with shelters actually had no more respiratory issues than those kept in warmer stables during a harsh Finnish winter,” said Reija Junkkari, PhD, of the University of Helsinki Department of Equine and Small Animal Medicine.

“Foals born later in the season—especially the Standardbred foals in our study—might benefit from staying in a warm stable, however,” she added

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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