Wean Foals at Six Months, or Wait?

A new study by French scientists suggests that allowing foals and their dams to wean at their own pace could be a more welfare-friendly breeding strategy than traditional methods.
Share
ADVERTISEMENT

Wild Mare and Foal in Wyoming
A new study by French scientists suggests that allowing foals and their dams to wean at their own pace could be a more welfare-friendly breeding strategy than traditional methods. | Photo: iStock
A new study by French scientists suggests that allowing foals and their dams to wean at their own pace could be a more welfare-friendly breeding management strategy than traditional methods. Artificial weaning—separating the mare from the foal about six months after foaling—might cause stress levels that could be avoided by using a more natural weaning approach, the scientists reported.

“It might seem impractical to some breeders to allow foals to naturally wean from their mothers, but the potential benefits could be worth considering,” said Séverine Henry, PhD, lecturer of animal behavior at the University of Rennes, in France.

One reason for this is the strong social bond between the mare and foal, Henry said. “The mare-foal relationship isn’t just about food; the social aspects are important, as well,” she explained.

These aspects are present in many mare-foal relationships well after the foal has stopped nursing. “It appears that (foals recently weaned from suckling) still need that social contact with their mothers, and some need it more than others, staying closer for longer,” she

Create a free account with TheHorse.com to view this content.

TheHorse.com is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into TheHorse.com.

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.

Share

Written by:

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.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

Do you use heated water buckets for your horses?
20 votes · 20 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with TheHorse.com!