The Do’s And Don’ts Of Feeding A Growing Foal

When I was a kid, I spent many summers around horses and ponies. One thing that struck me about them was how much they loved to eat! They’d happily munch away on hay all day long, but when it came time for a treat or even just some grain they were always ready to dive in headfirst.

They weren’t being greedy or gluttonous; they were just acting like any other animal would do given the chance. 

Unfortunately, not every horse owner understands how much food their foal needs each day and how best to give it to them without causing digestive problems or obesity later down the road (and trust me: horses have very long life spans). If you’re caring for a young horse yourself, here are some helpful tips for feeding your growing colt properly:

How to feed foals, weanlings and yearlings? – YouTube
Proper nutrition is crucial for the healthy growth and development of a foal.
When feeding a growing foal, it’s important to choose a feed that is formulated to meet their specific nutritional requirements.
Feeding schedules should be structured to accommodate frequent, small meals to support digestion and nutrient absorption.
Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify any potential nutritional deficiencies or other health concerns in young horses.
Consider consulting additional resources, such as expert guides and fact sheets, to deepen your understanding of best practices for feeding and caring for a growing foal.

Only Feed Foals Forage And/Or Milk

The best thing you can do for your foal is to feed it only forage and/or milk. Feeding grain or hay will cause digestive problems that may be fatal. Foals should also be kept away from water, which can lead to colic or founder (a condition where the frog of the hoof sinks into the mud).

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Make Sure Your Foal Is Drinking Enough Water

The more you know about your foal’s water intake, the better. Water is essential to the health and well-being of your growing horse. 

Make sure they have access to fresh water at all times. Depending on their age, size and activity level, their daily requirements will vary; however, in general a young foal requires approximately 1 gallon (3.8 liters) per day for every 100 pounds (45 kg) of body weight during the first month of life. 

As they grow older and become more active this amount can increase up to 2 gallons (7.6 liters) per day by 6 months old if they are grazing pasture or require additional hydration from other sources such as salt licks or hay cubes soaked in liquid minerals such as Lifesaver Mineral Water Additive

Foals should always have access to clean drinking water free from contaminants such as bacteria or chemicals like chlorine found in tap water which could cause colic symptoms such as diarrhea if ingested regularly over time

Key Considerations for Ensuring Your Foal Gets Enough Water

Monitor your foal’s water intake regularly.Keep track of how much water your foal drinks each day, and ensure that it is sufficient for their age and size.
Provide fresh, clean water at all times.Your foal should have access to fresh water at all times to avoid dehydration and related health issues.
Consider using a water additive.Products like Apple Elite™ Electrolyte Supplement from Farnam can help encourage your foal to drink more water by making it more palatable.
Avoid giving your foal too many oral medications.Some oral medications can have a diuretic effect, causing your foal to lose water and become dehydrated.
Look out for signs of dehydration.Symptoms like lethargy, dry mucous membranes, and dark urine can be warning signs that your foal is not getting enough water.

Feed Your Foal Gradually

When you’re feeding your growing foal, it’s important to keep an eye on the amount of grain that they’re eating. 

When a horse is young and growing, it needs more nutrients than an older horse. However, if you give too much grain to your foal in one sitting (or even over time), this could cause health problems such as colic or founder.

You should also make sure that your foal doesn’t gorge itself on grain–this can lead to digestive problems later on down the road when they’re older!

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Don’t Rush Feeding Or Weaning

Don’t rush the weaning process. It’s best to take it slow, especially if you’re introducing hay and grain into your foal’s diet.

Don’t wean too early. The younger a foal is when it starts eating hay and grain, the more likely it is that he’ll get colic or founder (a disease in which the hooves become imbalanced).

Don’t wean too late either–if your horse hasn’t been eating enough roughage by this time, his digestive system may not be able to handle a sudden switch from milk to solid food without some sort of issue arising as a result

Best Practices for Feeding and Weaning a Growing Foal

Don’t rush the weaning process.Taking a slow approach to weaning can help prevent issues like stress, weight loss, and behavioral problems in foals.
Introduce hay and grain gradually.Overfeeding hay and grain to a foal can lead to digestive problems like colic, so it’s important to introduce these foods gradually and in appropriate amounts.
Wait until your foal is ready to be weaned.Younger foals have less developed digestive systems and can be more prone to health issues like colic and founder when introduced to hay and grain too early.
Monitor your foal’s weight and growth.Regular weigh-ins and veterinary check-ups can help you keep track of your foal’s development and adjust their feeding schedule as needed.
Consult with experts or brand resources for guidance.Don’t be afraid to seek out advice from trusted sources, whether it’s your veterinarian or reputable brand guides and resources, to ensure that you’re feeding and weaning your foal safely and effectively.

Taper Off Milk Feeding

Milk is a great source of energy and protein. A foal needs about 30% of its daily intake in the form of milk to grow properly, but it can’t get enough nutrients from just drinking milk alone. 

It’s important that you also feed your young horse other foods such as hay, grains or even grasses so they get all the nutrients they need to stay healthy and strong.

The vitamin A found in milk helps keep your horse’s eyes healthy so he can see well at night or in dim light settings–a big plus if you plan on showing him at fairs or competitions! Vitamin D helps build strong bones by helping them absorb calcium better than if there wasn’t any vitamin D present; this keeps your pony from having weak joints later in life (or even now). 

E protects against infection by keeping harmful bacteria away from their body cells while K helps prevent heart disease by making sure blood clots don’t happen too quickly without warning signs beforehand.”

The health and wellbeing of your horse’s hooves is essential to their overall health and performance. To learn more about hoof care best practices and how to keep your horse’s feet in top shape, check out our guide on Hoof Care 101, which includes expert tips and advice on everything from shoeing to hoof cleaning.

Don’t Overfeed Your Foal

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t overfeed your foal. Overfeeding can cause colic, diarrhea, acidosis and founder. It’s also a common cause of laminitis in growing horses because they don’t have enough time to process the extra feed before being turned out to pasture or into a paddock with other horses (which is often how they eat).

If you notice that your foal is getting fat too quickly or gaining weight at an alarming rate (more than 1 pound per day), then it’s time to cut back on his grain intake and consider switching him from concentrates back onto pasture-fed grass hay–or even just grass alone!

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Don’t Leave An Open Bag Of Grain Lying Around

When it comes to feeding your foal, there are many things you can do wrong.

One of the most common mistakes made by new horse owners is leaving an open bag of grain lying around. This is a surefire way to attract rodents and insects (not to mention other animals), so make sure that you always store your hay and other feeds in a secure location when not in use.

Another common mistake is feeding foals too much grain–or worse yet, allowing them access to open bags! 

While some horses enjoy eating treats like corn or oats out of a bucket, these should only be given on occasion as part of their daily ration; otherwise they could develop digestive problems from consuming too much starch at once (and let’s face it: no one likes cleaning up after messy stomaches). 

A few tablespoons per day should suffice for most young horses; if yours seems particularly hungry or thirsty after grazing all day long then consider adding more water instead!

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Tips for Properly Storing Feed and Grain

Store your hay and grain in a secure location.Leaving an open bag of grain lying around can attract rodents and insects, so it’s important to store your feed in a secure location when not in use.
Use sealed storage containers.Sealed storage containers, like Gamma2 Vittles Vault containers, can help keep feed fresh and prevent pests from accessing it.
Check for signs of spoilage.Before feeding your foal, inspect hay and grain for mold, mildew, or other signs of spoilage which can impact the nutritive value of the feed and lead to health issues like colic.
Avoid overstocking.Purchase only as much feed and grain as you need for a specific time period to avoid excess that can go bad and attract pests.
Keep your storage area clean.Regular cleaning of your storage area with a good disinfectant like F10SC Veterinary Disinfectant from Health and Hygiene can help prevent the growth of mold, bacteria, and other harmful microorganisms.


We hope that this article has helped you understand what to expect when raising a foal. The most important thing is to be patient and remember that it’s normal for your horse to go through changes in behavior. 

If at any point you feel worried about something or have questions about how best to care for your horse, don’t hesitate to ask a trainer or veterinarian!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources you can check out to learn more about feeding and caring for growing foals:

The American Association of Equine Practitioners has a detailed guide on foal growth, special care, and nutrition, covering topics like proper feeding, handling, and preventative health measures.

This guide from Mad Barn offers expert tips and advice on how to feed a growing foal for optimal health and performance, with information on dietary requirements, nutritional supplements, and growth rate.

Rutgers University has a helpful fact sheet on feeding the rapidly growing foal which includes tips on proper nutrition as well as advice on feeding schedules and group feeding.


What are some important considerations when feeding a growing foal?

When feeding a growing foal, it’s important to consider their nutritional needs, as well as factors like their growth rate and digestive system development. Foals should be fed a diet that is specifically formulated to meet their dietary requirements and should be fed small, frequent meals to accommodate their small stomachs.

How often should I feed a growing foal?

Growing foals should be fed small, frequent meals throughout the day to help support their digestive systems and facilitate optimal nutrient absorption. As a general rule, foals should be fed at least 3-4 times per day.

What kind of feed is best for a growing foal?

When selecting a feed for a growing foal, it’s important to choose a feed that is specifically formulated for their nutritional needs. Look for feeds that are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals, and that are designed to support proper growth and development.

How do I know if my foal is getting enough nutrients?

One way to ensure that your foal is getting enough nutrients is to monitor their growth rate and weight gain. Regular weigh-ins and veterinary check-ups can help identify any potential nutritional deficiencies or other health concerns.

What are some common pitfalls to avoid when feeding a growing foal?

Avoid overfeeding or underfeeding your foal, as both scenarios can lead to health issues. Make sure to select a feed that is appropriate to your foal’s specific nutritional requirements, and avoid feeding them large, infrequent meals that can adversely impact their digestive system.