If you are looking at your foal’s diet in FeedXL it is crucial you include mum’s milk. It is a goldmine of nutrients for your foal and must be taken into account. Forget the milk and you will end up overfeeding, which will then cause problems with growth that is too fast.
OK you say, I will include the milk, but how? I know right, it’s a bit tricky because the foal just drinks it and you have no way of measuring how much he drinks. But lucky for you, your mare produces a reasonably consistent amount of milk for her foal, so depending on the age of the foal, you can calculate how much milk he is probably drinking. It won’t be perfect, but it is a lot better than not including it at all.
Here at FeedXL we don’t recommend you balance a diet for a foal until he is at least 3 months of age. Up until this age, his mother’s milk and stores of minerals in the liver will fully meet requirements. So even though he will start to eat with his mother as early as a few days of age he doesn’t need this extra feed to meet his nutrient requirements.
After 3 months of age your foal will start to rely on nutrition outside of milk to meet his requirements, BUT milk still provides a lot of nutrition, so it must be included in his diet in FeedXL.
Here’s how to include milk in your FeedXL diets:
1. Calculate the amount of milk he is getting from his mother. At 3 months of age her milk production will be around 2.5% of her bodyweight per day.
To calculate 2.5% of her bodyweight:
2.5/100 = 0.025
0.025 x BW = amount of milk per day in kg or lb
So for a 500 kg (1100 lb) mare this would be:
0.025 x 500 kg = 12.5 kg per day
(or 0.025 x 1100 lb = 27.5 lb per day)
2. Create your foal in FeedXL with his correct date of birth and bodyweight. It is so important to get bodyweight correct! The only real way to do this is to weigh your foal (sorry, no easy tricks on this one).
3. Enter your foal’s pasture and/or hay, then add the milk at 2.5% of his mother’s bodyweight using the calculation above.
4. Check the diet to see what is missing and add a balancer pellet or feed to fill in the gaps. TIP: Use the supplement finder to find a product that will top up the required mineral and vitamin levels.
The images below show a January born, 200 kg thoroughbred foal’s diet with:
Pasture Only – note the LARGE deficit in required digestible energy. If you tried to fill this entire gap with feed you would be feeding waayyyyyy too much and make your foal grow too fast! This is why you need to add the milk!
Pasture + Milk – note now the deficit in digestible energy has been filled by the wonderful milk, so he doesn’t actually need extra calories in the diet. But there remain many mineral deficits. This is what you need to top up.
Pasture + Milk + 600 grams of Balancer Pellet (that I found using the Supplement Finder) – and you are done, requirements met without exceeding digestible energy requirement! Note FeedXL may warn you that forage requirement is not met. For foals, you have my permission to politely ignore FeedXL on this one as long as he has constant access to pasture and/or hay!
It is so super important to remember the milk! If you don’t, you run the risk of overfeeding your foal and that will almost certainly cause you to run into issues with developmental disease in the bones and joints.
If you are balancing a diet for your foal with FeedXL and are having trouble getting it right, be sure to pop over to our Facebook Nutrition Forum and ask for help. We are here and we want to help you!
Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?
We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!