Feeding of foals and young horses

Feeding of foals and young horses

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Feeding of foals and young horses

Young horses grow tremendously in the first 2.5 years of life. Warmblood Horses are born weighing an average of 60 pounds and after 2.5 years nearly 600 kg. What is needed for this tremendous growth? How you can contribute to the proper growth of a healthy foal a vital young horse?

The basis for foals begins with health

Optimal health is a prerequisite for growth. If your foal is not healthy, it will use all the energy your supply them with to get better. Or maybe they are even too weak to take food.
You can provide the basis for good health: fresh air, fresh water, good roughage, worming on time and adequate exercise.

It is important that you learn to recognise the signs of ill health in your foal because they can quickly deteriorate.

Drinking little, or being inactive or listless then take action. If needed call your vet.

Diarrhoea and dehydration can kill a foal very quickly.

The role of nutrition for foals

It is important to foals that they grow correctly. Too little growth is not good, but it is also very important that they do not grow too quickly. A diet that is too rich (rich in energy and protein) will make the foal grow fast but this will be at the expense of the quality of bone. The quality of the energy supply is thus of great importance for the development of the young horse.

First solid food

The first three months of the foal the basic feed is the mares milk. Early in their lives they will become playful with the mother food - that is quite normal. Milk gives the foal all that it needs but they will also pick at grass and hay. It is not abnormal for the foal to occasionally eat fresh manure from the mare.
Both fibre and manure are important for the proper development of micro-organisms (bacteria) in the intestines. And these microorganisms are again very important for the digestion of roughage.

Tip: To help longer term roughage digestion it is a good idea from 2 to 3 weeks (by hand) to give a bit of roughage and concentrates.

Foals & nutrition from 3 to 4 weeks

You can now begin to offer the foal their own feed.

By starting early with Pavo PODO Start you can be sure that the foal is getting enough essential nutrients.

Mare's milk starts from 5 to 6 weeks to contain less of these nutrients

Importantly as well is the fact that a foal fed small amounts of concentrates from an early age will have much less difficulty transitioning to a full roughage and concentrate diet on weaning.

You will also reduce the work load of the mare because the foal will become less reliant on milk. This will help keep her in top condition.

Foals & nutrition after weaning

From 4 months a foal can be weaned, but this usually happens at 5-6 months.

By following our system your foal will be sufficiently used to the Pavo PODO Start to make this transition without problem.

Continue feeding the Pavo PODO Start until the 8th month - from then you can switch to the PODO Grown until the horse is around 3 years old.

Extra points for foals


It is well know that OCD is influenced by heredity, exercise and diet.

In order to reduce the issues from diet the feed for young horses must contain sufficient nutrients such as:

  • Amino-acids: These building blocks of protein are required to be able to grow. The lack of essential amino acids leads to growth retardation among others.
  • Fibre: need to maximise the gastrointestinal tract. The fibre in the hay and the Pavo Foal Feeds contribute to a strong gastrointestinal tract with a high throughput.
  • Minerals and trace elements in an optimal quantity: needed for balanced development of the skeleton.
  • Vitamins: important for the health and resilience of the foal.

NB A ration of hay and grains alone is strongly discouraged in foals. In such a ration the amounts and balances of essential nutrients will be completely incorrect!

Often problems from this inadequate diet will not be seen until later in life so please take care.

Foal worming

It is very important to de-worm a foal.

This should be done between the 8th and 10th day after birth and then between 4 and 6 weeks.

Be sure to use a wormer designed for young foals and thereafter worm normally.

Field time

If your foal is on good grass pay particular attention to the amount of concentrates you feed them. The foal should not be in too good condition - overloading of joints is easily done and the damage is irreparable.

Because PAVO is mindful of this a supplement called Podo Care was developed.

When young foals are on good grazing then you can feed just a handful of this supplement to them.

All the nutrients needed are in this product without any of the energy provisions.

During the last three months of gestation and during lactation Pavo Podo ® Care can also be given to the mare when she is on very good grazing - removing the need to feed Podo Lac.


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