Foal Care
 Delivery & Newborn Care
 Nutrition & Growth
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Your healthy newborn foal should consume 15%-25% of his body weight in milk daily and gain an average of 1-2 lbs./day. Excessive weight gain, unusually rapid growth spurts or a diet unbalanced in calories, protein, calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals may place your foal at increased risk for metabolic bone disease. Developmental, or metabolic, bone disease includes conditions such as physitis, contracted tendons and defects in bone ossification (e.g., OCD, subchondral bone cysts, wobbler syndrome).

As your foal grows, he will need a gradual transition from an "all milk" diet to solid feed. Typically, creep feed should be introduced slowly after the first month at rates of 0.75-1.0 lb. of creep feed per 100 lbs. of foal body weight. The type of creep offered will depend on the amount and quality of hay and/or pasture in the diet. Consult with your veterinarian to develop a balanced nutrition program for your foal.

Body Condition Scoring.
You can use Body Condition Scoring, a system based on visual appraisal and body palpation of six areas, to assess the relative body fat of your mare and growing foal. The ideal body condition score for a foal is between 5 and 7. Consult your veterinarian if your foal's body score is higher or lower. Monitor your foal for contracted tendons, physitis and other angular limb deformities. Click here for information on how to score your foal.

Chart your foal's growth.
It's easy to see why early care is so important to the long-term health of your foal. By the time he is six months old, your foal will have already attained about 80% of his mature height and half of his mature weight. Here are two tools we have available for tracking your foal's growth:
  1. The Merck Animal Health Foal Care ProgramSM growth chart. Make sure your foal is on the right track by comparing its growth to the recommended growth rate for its age and breed. Print out a copy, then mark an "X" at the appropriate weight-age intersection on the growth chart every time you weigh your foal. Small or newborn foals can be weighed on a bathroom scale. Weight tapes can be used to estimate the weight of older foals when scales are not available.
  2. The Merck Animal Health Foal Care Program GrowthSM & Farrier Record. Record your foal's growth, body condition and visits from the farrier. You can download and print this chart, or create an account and save all of your information electronically.