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RU Pardner, RU Sebastian, RU Shivna, & RU Prodigal Son with a friend on the western plains
Photos by Victoria Hanke.


Question/ Problems:

    I am adopting a 6 month PMU Percheron.  Can you tell me what a horse of his age should be eating?  Is there any other advice that you can offer for his first several weeks here?


Answer


    Many people that I encounter seem to underestimate exactly how much work a horse of this age, and this background will be.  When considering adopting a PMU foal, or any horse, it is important to understand exactly what is involved!  Depending on where it is coming from a PMU foal is likely to have little to no human exposure before it arrives on your farm.  It is unlikely to have ever been housed in a stall before, be halter broken, and may never have eaten grain, or seen an automatic waterer, feed bucket, or hay rack.  Teaching a 600+ lb. scared “baby” what a halter is, and basic ground manners can be quite exciting to say the least.  It can also be much more than many people are prepared for.  If you do not have a great deal of experience dealing with young horses it can be not only exciting, but seriously dangerous for all involved, both human and horse.
    If you have considered the above factors, and have the necessary experience and are prepared for the commitment involved, here are some recommendations.

To prevent “Shipping Fever”-

    In an oral dose syringe, mixed with applesause put 5 grams of Vitamin C, (ground).  Feed this twice per day for five days.  Once per day add 800 iu Vitamin E, (bite the tip off of a capsule and squeeze into the applesauce mixture). 

    Both the Vitamin C and E may be purchased at a grocery store, and we use a coffee grinder to smash the Vitamin C. 

    This will serve both to prevent “shipping fever”/stress induced illness, and may also serve as a treat, as many of the horses love the applesauce.  For more information on the use of Vitamin C to reduce shipping fever, please see the information regarding our previous research on Transportation Stress- click here. 

Feeding-

    As stated above, depending on where your weanling is coming from they may not have any prior exposure to grain, buckets, hayracks, or automatic waterers.  This is something you should be aware of.  Do not just assume that the horse has figured out how to use the waterer unless you have seen it drinking.

    It is important to use a pelleted feed specifically designed for young horses.  Examples of some feeds are Pure Pride 300, Nutrena Youth, and Blue Seal Mare N’Foal.  Begin by feeding 1 lb. twice per day, and gradually increase to 2 or 3 lbs, depending on body condition.  Offer free access to a good quality hay, preferably an alfalfa/grass mix, from the beginning.  Free access to water and mineralized salt should also be offered.

    To help the weanling learn how and what is good to eat it is a good idea to have him stalled next to another horse so that he can learn by example at feeding times.  The other horse will also be a good source of company for a baby who is likely afraid of his new surroundings.  Placing some of the feed in his mouth, (gently and carefully of course!), can help him realize that grain tastes good.

Turnout-

     It is highly recommended that you do not turn the weanling loose in a pasture or paddock until you have him halter broken and tamed down a bit.  We usually work with our weanlings twice a day, grooming, teaching them to lead, picking up their feet, etc., for four or five days before I am comfortable turning them out.






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For questions about the program or website, please contact Dr. Sarah Ralson at ralston@aesop.rutgers.edu



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