From the Foaling Barn

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Foals in Cold Weather

It amazes me that foals born during the coldest time of year are born with heavy hair coats, while late spring foals are born with slick, short hair. Since we manipulate the breeding season with artificial light and hormones, it’s a good thing Mother Nature offers our foals this protection.

However, even the furriest, little foal is no match for our Minnesota winters, when we average 30 days below zero. Every year, we are always in a quandary as to how cold is too cold to put a foal outside during the day. My vet says that for a two day-old foal the temperature should be at least 25 F and preferably sunny. The older the foal, the colder the temperatures it can withstand. I don’t like to put blankets on foals. I find they inhibit the foal’s movement, and, invariably, foals seem to be able to wiggle out of them. As with older horses, once you start blanketing, you have to continue to blanket. Blankets crush the natural insulating loft of the coat, so that when you remove the blanket, even in a heated barn, the colt may begin to shiver. We do have a heated foaling barn, but we keep the temperature no warmer than 45 so that the difference between inside and outside is not too much of a shock to mother and foal.

I try to get foals outside every day that it’s safe, because foals need to run freely to grow strong bone and muscle. But sometimes that is just not possible, when the mercury falls to single digits and the wind howls. About the best we can do on those days is to take mother and foal into the arena to exercise for thirty minutes or so.


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