Agnote 411 No. J12 September 1997 Agdex No: 460/23 ISSN No: 0157-8243 Raising Orphan Foals Part 2. Feeding J. Coventry, Veterinary Officer, Alice Springs If a foster mare is not available an orphan foal may be bottle fed with a prepared milk formula. Foals should suck naturally when introduced to a feeding teat. If they won't, initiate the sucking reflex by placing a finger in the foal's mouth and moving it slowly over the roof of the mouth and the tongue. Warmed milk is preferable for weak and newly orphaned foals. A foal should be taught to bucket feed as soon as possible generally in the second week. Getting foals to bucket feed can be difficult, however a technique that works well is to get the foal to suck one or two fingers and gently lower fingers into the bucket. Once the foal will readily drink milk from a bucket, caution is required to prevent the foal from drinking too much at any one time. Overfeeding can be as detrimental as underfeeding. As a rule, feed 10% of body weight in fluids (100 mL of fluid per kilogram of bodyweight) each day. Mix up each milk feed when required and feed at body temperature. Feeds should be given in evenly divided quantities 4 to 8 times a day. Later, when the foal is used to regularly drinking small quantities of milk from a bucket, the bucket can be hung on a hook at an appropriate height and left there for the foal to drink freely. The bucket and contents need to be cleaned and changed at least twice daily depending on temperature, flies etc. 2 MILK FORMULA Compared to cows milk, mares milk contains more sugar, less protein and much less fat. Therefore a substitute milk formula for foals must take this into account. FEEDING SOLIDS Stage 1 - Wean onto solids The orphan foal should be introduced to solid feed with 16-20% protein as soon as possible. Once it is bucket feeding satisfactorily another bucket filled with solid feed can be set up next to the milk bucket. Examples of solid feedstuffs are: • milk based stock feed pellets eg. 'Denkavit Calf Pellets', Veanavite Calf Pellets' • milk based concentrate mix 3 parts powdered milk ration (eg. 'Denkavit', 'Veanavite') + 2 parts feed concentrate (eg. 'Stablemate', 'Equus') + molasses (to make it palatable) Starting solid feeding is quicker using a concentrate mix because compared to pellets, it is easier for a foal to mouth. However regardless of the type of initial milk based solid feed, provide to the foal ad lib until consumption reaches 1 kg per day and then gradually substitute with 100% grain based pellets or concentrate mix. Stage 2 - Increase grain and roughage intake Supplement the grain based pellets or concentrate with good quality grain, cereal or lucerne chaff/hay. Roughage such as chaff or hay is important since excessive intake of concentrate and grain alone can result in enterotoxaemia (a form of blood poisoning). Depending upon quality of available pasture onto which the foal is being weaned, feed supplements may be required after the weaning period. 3 SOME MILK FORMULAS FOR FOALS FORMULA #1 (Homemade) 300 mL of milk Reconstituted powdered milk or evaporated milk is suitable. +5 mL of lime water Made by adding water to hydrated lime, shaking thoroughly to dissolve as much lime as possible and allowing undissolved lime to settle before pouring off the ‘lime water’. Hydrated lime is available from chemists and supermarkets. +5 mL of Glucodin® + 300 mL of warm water Available from chemists and supermarkets. FORMULA #2 (Commercial) Denkavit® • Available from stock and station agents. • Mix as per directions. • Contains half as much fat as cows milk so probably no need to dilute. • Contains no additional sugar, so energy deficiency in the milk formula can be compensated for by adding molasses to the weaner ration. FORMULA #3 (Commercial) Veanavite® • Available from stock and station agents. • Mix as per directions. • Contains half as much fat as cows milk so probably no need to dilute. • Contains additional sugar therefore no need to add molasses. Notes: 1. A supply of homemade formula can be made and refrigerated for 2-3 days at a time. 2. If a foal develops diarrhoea on either of the commercial formulas; either dilute 1:1 with water and add 10 g of Glucodin® per litre of formula, or add 10 mL of lime water per litre of formula. If diarrhoea still persists after 24 hours on modified formula, then additional treatment will be required. 4 MILK FEEDING GUIDE AGE OF LIQUID FEED TOTAL DAILY INTAKE COMMENT FOAL (depending on demand) Week 1 250-600 mL 5-6 litres The pot-belly appearance of ‘poddy’ every 2-3 hours foals may be the result of infrequent, large feeds or a deficiency in feed digestible protein. Week 2 1,000-1,500 mL 6-9 litres Introduce to bucket feeding. every 4 hours Week 3, 4 2,000-3,000 mL 8-12 litres Introduce to solids and omit sugar every 6 hours from milk feed Week 5, 6 Reduce milk Wean as soon as possible while feeding increasing solid feed content of diet. These notes are intended as a basic guide to feeding orphan foals. Further information on specific problems is available from: • Animal Health Branch of DBIRD • Your local Veterinarian Products referred to by trade name in this publication may not be the only suitable materials available. The mentioning of trade names in this publication does not imply endorsement by DBIRD. 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