What methods are commonly used during weaning (mare removal) and why? A pilot study

Catherine Williams, Hayley Randle

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


The behavioral effects on the foal during weaning are well documented and it is commonly agreed that foals are likely to suffer from stress during this procedure. A questionnaire comprising closed and open questions issued to breeders resulted in 440 responses all of which (100%) were usable. The gradual method was the most popular method used (40.5%), followed by abrupt (30.9%),‘other’ (15.2%), paddock (8.6%) and barn method (4.8%) respectively. Foal age is much lower for the abrupt method and much greater for ‘other’ method in comparison with all other methods (Chi-square statistics, P < 0.001). OLS regression results revealed a positive association between method and age (t ¼ 9.04; F4,435 ¼ 22.7, P <0.0001; Adj R2 ¼ 0.17) with younger foals more likely to be weaned using the abrupt (t ¼ 4.31, P < 0.0001) and barn methods (t ¼ 2.17, P< 0.05) and older foals more likely to being weaned using the ‘other’ method (t ¼ 6.97, P < 0.0001, F4,435 ¼ -21.3, Adj R2 ¼ 0.24).Inspection of respondents data suggest that large studs and those who breed many foals are more likely to breed every year and tend to remove foals from their mother earlier. This study demonstrates that current weaning practices vary broadly in terms of method used and age at removal, but shows significant trends according to stud size and number, and number of foals bred per year.


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