Mare’s milk and pasture will normally meet the nutritional requirements of the foal during the first few months of life and provided the mare and foal are in good condition, the foal does not need to start creep feeding until it is around 2 months of age. However, some foals may benefit from the introduction of a suitable creep feed as early as three weeks of age (e.g. if their dam is producing insufficient milk).
Establishing the foal on a suitable creep feed prior to the third month of lactation, when the production and nutrient content of the mare’s milk decreases, is vital. This will ensure that the foal continues to receive all the essential nutrients needed to maintain optimum growth and development. Introducing the nursing foal to a creep feed will also help their digestive system to adapt to concentrates feeds, rather than just a milk based diet, plus it will accustom the foal to eating from a bucket or manger. This may help to lessen stress, the risk of digestive disturbances and reduced growth rates post-weaning.
The most suitable creep feed will depend on the foal’s individual requirements. For example, Connolly’s RED MILLS 14% Stud Mix or 18% Foal & Yearling Cooked Mix is ideal for foals whose dams are not quite producing sufficient milk. Foran Equine Friska Foal is recommended for foals that are not doing particularly well or have had a poor start.