Foal Diet: What Do Baby Horses Eat?

Last Updated on June 13, 2022 by Guillermina

When your mare gives birth to a foal, it’s quite an exciting time, but now that the little thing is here, you need to ask: what do baby horses eat?

Horses are mammals and follow a similar pattern to others. Ensuring that your baby horse has what they need to thrive from birth will help you breed a healthy herd!

In this article, I explain what baby horses eat at each stage of their growth and how you should feed them. 

What Did Do Baby Horses Eat?

Foals are similar to many other mammals when it comes to their diet. In the first few hours of their life, a foal will start drinking from their mare. You should ensure that the foal stands up and drinks from their mare in the first two hours after birth.

A mare’s first milk is known as colostrum, and it contains all the antibodies your foal needs to fight diseases. If your mare passes during birth or doesn’t have milk, using a nurse mare should be your first option. Your second should be a lactating dairy goat. 

You could also try milking your mare with your hands and feeding your foal with a bottle. 

 Can baby horses eat hay?

Foals drink about fifteen to twenty-five percent of their body weight per day. They should spend up to half an hour per drinking session, so if you notice your foal drinking for longer than this, it could be a sign that your mare is having trouble producing milk. 

When foals are a week old, they’ll try to copy your mare by showing interest in hay or grain. Their digestive tracts adjust quickly to these new foods, and they start eating all the manure they can find to prepare their hindguts. This can cause diarrhea, so you shouldn’t be too worried if that happens. 

Your mare’s milk supply will decrease between thirteen and twenty-four weeks. At this time, your foal will have to find their nutrition elsewhere. You should feed your foals a healthy diet for growth according to their milestones. If their diet isn’t nutritious, your foal could develop metabolic bone disease or orthopedic disease and physitis

The Best Diet for Baby Horses

Newborn Foals

A mare’s milk is the best source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and proteins for your foal. Milk will help them stay healthy, and you should encourage your foal to drink milk for at least three months. When they’re ready, or when the mare is, your foal will start weaning and show an interest in grains. 

 Can foals eat apples?

Growing Foals

As your foal grows, you’ll have to shift them from your mare’s milk to a new diet. This process is called creep feeding because you only introduce little amounts of other food at once. You should separate your foal and mare during this time to prevent your mare from eating your foal’s food. 

A growing foal needs protein with essential amino acids, calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc, and other vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Any abnormalities or diseases caused by the wrong diet won’t be visible until later in your foal’s life. 

You should only feed your foal high-quality hay and pasture as they develop. Supplementing this with a properly balanced grain concentrate and providing them with clean, fresh water is best. 

How Much Should Baby Horses Eat?

If you’re bottle-feeding your foal a mare’s milk or nurse milk, you should ensure they drink 8 – 16 oz per feeding. In their first two days, they need to drink every one to two hours. For the next two weeks after that, you can feed your foal every two to four hours. Your foal should be adjusted according to their birth weight after two weeks. 

All their feedings split into two or three portions should amount to 1% of your foal’s body weight. You should change this amount as your foal grows and gains weight. 

Nursing foals should still eat foal feed every day. You should serve them no more than one pound for each month of their age. For example, a three-month-old foal will need to eat three pounds of foal feed daily to grow healthy. 

If your foal doesn’t finish their meal, remove it from them. Foals shouldn’t overfeed since this can cause serious health issues. You should never leave them to eat as much as they like. 

How To Feed A Baby Horse

If your foal needs feeding from a bottle, you should place an artificial nipple on it. Also, warm the milk.

You should use an artificial nipple designed for a lamb. This nipple will give you the best results. Once your foal seems eager,  start teaching them to drink milk straight from a bucket. 

If your foal starts eating grains, a heap of hay or pasture would be sufficient to teach them to eat independently. Just remember to always keep an eye on them while they’re still learning!

To End

Baby horses start out on mothers’ milk but soon begin to gain their independence. By the time your foal is two weeks old, they should eat a mixture of mare milk and hard feed. 

You should, however, still encourage your foal to drink as long as your mare is willing to feed them since milk is an excellent source of nutrients. 

If this article was helpful, let me know in the comments! You can also ask any additional questions you have in there, and I’ll get back to you with informative answers soon. 

 Do foals need hard feed?


Do baby horses drink milk?


The first food a baby horse will eat is milk from their mare.

Can baby horses eat hay?


Once a foal is approximately one week old, they can start showing interest in hay and try to eat it.

Can foals eat apples?


Foals enjoy fruit and veggies treats as much as grown horses do, but you should feed these to them with caution.

Do foals need hard feed?


You need to start introducing hard feed to your foal around two weeks after birth.