It's a big day for our Mamas and Babies ... weaning day! We are using the proximity method of weaning to reduce stress.
About a month ago we moved Dixie, Belle, Lacey and Archie into a separate pen and introduced senior horse Mona as a grandmother figure. We've watched them closely and notice that Archie has become very independent and Belle nurses mostly for comfort, and at the same time Dixie's weight is starting to show the drain of an older foal nursing. So, with good weather on the forecast, we decided it was time.
We removed Dixie and Lacey from the pen however they are allowed to be in the same proximity. We then fed everyone their morning grain in their separate pens. Belle was a little confused for a moment but rapidly turned to Mona, as we had hoped.
We are checking in on them regularly. So far everyone is calm and quiet. We have observed Dixie quietly go to the gate and check-in, and then just go back to eating. Mona wanders over to check on the babies if she notices them watching the mamas. As time passes, if it becomes more stressful to allow them to proximity wean, we will adjust to a gradual weaning where they are allowed short periods together over a few days. We are hopeful we do not have to resort to cold turkey weaning as this is proven to be the most stressful method, but if they don't adjust well on their own, we will bring the babies to the stalls and separate them completely.
Mamas have the ability to join the big herd if they like. Lots of positive thoughts for everyone during this stressful time.