Owners and veterinarians often have the difficult challenge of a newborn foal in their care that may require “round the clock” feedings of a supplemental milk source. Foals whose dams are deceased or have rejected them or the dam just doesn’t produce enough milk will normally require another source of nutrition, either via a nurse mare, an alternative supply of milk or milk replacer. A foal will require some source of milk for the first 2-5 months of life, with the foal needing a feeding every 1-2 hours for the first few days of it’s life. This is an exhausting task for an owner and the cost to pay staff to undertake this foal-feeding schedule can be quite expensive. It soon becomes tempting for the owner to leave large volumes of milk in the stall overnight for the foal to consume on its own. This can lead to spoilage of the milk, over consumption by the foal, which in turn can lead to colic, diarrhea, gastric ulcers, and lack of weight gain. A paper presented at the 2014 AAEP convention described the construction of a relatively inexpensive (<$400.00 as described in the paper) automated device to store, refrigerate and dispense a programmable volume of milk into a small container for the foal’s consumption at timed intervals. This automatic feeder was tested on over 20 foals, which quickly learned the sound of the pump when it activated and would “run to the bucket to drink”. “The foals gained weight at an average pace and no significant diarrhea, colic, or constipation was encountered.” The pump can be programmed to gradually increase the volume and decrease the frequency as the foal grows and forage and grains are introduced into the diet. The researcher concluded “having a programmable automated device available to offer allocated amounts of milk replacer to an orphaned foal can be a very convenient time and money saving option.”
Scientific article: Schroeder, J. DVM “How to Build an Automatic Milk Feeding Device for Orphan Foals”, AAEP Proceedings 2014, vol. 60, pp. 170-174.
Companion article: Larson, E. “How to Build an Automatic Milking Device for Orphan Foals” theHorse.com, Feb. 8, 2015, Article #35293.