Monday, August 2, 2021

Reunited, Kind Of

Epona has been home almost a week now, and she's almost 10 weeks old. It has been a series of ups and downs, and lots of U-Turns, but the final result of all the buddy auditions was to reunite her with mama, and mama was desperate for the job!

This was definitely not a full reunion, but either complete separation with panel and wire, or very closely supervised interaction through the fence. Those moments are short and rare because I don't want her to try and nurse through the opening.


Sometimes, mama gets cranky. Who knows why? That's the part of speaking horse I don't get. The cranky parts.

Up until yesterday, I was diligently weighing every bit of replacer pellets she ate, but that became so frustrating that I abandoned it and switched to a whatever-she-eats-has-to-be-okay mentality. You can't make a horse eat. I did everything possible to find tricks--adding this, adding that, taking away this and that, feeding from hands, feeding on lap, ...you name it, I tried it. But her hunger for pelleted food is very unpredictable. She loves her Omolene 300, and will scarf that up, but add replacer pellets, and she turns up her nose. She loves grass.  She loves alfalfa. So, I even tried to lay her mix on the grass and alfalfa, so that she would have to eat the pellets.

This morning, the grass was gone, but the pellets were still there.

Her appetite has remained the same, no matter who is in the stall next to her, but being near her mom seemed to give her the most comfort. And, for a little one fighting pneumonia, whatever comfort I can provide her, I will. It's a balancing act. The difference between Epona and an orphan foal is that she is not an orphan, and I can't make her mom disappear. 

I know babies need replacer pellets, but I'm not sure at what point they can handle hay and supplements. I've read testimonies from people who had similar situations, orphan foals at this age, and similar eating patterns, and it turned out okay. We give her oral supplements, too. I'm hoping that altogether, it is enough, and gets her through. 

She developed diarrhea a few days ago, but it wasn't that bad, and disappeared as fast as it came with a little Pepto. She was definitely transitioning, because her manure changed from baby looking droppings, to big horse style droppings. The color changed, too. It now looks like a hay based manure. Same color and consistency. She loves her grass and alfalfa, and scarfs it down.


I haven't given up on the replacer pellets, but I'm concentrating my efforts now to keeping her happy and low stress. I go out every hour or so and place them in my lap, hoping I'll catch her at a hungry moment. 


Sometimes I get lucky, and sometimes I don't.

I think part of her low appetite pellets could be a result of stomach upset. I'm going to ask the vet about giving her Ulcer Guard. Apparently, orphan foals are very susceptible to ulcers, which is another reason I'm trying to minimize her stress.

I'm having a hard time getting someone to deliver the hay I reserved. Our regular guy is 3 weeks out, and my supplier doesn't seem willing to let us pay and hold it. Grrrr....so frustrating!! I've called many other people, and they don't even bother calling back. I'm going to start buying some of it from our local feed store, and just pay a premium price until I can catch a break. 

So, that's the latest goings on around here. It's hot and smoky, but that seems to be our new summer normal, as sad as it is to think that. I'm looking forward to Autumn. I don't like to wish away time, but it would be nice to get a reprieve.

11 comments:

  1. Whatever you're doing seems to be working. I wouldn't worry too much about the milk replacer.
    Sure hope that pneumonia goes away soon.
    What about renting a trailer to haul the hay yourself? I know it's a lot of work but it's better than having the hay sold out from under you.

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    1. Well, I ended up finding hay through my former hay guy. He brought some up from the Tri-Cities and says he will deliver it next week. The other guy missed out by not letting me put a deposit down and wait for this guy to deliver it.

      She eats the pellets at a 3:1 ratio with Omolene. Omolene 3, pellets 1. 😂

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  2. I feel that every day that she goes stronger is a win. Once the pneumonia is gone her appetite may pick up. I know nothing about foals but she’s made it this far. I love watching mom and baby together.

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    1. That’s my thinking, too. Whatever it takes to get her to the next day, hopefully stronger than the last. She seems to be developing her own routine with this. I will probably stop offering her milk pellets free choice and just offer them at points throughout the day. The flies are awful, and they’re attracted to her food. I think it would be better to keep it put away. I was reading about Omolene 300, and it can be offered at 1lb / 100 lbs, so I will probably start making a bigger mix of Omolene to replacer pellets.

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  3. I've never had to raise an orphan, but I've raised two "normal" foals. It seems like, if baby is eating Omelene 300, you should be able to get away with something like that and maybe something like Northwest Mare and foal. I used to feed that along with my grain. It's a mineral supplement formulated for our area. I fed a combo of the NW Mare and Foal, Allegra Senior, and LMF Growth for Grass Hay. I got in trouble for growing my second baby too fast, so the combo definitely worked. Though maybe too well. But the babies loved the mix and ate it down. Maybe Omelene 300 with a supplement pellet might work for you...

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    1. I was considering adding NW Mare and Foal, and have used it before for foals. I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the recommendation. I have Aslin Finch Senior, which she also likes. I’ll look for LMF Growth. Maybe the combo will be palatable to her.

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  4. It looks like everything is going fine and she's doing well. I hope the pneumonia goes away quickly with her antibiotics. It's good that she and Cowgirl can be together for a bit. It's probably good for both of them to just be near each other. I know nothing about raising foals and I certainly can't give any advice but you seem to be doing everything right for her.

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    1. She has another week on her antibiotic, and I went in to the clinic to pick it up and talk to her vet. She agreed to start using ulcer guard, and to switch her feed to one higher in calcium, like NW Mare and Foal and / or LMF Developer. Tweed has been on the Developer, and I’m going to start her on both of those. The replacers have the calcium, but she’s too picky. The ulcer guard might improve her appetite. We will see. I like to see mom and baby together, too. Cowgirl really wants to be near her. Sometimes I forget that it’s as much about her health as Epona’s.

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  5. Nutrition in general makes me a little nutty. Too many opinions, variables, options, contradictions, and all the darn measurements. The videos of the two together are so sweet! I would think the separation/situation is frustrating for Cowgirl. Crankiness is a form of communicating unhappiness, from whatever cause. Whatever you are doing for Epona, you are doing it right. She looks great to me.

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    1. You know, I compared nutritional values on replacer pellets versus Mare and Foal and Omolene 300, and they weren’t that far off in calcium. I’ll blog about that soon. Since I’ve allowed her to eat the Omolene, she’s eating more and getting a little more energy. Fingers crossed.

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    2. Interesting. Looking forward to reading about your discoveries/observations. I just love how you leave no leaf unturned!!

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