Early management of race-bred weanlings and yearlings on farms
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A total of 58 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse farms that managed 1,987 weanlings and yearlings responded to a survey designed to better characterize early management of racing prospects. Average age at weaning was 5.5 months and over half of all farms kept almost three-fourths of all weanlings to be placed in pre-race training. Variation in feeding practices was evident and while well over half of all farms provided balanced nutrient supply to young horses, 20% to 40% likely fed unbalanced diets. An obvious preference existed for semi-confinement in young horses with plenty of free exercise. The majority of farms reported that young prospects were fed and managed for a moderate rate of growth. Forced exercise occurred to a much larger extent with yearlings than weanlings and 40% of farms described the footing as soft, but not deep. Response to the prevalence of developmental orthopedic diseases appeared somewhat guarded, and average injury rate was low on farms that attributed much of injury to horses playing too hard. Technological advancements such as photoperiod manipulation in broodmares were widely used, while valuable tools such as body condition scoring were utilized to a lesser extent.
author list (cited authors)
Gibbs, P. G., & Cohen, N. D.