Feed and Nutrition Program for Mule Foals

Steve Edwards: I always try to stay away from any high-carbohydrate feed. Stay away from the alfalfas. They don’t need the grains right now. It flat makes them silly. Any time you feed a mule grain and not give it something to do, you have got a jet airplane on your hands that is out of control.

Dave Shrein: Could you answer some questions on foal nutrition for me? I’ve adopted a rescue mule colt and can’t find any good information on diet. She’s just looking for where to get started on diet for this foal nutrition. You wanna go ahead and just run with it and give her some basics?

Steve Edwards: Well, basically just feed it. What you always wanna stay away from is carbohydrates. Feed it good grass hay and keep it in front of them all the time. Try to have … this is a big deal for me, because when you watch mules out there feeding, and donkeys and horses, you don’t see them feeding with their head in the air. You see them feeding with their head down. And it’s amazing how many feeders I see that are chest high to the mules. If you really want to have them digest their food good, chew it up, go down, put it down low where they can get to it. All of my feeders are on the ground. I take plastic barrels and I cut a circle out of them and I put my feed in there.

The best thing she can do is make sure that that colt has all the grass hay it wants in front of it all the time. The downside, of course, you heard me talk about hay, is it doesn’t always have the nutrition in there that it needs to have, and there are so many things out there in way of new feed that Nutrina has and some of these others, that are good for foals. I’m not completely up on it. I haven’t been with foals in quite a while, but I always try to stay away from any high-carbohydrate feed. Stay away from the alfalfas. They don’t need the grains right now. It flat makes them silly. Any time you feed a mule grain and not give it something to do, you have got a jet airplane on your hands that is out of control. They’ll look for monsters anywhere. By the way, a good article on my website is called Mules Can’t Stand Prosperity, and I talk about feeding a mule. This is a young mule, about a three-year-old, and that three-year-old all of a sudden started changing attitudes, and it came down to feed. She started feeding high-carbohydrate feed, a lot of grain and alfalfa, and the mule became a nut case, and that can happen.

But just a lot of grass hay in front of it, and these colts, the most important thing you can do with a colt is keep their feet balanced, because the downside of this problem that we have today with our mules is they can be pigeon-footed, they can be toed-in, they can have contracted heels and this sort of thing. Keep your mule’s feet balanced during the wintertime, I know you don’t wanna put shoes on them because it balls up the snow, balls up underneath their feet, but trim them short. But other than that, just feed them a lot of good hay, stay away from the carbohydrates.

Dave Shrein: So real quick question. This is new for me to listen to; this is new for me to hear. I’ve heard you talk about pellets and Lakin Light. What’s the difference between what you’re talking about for this foal versus what I’ve heard you talk about with Lakin Light and that type of a diet?

Steve Edwards: I feed all of my mules Lakin Light. I don’t feed any hay at all. The great thing about the Lakin Light is it’s a clean feed. It’s a cleaner feed than you can buy. Any of your pellet feed is. The downside is in the hay, what we don’t see is all the rat poop and this sort of thing. But that foal, it’s good to have them chew, and the good thing about pellets, as they chew, that’ll make their teeth erupt. And the good thing about them chewing is it makes the digestive system good. And the next thing about pellets, when you feed a pellet, it’s only about as big around as my finger to start with, but as you feed the pellets and they put water in it, it becomes three times its size, so it ends up expanding in their bellies. It gives a lot of results through the intestines and this sort of thing. It’s great.

All of my foals, I pretty much fed them, in the very beginning, just a good, clean grass hay, Bermuda hay, and I fed the Lakin Light pellet. And as I got to looking at it and going on, I found the pellet was the best way to go. It was the cleanest feed I could get.