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The Expectant Mare: A Foaling Timeline for Owners.

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Presentation on theme: "The Expectant Mare: A Foaling Timeline for Owners."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Expectant Mare: A Foaling Timeline for Owners

2 1 MONTH BEFORE All vaccines / deworming should be current Give vaccines within 4-6 weeks pre-foaling to ensure the best colostral antibodies The mare should be at the location she is going to foal at Allows the mare time to develop antibodies to the environment A clean stall, at least 12’x12’ with straw bedding is ideal, or a clean paddock Your ability to observe foaling is important (a pasture is too large to monitor) Preparation

3 1 Month Before: What to expect Mare’s udder will gradually begin to fill (may happen 3-6 weeks before foaling) Maiden mares are more likely to develop more quickly right before foaling

4 1 Month Before: When to call the vet ASAP! If the mare’s udder develops rapidly (overnight or within 1-2 days), or she begins to drip milk This is usually a sign of fetal stress! Early treatment may prevent premature birth or neonatal infections If the mare begins to act colicky Could be caused by numerous different things, many fatal to mare or foal if not treated early If the mare has large amounts of edema (soft swelling) on the lowest part of her abdomen Could lead to prepubic tendon rupture, which is often fatal for the mare and foal

5 1 WEEK BEFORE What to expect “Breaking down”, aka softening of the muscles and ligaments around the tail head The tail head will be more prominent 7-10 days before foaling Teats begin to fill 4-6 days before foaling Milk changes from watery grey-white to thicker, sticky, creamy yellow (colostrum) Test kits are available to monitor changes in the milk, and are very reliable in most mares

6 1 WEEK BEFORE What to expect (cont.) Waxing of the teat ends occurs 24-48 hrs before foaling in most mares Some as early as 1 week before, some never do The vulva becomes loose and flaccid 24-48 hours prior to foaling (may begin gradually over the last week)

7 1 Week Before: When to call the vet If vaginal discharge is present If the mare begins to drip milk, but does not show any other signs of foaling within 24 hrs. May be a sign of fetal stress May result in insufficient colostrum for the foal If the mare started to show foaling signs, but stopped If the mare does not have any udder development Arrangements for supplemental colostrum may need to be made

8 IMMEDIATELY BEFORE (Stage I): What to expect Restlessness, sweating, biting flank, switching tail Frequent urinations and defecations Getting up and down frequently Dripping milk There may be no warning signs! May last 1-4 hours, often takes longer in maiden mares than experienced ones.

9 Immediately Before: Preparation Wrap the mare’s tail Use caution, mares may behave very differently when in labor Note the time Notify the vet so they can be prepared to help if needed Keep the area quiet and free of visitors

10 Immediately Before: When to call the vet ASAP!!! If signs last for more than 4 hours If a red, velvety membrane appears (aka “Red Bag”) This is an EMERGENCY!!!! The placenta has separated prematurely and the foal has no oxygen supply If the vet cannot be there in a few minutes break the red membrane and the membrane behind it so the mare’s “water breaks”, you should be able to reach the foal at this time. The foal needs to be delivered as quickly as possible.

11 ACTIVE LABOR (Stage II): What to expect Begins when the mare’s water breaks Lasts 5-40 min (20 is average) Abdominal contractions are seen in the mare The mare is usually lying down for this stage The foal should emerge front feet first, hooves down, with one leg slightly forward of the other The nose should follow shortly, at about the level of the knee

12 Active Labor: When to call the vet ASAP If the mare has been in active labor for more than 20-30 minutes If BOTH front legs don’t appear first, hooves down, followed by the nose. Any abnormal positioning can cause severe damage or death to the mare and foal Never try to pull the foal unless you have been instructed to do so by your vet Most foaling injuries are caused by incorrect or unneeded assistance If progress seems to stop

13 POST FOALING - THE MARE (Stage III): What to expect The placenta should pass on its own within 3 hrs To prevent the mare from stepping on it, it can be tied in loose knots to shorten its length Save the placenta in a bag for your vet to examine The mare may rest for a few minutes after the foal is delivered, but should rise within 10-15 minutes. The mare should show interest in the foal and may lick it, nicker to it, and nudge it gently. A caramel-colored to red-tinge, odor-free discharge is normal for 5-6 days. A “foal heat” will occur 7-10 days after foaling Some mares will not show heat with a foal at their side

14 Post Foaling – The Mare: When to call the vet If the placenta has not passed on its own in 3 hours NEVER pull on a placenta or cut it, small pieces can be left in the uterus which can lead to a severe infection If the mare does not try to rise within 10-15 minutes, or appears unable to rise. If the mare shows no interest in the foal or acts aggressively toward it. Move the foal to a safe location where the mare cannot bite or kick it, but can still see it, while you are waiting for your vet’s instructions If a foul-smelling discharge is present Pieces of the placenta may still be in the uterus, resulting in an infection If the mare develops a temperature, goes off feed, or acts sore on her feet Retained fetal membranes may result in founder

15 POST FOALING - THE FOAL What to expect Should roll onto sternum within 5 minutes Should attempt to stand within 30 minutes. Umbilical cord will break on its own as foal or mare moves The cord can be treated with dilute chlorohexidine (Nolvasan®) solution every 8-12 hours to prevent infection. Diluted iodine can also be used, but is more irritating and has been shown to be less effective at killing umbilical bacteria. Should succeed at standing in 45-90 minutes.

16 Post Foaling – The Foal What to expect (cont.) Should succeed at nursing within 15-30 minutes after standing. Most early attempts at helping the foal to nurse only interfere with it’s learning process Meconium (the first fecal material) should pass within 4 hours. Generally sticky, dark brown/black, and formed Urination should occur within 5-6 hours for colts and 10-12 hours for fillies. Ensure urine is not coming from the umbilicus (watch closely in colts!)

17 Post Foaling – The Foal: When to call the vet If the foal has slow, labored breathing or seems unresponsive within 2 minutes of birth. If foal cannot stand within 2 hours, seems to struggle to stand to the point of exhaustion/injury, or does not try to stand within 30 minutes. If the foal fails to nurse within 2-4 hours after birth If the umbilical cord breaks closer than 2 inches from the abdomen, or excessive bleeding is present. If urine is dribbling from the umbilicus If the foal has excessively crooked, bent, or floppy legs, neck, or face.

18 Post Foaling – The Foal: When to call the vet (cont.) If the foal has not passed any manure within 6 hours, or if the foal appears to be straining to defecate/urinate. Enemas can be safely administered by the owner, but enemas containing phosphate (Fleet® enema) should only be used ONCE. If the foal shows signs of colic (rolling, laying on back). If the foal acts sluggish, weak, or disoriented. Foals can deteriorate rapidly and some conditions may not appear until several hours after birth!

19 POST FOALING EXAM If mare and foal are doing fine, they should be examined 12-18 hours post foaling Antibodies from colostrum will not show up in the foal’s blood until 10-12 hours after nursing. If there were any complications or concerns, sooner is better than later. A few hours can mean the difference between life and death in treating certain conditions. Exam may include: IgG and other blood tests for foals Vaginal. rectal, and udder exam for mare. Umbilical, oral ( for cleft palate), genital, and eye exam (for cataracts, eye deformities, etc.) for foal. Evaluation of legs and joints for appropriate development. – Radiographs may be needed

20 FOALING KIT Vet’s phone number, and a back-up number if possible A watch or stopwatch to accurately time progression of labor A polo bandage, or other tail wrap A sharp, clean knife to cut fetal membranes if they do not rupture on their own

21 POST FOALING KIT Turkey baster or foal-sized suction device to help clear airways in an emergency Clean string or clamp for umbilicus in case of excessive bleeding Foal enema (Fleet enema, warm water and lubricating jelly, or slightly soapy warm water) Dilute chlorhexidine or iodine for dipping navel a small Dixie cup or spray bottle works well to apply the solution Towels to help dry the foal if temperatures are excessively cold People sweatshirts can be used as quick blankets


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