Coming up for air
It is the height of foaling and breeding season. The pastures are full of moms and babies. The stalls are full of mares to be bred,and the stallions are shedding weight, anxiously awaiting their next date. It is a time of much excitement and little sleep.
For the most part everything is going well. I would like to contribute a few thoughts on things to look for to help assure happy, healthy babies.
One problem we have had this year is with placentitis. This is a condition where there is separation of the placenta from the uterus and inflammation, fluid, and maybe infection in the space that forms. The result is a weak, small or dead foal. The mare will often start leaking milk prematurely. It can sometimes be diagnosed on ultrasound and treated with progesterone and
Another problem is twining. This can only be prevented by having your mare checked carefully at 14 and 21 days using ultrasound. After 30 days it is difficult to remove one fetus without losing both. Late in the process it is hard to diagnose twins. The result of twins
is small, weak foals, if they survive, loss of one or both early in gestation, or dystocia from foals getting tangled up during foaling. These mares may also bag up and drip milk prematurely.
If your mare is due to foal, she will probably do it at night. She will also do it when no one is watching if at all possible. A surveillance camera will allow you to watch her without her knowing. That way you can hopefully be aware of her foaling and help if needed.
Mares should foal within about 30 minutes of breaking water. If they don't, you risk losing the foal. Mares can be bred back on foal heat, which is about 9 days after foaling. They should be examined to determine if they are ready, or if they should wait for the next heat at 30 days.
Foals should eat only by nursing and picking at mom's feed and hay and grazing. They should not get much grain until they are 3 to 4 months old. Eating a lot of grain too early can result in
metabolic bone disease Weaning should take place at 5 to 6 months of age.
Foals should be deworned at 3, 4 and 5 months of age using Panacur, Strongid and Ivermectin, in that order and then put on a 6 week schedule with all the other horses.
Foals sould be vaccinated at 6 and 7 months of age.
Good luck, and let me know if I can help you with any questions you may have.
Tom Newton, DVM
Little Hawk Farm