Taking Care of Your Pregnant Mare
Giving your mare the quality and necessary care she deserves
Giving the quality and necessary care your pregnant mare deserves is crucial to helping ensure a smooth, successful foaling. All in all, because you have bred your mare, not only is your mare about to go through a whole new level of devotion, insomnia, and tremendous pain, her life has been put on the line for your new athlete. She deserves the utmost care and love for all she is doing for you.
Normal gestation of a mare ranges from 320 to 380 days; however, the average gestation period is between 338 to 343 days. If your mare is past due, do not be alarmed; prolonged gestation doesn’t typically mean that there are complications or an abnormally large foal. However, if you are concerned with how your mare is acting and/or waiting out on foaling, it is always safe to consult your reproduction vet.
During the gestation period of your mare, it is always a safe practice to schedule routine check ups with your vet to make sure the mare and foal are healthy.
What should you look for?
Occasionally, mares abort their foal, even without an ill effect.
Be on the lookout for a vaginal discharge or dripping milk during earlier stages of pregnancy. In the unfortunate situation that you find the remains of a fetus or placenta, save it for the veterinarian to examine. This enables the veterinarian to have the opportunity to assess the mare and the remains to figure out why the foal was aborted.
When a mare has aborted a foal, it is absolutely necessary to have her checked by your veterinarian. Such as a retained or torn placenta, complications of abortion are tricky and can be life threatening if not tended to immediately and correctly.
Making sure a pregnant mare’s nutrition is above par is essential to helping ensure a healthy foal and mare duo.
Handling Your Mare
When taking care of your soon mom-to-be mare, make sure she is comfortable with you and in her environment. You should be your mare’s best friend so that she feels comfortable with you during the foaling process and around her foal once it is born.
To read more, visit www.aqha.com and become a member today to refresh your mare-care knowledge.
Predicting and Preparing for Your New Foal
Ensure a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery with some simple precautions
A few simple precautions and a lot of common sense on the part of the owner can help most mares have a safe pregnancy and produce a healthy, vigorous foal.
Signs of Impending Foaling
Clinical signs of impending foaling begin roughly a month or so prior to the due date. Changes become more dramatic and occur more rapidly as the day of foaling approaches. Check out the timeline below for some of the basic signs your mare should be showing as foaling nears!
Tests to Predict Foaling
In addition to close observations, there are several tests to predict the onset of labor. These tests help owners and veterinarians better prepare for when the mare may foal.
The two forms of tests listed below are fantastic options for mare-owners and veterinarians to invest in. Having these tests done enables one to be able to take even more necessary precautions that they may not have known to do without the test.
1. Calcium concentrations in mammary secretions
This has been a successful tactic for many years to predict impending labor. Calcium concentration in milk increases immensely as the mare approaches foaling. Veterinarians recommend that testing be equipped several days prior to the expected due date. Testing in mares with an unknown breeding date should begin when significant udder development is noted and a small amount of secretion can be obtained.
One commercial kit uses a test strip that is dipped into a specific dilution of milk and distilled water and observed for color change in any of five test squares. The chance of foaling within 24 hours increases as the number of squares changing color increases.
2. Calcium Carbonate Measurement
A second test kit is based on a chemical reaction, measuring calcium carbonate. Again, high calcium levels suggest a high probability of foaling, while low calcium levels suggest that the mare is less likely to foal in the next 12 to 24 hours.
More recently, changes in the acidity or pH of a mare’s milk have been used to indicate that foaling is near. The last few days prior to foaling can be especially tedious for the owner, farm manager or foaling staff. Late-term pregnant mares should be monitored closely to optimize services of farm or veterinary personnel, maximize use of foaling space and to assist with the safe delivery of the foal if needed.
To learn more about the different options for impeding-labor tests, check out Colorado State University’s article written by their on-site reproduction veterinarian, DMV Patrick McCue.
Foaling Location Options
Although some mares start the foaling season in early January, the majority will foal in April and May. So, now is the time to select your foaling location to be indoors or outdoors.
Be sure to provide your mare with a clean, large stall (at least 14 by 14 feet) that is disinfected and well ventilated. The bacteria encountered by the newborn foal in a dirty, poorly ventilated stall can easily override the antibodies received in the mare’s colostrum.
Before placing the mare in the stall, give it a thorough inspection and eliminate hazards such as raised nails, large splinters and water buckets.
High-quality, dust-free straw is the preferred bedding, as wood shavings can be inhaled by the newborn foal or aspirated into the mare’s vagina, causing serious infection.
As long as the weather permits it, many people choose to let their mare foal outside, as it is a more natural and comfortable setting more mares. It is a good idea to select a grass-covered paddock near a fluorescent yard light to make checking on the mare’s progress easier.
The area needs to have good, clean grass pastures. They are more natural, generally more hygienic and much roomier. The pasture or paddock should be grass covered, fairly level and free of objects that might injure the mare or newborn foal, such as barbed wire, creeks or ponds. Also, you always should remove other animals from the pasture that might interfere with the mare or injure the foal.
The crucial homemade foaling kit supplies list
A homemade foaling kit is the way-to-go when preparing for the foal to come. Being homemade, you can customize the kit to your mare and make sure you have everything that could possibly be needed at the time of foaling and in an emergency.
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Knowing what should and should not happen during labor is key to success
A mare-owner should know the stages of foaling, what happens normally, and what could happen abnormally like the back of their hand. Having a clear and solid understanding of this helps to enable a safer delivery and healthy mare and foal.
The Stages of Foaling
There are three stages to foaling that every owner should have a strong understanding of. Click through the slide show below and watch the video at the end to learn more about each stage of foaling.
Post Foaling - Mare and Foal Care
Now that your bundle of joy is here, give the foal and mare the care they need and deserve
Now that you have a new foal, its time to make sure the foal and mare are healthy.
The Passing of the Placenta
Once the mare stands, the placenta is usually passed within a few minutes to a couple of hours. If the mare is stepping on the placenta or it seems to bother her, tie it up on itself with a piece of twine. Under no circumstance should you attempt to cut it off or pull it out. If the placenta is retained for more than three hours, notify your veterinarian.
Once the placenta is expelled, examine it to ensure that it is intact. A retained piece of placenta can cause serious uterine infection and prevent rebreeding. It is recommended by most veterinarians and professionals to place the placenta in a bucket of water, place a lid on it, and save it so that the veterinarian can examine it when they do the mare-foal examination.
The Passing of Meconium
Within the first 12 hours of birth, the foal should pass the meconium. Meconium is the foals first stool of which is characterized as sticky and dark. If this does not occur or if the foal appears to be straining, contact your veterinarian. A mild enema may be administered at this point.
Within the First Couple Hours of Birth
Immediately after your foal is born, dip its navel in 0.5% chlorhexidine diluted with water in a one-to-four solution. Repeat two to three times a day during the first few days of the foal’s life. Avoid strong iodine solutions that are irritating, as they can cause tissue death and lead to other problems.
Within an hour or so, the mare should be bright and alert, allowing the foal to nurse and looking for something to eat. Allow her to eat and drink as soon as she is ready.
It’s also a good idea to check the mare’s temperature every six to eight hours for the first 24 hours. The normal temperature for an adult horse is 100.5 F. An elevated temperature can indicate an infection, while a decreased temperature can indicate serious blood loss.
Finally, encourage the mare and foal to rest and give them plenty of opportunity to bond. It is highly recommended to conduct a mare-foal examination within eight to 12 hours of a foal’s birth. Your veterinarian should check the foal to make sure all bodily functions are working properly thus far, the mare’s post-foaling health and birth canal, and the placenta.
A retained placenta can lead to serious medical complications in a mare. In the mare, a placenta is considered to be “retained” if it hasn’t been expelled within three hours after foaling.
This is all mare-owner’s worst nightmare; the mare stands up, steps on the placenta, rips it out, and then drops dead at the blink of an eye.
The placenta should never be pulled or ripped out. If the mare steps on the placenta and it rips out, contact your veterinarian immediately, if it is already not too late. If the placenta is ripped out by the mare (or taken out improperly), she, in most scenarios, will bleed-out internally and die within five minutes respectively.
You should always keep the mare’s placenta tied up in a knot to reduce any risks of it being torn out. If the placenta is not passing naturally on its own, contact your veterinarian to conduct the correct practices to remove the placenta.
Leaking Colostrum Prior to Foaling
This can result in loss of antibodies and the failure of a natural transfer of colostrum into a foal. This can be life-threatening, as foals with low antibody levels are susceptible to infectious diseases.
Colostrum should be collected from a mare that leaks milk prior to foaling. It should then be stored in a refrigerator and fed to the newborn foal after it stands. Colostrum quality can be tested after foaling using a Brix refractometer or a colostrometer. If poor-quality colostrum is noted, the foal should be supplemented with frozen-thawed colostrum.
Foals less than 24 hours of age can be supplemented with colostrum orally to provide antibodies. Foals more than 24 hours of age require an intravenous transfusion to provide antibodies.