Ponti Veterinary Hospital

25007 E Wellesley Avenue
Otis Orchards, WA 99027

(509)922-7465

pontivet.com

                                  PREGNANT MARES & FOALING 

                                        

   Most pregnancies last between 330-345 days, although some mares go a full 12 months before foaling.
   
   Your pregnant mare should receive a Pneumobort K vaccine at months 3, 5, 7, and 9 to help prevent abortion. You should also administer a 4-way or 5-way 4-6 weeks prior to estimated foaling date. This will ensure that the colostrums (first milk) has the proper antibodies for the new foal. 
   
   You should continue your normal deworming schedule making sure that your pregnant mare is dewormed 1 month prior to foaling. Always make sure that there is no warning against use in pregnant mares in the dewormer you're using. 
 
   Nutrition for mare & foal:
   A balanced feeding regimen is important to help ensure that both mare and foal are healthy. One of the most common mistakes is over feeding a mare during pregnancy. If the mare is at a good weight and is healthy, most mares' nutrition requirements remain the same as if they were not pregnant. This is especially true during the first 8 months of gestation.
   
   During the last 3 months of pregnancy the foal will grow considerably. At this time the mare's nutritional requirements will also increase. Feeding high quality hay and balanced grain is very important. At this time you may also need to supplement calcium and phosphorus.
   
   After birth the mare will have to produce enough milk to feed the foal while maintaining her own energy and weight. Poor nutrition often results as significant weight loss through this period. A good rule of thumb is that you want to feel the ribs, but not see them. Most mares do well to free feed hay while supplementing with a balanced grain and a salt block with calcium and phosphorus.
   
   The Pacific Northwest area is known to be selenium deficient. Therefore, you may also want to add a selenium supplement to your mare's diet. Nutrition is a key ingredient to having a healthy mare and foal. Although most mares will have a similar feeding regimen, some may require special attention, make sure to talk with your veterinarian about your mare's diet.  

   Foaling:
   
   One of the best things you can do to help a mare foal is to be prepared. As foaling time gets closer you will want to have a foaling stall ready with clean straw. This provides a nice soft, clean environment for the mare and foal. You will also want to ensure that the foaling stall is quiet and secluded. 
   
   Although most mares will foal without any problems, it is important to know what is normal and when you need to call for assistance. 

   Here is a general time line for normal foaling…
1. Water Breaks: This is ground zero for foaling. 
2. Front feet and head present: You should see progression to this point within about 5-10 minutes. Both feet and the nose will present first.
3. Head, chest and hips out: Within 10-15 minutes from ground zero, you should have the front feet, head and chest out.
4. Hips and hind feet out: About 20 minutes after the water breaks you should have your foal completely out. 
5. Foal Stands: Within 1-2 hours after foaling the foal should be able to rise and stand.
6. Foal Nurses:  Most suckle reflexes are present at 20-30 minutes. Your foal should be nursing well by 2 hours post foaling.
7. Urination/Defecation: You should see urine production within several hours of foaling.  At this same time the foal should also pass his/her meconium (first stool).
Foaling Complications
   
   If any of the steps for normal foaling do not progress as described you should contact your veterinarian right away.

   Retained Placenta: Most mares will expel the placenta within a few hours. It is important to examine the placenta to ensure that the entire sack is intact. If the placenta is not completely expelled within 9-12 hours or if there is piece(s) missing contact your veterinarian right away. A retained placenta can lead to uterine/vaginal infection, laminitis and sometimes infertility. If you are unsure what to look for save the placenta in a bag in a cool area and have your vet examine it.

   Dummy foals: When a foal is unable to stand and/or nurse within 2 hours this can be a sign of brain damage. The sooner the diagnosis and treatment the better the chances of saving your foal will be. 

   Failure of Passive transfer: The first 24 hours of a foal's life is when he/she is able to receive antibodies from colostrum (first milk). This protects the foal from disease for several months until he/she can produce their own antibodies. Failure of passive transfer means that the mare's antibodies did not go to the foal. This can happen for several reasons. 
1. Mare did not produce colostrum
2. Premature lactation          
3. Slow or poor access to colostrum (dummy foal)
4. Intestinal mal-absorption- the foal's body didn't absorb the antibodies.
5. Premature birth- mare may not have produced colostrum yet
   (Because it is difficult to determine the mare's colostrum quality and the foal's ability to absorb it, it is highly recommended to check the foals IgG (antibody level) at 12-18 hours post foaling.)

   Umbilical attachment: Usually the umbilicus will break when the mare gets up. If it does not break you can sever it 2 inches from the foal by twisting it.  It is important to not prematurely sever the umbilicus, as it will supply additional blood and oxygen to the foal for the first 15-30 minutes.

   Post Foaling Care
1. Dip the foal's umbilicus in dilute chlorahexadine or iodine daily for the first few days. This will help prevent umbilical infection.
2.   Check for colic: both the mare and foal are at higher risk of colic in the first few days following foaling. 
3. Make sure that the foal is still nursing, urinating, and defecating.
4. Make sure to foal proof any area that your mare and foal will be in. This includes making  sure the foal can't fall into water troughs, or get out of the mare's enclosure.
5.   Vaccinations/ Vitamin injections: In the Pacific Northwest most foals should receive a selenium injection within several days of birth. Vaccination regimen is usually started at about 3-4 months of age.
   
   Helpful websites
www.foalcare.com  This site requires registration, however it is free.  You can store all your records and information on this site and find great info on the care of pregnant mares and foals.