All the information below is recommendations due to educating ourselves through others or through our own personal experiences. Please be aware that neither my husband or I are veterinarians. Please refer to your veterinarian for his or her recommendations.

 

Pregnancy and Foaling

 

Normal gestation length is 342 days. Typically, pregnancy less than 300 days may result in immaturity of the foal's organs, especially the lungs. A pregnancy less than 320 days is considered a premature foal. Signs of prematurity may include a silky coat, weak tendons, and a domed head. Some pregnancies can last 12 months or more. This can be normal. It is a good idea to keep a journal of your mare's history to know what is "normal" for her. I keep a detailed journal of each mare for each breeding and foaling season. Although, some mares don't follow the same pattern every year. I have found that good journaling has helped me when I need to refer back.

 

A typical foaling takes 20-30 minutes after the mare has "broken her water". You will start to see a white sac. The foal should show itself with feet first then nose closely behind. If the birth is not progressing along within 20-30 minutes, a veterinarian should be called. If your mare is rolling a lot after 20-30 minutes there may be a problem with the foal being in the correct position for foaling. Call your veterinarian right way.

 

The newborn should try to right itself within five minutes of birth and respond to nasal stimulation (i.e. with a piece of straw in the nose) by coughing or sneezing. A suckle reflex should be present within 20 minutes of birth. This can be tested by placing a finger in the foal's mouth. The foal should attempt to stand within 30 minutes, and stand unassisted in one to two hours after birth. The foal should nurse within three hours. These parameters are "averages" and slight variations may be acceptable, but major deviations are abnormal. When the foal is born, dip the navel (where the umbilical cord has been detached from the mare) with a diluted iodine solution. This treatment should be repeated two to four times per day over the first three days of life. Do not use 7% iodine. This is contraindicated. It can scald the navel (and abdomen) causing the foal pain and may result in a patent umbilicus -- the exact opposite effect you are trying to achieve.

 

It has been recommended by our veterinarian that we use straw instead of shavings during the foaling process and until the naval (umbilical cord) has dried. We use straw for about a week after foaling.

 

Normal Foaling

 

· Normal gestation 320-365 days

· Normal birth within 30 minutes

· Sitting sternal within 5 minutes

· Attempts to stand within 30 minutes

· Suckle reflex within 20 minutes

· Standing within 2 hours

· Nursing within 3 hours

· Placenta normal

 

Signs that your mini mare is getting ready to foal:

  • One to two weeks prior to foaling your mare might start rolling more often.

  • We vaccinate our mare one month prior to her due date (5 Way - recommended by our veterinarian for our area) Please refer to your veterinarian for the recommended vaccination for your area. 

  • Watch for any changes in her milk sac in size.  Some mares begin "bagging up" weeks prior to delivery, others wait until the last minute. I check our mares twice a day, starting about a month and a half before her due date.  (Morning and evening) Be aware that sometimes maiden mares don't bag at all until after delivery.

  • Check the consistency of the milk too.  90% of the time the milk will change from a watery consistency to a thick syrupy texture, "colostrum" or mares first milk.  This indicates the foal should come within 24 hours.  Only a drop of milk is needed to rub between your fingers. Although, we had a mare this year with milk that was a thick syrupy texture for a week before foaling.

  • Very few minature mares "wax" like full size horses.

  • Check for softness around the tailset. (This can start happening 3 - 4 weeks prior to foaling)

  • Check for swelling or elongation of the vulva. (Usually 24 - 48 hours prior to foaling)

  • Some mares may become nervous, restless and excitable. You may find them pawing at the stall floor.

  • Some mares seperate themselves from others and stand off by themselves.

  • Get to know your mares. Sometimes they have a certain area they stand in the stall on a regular basis. Before foaling you may find they are standing in a different area of the stall than normal.

  • Loose stool, lack of fecal balls - generally within 24 hours of foaling

 

These are all signs that the baby will be coming soon. Just be aware that maiden mares may not follow the normal checklist.  Some maidens show no visible changes.

 

It is our goal to be there for all of our foalings. We have foaling monitors and barn cameras, but sometimes it's just not possible. My husband and I both work full time jobs. And sometimes they just surprise us unexpectedly. We have found that our mares deliver at all times of the day. Whenever they are good and ready, not necessarily when it's convenient for us.

 

After your mare foals:

  • Per the recommendation of our veterinarian, we give our mare banamine for the pain after foaling. Some mares that are uncomfortable may not stand still for the foal to nurse.

  • Apply strong iodine or Novalsan to the foals umbilical cord after it is detached.  Check with your vet about his/her suggestions.  Current research indicates that most foals pick up bacteria from the ground rather than the old school of thought that bacteria enters through the navel stump.  

  • If you hear fluid in the babies lungs you may need to hold the foal up off of the ground by the hind legs and swing them gently back and forth.  This will drain some of the fluid from their lungs.

  • Pull on the mares nipple to make sure that she has colostrum to feed her foal.

  • Check the foal for sucking reflex.

  • The foal may nuzzle the milk sac but not drink.  Make sure the foal gets hold of the nipple and stays there sucking for 30 seconds at a time - at least.

  • Foals MUST drink the mares first milk.  This colostrum is the only way the babies get protection and immunities.  Without proper intake they may need a blood transfusion.  The foal should begin nursing within two to three hours of birth.  The sooner they begin to drink the more absorption of antibodies they receive.  After 12 hours it may be too late.  Your vet can do a simple blood test to see if the absorption has taken place.

  • After standing, the foal will begin to search for the teat and should nurse within two to three hours of being born . The foal may become weak if it does not eat in that two to three hour time period. If the mare is moving about, and inhibiting the foals ability to find the udder, we have haltered her and held her still. Some movement of the mare is normal and seems to be an important tool in teaching the foal to follow the mare. However, if the foal has been chasing the mare for more than an hour, intervention is warranted. It is important that all interactions with the mare and foal be done as quietly and calmly as possible. The veterinarian should be contacted if the foal does not nurse within the first two to three hours.

  • The closer to 300 days gestation they foal, the closer you need to watch the baby for standing to drink milk.  They may be weaker and unable to drink sufficient colostrum.  The vet can tube the foal with colostrum. 

  • Worm mares within 12 hours to help prevent scours in foals.

  • A Dummy Foal with mild symptoms will lack the foal suckling response and may be disoriented and irritable. It may wander aimlessly around the stall, not appearing to know where it is or what it should be doing.

  • Body Temp first 4 days is 99-102f

  • Heart rate average first 5 minutes is 70bpm

  • First urination 8.5 hours after birth , colts usually urinate earlier than a filly

  • Meconium (first stool) within 24 hours. We give our foals an enima after delivery to assure that they pass the meconium, due to the fact that we are unable to be there around the clock to make sure this happens. It's usually hard to find with all the straw in the stall if you have to look for it later.

 

We keep the mare and foal seperated for a few days from all other mares and foals to give them bonding time together. Sometimes a week depending on whether the foal is good at following his or her mother. You also need to be aware that other mares may try to steal the foal from the new mother. When they are first introduced to everyone else we are sure that we are able to spend some time observing just make sure the introduction goes smoothly.

We imprint all of our foals from birth. We are very hands on. We welcome visitors to encourage the foal to allow him or her to come up to them. By lowering yourself to their level they are more likely to come to you. After a while you won't be able to get away from them when you enter the barn. 

 

Hopefully this information has been helpful to you. Obviously, not all foalings are text book. Once again, all the information above is recommendations due to educating ourselves through others or through our own personal experiences. Please be aware that neither my husband or I are veterinarians. Please refer to your veterinarian for his or her recommendations.

 

Thank you for visiting our site.

 

BellaBey

Miniature Horse Farm

2645 E US Highway 20

Angola, IN 46703

Owners: Hezekiah & Kim Davis

PH 260-316-9765

e-mail: bellabeyfarms@yahoo.com

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