R. Wade Johnson, DVM
This time of year is the most exciting for all of the mare owners and breeders. You have waited 11 months (340 days) to see your next Beehive Stallion Futurity winner be born.
Preparation for this day is an on-going process for the mother to be. The mare should be maintained at a consistent body weight through the first months of pregnancy.
During the last trimester your mare should be gradually increasing her feed intake. This should be good quality leafy forage along with concentrate designed for broodmares. It should contain 12%-14% protein, proper ratio of calcium and phosphorus and adequate amounts of trace minerals copper, zinc and manganese.
It’s important to booster vaccinations 4-8 weeks prior to foaling. These vaccinations help the mare to produce antibody rich colostrum. The newborn foal relies on these antibodies for protection against a wide variety of viral and bacterial diseases during its early life.
Normal signs that the mare is progressing include gradual udder development 2 to 5 weeks prior to due date. The pelvic ligaments start relaxing approximately 2 weeks before due date making the tail appear to be more elevated, and the vulva relaxes about a week prior to foaling. The teats usually wax anywhere from a few days to a few hours before foaling. The milk should be a thick yellow or orange fluid at foaling.
Contact your Veterinarian if there is vaginal discharge and or premature udder development or the mare begins leaking milk well before her due date.
Delivery is generally considered to have 3 stages:
Stage 1 is when the foal is getting into position and the cervix is relaxing. The mare may appear to be uncomfortable with tail swishing, laying down and getting back up, and looking at her abdomen, etc.
Stage 2 begins when the water breaks, delivery should progress rapidly with the foal being born in 35-45 minutes. You should see 2 feet, one slightly ahead of the other with the bottom of the feet pointing down. The nose should come right behind the feet. If the foal is not delivered in the 35 to 45 minute period, or if the positioning is abnormal, Call For Help Immediately!
Stage 3 the mare will pass the placenta, this should occur in the first 3-4 hours following birth. If it doesn’t, contact your veterinarian.
Your foal should stand in the first hour and nurse by the 2nd hour. The foal’s naval should be dipped in diluted chlorhexidine or iodine, 2 times a day for 2-3 days or until it is dry. The foal should pass it’s meconuim (poop) in the first 12-24 hours.
Foaling time can be stressful, but it is also the most rewarding and exciting time for the mare owner. Mother Nature is usually very good with horses and most don’t have any problems at all. With some care and good management your new born champion will be a ton of fun and a great source of pride!