Help is at hand for the cut-off foals
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Losing a mare during foaling is both heartbreaking and a serious challenge for any horse breeder. However, it happens on a regular basis and for several reasons.
Although there are no statistics available for the Irish mare herd, the number of mares lost during foaling is thought to be similar to the UK.
The most recent figures from the National Foaling Bank in Britain show that it dealt with 183 orphaned foals in 2007. The reasons for these orphaned foals were: prolapse (23), savaging (37), illness (15), mastitis (2), twisted gut (32), heart attack (6), accident (12), caesarian (1), no milk (6), haemorrhage (24), grass sickness (4) and unknown causes (21).
Vet Kevin Corley is the specialist in internal medicine and critical care at the Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital in Co Kildare, which deals with four to five orphaned foals annually.
"Foals are orphaned for a number of reasons," says Kevin.
"Maiden mares can have very little milk and reject their foal because of the pain caused by a foal nursing on an empty udder. Other mares simply reject their foal for no obvious reason.
"Mares are lost because of disease and condition issues, as well as accidents during foaling. Very occasionally, a mare can break a leg late in her pregnancy and we can do an emergency C-section to take the live foal from her.