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Post-foaling care

- If there is a delay in the foal's effort to stand (greater than 1hr), the mare can be milked and the colostrum offered in a bottle.

To do this safely, the foal must be sitting up and have a strong suckle response when offered the teat.

If the foal has not stood and sucked vigorously within four hours, veterinary help should be sought.

- Maiden mares having their first foal can often be nervous and anxious. Occasionally, painkillers and sedatives are used to facilitate safe nursing of the foal.

Foaling attendants should be vigilant and always have an eye on the mare when handling the newborn foal and mare, mare's udder, or tying up the placenta and removing the tail bandage.

The mare's protective instincts, unfamiliarity and pain can cause any mare to have a change in temperament and some become aggressive to handlers at this time, so discretion should always be used.

Sometimes this requires an extra helper to hold the mare at all times while personnel enter the foaling box.

- Should the mare foal unexpectedly in a paddock with other horses about (especially other pregnant mares who may try to 'claim' the new foal), the ensuing melee can cause a delay in mare foal bonding and, if long enough, may result in delay of vital colostrum intake.

- If there are concerns that your foal has not received enough colostrum, then it can be tested for immunoglobulin levels, by blood test, 24 hours after being born.

If levels are too low they will need to be supplemented by plasma transfer.

- Even if everything looks great, it is a good idea to have the vet out the next morning to check the newborn and mare.

Many early signs of problems can be spotted and alleviated in this way, so this is a cost-effective vet visit.

Don't forget to check that the entire afterbirth has been passed and to keep it in a clean bucket for examination by the vet at this visit.

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