PREGNACY & FOALING
MANAGING PREGNANCY IN YOUR MARE
- Balanced broodmare mix
- Avoid oestrogenic feeds eg: kelp, soy, linseed, lucerne, red clover
- Target body weight before 1st September
- Monitor Selenium levels
- The 45 days scan is highly recommended
- If there is history of pregnancy loss then contact us about placental scans
- Colic – call your vet immediately
- Abortions – call your vet immediately
- A Caslicks is when the vulva is sutured to prevent contamination of the reproductive tract with faeces or air
- Check your mare's vulva to see if it has been sutured together. The suture material may OR may not still be present and the opening of the vulva will be short.
- Caslicks need to be removed by your regular vet prior to foaling.
- Removal can be performed
- after 320 days of gestation
- if she develops an udder prior to 320days of gestation.
If you are in doubt then ask your vet to check or ask the stud where she was served or inseminated if they have a record of a Caslicks being performed on your mare. In some mares they have had a Caslicks performed prior to going to stud so there may not always be a record of when it was performed.
WHEN WILL YOUR MARE FOAL?
Normal gestation length in the mare is around 335 - 345 days, but can vary from 315 – 400 days.
Most foalings are normal! However, disaster can happen quickly so if in doubt call your vet ASAP...no vet ever complained about arriving at a normal foaling!
HOW TO PREDICT WHEN YOU MARE IS ABOUT TO FOAL:
- This can be quite tricky!
- Udder development usually starts 3 – 6 weeks prior to foaling.
- Waxing of teats occurs 6 – 48h prior to foaling.
- Softening of the ligaments around the tail.
- Drop in body temperature 24h prior to foaling. (You need daily records).
- Milk electrolyte levels change within 24h of foaling – ask your vet
- Mare’s faeces often become flattened as foaling is imminent.
- Most mares foal during the night.
- Keep your foaling mares in small groups (ideally one mare per paddock, or less than 3 mares per group) in clean, safe paddocks that are well fenced.
- Keep your vet’s emergency phone number handy.
- For inexperienced breeders or valuable foals it may be best to send your mare to a stud. (Contact the stud more than 2 months prior to foaling to book your mare in.
- Organise foal watch and even purchase a foal alarm.
- Prepare your foaling kit. This should include a torch, tail bandage, sterile lubricant, towels, clean bucket, soap and your vet’s phone number.
THE 3 STAGES OF THE FOALING PROCESS:
- Restless stage – your mare may appear to be uncomfortable, lying down intermittently, pawing the ground. The “waters break” at the end of this stage as the placenta ruptures.
- This stage may last from 5min to 3h.
- Delivery of foal – Within 5min of the waters breaking the white foal membranes should appear at the vulva. The foal’s feet should be presented at the mare’s vulva and the foal’s head should be resting between its front knees. During this stage, most mares will be lying down and they will experience strong abdominal contractions.
- This stage should take less than 20min.
- Expulsion of the placenta (membranes)
- This stage should take less than 3h.
WHEN TO CALL YOUR VET:
- It is better to call your vet too soon rather than too late.
- If your mare develops an udder more than 2 months prior to expected foaling.
- If the first stage (restless stage) lasts for more than 3h.
- If a “red bag” appears at the vulva.
- If the second stage (delivery of foal) takes more than 20min.
- If the foal’s tail, bottom or back is presented at the mare’s vulva.
- If the foal’s feet are upside down or above the foal’s nose.
- If the foal’s head is presented with no feet visible.
- If the membranes are not expelled within 6h of foaling.
Now your mare is in foal you need to ensure that she produces a live foal. Foetal insurance is available from
- FMR Bloodstock (www.FMRBloodstock.co.nz)
- NZ Bloodstock (www.nzb.co.nz)
- Jardines Insurance (www.horseinsurance.co.nz)
- Quadrant insurance (www.qig.co.nz)
For foal insurance, make sure your foal had an IgG test performed at 24h after birth. In order for cover to be in place, you will need your vet to have completed the certificate provided by the insurance company.
If your mare develops an udder or "waxes up" prematurely then call your vet immediately. Your mare may be about to have an abortion. There are many reasons for this including
- twisted umbilical cord
- Herpes virus abortion
You must isolate this mare by removing other mares from the same paddock and leave the "infected" mare in the paddock. Any placenta or fetus should be examined by your vet and ideally sent to Gribbles Veterinary Laboratory or NZ Veterinary Pathology. Consider the placenta and fetus as "infected" until proven otherwise. Ensure strict hygeine is adhered to and that you do not contaminate the other pregnant mares on your farm. It will cost about $300 - 500 to investigate the cause of loss and this may be the best insurance for preventing the other pregnant mares on your farm from aborting.