- De-worming every two months, rotating de-wormers to prevent parasite resistance. (This program should be discussed with a veterinarian to customize to management.)
- Do not de-worm in the first 60 days of gestation.
- De-worm at 10 months to eliminate parasites prior to foaling.
- De-worm the day after parturition. This helps prevent worm transmission through the milk to the foal.
- Immunization Program
- Rhinopneumonitis vaccine at 3-5-7-9 months to prevent Equine Herpes Viral abortion. Can use Rhinomune, Pneumobort K, or Prodigy.
- Tetanus Toxoid, Influenza, Encephalitis (4-way) vaccine at 10 months to boost immune status and maximize colostrum levels of protection. Also Strangles, Rabies, PHF, or any other vaccine the mare has been on.
- Exercise is important and healthy, however, excessive work should be avoided. Trailering stress can cause fetal stress; riding in late gestation should be avoided.
- Comfortable area for delivery (i.e., 12′ x 24′ stall, well-secured or green grass paddock). If in a stall, use straw instead of shavings.
- Wash the mare’s udder and hind legs a day before expected parturition. This decreases fecal contamination where the foal will make its first attempt to suckle.
- Tail Wrap
- Nutritional Management based on client/patient needs and management. This is very important in the last trimester and post foaling (lactation).
Mammary glands begin filling 30-45 days prior to foaling. This can vary, especially in maiden mares.
Maximum gland filling with “waxing” (accumulation of mammary discharge on teat end) occurs 24-48 hours before foaling. (Change of yellow honey-like fluid to milk-like fluid).
Relaxation and lengthening of the vulva 24-48 hours before foaling. No vaginal discharge will be seen normally before foaling as in other species. (Occasionally the cervical plug will release prematurely.)
NORMAL GESTATION LENGTH
Variable, normal being 335-345 days. Average is 342 days. Can go a full 12 months and be OK.
STAGES OF LABOR
- Restlessness / Colic Symptoms
- Tail Switching
- Stretching to urinate, looking at their flank
- Frequent, small, bowel movements
- Stage 1 ends and Stage 2 begins when the “water” breaks ( a rupture of the chorioallantois releasing allantoic fluid)
NOTE: The mare can hold off in Stage 1waiting for people to leave.
- Rapid phase of labor usually lasting an average of 15-20 minutes (up to 60 minutes)
- Feet present first with the toes pointing up. Usually one foot, then the other, then the head and shoulders come through the birth canal. The fetus is still contained with in the amniotic sac.
- Forceful contractions will occur as the head and shoulders come through the birth canal. Breaking of the amniotic sac usually occurs by the foal. You can break this sac after the feet and head are out of the vulva.
- 20-30 minutes is average but can take up to 60 minutes, longer than 45 minutes after the water breaks should warrant a call to your veterinarian.
- Celebrations and flash photographs should be delayed until after the umbilical cord breaks.
- Allow the mare and foal to lie comfortably so that maximal placental blood reaches the foal without premature rupture of the cord. This is not as important as once thought, but is still good management.
- Passing of the placenta.
- Normal passage of the placenta is less than 3 hours after foaling.
- Retention of the placenta longer than 3-4 hours would warrant veterinary attention. Retained placentas can be life threatening and can affect future fertility. Proper treatment of this condition is important.
AFTER CARE OF THE FOAL AND MARE
- Dip the umbilical cord with 0.5% Chlorhexidine Solution or Full Strength Betadine Solution for at least 3 days or until the cord is dry.
- Enema for the foal, if necessary, to help pass meconium (first fecal content).
- The foal should stand within one hour.
- Be sure the foal nurses; this can occur as soon as 1-3 hours. Longer than 5-8 hours without nursing should warrant veterinary attention. Prompt attention and treatment of this problem can allay a failure of passive transfer.
- Save the placenta for examination to be sure that it is present in its entirety.
- Cite test at 12-36 hours for Immunoglobulins (IgG). This test determines the amount of immunity that the foal has received from the mare’s colostrum. This is a blood test from the foal.
- Tetanus antitoxin is administered only if there is no history of mare vaccination or if the foaling area is dirty.
- Probiotics – bacterial inoculants to help give a healthy gastrointestinal system. Can help prevent foal heat diarrhea.
- A complete physical exam is important for all organ system function or congenital/hereditary abnormalities.
- Check legs for angular limb deformities, contracted tendons, and weak tendons.
- Check mare for tears of the vagina & vulva. Check the mammary glands for milk production.
- Vitamin E – Selenium Injection for the foal is important. Other vitamins are only necessary if the mare is deficient.
- Improper Presentation / Dystocia.
- Failure of the placenta to rupture and the foal unable to pass out of the membranes.
- Placenta Previa – failure of chorion to rupture and presented through the vulva first.
- Red Bag – premature separation of the placenta.
- Premature rupture of the umbilical cord.
- Failure to nurse.
- Failure of progression during Stage 2 of labor.
- Rectal and vaginal tears to the mare.
- Uterine artery ruptures of the mare can result in instant death.
- Prolapsed uterus of the mare.
- Uterine torsion can occur from 8 months gestation to term and will present colic-like symptoms. Manual or surgical intervention is needed.