Most mares have good mothering instincts; care should be taken not to crowd the newborn foal and prevent the mare from doing her job. However, some intervention will improve the foal’s health and well-being. Following is a list of recommendations.
1. Ensure that the membranes are cleared from the foal’s head, especially the nostrils and mouth.
- Ensure that the animal is breathing. If not, rub the foal briskly with a cloth or straw. Elevate the hind-end and hold the head upright to encourage fluid to drain from the airways. If this fails to stimulate breathing, mouth to nose resuscitation should be attempted. If veterinary attention is not available immediately, it is imperative that the handler initiate resuscitation.
If the umbilical cord does not break during delivery, allow it to break naturally as the mare stands after foaling. Do not cut it as this may cause bleeding.
- Dip the naval in a dilute hibitane or bridine solution.
Allow adequate time for the mare to clean her foal. If the mare fails to do this, the foal should be dried with a clean cloth or straw.
The foal should be standing within 1 hour and suckling within 90 minutes. Receiving adequate colostrum or first milk within 12 hours of life is very important. This milk is rich in antibodies which will protect the young foal from many infectious diseases.
Watch for the passage of the first bowel movements (meconium). If 24 hours has passed without consistent, yellow coloured faeces, an enema is required.
All foals should receive an examination from a veterinarian at 24 hours of age, unless a problem warrants an earlier examination.
Care of The Postpartum Mare
Mares require close observation for approximately 10 days after birth. This will ensure that any complications arising from the foaling will be dealt with promptly.
Mares should be allowed to rest quietly for up to one hour after foaling. When she does rise, she should be allowed to bond with her foal with minimal intervention. Mares should be checked for adequate milk production; the udder should be full and milk easily expressed from teats. Watch the foal suckling to ensure that he is finding the udder and sucking normally. The mare should also be checked for foaling injuries. Providing that there is no evidence of complications, the mare can be examined by a veterinarian at the 24 hour neonatal check up.
small amount of odourless, bloodstained discharge during the first 24 hours is
normal. The mare should be monitored for any abnormal discharge for 10 days
postpartum. These would include a heavy, bloody discharge or a foul smelling
is an infection in the udder that can cause the mare to become quite ill. If the
mare refuses to allow the foal to suck, the udder should be checked for signs of
infection. These include a hot and painful udder and milk that appears abnormal.
For the first 2 days after foaling, the mare should be fed a laxative diet such as bran mashes to avoid constipation. Good quality hay and unlimited water should also be offered.
There are special nutritional requirements for the lactating mare. Care should be taken to ensure that the diet is supplying adequate nutrition.
The mare should be dewormed 2-5 days after foaling with a product suitable for a lactating mare. This will protect both mare and foal from a heavy worm burden that often occurs around 10 days postpartum.