Foal Care

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.

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.

Vaginal Discharge

A 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 discharge.

Mastitis

Mastitis 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.

Exercise

Exercise during the postpartum period is important as it encourages the uterus to shrink to normal size, and stimulates appetite and bowel movements. If the mare will leave the foal, she can be exercised lightly for about 20 minutes, 3-4 hours after foaling. Mare and foal can be turned out the day after delivery in a small paddock for a short time. Gradually increase turnout time to a full day by the end of the first week.

Diet

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.

Deworming

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.