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Caring For Your Pregnant Mare: 3 Tips for a Sucessful Foaling

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mare and foal feed

Spring is the time of year we are anxiously awaiting new foals. What are some things we can do to make sure our foals are born healthy?

  1. First, we need to make sure we are supporting the mare’s nutritional needs during and after pregnancy. As long as your mare was in good body condition before getting pregnant and throughout the winter, she should not need any additional calories through the first 7-8 months of pregnancy. After that, the foal gains weight rapidly causing your pregnant mare to require approximately 20% more calories, and additional protein, calcium and phosphorus. These requirements can be supplied through a good quality hay and an appropriate mare and foal feed supplement such as Calf-Manna intended for pregnant mares. Fescue hay must be strictly avoided during the last 60 days of gestation as it contains a toxic fungus that causes thickening of the placenta, retained placenta, prolonged gestation, difficulty in foaling, and failure to produce milk. The broodmare's nutritional needs after birth during early lactation increase to nearly 70% more than before pregnancy. As always, all increases in feeding should be made gradually.
  2. Second, we need to vaccinate the mare appropriately. Your mare should be vaccinated against Equine Herpes Virus at the 5th, 7th, and 9th month of gestation to prevent miscarriage due to EHV-1. She should also be given all her routine vaccinations (boosters) 1 month prior to foaling to ensure that the foal is protected at birth against preventable diseases. If the mare is not vaccinated, the foal will be susceptible.
  3. Third, we need to make sure that we take special precautions around the time of foaling. The paddock should have adequate shelter and fencing to prevent the foal from getting stuck in or under the fence, or the foaling stall should be bedded with straw. If you are lucky enough to witness the foaling, the foal should present front feet first, with the nose appearing between the two feet. The foal should be delivered within 30 minutes, standing within 2 hours, and nursing within 3 hours. If not, your veterinarian should be called immediately. After birth, you should carefully examine the foal and dip the umbilicus in an iodine solution. If the umbilicus is bleeding, you can tie it off with dental floss or thin string. If all is normal, the mare, foal, and placenta should be examined by your veterinarian within about 24 hours after birth. A simple blood test (IgG) will be taken to ensure the foal is nursing adequately and that the mare is producing good quality colostrum.

Keeping these things in mind, and following your veterinarians advice regarding any special circumstances, you can enjoy watching your foal grow up happy and healthy!

mare and foal feedCalf-Manna Mare and foal feed supplement, is formulated to meet the special nutritional requirements of broodmares, especially during the critical last months of pregnancy and through lactation. Calf-Manna has an appetizing flavor, so you can be sure mares will eat it and absorb those vital nutrients!






Dr. Shannon Baker DVM

Dr. Shannon Baker DVM

Dr. Shannon Baker graduated from the University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002 with her DVM degree. After vet school, she completed an Equine Internship at MU. She currently owns Heartland Veterinary Services, a full service equine ambulatory practice with an emphasis in equine dentistry.


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