Breeding part 3 - The big day arrives.
Most mares will foal without any problems, however if there are problems time is of the essence, for when things go wrong they go wrong quickly.
> Notify your vet of the expected foaling date.
> Make sure your mare is familiar and happy within her foaling environment.
> Insure the bedding in the foaling area is deep and well banked up at the sides.
> Check the lighting leave a dim light left on, you want to be able to observe the mare throughout the night and you do not want to startle her with a torch or switching lights on and off, however the environment should be bright enough if your mare needs assistance.
> List and have readily avaialble all emergency numbers especially vets mobiles and out of hours contacts.
> Provide good quality hay and liberal amounts of clean fresh water.
> Have clean buckets, tail bandage's, advised disinfectant for the foal's navel, clean towels and a thermometer all ready.
Early signs and the stages of the birth.
> Increased udder size, possibly running milk and the formation of a waxy substance on the end of the teats.
> Relaxation of the muscles at each side of the vulva.
> Restlessness and pacing around and looking round at her flanks.
> Pawing the ground, getting up and down and the appearance of sweaty patches on her body and face. At this stage many people choose to apply a tail bandage but do not over fuss the mare.
> The contractions push the foal up into the cervix; the foal will turn onto his front and assumes the birth position.
> The foals head is extended to rest onto their front legs and as they are pushed along the mares 'waters' will break.
As picture left shows.
> The mare may well get up and down during this early stage as she continues to strain.
> As soon as the foals fore feet are visible- as shown in the picture below - the process of birth can be very rapid - usually lasting no longer than 30 minutes.
If you a lucky enough to witness the birth do not be too hasty to get involved, allow the natural bond and process to complete with as little disturbance as possible.
The mare may well lie down with the new born for up to 30 minutes, licking and stimulating the foal, clearing the airways and drying them of the birthing membrane.
The umbilical cord will break when the mare stands up and the placenta will be expelled from the mare within 1 or 2 hours.
The foal instantly has the suck reflex and will attempt to stand within 30 minutes of birth to drink the vital colostrum in the mare's first milk; this contains the essential antibodies for their protection against infection in the first few months of life.
Natural birth is what every owner wishes however if at any stage you are worried or the process is taking a long time with the mare becoming exhausted DO NOT hesitate to call the vet. Hopefully all will be resolved before they arrive however it is always advised to ask for the reassurance from your vet in these crucial few stages.
Next time part 3 - Caring for the new born foal
Read more breeding articles
- Beeding Part 1 - In the beginning,taking responsibility,know what you want, considerations, choosing the stallion Read more
- Breeding Part 2 - Care of the Pregnant Mare, how does the foal develop Read more