Foalings are fast events that require preparation and an attendant always on hand. If something goes wrong, action is needed quickly due to the forceful, expulsive nature of a foal’s birth.
The gestation period for a mare is 320 days. If the mare is bagging up or dripping milk before this then the attendant needs to be prepared for a premature birth and the foal possibly needing supplemented colostrum.
The following are red flags that if they should occur, call the vet immediately:
- No foal after the membranes have broken - should be there within 20 minutes.
- Red bag - premature placental separation, indicates the foal is not getting oxygen. There is no time to wait for the vet to arrive if this happens so the attendant must tear through the bag and get the foal out as quickly as possible.
- One foot or no feet presented.
- No nose following feet.
- Foal’s foot coming out of the rectum.
- Membranes should pass within 2 hours. Get the vet out after 4 hours.
- Be standing within one hour.
- Drinking within 2 hours.
- Passed meconium within approximately 3 hours.
- Check IgG status of the foal 8 hours after birth to ensure adequate colostrum absorption.
- Megan Reidie