Vaccinations - is your mare up to date?Is your mare up to date with her tetanus vaccinations?
Even if she is not due for her booster it is good practice to administer a booster one month prior to foaling.
This allows sufficient antibody to build-up in the colostrum prior to birth. The foal will then be provided with antibodies against this disease following its first feed of colostrum and means you don't have to inject your foal with a tetanus anti-toxin on the day of birth.
We recommend your mare be treated with a product containing Moxidectin (Equest Plus or Ultramox) one month prior to foaling. This product has a slightly longer persistence of activity so provides longer protection for the foal, by providing a less contaminated environment. It is also good practice to wash down the mare's udder with a warm soapy wash a few weeks prior to foaling if safe to do so. This removes some of the round worm eggs that may accumulate waiting to infect your foal directly.
If your mare was sent to a stud for breeding please check to see if she has had a caslick procedure performed. If mares have poor conformation behind, this procedure is often performed to prevent air and faecal contamination tracking into the vagina, during pregnancy. It is performed by suturing part of the vulva closed but leaving enough room for urination and some breeding procedures. You will need to have this opened by a vet prior to foaling. If left unopened it can result in trauma to the mare or worse, death to the foal during delivery.
If foaling down your mare for the first time we recommend that you either employ the services of a reputable stud / foaling down unit or at least the use of a foaling alarm. Foaling alarms send a signal to a receiver in your house or on your mobile phone when the mare lies down. Mares rarely lie down in the last stages of pregnancy so this is often associated with labour. Some studs will now not honour a live foal guarantee if either of these two practices are not adhered to.
The mare's udder will usually begin to develop three to six weeks prior to foaling. If the udder has developed more than two months before she is due, it is highly recommended to get a vet check done to ensure the pregnancy is still normal and viable. Running milk is a concern as it can indicate placentitis (infection in the placenta). This is a serious condition that can compromise the unborn foal and also reduces the amount of colostrum available to the foal after birth. Our equine vets can diagnose placentitis and treat appropriately.
Franklin Vets offer broodmare wellness checks, which are best performed four to six weeks prior to the due date. Phone us to discuss any questions you may have.
Normal delivery should result in two front hooves and a muzzle presenting in the birth canal. Following this delivery should be no longer than half an hour. If a red bag is present this should be ruptured immediately and the foal assisted to be delivered. This means the placenta is separating prematurely and the foal will be starved of oxygen. If any abnormalities are occurring then ring your vet immediately.
Unlike cows, mares deliver with forceful explosive contractions and things can go wrong very quickly if the foal is in the incorrect position.