Shenandoah Miniature
Training and Foaling Center




Where The Best Begin

Embryo Transfer

 More Transulations

Caring For The Orphaned Foal

A foal may become orphaned for various reasons, ranging from the
dam's death, rejection, illness or lack of milk production, to even more temporary situations, such as the dam being shipped off to be bred without the foal.

The age of the foal at the time it is orphaned will determine how it should be handled. A newborn or one under three months will need to have foster care, whether through hand-rearing or through use of a nurse mare. Hand rearing will involve a major commitment in time and energy.

All foals should have their immunoglobulin (blood immunity) status checked 12 to 24 hours after birth.  An antibody concentration (IgG) of 400-800 mg/dl or greater indicates that passive transfer has occurred.

Within four to 12 hours after birth, foals should have either nursed colostrum from the dam, been bottle fed four ounces of colostrum from a colostrum bank, or had colostrum administered by nasogastric tube by the veterinarian.  It is suggested that 100ml of Seramune also be given to the foal.

There are colostrum banks that freeze and store it. Colostrum is good for at least one year after collection if it remains frozen and was of good quality at the time of collection. If there is any doubt about whether the foal got any colostrum, the veterinarian will administer plasma intravenously to the foal. The confirmation of the immunoglobulin status of any foal is an important step and should not be overlooked.

The ideal situation for an orphan foal is a nurse mare. This way, the foal remains on its normal diet of mare's milk and becomes socialized in a normal way.

Additionally, after the foal has bonded with the mare, there is no labor added to the normal care and feeding processes of raising the foal.

Bottle feeding is not without risk. If the head is held too high, or the foal is lying flat while nursing, the milk can run down the trachea into the foal's lungs causing aspiration pneumonia -- which can be fatal if not caught in time and treated.

Never try to bottle-feed a foal that is lying flat. Make sure the foal is standing or braced between the handler's knees. Then hold the bottle so the foal's nose is below its eye level.

Once the foal is strong and taking a bottle well, train the foal to drink milk from a small plastic bowl.

Warm the milk replacer to body temperature and use a flat pan or small bowl to start. Push the foal's muzzle into the milk and use your fingers in the foal's mouth to stimulate a suckle reflex. This may take several attempts. Make sure the foal doesn't go too long without food.

Foals under five days of age need to be fed every hour. The number of feedings can gradually be reduced and the amount fed can be increased until the foal is eating every two hours at seven to 10 days old. Young foals should be offered hay and grain as soon as they show interest in them.

Older foals that are already eating solid food when orphaned may be fed milk replacer as long as they are drinking adequate water. A loose mineral supplement should be present, along with clean, fresh water.

A good worming and vaccination program is also important. Foals should have access to shelter in hot or cold weather.

Foals need contact with other horses to learn how to respond to their own kind socially.  It is best to raise an orphan with another orphan, or have a quiet horse as a companion. Gelding usually make good candidates. Turning out an orphan foal with a group of weanlings may help, however, keep a watch on what the mares reaction is.

Always consult your veterinarian in matters regarding the health of your horses!

Shenandoah Miniature Training and Foaling Center

Brandy or Carp Carpenter
24757 State Highway 56
Whitesboro, Texas 76273
(903) 564-9447
Fax: (903)564-7629


Foal-Out - Boarding
Breeding - Sales
Embryo Transfer

Where The Best Begin

  Site Map Website Disclaimer Terms and Conditions  Privacy  Comments and Suggesti

Web creation by System Solutions