Shenandoah Miniature
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Caring For Your New Born Foal

Early management of the newborn foal is critical to its health and development. By following these guidelines, you can reduce the chance of illness in your newborn.

1. If possible, attend foaling to ensure safe delivery and acceptance of the foal.  If the mare is in hard labor for more than thirty minutes and has not delivered the foal, call your veterinarian.

2. Allow the mare to break the umbilical cord.  If this has not happened within fifteen minutes of birth, break it two inches from the foal’s abdomen where the cord narrows.  An easy way to break the cord is to put tension on the cord and make the foal move.  This will break the cord naturally in the correct spot.  Never cut the cord!

3. Allow the mare and foal to bond if there are no problems that require immediate attention.

4. In cold or damp weather, rub the foal briskly with clean warm towel.

5. Dip the umbilical stump in 2% iodine or 0.5% chlorhexidine solution two to three times during the first day.  This reduces the chance of infection (eg: naval ill, joint ill, etc.) entering through the umbilicus.

6. Wash the mare’s udder with a wet warm cloth, before the foal attempts to nurse. The foal needs to receive colostrum (first milk) in the first two to three hours of life.  If the foal is weak and unable to stand, it may need assistance.  Do not force the foal’s head down to the mare’s udder.  Encourage the foal to find the udder by putting your fingers in the foal’s mouth and guiding it to the udder.  You may want to put some colostrum on your fingers and the udder to help the foal make the connection.  If the foal has not nursed within two hours, but has a strong suckle reflex, colostrum can be milked from the mare and bottle-fed to the foal.

7. Mares that leaked large amounts of milk prior to foaling or have poor udder development expose their foals to a high risk of infection (septicemia).

8. Foals are often constipated soon after birth due to the retention of fecal material (meconium) in the rectum in utero.  Constipated foals will strain to defecate and flag their tails.  If no fecal material is noted on the foal’s hindquarters or in the foaling area, it may be necessary to give the foal an enema.  Straining can cause an umbilical hernia, which usually requires surgery to repair.

9. The foal should be given a Tetanus Antitoxin shot.  Remember the foal is born with an open wound (the umbilical stump) and the Tetanus Antitoxin is short term protection for the foal.

Your foal should be examined by a veterinarian 12 to 24 hours after birth to detect any potential problems early.  A blood test (IGG) conducted during this period can assess whether adequate colostrum has been absorbed by your foal.  This test should indicate greater than 8.   Remember, failure to nurse adequately during the first hours of life can be potentially fatal to your foal. Watch carefully, and call your veterinarian with your concerns.

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


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