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Retained placenta/Dysmature Foal Bulletin Board » Breeding Problem Mares - Volume 1 » Retained placenta/Dysmature Foal « Previous Next »

Author Message

Ellen Taulbee
Posted on Monday, September 18, 2000 - 06:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This spring one of my mares foaled 5 days ahead of her "due date", retained her placenta and the foal was dysmature. This was this mares third foal and the first two were absolutely normal with no problems. We saved the foal by milking the mare and working with him to get him on his feet and he is fine now except for "knotty fetlocks". They are pretty bumpy and a little sore but he is coming out of it. Why do mares retain their placenta and why are full-term foals born dysmature at times? Is there anything I can do to make sure she doesn't retain again this year? Any input would be appreciated.

Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2000 - 12:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I'm glad your foal has come through this OK - often it can have sad conclusion.

It is almost impossible to determine a single reason for the two questions you have asked! A foal appearing to be dysmature can be as a result of fetal growth retardation in-utero, which can be caused by a uterine infection causing placentitis, or some other reason for placental insufficiency; or it can be seen as a result of an anticipated "due" date being the human's interpretation of what is "normal", rather than the equine's! There is a tremendous range of gestational periods that seem to vary from mare to mare, and even some will say from stallion to stallion.

The reason for a retained placenta is equally difficult to pinpoint without actual physical examination. Common reasons are associated with dystocia (difficult foaling); fescue toxicity; uterine inertia (inability on the mare's part to "push"); or possibly a selinium deficiency. It is clear that there are mares who will have only a single experience of placental retension, whereas others will be repeat offenders. Chances are that with two "OK" foalings your mare will be in the former group - let's hope!

Were you present at all three foalings for this mare? Was there anything different this time? How old is she? (Older mares can experience more difficulties than younger). Evaluate all these things to see if there was anything that could be changed for the better next time.

Hopefully though, as I say, this was a one-time occurrence.

Good luck!

Marsha Fuzia
Posted on Tuesday, February 13, 2001 - 08:01 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Please explain: uterine inertia. I have a very nice Quarter Horse mare that has had two foals. Both times she had a difficult labor. I have two other broodmares and have had over 10 mares foal and this is the only mare that seems to quit pushing during labor. It was over 30 minutes after her water broke before I could get the foal out. Is this uterine inertia? And what if any thing can be done to avoid this next year? Thanks, Marsha

Posted on Tuesday, February 13, 2001 - 09:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Uterine inertia is essentially exactly what it sounds like - the uterus fails to "push" sufficiently, or at all, during foaling.

The reasons can be varied and complex (or not understood at all). There may be a hormonal imbalance that causes insufficient endogenous oxytocin or prostaglandins to be released during foaling - this can often be solved by giving exogenous drug therapy; there may be a physical problem, such as a ruptured pre-pubic tendon (not in your case, but just pointing it out as a possibility); or there may be a mental block of some sort - I am aware of people who have "helped" their mares to foal so much that when the next foal is being born, the mare just sits back and waits for the humans to do it!

With your mare, it may be uterine inertia, or it may just simply be that she is a "slow producer" during stage 2 of delivery. The average is about 20 minutes for stage 2; some mares will go in less than 10; but others can go as long as 60.

As long as there is no premature placental separation or malpresentation of the foal, it is probably not something that you need to be too concerned about - but if you are, talk to your veterinarian about it and s/he can probably give you some more specific feedback to your own particular situation.

Good luck.

Posted on Sunday, April 22, 2001 - 02:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have a mare that foaled 5 days ago, unattended. The foal was up but had not nursed when I got there. The vet came and examined the placenta by holding it up and going through it. We found it in the dirt but washed it off. The vet was concerned about a "thin" place on the placenta and said the mare "may" have retained some of the placenta and she needed to flush her because of possible infection and later founder. She used tap water and an unsterilized stomach tube. By the afternoon the vet had told me there were tear and pieces missing from the placenta. After the second day of so called flushing, and administering oxytocin, I decided that we'd had enough. I called another vet and he said to leave the mare alone. So far so good now on day 5. The mare has no temp and feet are cool to the touch. She still has a small amount of discharge and it is not foul smelling or copious. The foal has diarrhea since yesterday. New vet won't call back. We've given Kopectate. 2oz's p.m and a.m.
Can I get more information? I would appreciate the help at this point.

Linda Van Gee
Posted on Monday, April 30, 2001 - 06:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Could you give me any input on a mare that is proving difficult to get bred. We have a very good vet and do a lot of AI. this mare has had 9 consecutive foals. We couldn't get her bred last year and so far this year. We did a biopsy, cultures, treatments for infection, more cultures. She has a class 2 uterus and it's gravis. The last time we bred her we caught her right on ovulation, put her on regumate and still came up empty. We're very aware of cleanliness and have a pretty good breeding facility and good track record on the rest of the herd. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Linda Van Gee

Posted on Thursday, May 10, 2001 - 06:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The uterus is at it's highest state of immune reponse post-foaling, so there is a reduced chance of introducing a pathogen that is harmful to the uterus at that stage, but I still would not personally feel comfortable with the introduction of tap water which can harbour a large number of harmful pathogens such as Pseudomonas spp. and e-coli.

The usual treatment for retained placenta is initially oxytocin and then if there is still no release, a (sterile) saline lavage.

It is likely that your mare has survived "despite" rather than "because of" the treatment..... If she has gone 5 days without signs of severe fever, then it is unlikely that there is any problem there to worry about. Some discharge for up to a week post-foaling is not at all unusual, and as long as the mare is otherwise healthy, is usually nothing to be concerned about.

The foal often will show "foal heat scours" at about the stage you are at - again, as long as the foal is otherwise healthy and active, it is nothing to be alarmed about. It was once thought to be connected to a change that may appear in the mare's milk as a result of her "foal heat", but as it also appears in orphan foals at about the same stage, it is now thought to be connected to changes in the foal's own intestinal tract.

Hope everything is continuing to be OK!

Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2001 - 02:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have a twenty year old Arabian show mare that has had seven foals. Last year she passed her placenta naturally but it took 5 hours. This year she retained it and the vet came out and gave her oxytocin and flushed her. I would like to breed her next year, but I am afraid because it looks to me like she has uterine inertia. Is there anything I could do to help her next year?

phyllis e housden (
Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2001 - 11:27 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

My mare was due the 14th of this month and has shown no signs of her bag dropping down or waxing of the tets. She is not as big as she was last year when I bought her, the filly died 2 days later it was told to me that she had no milk. I am new at this and I wonder some times if she is even in foal. I need some advice. Please! Sincerly Phyllis E. Housden

Corry Wilson, DVM (
Posted on Tuesday, June 05, 2001 - 10:55 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


Uterine biposies are graded 1,2,3 and A,B. AS the number increases, the percent chance your mare will carry a foal to term decreases. So even of the cylce is normal, the mare ovulates, etc., the uterus may not provide enough embryonic nutrition for a fetus to survive. Does the mare retain fluid after breeding? Oxytocin given 6-8 hours post breeding may help. Wish you luck!


What part of the country do you live in or more importantly--DO YOU HAVE FESCUE PASTURES?

If your mare grazed fescue after the 8th month or so of pregnancy, she could have suffered from fescue toxicosis. The only prevention is to take them off all sources of the grass (even hay) 3 months prior to delivery. If she foals or gets close to foaling with no milk, a product called Domperidone will bring her into milk. Without the milk, the foal will have to have a plasma transfusion or will die. thsi can all be prevented by avoiding fescue if at all possible. Hope this helps!

Toulla Nathaniel (
Posted on Thursday, August 02, 2001 - 05:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

i have a four month male thourougbred foal that ever since he was 20 days old he has constant diarrhea. 2 different vets attended it, giving it all sorts of antibiotics but it did not work. Analyses showed that his mother milk was contaminated so we separated him frm his mother. His genitals always loose a few drops of urine constantly too. His belly is always swollen. Anti paracitic paste was given to him too. His diet consists of 4 kg of solid mixture daily, dry hay and added straw to his food. As frm yesterday, one of his front joints is swollen, and i worry for septic arthritis due to the diarrhea. Please help him.

Noble Knight (
Posted on Sunday, August 05, 2001 - 12:49 am:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Toulla, diarrhea is a symptom of many things. I'm sure that with two vet checks most of the common causes/diseases have been investigated. Considering this, my initial thought would be a lack of "good bacteria" for proper digestion. The "contaminated" milk, stress of seperation along with antibiotics can kill most of the needed enzymes/bacteria. Products such as Pro-Bios, Equine Bene-bac, and Pro-Biogest should help if this is the case. Need more information to try help you out. What was the mares milk contaminated with and is the foal at risk for contamination through the same food, water etc.. When was he separated from his mother? Is he loosing weight? Any blood in the urine?

As far as Septic Arthritis, it would not be caused by diarrhea but another symptom of infection. After the affected joint becomes hot and painful, the foals tempurature will rise to between 38.5 C and 41 C. They will usually loose appetite. It must be treated immediately with a course of an effective systemic antibiotic to prevent lameness. Remember, digestive aid enzymes should always be given following antibiotics. Hope things turn out for the best.

Anonymous (
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2001 - 01:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Our mare has just finished weaning and we need to breed her again next month, but she is very skinny, she is ribbs skinny. We are new at this and we were wondering if there is any special food or weight booster we can feed her so that she doesn't get hurt carrying the foal. Please help us.

semenfrezr (
Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2001 - 04:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


Is there a reason that you are waiting so late in the year to rebreed your mare? Most mares get bred back soon after foaling (30 day heat) so that the mare foals around the same time the following year.

At this point, my best suggestion would be to wait until the spring to rebreed her. If you are set on breeding her this year, give her free choice hay (good quality alfalfa or a grass/alfalfa mix) and once her milk has dried up, try her on Equine Senior or a good quality grain mix and add some stabalized rice bran (Natural Glo or Equine Shine are two brand names).

Good luck!

Angelia L Sapp (
Posted on Sunday, May 19, 2002 - 03:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

uterine cultures:

My second Vet's culture/ sensitivity test came back as being susceptible to Tetracycline. Second Vet's prescription is 15 days of 10 capsules of this given morning and night. This Vet says they will be breedable on next heat cycle.

Third Vet says the mares need to be flushed and have tetracyline infused into their uterus then recultured.

7 year old mare has many Escherichia Coli
19 year old mare has moderate Escherichia coli
I am on my third Vet, third month, and over $600!
Please help and Thank you very much

jen marsili
Posted From:
Posted on Monday, March 22, 2004 - 01:28 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have a very nice warmblood mare that I wish to breed this spring, but I may have a problem. The previous person who had this mare leased her (unwittingly) to a stallion owner who 1)was questionable as to the "cleanliness" of his stallions; 2)was EXTREMELY neglectful of his broodmares -- no food, no shelter, no basic care, probably no vaccinations. The mare conversely lost her foal late term and retained the dead fetus -- she did appear to founder but minimally and now seems in good health -- she was well attended to after taken away from this man (thing ??)(although I'm treating her as a laminitic horse and am running a thyroid on her to be on the safe side). The new stallion owner says she will breed to her but worries that she may be difficult to breed or may have severe complications this time around. What should I do?

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