When I was down at Equine Affaire this year I saw a booth on Last Chance Corral. They have some foals they have rescued from the nursemare industry. This was brought up to me as a possible option for my mare who lost twins last weekend. She could raise a baby who otherwise would have to be bottle raised. I do feel sorry for these babies who were yanked off their real mamas to raise someone else's high dollar foals. It would be wonderful if it would work and make mama, baby, and us happy, but I know it's hard to get a mare to accept a foal that is not hers. Goldie is a nice mare and I've never seen her kick or bite any of the other horses since she's been here, not even the pushy pony who deserves it sometimes. She just bumps her out of the way, so I hope that indicates she would not seriously harm a foal.
She still seems to be waxing some milk, but I can't express any by hand. I never was able to, even when she was close to foaling and dripping on her legs.
Anyone have any thoughts on this idea? I'm sure I would still have to be prepared to raise the foal on milk replacer in case Goldie is too dry, or won't take the baby. I have no idea what it costs to use milk replacer. Can anyone give me a ballpark figure per month?
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 01:05 am:
I wouldn't suggest this as an alternative. I ended up raising a nursemare foal last year after someone tried this approach. I wasn't present, but apparently the mare went mental when the new foal was introduced. It could add more trauma to you and the mare at the moment. I think the nurse mare industry gets too much of a bad rap with people chiming on about high dollor foals. Sometimes it's people like me who breed their favorite mare every year that could need a nursemare if the mare dies. The good nursemare farms look after the orphans very well and I know the one I raised last year was a real pleasure to be around and had no ill affects.
Molly (Unregistered Guest) Unregistered guest
Posted on Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 10:24 am:
You know, when I ran this idea past my husband in a more serious form, he was not all that supportive, for just the reason of more trama to the mare and me. Also because of the 6 hour drive it would take to get a foal. After watching Goldie run around in her paddock today, I think she is doing much better and maybe it's best to leave things as they are for now. We might rebreed next year.
But anyway, what does it cost per month to use milk replacer? I'm still curious.
I had a mare reject her arabian foal in 1989. We put her on Foal-Lac and it was $45.00 a 50 lb bag back then. It got so expensive as my filly grew that a vet suggested getting a goat. I did, got tired of milking it, so put it up on a couple of bales of hay and my filly quickly learned how to nurse her. Filly got a little bigger and 1 goat wasn't enough, so got another goat. I have the cutest pictures of this little arabian filly and her 2 "mamas" in my back yard. The goats were a whole lot cheaper than the Foal-Lac was, and I think she did better as she had company in the yard with her. Today she is 15 and a beautiful mare that is like my best friend. She is also a great mother, which is a relief as her mother was lousy. It took 4 pregnancies before her mother finally "took" to her foals at birth. The other foals the mare had we were able to convince her to nurse and raise. It was just her first one that she absolutely tried to kill and wanted nothing at all to do with. I had read a real old book about arabians and it said that this (mother rejecting the foal) was real common because the Arabs would pull a foal off after birth and put it on a camel to nurse so they could keep riding the mare, so after 100 years or so of doing this the mares grew to not even think about a foal after birth. The book went on to say that it took about 4 foals for the regular instinct to kick in and it was right. After about the 4th one the mare started feeding and raising them herself without coaxing. We kept breeding her as she had great foals with a wonderful personality, and each of the foals that were fillys grew up to be great mothers.
I am in total aggreance with ANYO above. I too had to raise an orphan foal last year someone got for a mare. It usually doesnt work. The funny thing is we got the mare this year to foal out and she is the best mother in the world so it just goes to show you. I also don't think the nursemare industry should get a bad rap. If it's done right anyway. My sister in law lost her mare this year and we searched the country (ireland) for a nursemare foal and only found one. Interesting enough it was Coolmore that found us one. Like the above it's not always high dollar foals. It could be your average breeder that needs one. I had a blast raising my little orphan last year and he was so well adapted to everything. He did drink me out milk replacer though and much harder to get him on water than a normal foal.
Rooty (Unregistered Guest) Unregistered guest
Posted on Saturday, August 20, 2005 - 10:15 am:
We did once successfully get a QH mare to accept another mare's foal. Initially what we did was keep them together in the stall, separated by a gate and then held the mare's front foot up to allow the foal to nurse. After close to a week of this she accepted the foal as her own. It's my only experience with this however! Although we did have a Clyde X mare who was nursing someone else's yearling! I wondered why she was dropping so much weight, well, not only was she nursing her own foal, she had taken on this greedy yearling from a different mare.
I have had a very happy experience with this. We had a mare who died about three days after foaling, and hunted around for a foster mum. Another stud said they had one that had lost her foal nearly a week prior, but would check to see if she still had milk. She did, and our favourite carrier made a mercy dash, dropped the mare off and we gave it our best shot. Put the foal the corner of the box, behind a gate and took the mare in, led, twitch and sedation at the ready. She squealed a couple of times, then nickered and fell in love. We put the twitch on and let the foal suckle, no kicking, then took the twitch off. They were inseperable after that. It was so easy that no one believed it possible, even those of us present.
We also had an amazing mare who would babysit all the other foals in her paddock, while their Mum's went off to do their own things. I saw her nursing other foals on a few occasions. Once I saw her own foal chasing the other away and taking it's place at the milk bar.
I know these are rare moments, but to me they are beautiful. In a perfect world, nursemares wouldn't be necessary, but we're not so lucky. And so many people ruin orphans by hand rearing, that I believe, unless someone is experienced enough to raise a foal to show respect, a foster mare is essential if you can get one.
Incidentally, I have a gelding who is the perfect mother....except he has no milk. As long as the foal gets fed he looks after the rest. I've had many people say to me, "That mare really loves her foal, doesn't she" and are amazed when told that it's a gelding nuzzling the baby.
Lisa, You have a very nice story to tell. I loved raising our orphan last year and even though he was hand raised I felt a bit harsh as I had him in a paddock with a yearling filly. She was actually good to him and she taught him how to be with other horses. He was out 24/7 surrounded by other horses. I didn't want a pushy brat. Vinny is actually living with a friends Irish cob mare as he needed company and he's thriving. I too have a gelding that raised my weanling filly last year. He's actually an ex racehorse that was recovering from injuries. When it would rain he would stand over her while she was on the ground sleeping. I fell in love with him all over again when I watched him with her. Horses are amazing! teb
My anut and uncle fancy themselves competant horse people and took in an orphan filly three years ago. They raised her on Foal LAc in buckets, and she grew extreemly well. She's Huge compared to her half siblings. But they did an extreemly poor job of socialzing her. She was 6 months old before she got to go out with the other horses becaause the were afraid their little girl might get beatup. She would have deserved it, that girl was a monster! Their idea of disciplining her was to leave the stall when she stated to act up. One day I was over there when she tried to bite me. I gave her a slap on the chest and told her "NO" and my uncle fliped out about me hitting a baby. After his sturn lecture, I stopped going over to their place to help out with their babies. Now she a beautifull mare that my Aunt and Uncle are terrified of because she chases them out of the pasture with her ears pinned. I must have made an impression on her that day I slaped her because I can walk out there and catch her our any of the horses with her with out any trouble. It amazes me how much people can harm their horses buy trying to protect them.
Megan, when my mare (who is now 16) was just two years old she tried to take a bite out of my arm, & I punched her right in the nose and said "NO". She's NEVER tried it again with me all these years, and she's the sweetest tempered mare now! Good for you.........
If you aren't familiar with my story you can look at the other nursemare foal rescue posts and see what happened with me. Hope is a nursemare foal and a total sweetheart. She and my girl Star are so very much mother and daughter that our vet is planning on a very tough weaning. They have never been more than twenty feet apart since we brought Hope home in the trailer. They get very upset if they can't see each other. Hope walked around the barn and couldn't find mamma and stood and whined until Star walked over to find her. They are quite a loving pair and the adoption couldn't have went better. In my opinion it depends on how desperately a mare wants to be a mom. My girl was soooo depressed I knew I would lose her if it didn't work. Lucky for me it did. I still had the clothing I was wearing from when she lost her foal and I rubbed Hope down with them. Also Hope wore my shirt all the way home to have my smell all over her. We had a lightning fast adoption and it was the answer to my prayers for my lady. Hope has turned out to be a total sweetheart with big blue eyes. The vet came today to check on them and Hope was sprawled out asleep on the ground with my daughter sprawled on top of her asleep. Star was standing guard. It's a horrible heartbreak to lose a foal, but by adopting one of these little guys you can bring about what I've termed Hope from tragedy. I encourage adoption, but do it carefully and lovingly. I never hobbled my girl, I didn't use vapor rub or a good many of the things you are advised. I used loving hands, my clothes, the clothes from the foaling, and Star's milk. We put it all over Hope's head, back, tail, and under tail. We did use a twitch for the first few minutes of nursing and that was all it took. This may not work for everyone, but it's worth a shot. Especially if your mare is in the condition mine was. I feel we saved two horses by adopting.
older mares that can no longer carry a foal for one reason or other Make good nurse mares. I use the protocol used on low milk producers to stimulate milk flow this is a win win situation be cause the older mares gets another chance at being useful and saves the other nurse mares from the stress of having her foal taken away from her
(Message edited by big_daddy on August 24, 2007)
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