There are a few items that will be necessary but I'll get to those in a minute. The most valuable things to have on hand are:
And a small "network" on speed dial.
Knowledge is easily obtained through scouring the many rescources available. Books, articles, the web, discussion boards etc. can give lots of insight into the process of foaling and raising a foal. There are several terms you need to become familiar with: Dystocia, IgG, NI, hemorrhage, Placentitis, Red bag, Caslicks
Experience, whether it's you attending a few foalings or enlisting the help of someone else who has, is perhaps the most effective way to raise your comfort level. There are many instances where you can easily do too much and interfere with the process, as well as many circustances where you will need to act quickly. A bit of experience allows you to sort these out with confidence.
A network can be as simple as a sticky-note with a few necessary phone numbers such as:
Your Veterinarian. The local colostrum bank. A neighbor or friend to help. The local Horse supply for things like milk replacer. Pizza delivery.
As far as supplies. My supply list is HUGE, I foal out 150+/- annually, so our foaing unit inventory is extensive and covers just about EVERY scenerio, even the worst-case ones.
There are, however, a few basic supplies that I keep in my farm truck in the event mother nature and I are not on the same page.
Scissors- to open a caslicks if needed.
Twine- to tie-up the placenta. you don't want mom stepping on this and possibly doing damage to herself.
Iodine for the naval- I Know, it's a much debated treatment, but It has worked for me for decades. Some prefer Novalsan
Palp sleeves- these are real handy if you need to check whats going-on inside, need to fix a dystocia, or things just are not progressing normally. this is where a bit of experience is necessary.
Several towels- to dry and/or stimulate the newborn.
Banamine- Sometimes mom needs a bit of help.
Sedazine(rompun)- sometimes mom needs a bit more help.
Fleet enema- To help get that meconium out.
A notepad and pen- To make note of several events: Break water, foaled, placenta discharge, meconium, umbilical break. If these things progress as normal it's no big deal. But if there are problems later on, having this information can be very helpful.
These are the very basic necessities I keep on hand to deliver a foal. As I said, our foaling unit is prepared for just about any scenerio, including a back-up generator in case the power is out, but that stuff is not necessary to have a healthy foal under normal circumstances.
Wow! Thanks Tim! A hundred and fifty foals a year? Thank-you for taking the time to answer my question. It is more complicated than I thought. Of course, I know horses do foal without help more often than not, but I do want to be prepared. I have a lot to learn and do before the big event.
Anyway, yes, foaling can be very complicated. It all depends on how much risk you try to mitigate. Be careful though, researching all that can go wrong with a foaling can drive you NUTS!!!! The waiting can fray your nerves, and the supplies can get expensive. By the time her due date rolls around, your credit cards will be maxed-out and you'll find yourself sitting alone in the dark watching your mare, mumbling strange things to yourself while eating a Hot Pocket...... Gotta love foaling season!!!!!!
Seriously though, a few simple things will greatly increase your chances of a healthy foal.
Tim: Just a couple of questions for you if you have time.
I also included in my kit a tube of "Foal Response" and a tube of "Bio...whatever its called". I usually give my foals the foal response as soon after birth as possible to just give them a little edge and I give my mares the "Bio-stuff" as a precaution to help their bowels re-coup. Just something my vet has suggested to me in the past.
The other question I have is I keep a bag of Colostrum Supplement (just in case) ONLY because we have had such a hay shortage this year and my mares have had no choice but to be served up hay with fescue in it. Am I being overly cautious? They seem to bagging up ok but I am still a bit worred. I've never had to deal with fescue hay issues before.
Jan Owen Senior Stallion or Mare Username: 1frosty1
Post Number: 1326 Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2008 - 12:31 pm:
Tim~Congratulations! The fillies are edging out the colts by one Do you still have more mares to foal out? Of course I can't even imagine 83 new babies
Bobbi, I don't think there is anything wrong with giving the Foal Response. If you've had good luck with it in the past, use it. I don't use too many probiotics.
The "Bio-stuff" sounds interesting, and this is a HUGE concern that many overlook. We typically use a warm mash as moms first several feedings after foaling, but sometimes this is not enough. We usually see the first manure from the mare within 24 hrs. of foaling. any longer and it is definately cause for concern.
I think it is a good idea to keep some sort of Colostrtum supplement on hand whether it's frozen donor colostrum or one of the synthesized ones. Of course we know that mom's milk is the best, so trying to boost HER milk production should be the first consideration if she is having problems. A good visual check of the mares colostrum after foaling can give lots of insight into the quality of the colostrum.
I think JOS posted a very well outlined procedure for evaluating colostrum several days ago.
I so admire all of you that can do your own foaling. I sincerely mean that. I am absolutely NO good at it at all.
I am a basket case, wreck, whatever metaphor you want to give it. I just can't do it. I make my poor mares worse with my worry and the last one that we did on our farm, my poor husband threatened to leave me if I ever tried to foal another mare out personally.
I am an absolute paranoid wreck during the wait and when the blessed event occurs, I find I am paralyzed with fear. So.........
I send my mares to a breeding farm with 24 hr. personnel, etc. to be foaled out. I figure the farther away from them I am at that time, the better for them. They can be surrounded by people that know what they are doing and do it all the time. This place has a vet on call 24/7 and an excellent track record.
In the meantime, I find that during the waiting period at home, that a generous supply of TEQUILA and Valium helps me immensely.
After I get the phone call that we have a foal on the ground, I am fine and can move forward from that point on and truly enjoy everything from that point forward.
Thanks so much for your input Tim. I really appreciate it. I think you absolutely hysterical! You have it so right in your postings.
I just really feel more comfortable having a multi-species colostrum powder around during maternity time on the farm. Since we have cattle, pigs & horses...it will work in a pinch for any of them. We did this last year and actually had an issue with a sow who had 18 piglets and could only feed 14 of them! We used it on the 4 and was successful in saving the entire litter. I agree...mom's milk is always best. My TB has a bag and I don't THINK there will be a problem. Its my paint mare that is for sure overdue and just doesn't have the fullness that I think should be there.
Catherine: Don't be too impressed..hahaha..I was a vet tech for years and can do just about anything you need to do but it doesn't mean that when it comes to "your own" that I'm not anymore of a basket case than you! *giggle* My hubby says I'm over cautious because of my tech knowledge and I don't just get to enjoy the experience. He's probably right because the down side to that is I've seen and dealt with the "what can go wrong" scenarios and it can be ugly. He says I'm pessimistic...I say I'm cautious...my mother says I'm obsessive...my children think I can save anything...my horses think I'm a pain and should just go away.
Tim is by far the best at pointing out the basic necessities and his humor is not too far from the truth, which is why he is so funny. I have everything he suggested (including generator and flood lights..hahaha) with just the added thermometer & stethoscope. I have the Banamine as well...no rompun though-great drug by the way-it makes my stud putty and I can do anything I want to him *giggle* My vet uses this when we do an "all-over" annual visit which unfortunately is right before breeding season and he is a handful at that time.
Having a great vet is important. I have one but unfortunately she is 45 minutes away (and that's rushing it) so I'm going to stick to my story that I am "just prepared" rather than obsessive!
(I also keep Gentamicin injectible around because by TB mare can get uterine infections...so as a precaution for her, we give her a shot after birth).
I've seen many intelligent, talented horse-people reduced to (insert favorite metaphor here) when entering the foaling stall. It's not for everyone. Sometimes gaing the experience can be nerve-racking and heart-breaking.
Looking back on how I accumulated my experience, it really was under ideal conditions. When I first started foaling, I was surrounded by people with decades of experience and thousands of foals under thier collective belts. We were "only" foaling out about 60-70 per year at that time, so there was plenty of time to discuss, research and teach. Our foaling barn is a "state-of-the-art", world class facility with a more than sufficent operating budget. The Vet was never more than 15 minutes away and everyone was as close as a phone call.
Today, the barn is still the same, many of the people are still here. The only thing that has changed is we are foaling more than double what we did years ago. Last year we had 123 pregnant mares, and we foaled-out 123 healthy babies. It seemed like an impossible goal at the beginning of foaling season, as Bobbi points out: "what can go wrong" can be very ugly. But, by using the collective knowledge in our "network", and eliminating those "limiting thought processes", we suprised even ourselves.
I've also gained my knowledge and experience from fighting some tough battles. Some battles we won, some we lost. In our foaling observation room there is a towel disperser with the name-tags of the battles we lost. On that towel dispenser are the names of the true heros, the mares that sacrificed all the had to bring a new life into this world. On that towel dispenser are horses that inspire with thier tremendous will to live and reproduce. On that towel dispenser are also the names of some dear friends who are missed to this day.
It may sound silly to say that a towel dispenser is my motivation, but it is. It motivates to do my job the best I possibly can every night, every foaling.
Hi Tim. I have a question for you since you have had so much more experience foaling than I could ever have. What do you do for foals that are having trouble pooping? My mare foaled last Thursady 3/20. After the foal nursed a little she started rolling. My vet then gave her an enema. About an hour later, and after nursing again, she still continued to roll so my vet gave her a second enema. I can't remember if it was before or after the second enema, but he also stuck his finger in her anus and scooped out some of her meconium. The next day she was still straining to poop and not getting much out, although she was acting normal, not colickly. A experienced breeder friend of mine came by to see my mare and her new filly, and noticed her straining to poop. I told her the vet already gave the foal two enemas. She said well sometimes they need more than one or two to get them going, so we gave her a third. She pooped a bunch of hard little yellow poops, and I thought that was it. Well a couple of days later, I couldn't find any sign of her pooping any. I called my vet again on Tuesday, and he said to go ahead and give her another enema and some probios. I did, and again she pooped a bunch. Yesterday I saw her poop a somewhat normal looking poop. Relatively soft, then today when I cleaned the stall nothing again. What should I do???? Why is my filly haveing so much trouble pooping? I talked to another vet today, and he said that after two enemas he goes to treating them orally with a probiotic and 1 tsp. each of cod liver oil and caster oil. I gave her the oil so I guess we'll see what happens tomorrow. Sorry to be so longwinded, but I'm really starting to worry. Do you have any other suggestions?
My "poop protocols" are pretty basic. 1st enema(at birth), 2nd enema(if needed), soapy enema (if 1 and 2 don't get any result) then I'm on the phone to the vet.
I hesitate to offer any suggestions because there could be legitimate cause for concern, or, it may be that everything will be just fine. Keep a close eye on her temperature, membrane color, heart-rate and respiration. Make sure she is nursing vigorously and is bright and energetic. By all means, call your vet again if you are still concerned.
Tim: Thanks for reducing me to tears. What an honorable memorial for those that have been lost. Who cares if its a towel dispenser...the fact is you honor and respect the animals you care for.
You are so right...we fight every battle to win and sometimes we give it all and it is just not enough. I too have learned from those experiences. I just think its called personal growth. The one fact I am sure of with regards to my years of experience with equines is this...I don't know everything there is to know and I never will. That no one tactic or solution works the same with each animal. What worked for one, mysteriously doesn't work for another.
I think that's why God created horses...they keep us humble.
Charlene: Good luck with moving the bowels. Bless its little heart. Comes into the world and is having more enemas than my great grandmother. (Just wanted to make you smile) Maybe your mare's milk is just so rich that its doing a "cheese effect" and just bogging up the plumbing. Keep us posted on how its going and what the vet figures out.
Tim: I wanted an opinion from you if possible. My TB mare got into some seed ticks yesterday. She has been allowing me to deal with her udder up until the last week at which point she is fairly full and it is sore/uncomfortable. Needless to say, she won't let me take these off (without sacrificing my head with her hooves anyway). My thought is I'm going to attempt to rub a thin layer of baby oil on her bag to get them to back out. I certainly don't want to use any pesticide product with being so close to foaling. What do you think? Will it work? Any other options you may have in your experience?
Tim: I figured you must be having a busy day. I would greatly appreciate it if you would send me some foaling vibes my way. We're overdue and have had bags for 6 weeks now...geeesshhh...it can't be long, can it? Hahaha
I normally don't have tick issues on bags either, but we moved our horses to our farm last year and our horse barn is only one more weekend away form being completed after being much delayed due to weather. I did try the baby oil and applied it only directly to the seed tics. It worked, they backed out and within an hour, they were gone. I figured with it being a mild treatment plan, it couldn't hurt to try.
Cheryl: It doesn't seem to matter (well, to me anyway) how many foals you have in a lifetime, each one is exciting (and nerve wracking at times).
I will try to send some foaling vibes, but unfortunately, I don't have too many to spare. We've got a maiden that is 371 days today. She is the kind of mare that made headlines during her perfomance career, and will likely make headlines (hopefully good ones) at the onset of her breeding/foaling career. Everyone who knows her constantly asks about her, so the "pucker factor" is fairly high around here right now.
You are absolutely right about the number of foals you've had in a lifetime. There are some things that never change, it just goes with the territory. As you pointed-out, that's what keeps us humble.
I wanted to add another possible solution to the tick problem, particularly with a mare who is less than thrilled with one touching her bag, like mine is.
My mare doesn't have ticks as far as I know, but how could I tell anyway since she has so much gunk on it, between her teats. Anyway, I bought a skin cleanser that you attach a hose to and spray on the area. It foams-no scrubbing needed, or so it claims. Rinsing is required though.
Well, I gave her grain and hosed away, and she was fine with it. I'm going to check in a day or two and see if it looks any better. I don't want to cause her to get any more squeemish about letting me touch her there than she already is, so hands off for now.
But I thought I'd pass it on. I would think ticks would let go if they were hosed with a soapy solution?
Cjskip: That's a great idea. Unfortunately, it won't work for me yet as we are in the process of building our house and our well isn't scheduled to be drilled until June so running water is a luxury at this time (hehe). I have washed my mare's udder once with mild face wash product but it doesn't seem to deter the ticks much...seems those little suckers can hold their breath for awhile! I came up with the baby oil factor only because I reasoned out a things I could use that would not leave a dangerous residue. I don't wash my mares too much...I think that "gunk" that cakes up is normal and I'm afraid to remove too much of it because maybe mother nature put it there for a reason. (I don't know...just my silly thoughts).
Tim: I do have a question for our foaling expert. My TB mare doubled her bag in 24 hours! She's huge! She also has changed personalities in that she, the normal alpha of the bunch who puts everyone in their place, has become submissive to the other mares...kind of interesting turn of events in the past day. Do you think I'm fairly safe in saying I am very close to foaling? Although I can say that I have been anxiously awaiting, I am not thrilled as we are expecting severe weather in the next 24 hours and for the safety of all (horses and humans alike) this is less than ideal. If you think I am extremely close, I need to be staying with her. Thanks and I would appreciate your thoughts and experience with this. These are my first maidens and although I've had many foals in the past, I've never dealt with these silly maidens and they're not exactly the sound predictors that my experienced mares are!
It sounds like her mind is ready, and her body is getting ready. If the foal is ready, then you're having a baby soon!!!!
The signs and signals a maiden will present can cover the whole spectrum from abso-freakin-lutely nuthin' ,to walking hard for several days prior to foaling. The slight majoriaty of maidens I've been around, however, seem to prefer to prolong the process a bit rather than suprise you.
Our maiden foaled last night, finally!! She was one that seemed to prolong the process a bit. For several nights prior to foaling, she would become uneasy, or a bit uncomfortable at roughly the same time each night. She ended-up foaling at around that same time last night. She also waxed-up 2 days prior to foaling.
I don't know what to suggest because I don't know to full extent of your situation, but here are some things we have found that provide us with some valuable clues:
Pick and fluff her stall several times through the night. It may seem that trying to find clues in stall is a bit like reading tea leaves. But it is the best indicator of what she is doing when you are not there. Is she walking, pawing, rolling, has her stool output increased, have the contractions started and she double-barreled the door off it's hinges?
Check and note her water intake. A co-worker of mine made this connection years ago. Many( not all) mares water intake decreases drastically when they are within a several hour foaling window.
With your level of experience, you probably already know these things, but maybe someone reading this can pick up a tip or two. Sorry I can't be of more help. It is difficult for me to offer too much without seeing for myself, and even then, I probably don't have any better chance of coming to a conclusion than you would.
Good luck, and with severe weather headed your way, be safe!!!!
Tim: I find that I just enjoy chatting with you. Your humor is great stress relief! Haha! Congrats on your maiden who was messin' whitcha. I'll sure be glad next year that "they" won't be maidens anymore...hopefully, I'll at least be able to get a better idea based on their experience this year. (I just really like my old pro mares...I can count on them to be more consistant).
Well, as you would guess, another 24 hours has passed and I'm not celebrating anything...again. My poor TB mare looks like a milk cow who hasn't made it to the milking barn in a couple of days. I've decided she's not ever going to "leak milk" but rather it's just going to continue to fill up and explode like a balloon. She's my horse that ALWAYS likes to lay down and in the past few days, she is not laying down anymore (maybe she's just soooo fat that she's afraid she'll never get up again). She's still keeping the subtle personality thing going...not the typical cranky head mare syndrome that she normally has. My seasoned mares always went "soft" in the tail and had relaxed tails. This TB seems to do the opposite...she has now done a weird thing (never seen dis be4) she is actually holding her tail between her legs...like a beaten dog does...I swear I feel like I'm trying to lift an old well pump ever time I check her rear end! She is always comfortable with being handled (my goodness she's a retired race horse)and is actually quite fond of having her tail braided. I'm not picking at her as I only check her "vitals" 2x a day, once in the morning, once at night. She even walks around like that...tucked up all underself where the base of her tail actually is falling straight down from her udder. Makes her look all the more miserable and dejected...hehe.
She's holdin' that babe in isn't she??? She's gone so far as to invent her own chastity belt out of her own tail. Haha!
And by the way...all of us that have talked with you think you have been great help to us! Thanks again! When is the last foaling date for you this year?
As a newbie to this site I have found this thread to be VERY helpful. I would like to thank all of you and Tim esp. for all the advise and stories. This knowledge you are sharing is priceless and has sure helped me to be sure that I have everything I need. I love learning new things from people that have been there. So anyway I am rambling but I just wanted to say Thanks!!
Bobbi-I've lived without running water too-what an inconvient time to be without, but good luck on your house and horse accomodations! Hope your mare doesn't have too much trouble and your stay with her will be short. I'm presuming you won't have heat either? Hope you have a Bigggggg thermos of coffee! Please let us know how it goes.
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