I have a question regarding foal safety during live coverage of a mare. It has always been my understanding that when a mare with a foal at her side is being bred by live coverage that the foal should be in a pen where the mare can see the foal, but out of the reach of the stallion. We lost a foal this summer while it was with it's mother at a new breeder's farm (i.e., new to breeding) and were told that the colt hit his head on a fence post and died instantly. Coincidentally, this occurred on the same day as the mare's last breeding. We were never able to view or exam the colt, since we weren't notified until two days after the event. I can't prove it, but I suspect this novice breeder failed to remove the baby before allowing the stallion in to cover the mare. I would hate for this to happen to anyone else. Please share your thoughts and experiences. What is industry standard for foal safety in this situation? Thanks!
There are no "hard and fast" rules for this. With some mares, if the foal is within sight during covering, she will try and kill the stallion; with others, if the foal is not in sight, she will be dangerous to breed. It's very much a mare/situation dependent matter.
Patricia, in the TB industry (in KY, which is what I'm familiar with), if a mare is vanned in for live cover, there is always an 'attendant' that stays in the van with the foal. You will NEVER see a foal in the breeding shed with a mare and stud, not even in a separate pen. If the mare is being stabled at the farm, the foal will be left in the stall, again with someone to attend to it. I've found that once the mare is out of earshot, she will typically settle down and focus on the stallion, if she's in heat. If there is no way to have the mare out of earshot, some tranqulizers may be necessary for the mare, to keep her from becoming dangerous to the handlers. You won't typically see as much estrus behavior from the mare though. I'm a huge believer in 'better living through pharmacology!' I know some people don't like giving drugs, but I'd rather do that then try to wrestle one and get them, myself and/or others hurt while trying to do so
In Ocala, we ship the mare w/o her foal to the shed. We use a little tranq on the foal and stay with the foal in the stall until mama returns. (foals are handled daily and very used to human interaction though)
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