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Submitted by: Becky Shultz - Redrock Miniature Horses
After the normal delivery, there's a few things that I think
everyone who doesn't know should be made aware of.
Obviously towel drying the foal and getting him
warm is paramount when the weather is cold. Body temperature is critical
to a neonates survival after birth. These little guys sometimes have a
hard time regulating their body temperature so we need to help them all
we can. We've waited too long to get a live, healthy foal here to lose
one to cold weather! And sometimes even during warmer weather, a foals'
body temperature can be low. A lethargic foal is at risk of hypothermia,
so warmth is critical!
Bed them deep, use heaters/heat lamps if
necessary and blanket if necessary. Keep them out of drafts.
Make sure your foal is laying up on his/her
sternum after birth. They need to expand their rib cage and lungs to
breathe and it's more difficult if they are laying on their side.
Charlotte and I were discussing it last night
and I agree with her that foals do best if they get some colostrum right
away. If you can milk your mare and give the foal some milk by syringe,
it will make a significant difference in his overall functions. He will
be brighter, more alert and try harder to get up and find the 'milk
bar'! I think their blood sugar isn't too high at birth and that first
milk really gives them a boost to get them going!
Not to scare anybody, but I've had more than one foal (and it always seems to be colts) that have
had a normal delivery and are laying there seemingly normal when they just suddenly fade. Action is critical in this
circumstance!! I don't believe the foal has fainted; I think he's quit breathing or his heart stopped. Stick your finger
in their throat to make them gag, up their nose or in their ear. If that doesn't work, rub them vigorously. Pick them up
and swing them around by the back legs if necessary. I've brought the ones back that this has happened to, fortunately.
I'm not sure if over stimulation is the cause, or a lack of the right stimulation to keep them going. It might even be a
lack of blood sugar as in recent years with giving my foals some colostrum soon after birth, I haven't had one of these
episodes happen. It's just something that happens sometimes and quick intervention can save the foal.
Submitted by: Charlotte Lupton - Reflections
Just a note on milking the mare
and feeding the foal as Becky was telling....Go slow at first! Like she
The foal often doesn't have a swallow reflex right at first and if you
try to feed them they could aspirate, so just start with dribbles of a
few drops into the bottom lip....just to give a taste. This seems to
help stimulate the suckle and swallow reflex (those two seem to go
I usually give them these few drops within 15-30 minutes after birth.
Sometimes before the foal is up.
If Becky and I have a foal that isn't nursing and doesn't seem to have
much of a swallow reflex by two hours old, we will start thinking about
having the vet out to tube some milk into it. IF there's a good swallow
reflex and we can get some milk in we will wait a bit longer.
That first milk is AMAZING! It's like High Octane Jet Fuel to that baby!