Make Sure Your Foal Starts off on the Right Foot

William Fullmer DVM By William Fullmer DVM, 9th Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Horses

Foaling season will soon be upon us. Here are some suggestions to ensure that your foal receives the best possible care.

Foals require a great deal of attention starting at the time they are born.

Few periods of time are more important in an animal’s life than their first few days, weeks, and months. Foals in particular require a great deal of attention starting at the time they are born. Since the foaling season will soon be upon us I though it timely to give some of my suggestions for foaling.

1: Foals may remain attached to the umbilicus for at least 3-5 minutes; but the cord usually breaks when the mare stands up. If it doesn’t, you may firmly grab the cord near the foal with one hand and place the other hand slightly farther down the cord. Vigorously tear the cord while twisting at the same time; you may then tie the cord off with a piece of string.

2: Next and most importantly, the foal should be standing in twenty minutes to one hour after delivery and should be nursing clean teats within two hours.

3: If everything is going well the foal and mare need to be examined by your veterinarian within 18-48 hours. Because they are incapable of developing their own immunity, blood should be drawn from the foal to determine if it has received adequate immunity from its mother. Acquiring immunity from the mother occurs through ingestion of colostrum. Colostrum is the immune rich milk produced by the mare in the first few hours of lactation. Foals are only capable of absorbing these immune proteins until 18 hours after delivery, after this time the intestine undergoes “gut closer”, when no more immunity can be absorbed. If the foal hasn’t adequately acquired immunity from its mother then your veterinarian can administer a plasma transfusion that will provide the necessary immunity.

4: If the mare hasn’t received a tetanus vaccine within the last month of pregnancy the foal should have a tetanus toxiod and a tetanus antitoxin injection within two hours. Tetanus is the bacterium that causes lockjaw, it is very prevalent in equine environments and horses are very susceptible. Tetanus toxoid stimulates immunity to the toxin produced by the bacteria. Tetanus antitoxin is serum that neutralizes the toxin if it is already present in the foal’s system.

5: Worming should begin at 1 ½ to two months of age and continue at three, four, six and ten months. You should submit a manure sample to your veterinarian from the mare and the foal for an intestinal parasite screen when the foal is about 3 ½ months of age

6: Vaccinations should be administered at three to four months of age. Most vaccinations will require a booster two to three weeks apart when the initial vaccines are administered. See your veterinarian for specific vaccine recommendations.

Following these guidelines should help your foal have a good start in life, but this discussion is not all inclusive. Your veterinarian will be able to provide any additional information. Be proactive and contact him or her for their specific recommendations prior to foaling.


Afterbirth, Foal, Foaling, Horse, Horse Care, Horses, Placenta, Retained Placenta, Vaccination, Vaccines, Veterinarian, Veterinarian Clinics, Veterinarian Housecalls, Veterinarians, Veterinary, Veterinary Care, Veterinary Hospital

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author avatar William Fullmer DVM
Dr. Fullmer graduated from Washington State University with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. He also graduated from the University of Idaho with a bachelor's degree in Veterinary Sciences and f

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
10th Jan 2012 (#)

Great information for owners of broodmares getting read for foaling season.

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