Immediately Post Foaling!
I Am Ranch Miniature Horses is sharing with you what we do to maintain the health of our horses. This is not intended to direct you on how to care for your horse. The intent of this is only to share what we do, and raise questions for you. We advise you to consult your veterinarian before making any changes in your horse's health care. The information found on our website is not to supersede the advise of your veterinarian. I AM Ranch Miniature Horses cannot be held liable for the care of your horse(s).
The below words in RED makes a check list for you the hours after birth
There are 3 stages of labor.
Stage 1: Positioning! The mare is restless. This may continue for 12 to 24 hours. During this period, the fetus is positioned for delivery and the cervix is dilated. This stage ends with the breaking of the water bag, (click here to see a video of this) which lubricates the birth canal to help expel the foal.
Stage 2: The actual birth or hard labor. (Click here to see a video of this) If a mare is down and actively pushing for 10-15 minutes and you don't see two legs and a muzzle CALL A VETERINARIAN as something is definitely wrong. Most foals are born in 20 to 30 minutes. In a normal presentation, the foal's front feet appear first, with heels pointed down toward the mare's hocks. If you do not see the foal's front feet and head after 5 to 10 minutes of hard labor, get the mare up and keep her walking until the veterinarian arrives. We took notes from a seminar on foaling problems and you can read them by clicking here.
If the foal is presenting correctly, the foal's nose should be lying on or about the knees. One front leg usually is slightly forward (2-6 inches in minis) of the other which allows the shoulders to pass through the birth canal. After the head exits the vulva, you may see a clear, transparent membrane (amnion), which covers the legs and head. If this membrane is red, you need to act quickly and get the foal out. Click here for a video and explanation of a red bag baby, which is also called placenta previa. This membrane should be white! The foal's hind feet usually remain in the mare 5 to 15 minutes after foaling, while the foal and mare lie resting. Allow the umbilical cord to stay attached as they lie resting. Premature breaking of the umbilical cord by the mare, foal, or human may result in a loss of very important fetal blood supply.
Stage 3: Watch for delivery of the placenta (afterbirth) within 3 hours post birth. Never try to remove the placenta. If the placenta is still attached after 3 hours, call your veterinarian. Someone must examine the afterbirth to make sure none has been retained in the mare. We do this ourselves, but many people call for the veterinarian to examine. Store it in a clean garbage bag or a bucket of water. You can fill the placenta with water to make sure there are no missing pieces. The weight of a normal and healthy placenta will be about 11% of the weight of the foal.
Usually a mare will foal lying down. Ideally, the mare should lie quietly for 15 to 20 minutes after foaling to allow the blood in the placenta to transfer to the foal. Once this has occurred, the umbilical cord normally breaks 2-3 inches from the abdominal wall. If you need to sever the cord, never cut it or pull against the foal's abdomen. Surround the umbilical cord with your fingers and brace it against the foal's body so that it does not pull and cause a hernia. You can even do this when the mare stands and breaks the cord naturally. Do not cut the umbilical cord immediately after birth, because it is thought the foal receives blood from the placenta after birth. Cutting the cord before this blood transfer may result in circulatory problems in the foal. We have had to cut many ane umbilical cord and do so about 1.5 inches from the foal's body. You will see a God-given indentation and weakening at the spot where He intended it to break.
It's important to monitor the mare and foal closely for the first 48 to 72 hours. Even though foaling takes only 20 to 30 minutes, it tires the mare. We have had to give our mares Banamine after birthing to help them through this time period. I have one mare who colics mildly after each birth and needs to be watched carefully.
Feed your mare a warm bran mash to help her intestines keep going.
Once the umbilical cord breaks, the stump should be dipped in a mild, 1 to 2 percent iodine solution. The iodine drys the umbilical stump and prevents bacteria from traveling up the stump and entering the foal's body. We had a neighbor who lost a foal to naval ill (also known as joint ill, shigellosis or polyarthritis) due to bacteria entering through the umbilicus and causing a systemic infection. We dip the cord in Betadine 4 times the first day and then check it the following days to make sure it is dried up. If it is not, keep dipping in Betadine until it is.
It is also a good idea to take a few drops of the colostrum and put it in a clean cup right after birth. Then as soon as you can, take a drop or so of the umbilical cord blood and add it to the colostrum. Mix the blood and milk. If the two, do not mix, call your vet and do not allow the foal to nurse. This can be fatal. If they do mix, all is fine.
Keep an eye on the naval stump for several days after birth to make sure that it remains dry. There is a condition called "persistent urachus," which occurs when the fetal urine passage from the bladder to the umbilical (the urachus) has not closed. You will know this has happened by a dripping from ethe umbilical stump.
If your mare has not been vaccinated within 30 days before foaling, you will need to vaccinate the baby with tetanus antitoxin right away. The colostrum is better protection, so really try to get those vaccinations in momma 30 days prior. This vaccination give her high levels of antibodies to then pass on to baby. Click here to read other preparations to do those last 30 days before foaling.
Foals should stand within 1 hour after birth and nurse by 2 hours after birth. Make sure the baby receives colostrum! If the mare aggressively rejects the foal's attempts to nurse, then it is time to interfere. One way to aid, is to hand milk a few drops of colostrum and coat your fingers and the mare's teats with it. Get the foal to suck your finger coated with colostrum and gradually move your finger beside the mare's teat. Next. remove your fingers slowly from the foal's mouth so the foal will switch to the teat. This may take repeated attempts. If a mare is aggressive due to a sensitive udder, you may need to restrain her to allow the foal to latch on. You can give your new foal a jumpstart by milking a bit of colostrum and feeding it to the foal. They then know what to look for!
Foals should successfully nurse within 2-4 hours of birth. We have had to jumpstart a few by adding syrup to the colostrum and syringing it into baby. To make a miniature mare breast pump, click here.
Next, watch for the meconium. The colostrum actually serves as a laxative, but if your foal is straining you need to get your baby enema out of your foaling kit and help him pass his poops. For some odd reason, colts seem to get impacted more often than fillies. We routinely give colts enemas after having enough get plogged up.
Many people recommend checking the foals IgG levels between 9 and 12 hours after birth. My vet says she has never had this problem with minis so we don't do it. Other mini breeders say it has been a problem. But, please ask your vet and follow their recommendations.
If you sadly should lose your new foal, milk out the colostrum to freeze for the future. You, or someone else, may need it.
Check that the foal's eyelids and lashes are turned outward. For some odd reason, many foals lashes are turned inwards and cause irritation. You may need to call your vet to resolve. Fortunately when we have had this happen, it has worked for us to trim off the eyelashes completely close to their root. When they grow back out, the problem is resolved.
Hang your water buckets! Many foals have stuck their heads in water and drowned. You also want to encourage them to drink milk and not water in these early days.
We worm our mares with Ivermectrin within 12 hours of birth. This helps deter foal scours and the development of thread worm in the foal.
If your new foal is a colt, check to see if he is dropped. Sometimes, the testicles draw back up, but if you felt them at birth, you know he will drop again. There are many miniature colts who don't drop and this information may put you at ease as he matures.
Miniature foals are very susceptible to constipation. We use enemas sparingly and have also dosed with 12 cc of Milk of Magnesium a few times per day to help with this issue
Measure the foal's cannon bones and compare them to the chart to predict height.
Don't be alarmed if your new foal toes out. This is common. As the chest widens, the elbows move out and the problem is corrected. In the hind end, they may look somewhat cow hocked at first. We do trim our baby feet about every 3-4 weeks. They grow quickly. Babies also tend to be low on their pasterns. Again, you may want to call your farrier. Consistent trimming brings them up faster.
Monitor your mare's eating and if she stops eating due to stress post foaling, be aware of Hyperlipemia.
If you prayed for God's help, then take time to thank God!