What’s childbirth?

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Foaling is the process of giving birth to a mare. Choosing the right bull, preparing the mare’s health and diet, and monitoring her behavior are important. Stall preparation should be done one week before foaling. The foal should receive colostrum within 24 hours of birth. The delivery process should be monitored, and a vet should be called if there are any complications. The foal’s development will continue naturally and rapidly.

Foaling is the process of giving birth to a mare (dam). The term is generally used in a broader sense, including the initial idea of ​​rearing your mare and extending it through pregnancy, labor, foaling, and checking her foal’s health.

Choosing the appropriate bull for your dam is one consideration. You should consult a professional if you are looking for specific details in terms of what you want from your foal as well as genetic traits and markings. It’s important to consider the whole horse when making these decisions, not just the visual characteristics. Behavioral traits will also be passed on to your foal.

A healthy mare is the best preparation for her pregnancy. There is a major benefit to choosing an optimal foaling time that will provide comfort to both your mare and her foal during the first few months of life. Ideally, calving should occur in May or June, depending on geographic location and weather patterns.

The gestation period of a horse is 11 months (about 340 days). One option for calculating the calving date is to take the breeding date, add a year, and subtract 25 days. A mare’s age, breeding history, and weather can all play a significant role in the actual time of foaling.

Your mare should have free choice hay and/or pasture. If your hay or pastures are low in clover, you should slowly introduce 10-20 percent alfalfa to help meet its increased calcium and protein needs. Avoid sudden changes in his diet, including types of hay. Salt and clean water should always be available.

While your mare is pregnant, she may be ridden for the first few months if she is used to and enjoys exercise. Grooming is a good way to keep his digestion healthy. This will also extend your bond with her so that when it comes time to deliver, she’ll be familiar with your extensive hands-on treatment. You should also take the time to clean his nipples and genitals. It is especially helpful to train a virgin mare to be handled in sensitive areas to prevent any resistance to allowing her foal to nurse.

Most mares go through the pregnancy with few complications. Signs that things aren’t progressing right are the normal signs of ill health for any horse. Stopping her feed is common for mares in the later stages of pregnancy. This will usually only last a few days and then she will resume her normal eating patterns. If he stops eating completely, that’s a sign to contact your vet. Your water consumption should never decrease.
Other complications are signs of colic, reduced manure production, weight loss, lameness, swelling in all four legs, nasal or eye discharge, fever, or changes in breathing. Any of these symptoms or any other unusual behavior is an indication to contact your vet. Your mare will naturally be more grumpy and uncomfortable towards the end of her pregnancy, so by familiarizing yourself with her moods and activities early on, you’ll be able to detect signs that should be cause for concern.

Your mare’s pouch, or milk tank, will begin to fill about 2-4 weeks before foaling. If she lets milk flow before calving, much of the viable colostrum will be lost. If this happens, milk your mare and freeze colostrum for her foal. Do not use a microwave to thaw colostrum, as this will kill the natural benefits of the antibiotic and immune boosting. Some mares may not produce milk until after giving birth.
Colostrum is a syrupy substance that is your mare’s first milk. It is imperative that your foal gets this colostrum within 24 hours of birth. This protects the baby from both bacterial and viral diseases during the first two to four months of his life. Additionally, the colostrum will provide a mild laxative for the foal. If for any reason your mare is unable to nurse or you haven’t secured her colostrum beforehand, alternative sources of colostrum are available through your veterinarian.

Stall preparation for your mare’s foaling should be done at least one week before foaling. You want to allow yourself time to sanitize and dry the walls, rearrange the stall, and allow enough time for your mare to become comfortable in her surroundings. The stall should be covered with straw to prevent suffocation or irritation of the foal’s lungs or eyes. Buckets of feed and water should be positioned so that they do not interfere with calving.
If you prefer your mare to foal in pasture, make sure there are no streams or sources of water that could trap her foal. There is also the danger that the foal will run out of the pen and fail to return to its mother. It is much safer to allow farrowing in a spacious stall.
Your mare will normally be waxed 24-48 hours before foaling. This is when her milk becomes thicker, whiter, and sweeter. The vulva will also stretch and a hump will appear on the tail, indicating the foal is in position. The dock becomes soft and flexible. Your mare will express discontent once labor begins. He will show signs of sweating, pacing, tail swishing, and frequent urination. This is the time to braid her tail and place her in her stable.
Alert your vet that the birth is important, but allow your mare to give birth without assistance if possible. She will appreciate your company, trust, and comfort if you bond with her beforehand. If you are unsure about delivery, it is best to bring your vet or a midwife for assistance.
Your mare will expel the cork first when her waters break. The plug has the color and texture of a liver. Delivery will be within 15-30 minutes after this. Your mare will lie on her side with her legs extended. If she is foaling standing, be sure to pick up the foal and drop it to the ground.

You will first see two front hooves and a nose hidden between them. This is a sign that the foal is in the correct position and you can allow foaling to proceed naturally. Your mare will generally rest twice during the foaling, once after the shoulders have passed and once when the hips have passed. During delivery, if more than 10 minutes go by without movement, gently pull with the next contraction but stop when the contraction stops. If the foal feels stuck, roll him sideways.
Call your vet if:
only one foot shows up
more than two feet show up
the nose is not visible
the nose is presented without the front feet
feet present upside down
the foal is stuck
Delivery will take approximately 30 minutes. Your foal will often start breathing before he is fully delivered. The umbilical cord will detach on its own as the foal exits the birth canal. If it is still attached, cut it off leaving a 3 inch (7.6cm) stump. Soak or wrap the umbilical stump in a mild iodine.
Then allow your mare to stamp her foal. Also be sensitive to her privacy with her baby, especially if she’s a nubile mare. Even a gentle and generally affectionate horse will be more protective at this time. Your mare needs to ensure recognition of her baby and help her nurse.
The foal can take up to 2 hours to stand, but this is usually within 30-45 minutes. This is when she will start breastfeeding. The first defecation and urination is very important. The stool is called meconium, which is a sticky yellowish muck that is the result of waste material built up from fetal digestion. It is no longer recommended that foals receive enemas, but rather allow this elimination to occur naturally.
Your mare will deliver her placenta within 3 hours. The placenta is expelled inside out. Roll it out to make sure it is complete and the horns are present. You can also fill it with water to check if there are any missing pieces. Once you are sure the placenta is complete, remove it from the premises and bury it in a place that will not attract wild animals to the foal.
Your foal’s development will continue naturally and rapidly. It will run and gallop within hours. It will begin mimicking its grazing mother within a couple of days and begin feeding on creepy crawlies within a week. If possible, leave your mare and her foal out in the pasture starting on the second day. It’s best to keep them separate from the herd for a period of a week, longer if she’s nervous with her foal. Ideally they should be bred with other dams and foals. Grazing turnout will speed recovery and reduce stress for both your mare and her foal.

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