Foaling season is an exciting time of year. Complications can occur, but you will be better able to stay calm and make it through if you are prepared. The following is aimed at making sure you have what you need for the big day…or night.
First off, talk to your veterinarian. Ask them questions about what to expect, what is normal or abnormal, and most importantly when to call them if things aren’t progressing as planned. Make sure to have everything prepared in advance for your mare’s big day. If you are not sure of the due date then talk to your veterinarian about signs of impending delivery (mammary development, calcium levels in the milk, “waxing”).
Your mare will need a large stall where she can move around easily to get comfortable (12 x 24 if possible). We usually suggest straw bedding as it will not stick to the wet foal and is less dusty than shavings or saw dust. Make sure to bed the stall deeply so it’s soft. Set up an area with a cot or comfortable chair for yourself or the foaling attendant – most foalings are uneventful but it is a good plan to have someone present in the unlikely event that something goes wrong.
The following is a list of items that you want to make sure you have on hand during foaling…the “foal kit”. Your foal kit should contain:
• garbage bag or bucket (to keep the placenta)
• clean, absorbent towels
• iodine or chlorhexidine
• heavy duty scissors
• umbilical tape
• a pair of hemostats
• digital thermometer
• baby bottle with a selection of nipples
Some people may also choose to have a mare milker in case the foal is not able to nurse on their own. These items can all be purchased from a feed store or pharmacy. If you are having trouble locating them, ask your veterinarian for suggestions.
Your veterinarian will go over all potential foaling complications with you (red bag, breech birth, retained limbs, etc). But remember, if you are not sure if something is going wrong… CALL your veterinarian! The earliest intervention will help to deliver the best outcome (no pun intended).
Good luck and happy foaling!