Here Comes Baby: Part IV

Brush up on what steps to take after the new baby arrives.

This is the last of the four-part series. Need to review Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3?

After the Big Event

  • Follow the 1-2-3 Rule. When the foal has arrived normally, remember:
  1. By one hour he should be standing.
  2. By two hours, he should be nursing aggressively.
  3. By three hours, the mare should have passed the placenta.

Any of these things not happening is a cause for alarm. If the foal is normal, you should begin considering the timing of his first checkup. Don’t turn the baby out until he has had his checkup.

Do you know what to expect when your mare is expecting? Do your homework. Get AQHA's "Equine Breeding Techniques and Foal Health Tips" report today!

  • Welcoming Baby. According to Dr. Ben Espy, when the foal is born, it is important to make sure she is lying on her sternum and that you remove any extra placenta or amniotic fluid. Then vigorously rub her with two or three beach towels to stimulate her skin. Stick a finger or piece of straw up her nose to get her to sneeze or cough and clear his airways. When the baby is alert after a few minutes, leave the stall and let the mare finish her work. Don’t cut the umbilical cord, either – it will happen naturally, typically by the mare standing up while the baby is still attached. This causes less blood loss than if a human cuts it. Once it breaks, disinfect the stub with dilute clorhexidine two to three times in the first 24 hours. When the baby is standing, give her two enemas.

“The majority of foals will defecate by themselves, but I recommend using enemas on all foals,” Dr.Espy sayes. “The most common cause of colic in neonatal foals is meconium impaction. Of the small portion of foals that colic, using an enema will eliminate a lot of them, and there’s nothing you can do wrong by using one.” Also save the placenta, if you can, in a plastic bag that you put in a refrigerator or in a cooler on ice. “Veterinarians can tell a lot by the placenta,” Dr. Espy says. “It’s a great idea to save it, but it’s not critical. So there’s no reason to panic if your mare foals outside and the placenta is covered in dirt and half-trampled on.”

  • Doctor Visit. About 85 percent of antibodies are transferred to the foal in the first six to eight hours, so your veterinarian should check the foal at that time to ensure that everything is normal. Typically, a veterinarian will check for a heart murmur, for any fractured ribs that happened during birth (which can puncture a lung if the foal is turned out) and might pull blood to do an IgG test to ensure the foal has gotten adequate immunity. Some foals will allow you to tube them with colostrum. If done past the window of time that foals have to absorb antibodies through their intestines, a foal with low antibodies will be given IV plasma.

AQHA's "Equine Breeding Techniques and Foal Health Tips" report will guide you through the entire foaling process from mare care and signs of labor to foaling complications and first-hour foal care. Purchase your copy today!