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Scott Creek Miniature Horse Farm

FOALING KIT INFORMATION

  • MILK TEST STRIPS - Calcium and ph - 1 cc & 6cc syringe, distilled water (New - MaybeBaby.net strips that only takes a few drops of milk on the strip).

  • TAIL WRAP - Keep tail clean and out of the way while foaling.

  • SURGICAL SCRUB - Nolvasan or Betadine.

  • LUBRICANT - Tube of steri-gel lubricant, and petroleum gel.

  • TOWELS - cotton hand towels.

  • NAVEL DISINFECTANT - Container of Nolvasan (1:3 dilute with water) or Stock iodine. (not tame iodine) or other vet recommended solution.

  • ENEMA - Fleet type  or soapy water. Administer 25 cc to help pass meconium.

  • SYRINGE - 35 ml syringe with puppy feeding tube attached to administer the enema. 

  • HUMAN INFANT NOSE SYRINGE - All rubber to feed colostrum to new born as soon as it sucks.

  • PAPER CUPS - 5 oz. cups to milk the mare in preparation of feeding the baby.

  •  SURGICAL SCISSORS - with a blunt end - emergency - cut cord or placenta red bag.

  • DENTAL FLOSS - used to tie the navel that won't stop bleeding or when you must cut an umbilical cord that refuses to break on its own.

  • FOAL PULLING DEVICE - can be a thin dog lead with a hand loop. Throw half hitch around pastern.

  • IVERMECTIN PASTE WORMER - kills encysted larva that hatch at foaling and can add to foal heat diarrhea.

  • BANAMINE PASTE or SHOT from vet to dampen post foaling pain so the mare will let the foal nurse instead of thrashing around from uterine contraction pain.

  • LATEX EXAM GLOVES - Use if you go into the mare birth canal to check position or reposition a foal.  Will protect mare from your fingernails.

  • SMALL BUCKET - for hot water and disinfectant.

  • CLOCK - to time the birth process.

  • CELL PHONE - for emergencies (Vet’s number)

  • FOALING INSTRUCTION BOOKLET- can help you focus during high stress time.

  • COLOSTRUM - frozen or commercial colostrum replacement for mares that don't produce enough milk the first few days.

  • Electronic birth alert system and closed circuit TV- prevent loss by surprise birth and baby suffocates in the amniotic sack or dystocia birth

MORE INFORMATION

Milk Test strips  are another tool to evaluate the mare's readiness to foal.  For those unaware of the milk test, it simply involves collecting a small sample of milk, (2cc’s) from the mare prior to foaling on a daily basis.  It is best to test in the evening since most births occur after dark.  One kind of test using Water Hardness test strips like Quant Total Hardness Strips, measure the increasing presence of Calcium in the milk.  The other test is done with pH strips that that have a narrow range to measure between 8.0 and 6.0 or lower.  A falling pH indicates how close a mare is to foaling.  These tests are fairly reliable indicators to foaling.  But not all mares follow a predictable pattern needed to make these tests totally reliable.  In a pinch the 5 way spa strips will work if they have a hardness indicator and a pH indicator that goes to 6.2.  To use these strips mix 1 cc of mares milk with 6 cc of distilled water.  Dip strips, shake off excess water, read within 30 seconds.  The strips will continue to change color.

Commercial Milk Test kits are available for purchase that supply everything.  My new favorite is from MaybeBaby.net.  This test strip can be used with straight colostrum.  All you need is the strip, nothing else. 

Additional "tools" to use as aids for increasing success rate of live birth are electronic foaling alert systems and closed circuit TV.  Even with one mare these tools could save you a major heartache.  Foals will suffocate if they are born and remain enclosed in the white amniotic sac when birth is unattended.  Since most mares foal at night, sleep deprivation is a reality for those who are expecting a number of foals.  These surveillance systems can help reduce your sleep loss, yet still keep vigilance over the expectant mares.  A few minutes can mean the difference between a live or dead foal.  Miniature foals are notorious for being born alive, but failing to break out of the tough white amniotic sac and suffocating on the floor.

When you think birthing is at hand, wrap the mare’s tail with vet wrap.  Fold the tail hairs over the first two wraps and start wrapping in the middle going up being careful to be snug, but not stretched tight which can cut off circulation.  Do not use an elastic arm wrap.  This can injure the tail bone by cutting off circulation.  Pull up a section of tail hair and then wrap down.  Once you are past the tail bone, pull the wrap tightly around the ball of the hair at the bottom.  Then finish the wrap on just the tail hair.  Wrapping is done to minimize the contamination from tail hairs, keeping the hairs out of the way during foaling assistance, as well as keeping the foaling discharges out of the hair and out of the way of the newborn foal looking to nurse. 

This is the time you need to remove all rings and jewelry.  Clip fingernails as short as you can get them.  If you have to assist, your nails can slice the mare in the vagina or cervix causing adhesion scarring.

Having a pulling device kept on hand in case of foaling emergencies can be a critical aid to a successful birth.  Your vet may not have equipment of the proper size.  This can consist of a flat 1/2 inch nylon strap fitted with metal rings at the ends so loops can be formed around the legs above the fetlock joint.  A similar dog lead might suffice if you don’t sew. I found my vet had them for clients that came into his clinic.

When foaling commences, wet your wash cloth or paper towels with hot water and surgical scrub.  Wash off the mare’s vulva, hindquarters, and udder area where the foal might suck.  Wipe the same area with a clean, dry towel to remove most of the scrub.  The same scrub can be used on your hands and arms if it is necessary to assist within the birthing canal. We usually use surgical gloves coated with lubricating gel, go inside the vulva shortly after the water breaks if the white amniotic sack does not immediately appear.  Even then we check for a nose and two pointed feet.  If need be, apply lube liberally and place some in the birth canal if there is difficulty in the foal being born.  Use with traction being applied to the legs.

Once the foal is born, immediately remove the white amniotic sack from the face if it hasn’t already been broken.  Turn the foal on its sternum (breastbone) to facilitate breathing.  Vigorously rub with clean towels to stimulate circulation and dry the foal.

The umbilical cord usually breaks after a few minutes by a struggling foal or the mare standing up. Fill a small film cartridge or pill bottle with a 1 to 4 mix of nolvasan disinfectant and water. Submerge the stump of the navel several times during the night.  Treating the stump minimizes the chance for a life threatening infection entering through the navel.  Do not let the mare lick the navel if possible.  Her mouth harbors a lot of deadly bacteria.  If the cord will not break, cut it in the narrowed area approximately one inch from the abdomen, pinching above the cut for a few seconds to minimize bleeding. If it still is bleeding, it can be tied with some dental floss. Beneficial blood transfer to the foal occurs if the cord breakage can be postponed for at least 5 minutes after birth.

 

While you are waiting for the foal to get up and the placenta to pass, worm your mare with an ivermectin wormer.  It is believed that this will prevent the foal from getting pinworms while nursing.  The worming can be given up to 12 hours after birthing.  

Banamine can be given at this time to minimize the pain from the contracting uterus.  Banamine is similar to aspirin on humans aches and pains.  This is optional, but we always like to make the mares as comfortable as possible after birthing so she will allow the baby to nurse normally.

Within an hour when the foal starts sucking reflex, we milk the mare with an udder pump or by hand. (Pressing above the teats and stripping down) into a small kitchen paper cup.  Using the infant syringe filled with the milk, we gently express the colostrum into the foal’s mouth.  This way we know how much colostrum the foal has eaten.  This procedure also gets the colostrum into the stomach before the foal starts sucking on everything.  It is thought the early feeding gives more antibody protection and immediate immunity to the foal.  It also gives the foal the nutritional energy for the big job of figuring how to stand  and causes the bowels to move the meconium (brown/black tar colored poop) so the foal will not colic.

Each newborn is fitted with a baby blanket to minimize the heat loss for the first few days of life when the foal is still stabilizing his body heat system.  A heating lamp is very useful if you foal during the cold months.  We bed the stall with a thick layer of straw over shavings to provide insulation and warmth.

 

After the foal is standing and nursed we give a 25 cc’s of Fleet enema using a 35 cc dose syringe with a puppy feeding tube.  Lubricate the tip with petroleum jell and slowly express a small amount of enema as the tube goes into the bowel about 5 to 8 inches. Then slowly express the rest of the fluid being careful of not being forceful.  The foal should poop with 10 minutes a stream of dark meconium approximately 12 to 18 inches long.

Each farm has a different situation so it is highly important to establish an ACTION PLAN for the foal’s arrival.  Confer with your veterinarian ahead of time.  Have Vet’s phone number prominently posted and in your cell phone book.  Make sure all you family members are informed as to what measures to take when the birthing occurs.  It is also important to know where your nearest neonatal intensive care facility is just in case it is needed.

 

Collection of colostrum for future use is important.  Colostrum of other species may give some immunity, but not the total immunity of mare’s colostrum.  By freezing colostrum you will be prepared for the times your maiden or newly birthed mare does not develop adequate milk. .  It may take a few hours to a few days for the milk to come completely in.  In the meantime you will have provided the newborn with the necessary colostrum to develop immunities.  Mare’s milk can be substituted by goats milk or with the following cow’s milk formula.  The newborn will need to be fed at least every hour until it starts refusing milk.  This usually means it is getting enough from its dam.  Approximately 60 cc per feeding is adequate depending on the weight of the foal. 

Emergency Milk Replacement Formula

1.5 teaspoon of honey or corn syrup to one pint (16oz) of 2% milk and 1/4 cup water.  Feed warmed slightly above body temperature. 

or 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 teaspoon of Sure-Jell pectin which doubles to minimize ulcers and diarrhea to a pint of 2% milk and 1/4 cup water.

Scott Creek Miniature Horse Farm
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