Spring has finally sprung in the Southern Highlands and as an equine vet clinic this is our favourite time of the year. A large amount of foals are born over the coming months and the Southern Highlands is becoming a renowned breeding area for Thoroughbred’s and non-Thoroughbreds alike, but what should you know about the foaling process?

The normal gestational length for a mare is 326 – 343 days. Predicting parturition is difficult but mammary development and dried secretions or ‘wax’ on the end of the teats is a sign of impending parturition.

Since most mares foal at night, most commercial studs elect to observe mares on a 24-hour basis as they near their due date. Foaling alarms and milk electrolytes test kits can help the small breeder better predict time of foaling and help avoid sitting up all night forweeks on end.

The first stage of parturition lasts from 30 minutes to 3 hours and characteristics include sweating, colic-like signs, and repeatedly lying down and getting up.

The onset of the second stage starts when the fetalmembranes rupture, the cervix is dilated and the foal enters the birthcanal due to strong uterine contractions.  The foal should present with one foot just in front of the other with the soles of the hooves pointing down and the head following shortly after.

Once the foal is born, he or she should be standing within 1 hour and sucking within 2 hours of birth. Foals should be monitored closely over the first 24 hours of life.


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