Horses Health Cards N°06. Gestation and Foaling

The duration of gestation is 11 months, the diagnosis being made by ultrasound from the 14th day. The ¾ of the mares foal at night and preferentially at the good season. As a rule, the mare gives birth to a foal, but it can happen (less than 20% of the mares) that a mare gives birth to two young. This kind of "twin" gestation is not without risk. There is no way to predict the timing of foaling accurately.

There are nevertheless some warning signs: swelling of the breasts, pearl milk, the mare becomes restless, nervous, trying to isolate itself.

The lion mare usually standing but can make it lying. Expulsion is fairly rapid: 5 to 30 minutes. Birth begins with loss of amniotic fluid. In normal foaling, head and anterior limbs appear first. Then come the neck, the body and the hind legs. The cord breaks at the outlet. If the breaking has not occurred, the mare chews the cord and cuts it. If blood continues to flow, the cord should be compressed for one minute. It is then dipped in iodine tincture at 2%, twice a day for 4 days.

The daily examination of the navel of the foal makes it possible to detect quickly an infection or an abnormality (persistence of the canal of the urachus: urine exits by the navel).

After the expulsion, the foal is freed from the envelope surrounding it in the mother's womb (the amnios) by licking and the respiratory tracts, encumbered with liquids, low. Breathing can be stimulated by exciting the nostrils, pulling on the tongue and rubbing the ribs. Follows a session of recognition between the mother and the little one via sniffing and licking.
At the end of 3 hours maximum, the foal must be able to get up and suckle. The placenta is normally expelled 3 hours after foaling. If the animal is not expelled, it is necessary to call the veterinarian for removal. Do not try to do it yourself, you risk damaging the female genitalia.

A newborn foal is very fragile and should be monitored every 2 hours. Attention will be drawn to the following:

  • If alert, alert
  • His posture
  • Its temperature (around 38 ° C.)
  • If it urinates normally
  • If the stool is normal (non-expulsion of the first stools, or "meconium", which is the excreta accumulated during the fetal life may be dangerous for the foal.) In case of problem, call the veterinarian)
  • Her navel
  • Her breathing


That there are too many people around the box
To rid the foal of its amnios (unless the envelope is not torn and the mother does not take care of it)
Help the foal to straighten: let him straddle alone. If, after 2h30 / 3h, it is not standing and does not head, there must intervene.

At birth, the foal has no immunity. He will draw it in the first milk of the mother (colostrum) during the first 12 hours of life. It is therefore important that the foal can rise and suck quickly (if not, human intervention is essential). Lactation is maximum in the third month. At this time, the mare provides 2 to 3.5 kg of milk per day and per 100 kg of weight (a 400 kg mare will therefore yield 8 to 14 kg of milk per day). Weaning takes place in the 6th month.