Voltz Equine Veterinarian Jennifer Voltz Equine
Veterinarian Services
Pregnant mare care and newborn foals

Mares stay in heat for about 5 days with about three weeks between cycles. During the heat cycle an egg on the ovary grows until it reaches a certain size and ovulates. Most of the time this is a 45 follicle, or 45mm in diameter egg. This should be the last day of the heat cycle and the day that the mare should be bred.

After breeding a mare, she should have an ultrasound of her uterus at 18 daysto confirm pregnancy and make sure that she is not carrying twins. If she has twins one of the embryos can easily be pinched off at this time. Mares carrying twins usually abort both of them at around seven months of pregnancy because they outgrow their nutrient supply and starve.

She should have a second ultrasound at 45 days of pregnancy to make sure the foal is still there and looks healthy. A rectal exam should be done between three and five months to again confirm that she is still pregnant. Until around three months of pregnancy if the foal dies the mare resorbs it inside. After three months she would have an abortion (the foal comes out) and you would know that she is no longer pregnant.

The mare needs a Pneumabort vaccine at 5, 7, and 9 months of gestation. At ten months she gets her annual West Nile and Tetanus, Flu, Rhino, E & W encephalitis. This immunity goes in the colostrum to the foal when it starts nursing.

Pregnant mares should be wormed regularly throughout the pregnancy every 2-3 months with a rotating schedule of Strongid, Panacur, and Ivermectin.

The mare should be moved to her foaling stall 30 days before foaling. The stall needs solid walls so that the foal can not roll out.  Water buckets should be off the ground.  Good lighting makes everything easier.

On the day of foaling she should have a dose of Ivermectin to stop the transmission of one worm through the milk to the foal.

Pregnant mares should be exercised regularly at a moderate level and can be ridden until the saddle won’t fit anymore.

Mares generally do not need extra food until the last trimester when the foal will do the most growing.

After foaling remember that the mare is making milk and will drink at least three times more water.

At the time of foaling the mare may refuse her food and be agitated and uncomfortable. After her water breaks the foal should come out within 20 minutes. If the foal is not out this is an emergency. After the foal is out the foal should be up and nursing within three hours and the mare should have dropped the placenta. If either one of those does not happen it is an emergency.

As soon as the foal is up dip the umbilical cord with Nolvasan or Betadine solution to prevent infection. This should be done twice a day for the first three days of life. I also recommend giving the foal an enema to get them stimulated and nursing faster. As long as everything seems normal your new foal exam is done between 12 and 24 hours after birth. This is to pull blood from the foal and check that the foal got enough colostrum and also to examine the foal for any other problems.
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