Anatomy / PedigreeFebruary 27th, 2020
It’s such an exciting time when a foal is born! To ensure the foal’s health, farms may take different steps to care for the newborn. The farm manager and staff work hard to ensure it is a smooth birth for the mare with thorough check-ups leading up to the delivery. Four weeks prior to the due date, the mother’s immunity is boosted by giving her prenatal vaccination to ensure that her colostrum is rich with antibodies to prevent disease in the foal. Great care and attention are paid to the mare during labor and delivery then care is provided to the foal.
Following the delivery, each farm goes through a few steps to ensure the foal and mare are healthy. The first step is when the umbilical cord breaks, it is dipped in iodine to sterilize it and prevent infection. A healthy foal should stand within an hour of delivery and nurse within a few hours. In the first 18-24 hours, the newborn foal will gain immunity from the colostrum, the first milk produced by the mare. Most farms will have a veterinarian do a post foaling exam of the newborn to make sure the baby is healthy and adequately bonded to facilitate nursing (i.e. good suckle and latching to the mare’s udder). The veterinarian will draw a blood sample to measure the level of absorbed antibody in the first 12-24 hours of life. Some farms may also give the foal hyper immune plasma like a neonatal booster to assist in building immunity.
Following these steps, the foal will be weighed, measured and cared for as the mare and baby bond. Below is a video from Chanteclair Farm going over their steps following the foals delivery from Season 1.