I'm getting my straw this week, stall is ready. Still need to put together a basic "birth" kit.
but what should I be seeing, when, in what order?
She's not bagging up yet so I'm hoping she'll at least wait a couple of days as it's supposed to go into the 20's again at night.
This will be her 5th foal and has a history of straight forward births. Good mom, nurses fine. This is her first foal with me - she needs to hold MY hand!
Weather permitting I'll be on the Aero Bed in the trailer on foal watch. SO still dithering on cameras, I don't expect it to happen in time.
Last edited by aiken4horses; Apr. 9, 2008 at 10:55 AM.
Do you have her foaling history? That can be helpful, because I find that my mares tend to approximate gestational lengths. Since I can't be counted on to remember much, at least a year later, I keep notes of the signs and length.
Pretty much all mares will soften in the hind end. The vulva will elongate, and the tail will relax. Close to foaling, it won't have much tone if you pick it up. Mares start pressing their butt into walls, and rubbing. The bag gets big, sometimes hard, and when the mare is quite close the teats will fill to the end. Many mares will wax just prior to foaling, and that looks like beads of honey on the end of the teat. (I had a mare wax and drip for a full two weeks, so don't count on a short interval from waxing to foaling.) Sometimes they will drip milk. I find that very close, their manure is sloppy and there is lots of it. Just before foaling, the mare will be very restless. Sometimes they won't eat. Sometimes they never miss a beat. But sometimes, the mare will give you an inscrutable look, never get much of a bag, not wax, not look uncomfortable, not do any of the above, and foal anyway. And remember, there is no due date, just a range, from 320 to 370.
I had really good luck with the mare foaling predictor kits that test the mare's milk. My two mares last year (mother and daughter) exhibited very different signs. Piper was maiden and was 3 weeks late. Her mom was two days early. Neither really bagged up very big, but Piper loved to rest her butt on the stall wall for the last 2 weeks or so. Look for the transverse shift. They go from being pretty wide to not that wide. This usually means the foal is moving into position and foaling is not too far away. Dax pawed throughout the day, did not eat her hay (she chowed her grain), and started doing 'yoga' stretches like a cat and then would curl her neck up and bob it. At 7:40 a plume of steam came off her body and Paloma was out by 7:48 (all PM) and then Dax decided to eat her hay. Piper did not really show those signs but broke her sweet at 12:45 and broke water at 1:10. I noticed a bulge at her rectum when she was pushing so in between contractions, a scrubbed my hands and cut the placenta to feel what was happening. Again, wait for in between contractions!. Fiato's feet were pointing up rather than out, so I re-positioned him, and then everything was fine. In both instances, the test kits worked within 12 hours of prediction which really cut down on my nights for foal watch.
Thanks. Those are all the signs I'd heard/read to look for. None of which Star is exhibiting yet. Every time I start checking her, she gives me "that" look -"What do you think you're looking at?".
We're at 327 days, she doesn't have a history of foaling early and absolutely nothing about her physically or mentally is different. She screams at the house as soon as she sees the bedroom light go on in the morning, breakfast is NEVER early enough for her! She is definitely the Diva of the farm.
My vet is on "aware". Stopped by the office yesterday to make sure I had everything on hand I should have - Tranquilizers, Tums, aspirin, coffee - oh, wait, that's all for me!!!!!
I was a first time breeder last year as well; my mare also was NOT a maiden. I fretted and worried and read books and she ended up giving birth in the pasture while we were eating dinner! I hadn't even removed her pasture mate, my 2 yr old gelding yet! (he was looking rather stunned but stood at a safe distance from her) We looked up from dinner and voila! There was a baby on the ground, simple as that. She sure didn't need any help from us.
I hope it goes as smoothly for your mare.
But, for sure keep in mind they will definitely do what they want or need to do! We rushed both of our mares to the foaling clinic almost two weeks ago - due 3/3 and 3/8. One maiden and one not. Both had almost completely bagged up, tails could easily flip up to their neck (), long, long vulvas, loose muscles, the works.....every single sign except full waxing. NEITHER one has foaled yet!! With the weather fluctuations here in NC our vet believes they have stopped the process waiting for the weather to settle. All the while these mares are living the life of luxury at the "spa". They've had fun playing games with the vet by laying down at different times every night setting off their monitors! I may as well have kept them both home cause I'm up most of the night checking the webcam constantly!!
I just wanted some clarification from RTBSH, you said you "cut the placenta"?? Did you possibly mean you cut the sac/bag? I would just hate to have someone who had never foaled before get confused and do something they should not do. Or it may be that after 18 foals I am missing something since I let the placenta break on its own? Again, just wondered if I took your post wrong. There is nothing wrong about repositioning a foal-actually it is great if you are there to do it, just wondered about the "cut the placenta" part of it. (I realize that technically it is all one and the same, but to me it is the actual terminology of the "parts" of the placenta-foal in the sac attached to the placenta that comes out later and it actually attached to the navel). Sorry, guess I am too literal!
Eating comes and goes depending how the foal is positioned. And not much room! for food all at once. Small meals all day long. Sometimes the mare can't eat and then stands very uncomfortably until the foal shifts a bit. She won't eat that much right now but will eat voraciously after foaling.
Sweating and pacing will be your first clue. Good luck I hope that you get to be there!
The truth is what you can get other people to believe.
I completely agree with Grandma Pony.....one of our mares was nibbling hay as she gave birth! Appetite is a good sign but not always completely significant. We begin feeding our mares 3 small meals a day at 8 months and then go to 4 smaller meals a day at 10 months. Free choice hay always.
As with human females, they are all different. One of my mares has gone as early as 320 and had a perfectly healthy filly right there in the field (middle of the night). This was one week earlier than she had ever gone but it was hotter than He** that May and she I guess had had enough!
Not all mares push their butts against the wall, roll or the "typical" signs. I have one who just starts to sweat and stands pretty still. She drops down once, rolls a bit, Stands, Waits a few minutes, Drops again and she is pushing!
If she is a veteran mare, she knows what to do. If she does develop a bag, which she should, then "normally" they also wax up, some may even start dripping milk.
I have had mares foal inside and out, during warm evenings and during terrible thunderstorms (inside and outside). All of the foals have been fine.
When I do catch them foaling I break open the bag as soon as baby is nearly fully out. I try to keep the mare down and quiet. I let the placenta be dispelled by itself. As the mares starts to move and lick her foal I tie up the dispelling placenta with bailing twine so she does not step on it and tear it. I dry foal off and let the "break" of the cord happen naturally, it usually happens when foal tries to stand.
We stay with mare and foal until foal is standing and nursing. We always help foal to nurse off mommy, some get it quicker than others. I also have someone with me to hold the mare as we are maneuvering the foal to mommy's bag.
After that we leave them alone and I sneak back often to check. We put the placenta in a large bucket and in a safe place (empty stall) for vet to check the next day when she comes out to do IGG, first shots and general check.
I think she's just so fat, uncomfortable and ready for it to come out.
She's eating smaller meals, actually coming up for air between bites.
We've set up her 14' X 16' pasture shelter, added 1/2 wall in front and stall gate and I've put some shavings in to mix with the run-in base. Just got to put the very precious straw in - got the last few bales available in the area! What's up with a straw shortage?????
My husband caught a mare in progress birthing @ 7 p.m. in the evening. T.G. he was out working in the garden next to the barn and heard her hit the wall when she went down. NO sweat, no signs, he had just checked on her and she was standing there eating her dinner! (10 days earlier than her previous foal -- and VERY full term I should add! just so you know that early is not always bad). We had planned on stripping the stall and laying a little straw that coming weekend. So there he was catching the foal and he had grabbed an empty feed sack to shove up underneath it. He's standing over the foal, keeping the mare down to rest, he calls me on his cell phone and yells "We have a hole here!!" I thinking damn, the dogs don't dig - what kind of hole could it be?? He's really upset! Then he yells "NOT a HOLE - A FOAL!" (cell phone connections and I was driving in traffic).
Moral of the story -- maybe set aside a couple of feed sacks or a tarp, just in case, to save having to use the straw until you absolutely need it. If you don't have time to spread the straw, you'll have something handy besides your shirt (then we'll all want pictures of that).
Anyhow - I couldn't resist the story. We still chuckle.
You're a week away, give or take a few days. Good luck and let us know what happens!
Last edited by pony grandma; Mar. 8, 2008 at 04:25 PM.
Reason: add the eating part to no signs
The truth is what you can get other people to believe.
Still waiting. Nothing much happening, no "signs". She'll give me signs right? I mean I'm not totally clueless but I'd like to have a little warning? Time to put on a pot of coffee, get the camera, etc.
My mare gave us signs for weeks! Forever kicking at her belly, biting at her belly, rolling etc. She tested in the imminent range with chemetrics for 6 days! 4:30am she had been standing munching hay quietly for almost and hour, took a half turn around the stall, laid down and then there were FEET. So no, you can't count on anything.
She may not give you signs in time for any preparations. Once I had just bathed a mare because it was a hot July evening and she was a bit sweaty, as were all the horses. I don't know whether that was supposed be a sign or not given the weather. It certainly wasn't like when you give a lutalyse shot or anything. After bathing she started pawing the ground as we walked to the barn. That was the first time she had ever pawed. I yelled for DH, put her in the foaling stall, and 10 minutes later we had a colt. She had foaled several times and was supposedly pretty classic in her "signs." Yeah, right. However I applaud her for good timing, 9 pm on a summer night with humans by her side.