We 'adopted' a mare from a 'rescue' this spring. She foaled a cute little colt May 14th, all went fabulously well. Her previous owners said no issues with a previous foaling.
She is a great mom. At first, we noticed that one side of her udder had a 'monster teat'. It was huge, but baby still nursed without issues and the vet said, leave it be as long as its not causing issues. Eventually it lost it's huge size.
Now, I check bags everyday, morning and night. This morning I noticed her bag was a bit small. Tonight, the one side (formerly monster teat) is dry. Bone dry. Floopy and soft like she was not in foal/nursing. The other side is alarmingly small, but 'developped' in the sense that mammary glands can be felt.
I put a call into a few friends. And lo and behold, a friend of mine who had contact with this mare's foal a couple years ago said that the mare had dried up that year, the owner's didn't notice until the filly was a bone rack.
Can I do anything to prevent it? For the foal? He's still fat, happy and going to nurse. I did notice the past couple of days he is spending a lot of time at the water buckets. He's eating her grain/hay/grass. I will be calling my vet clinic as soon as they open in the morning. I wanted to check in here first, see if there are any helpful hints I can bounce off the vet.
Could you get the vet to give her the same drugs they use to bring mares into lactation? Wonder if that would kick start things. If not you definately need to get supplementing, maybe a bucket of milk (igloo) or? But something will need to be done for the foal..
If he's already a month old you can start giving him milk pellets or a foal feed to supplement him. Offering him some milk replacer in a bucket is another option, but I get a lot of diarrhea/constipation with milk replacer, so I try to avoid it if possible and if he is eating solids well already there really isnt much need.
Domperidone or Reserpine MAY make the mare produce more milk, but I've only had mixed sucess with that (and it was in mares that didnt have much from the get go).
This is a difficult one because hearty foals will keep the milk bag depleted. When you check her make sure it's not right after the foal has nursed. Also, I think the foal is a better indication of milk production. If he looks satisfied after nursing all is probably good. If he looks frustrated and keeps trying to nurse then you may have problems.
All of my foals have eaten mares grain/hay/water since a couple of days after birth so that's not a problem. If the mare is drying up I would just add some milk pellets make sure the diet has plenty of good nutrition for foals (protein, etc). The foal is a month old so it won't be a huge problem.
If the foal is not getting enough you will know very quickly. It will dehydrate and crash if not getting enough milk at this age. Watch it like a hawk, but I suspect that it is keeping the udder depleted and all will be fine.
it's not the edge of the earth, but you can see it from here
Do NOT let him get too much water either.
That will give him scours and dehydrate him very, very quickly. Playing in it is fine/normal. Even a sip or two, but "drinking" is NOT normal and the bucket needs to be out of reach.
Is she getting a really good, high protein lactation diet? Lots of good fat? (either flax, rice bran, BOSS, or oil, etc.)
Some foals keep the mare pretty dry, as said above.
Some mares need a LOT of help to keep up with the demand of a big, hearty foal--especially if her nutrition was not the best during pregnancy. (rescue?)
I always, always used CalfManna or the Blue Seal version, Sunshine Pellets. Up to 2-3lbs a day (depending on mare size/condition) during late pg and lactation. I still highly recommend it for any mare who doesn't have a soy issue.
We (the vet and I) are working on a solution for them. Right now he seems satisfied, but we know for sure one side of her udder has dried up. We seperated them for an hour (hand grazed the mare on the other side of the fencline and left the baby with his buddies, the mare thought she was in heaven!) and one side of her bag did not fill up at all. The other side had a small amount of filling.
This sounds a lot like one mare I had that had a defective udder. One side had no openings for the milk and the other had a leaky sphincter. So the blind side was hugely enlarged for a while after the mare foaled and later went flabby when her body seemed to understand that it could not empty. The other side never filled, because it had a constant drip. We supplemented the foal with milk replacer and it figured out that it could get some milk from the side that never seemed full. I fed the foal until it was 3 months old and on a decent amount of milk pellets. She grew up to be fine. I retired the mare from motherhood and she went on to be a wonderful dressage horse.
Foals do not get scours from water. In the heat they NEED water. By a month old, they should be eating some grass/hay and drinking from a bucket. I do not creep feed my foals but I do not stop them from sampling grain either. They simply don't get much by the time the mare has finished.