I'm not sure if many of you frequent the racing forum, but if not, I have posted there about two incidents we have had this breeding season. We had four mares due to foal this year, of which two have foaled thus far. The outcomes of those two foalings are as follows:
Mare 1: carrying her first foal. Mare ruptured uterine artery and bled out delivering her filly. Filly did survive but due to her large size, has rotated vertebrae in her neck and while she should live a comfortable life, is not expected to ever recover fully and will never be a racehorse. Her rotated vertebrae is attributed, per the vet's asserion, entirely to the foal's large size (she was in the 140-150lb range; her mother was a stout 15.1)
Mare 2: Carrying her second foal (first with no complications);foaled a stillborn colt who was over 200lbs. Mare is understandably in rough shape but expected to recover.
Now the common theme here is the foals were extremely large. I don't know if this is coincidence or not. The level of care these mares receive is very high and very experienced (they are boarded at a farm specializing in breeding/foaling/raising foals). However, I will say it is very "old-school" as well, which isn't necessarily a BAD thing but just thought I'd mention it. So I guess I'm kind of wondering..can this be avoided? Is it just a coincidence? How much pre-birth "work (i.e., ultrasounding, palpation, etc) is done on your mares? Was this something preventable?
I guess I'm a little worried about the other 2. Mare 3 is carrying her 3rd foal (first two were born fine, no size issues) and Mare 4 is carrying her 8th. Would you do anything different? Keep in mind this farm foals out well over 30 mares a year..but at best, we personally are going to be at 50% this year.
If the mares are foaling in the average range of "due dates" then there is probably not anything to be done. If fescue is a problem, and it were to cause a prolonged gestation, then you sometimes have foals that do grow to be very large, b/c they are carried so much longer than normal. However, that doesn't sound like the problem here.
FWIW I don't consider a 140-150 lb foal to be abnormally large, when talking about TBs or WBs. A ruptured uterine artery is something that can happen regardless of foal size, and I've also seen the vertebral problems you describe in smaller foals, too.
Sadly, I don't think the two cases are probably related, nor is there/would there have been anything you could have done to prevent them.
WOW!! I lost all foals for 5 years until I treated them for fescue posoning ( ABC PLUS has something economical for that) and I always watch their weight and have them palpated a month before delivery. Large foals sound like over feeding but you know the people caring for them.
Yes. They were. Or else Mare 2 probably would have died.
To answer Red Oaks' question: Mare 1 was bred to a horse who certainly has nice-sized foals, but he's something like 16 and I've heard nothing about other issues concerning him that way. And nice-sized, in the STB industry..generally 15.3-16.2. Mare 2's foal was by a son of Mare 1's mating and while he is younger (i believe his oldest are yearlings this year) he's about 15.3 himself so not extraordinarily big.
Your chances of having something happen during/after foaling increase directly with the number of years you've been doing it and the number of mares you foal out every year. Barring any illnesses or other bad circumstances, it is strictly a numbers game, something I have certainly learned over the years.
Your next two mares will foal out just fine.
Siegi Belz www.stalleuropa.com
2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.