Relying on milk testing.. when there's no milk to test??
Just reading the many foaling threads over the years, i've noticed a lot of people swear by milk testing/test strips as the Gold Standard indicator to help them determine foaling time/readiness.
But what about the mare who has nothing, no bag, and just some clear water coming out her teats right up til foaling..?
My first broodie followed the book for her first foal. Started getting jello-y, edema in her legs, a bit of a bag with clear, then amber-coloured fluid.. then suddenly one night came in dripping milk, i was called.. she ended up foaling 24 hours later.
With her second, mare showed no signs, had clear fluid at 10 pm the night before she foaled. BO walked into the barn at 7:30 am to find the colt up and trying to nurse, mare's milk only let down a couple of hours later (extra colostrum was obtained and given to him at about 5-6 hours old, just in case). Foal was born straighter, stronger and healthier than the first, go figure.
So, does the water-y liquid test?? How can you "test" if there's no milk until *right before* foaling??
I have a maiden this year who is at 305 days today - her croup is sunken in, she is lying down more and rubbing her butt against the stall walls and is generally grumpier than normal. But no bag. I am starting to think she might go early - like "320-330" early.. Best course of action??!
IME, yes the watery fluid tests. Most of the time the color and texture changes as would be expected, but I have had maidens with fluid that would not be expected to register much show significant numbers. One maiden had had nothing to test. One night she had enough to get a sample, but it was clear fluid. However, it tested 175 on Chemetrics. As it was still under 200, by the book the odds of her foaling within 24 hours were low. However, the fact that she had jumped quickly from nothing to test to 175 was IMO significant. I watched her on camera all night and she foaled the next morning about 8 am. By then her milk had turned amber and thick.
I check their udder daily from about 300 days onward. Once I can get a sample, I check the color, opacity and taste (salty means not close, bland means getting there). Once I see changes either in the milk, the mare's body or behavior, I test daily.