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Underweight rescue due to foal in 2 weeks!!!

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  • Underweight rescue due to foal in 2 weeks!!!

    Hey, looking for advice. Have picked up a tb mare who is currently in foal. Expected to foal down in 2 weeks time(based on date of service to stallion at stud). She was taken off her previous owners for mistreatment and has been rehomed to me.
    She is a rack. Huge belly and no top line. She's 14 years old. Had 5 prior foals. Unknown if she's been vaccinated or wormed during this pregnancy and the people who confiscated her were reluctant to smdo it due to her advanced stage of pregnancy.

    I've sent my vet an email but she's away till Friday and I'm reluctant to use one of the small animal vets at the clinic in such a sensitive case(we only have 1 big animal/equine vet).

    Advice? Ideas for how to put weight on her? Is her condition likely to give her issues during foaling?

  • #2
    I am no expert in pregnant mares, but what I do know is that you don't want to suddenly throw a lot of grain/feed on an emaciated horse - it has to be done gradually, over several weeks.

    That said, lots of really good quality hay would be a start. I'm not aware if alfalfa is contra-indicated in pregnant mares or not, but it is a good addition to grass hay in whatever form is available in your area (cubes, pellets, compressed bales, etc. - fed in very small quantities to start with, multiple times a day, gradually increasing). Pasture if that is available as well.

    You're not going to be able to plump her up overnight. It will take time. She's going to need a lot more calories to produce milk to nurse that baby. I'm sure many on here can tell you the best feed regiment to ramp up her intake and calorie content over the coming weeks. There are special feeds for pregnant/lactating mares - but I'm unsure if they have enough fat in them so she will gain weight. Usually people are worried about pregnant/lactating mares getting too fat, which obviously isn't the problem here.

    I'd expect a starved mare to potentially have an underweight or weak foal. Her body condition may keep her from having adequate milk for the foal. Best to prepare in advance for all contingencies (like a milk replacer). I guess the good news is that she isn't a maiden and has had 5 foals already. So she's done this before.

    I'd contact your vet again via email to see about worming. You can always take a fecal sample to your clinic (if they offer that service) to test for worms. If there is a low count, then that's one less thing to worry about right now. If the count is high, then go with whatever the vet says to do. I know there are certain wormers that are approved for pregnant mares - so make sure you use one of them.

    I wish you luck with her and her foal to be.
    ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


    • #3
      I bought a mare like this years ago - BCS about 2 at time of foaling. There is very little you can do to put weight on this horse now, other than just have hay available 24/7. It also possible that the mare may foal late because of her condition (or any other reason) - my mare foaled at 366 days and had a huge, healthy colt! (Also an experienced broodmare).

      After foaling it is possible to add weight but it is a ton of calories - definitely talk to your vet about appropriate feed but be prepared to have lots of hay. I also added alfalfa hay 2x day and hay stretcher but there may be better choices. It's hard to get them to eat enough calories in hay alone.

      Agree with the post above - get organized in case you need vet assistance after foaling. And definitely use an experienced equine vet for discussions about deworming and vaccination.
      Last edited by S1969; Oct. 9, 2019, 11:53 AM.


      • #4
        Is there a reputable breeding farm anywhere near you? If so, I would call them for advice.


        • #5
          Without knowing her BCS it's not possible to give real direction for feeding. Big belly and no topline describes a lot of late-term mares in otherwise good weight

          "She's a rack" is too subjective. How visible are her ribs? Spine? Better yet, do you have a picture?

          If she's really thin enough to warrant caution, I would start with the UC Davis re-feeding protocol

          You can't just start throwing grain at her, no matter how good quality it is, if she's less than a BCS 3 or so.

          If "due in 2 weeks" is just based on " Day 340 is in 2 weeks", then you can't count on that. Hopefully you have more time than that, in order to get more weight on the mare before she starts using huge amounts of calories to produce milk.
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


          • #6
            Add ration balancer.


            • #7
              Originally posted by babecakes View Post
              Add ration balancer.
              Not if she's a BCS 2 and has been there long enough. The risk of re-feeding syndrome - killing with kindness - is real.
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


              • #8
                Are you sure about the service dates? Is the sire also a TB?
                McDowell Racing Stables

                Home Away From Home


                • #9
                  You want an alfalfa based diet. Starvation causes the body to break down muscle as an energy source. So you want to start with small frequent alfalfa hay meals to treat the protein deficiency. No grain of any kind because that increases the risk of refeeding Syndrome. Refeeding syndrome can kill both mare and foal so do not start with unlimited hay. Small meals slowly increased.


                  Don't forget to treat for ulcers as well. A starved horse is pretty much guaranteed to have a stomach full of ulcers.


                  • #10
                    As mentioned, alfalfa is recommended for recovering starved horses. Based on cover date, the mare can foal anywhere from 320 days to over 400, so who knows, you may have more time than you think. I would give her pre-foaling vaccinations asap, and hope she waits a little longer than two weeks to foal. Foals are born with no basic immunity of their own, so mares are vaccinated 30 days from the best guess of a due date, usually 30 days out from 340 days, to give a foal immunity to various diseases through colostrum. If she foals shortly, I would suggest that you try to find supplementary colostrum or use plasma. If you have no worming history on her, I would worm her with a mild wormer now and again within 24 hours after foaling. You don't want to risk her colicking on a big worm die off, so mild is the key here. Good luck, and thank you for helping her.
                    Mystic Owl Sporthorses


                    • #11
                      Do a fecal before deworming. Using a "mild wormer" might not kill anything, or very little, and she might not even need to be dewormed now, instead being able to wait until after she foals, at which time using Equimax would be a good idea for many reasons.

                      There really is no "mild" dewormer. They either work well, or they don't. Even the ones with high and widespread resistance (fenbendazole, pyrantel pamoate) have the potential to be very effective on a given horse's worm load. Pyrantel is very effective on my farm, thankfully. Fenbendazole doesn't do squat, which is typical.

                      If you do have a high worm load and need to be concerned about a large die-off (toxins, impaction), then start with fenbendazole (Safeguard, Panacur), then re-fecal in 10 days to see where you are. If you've got very little reduction, use pyrantel pamoate (Strongid, Equell) and repeat the fecal in another 10 days. If you've still got less than at least 80% reduction, then all you have left is Equimax. Quest is out of the question for a thin horse.
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                      • Original Poster

                        Hey, thanks for all the advice.
                        She currently in my round yard(didn't want to chuck her straight onto my lush spring grass), and getting ad lib hay and water with electrolytes. Have already dropped a fecal egg count to my vets and taken bloods to send off to test for selenium etc etc.

                        Now just waiting to speak to my vet tomorrow.
                        Unfortunately most of my mares a big fat warmbloods so my hard feeds are more fibre and less fat which probably isn't ideal in this situation.

                        Re her due date, yes I'm pretty sure about the 2 week deadline, have confirmed with the stud that served her that she was served only once and it was 331 days ago, have also spoken to her old vets and based on their records, all her other pregnancies have been 340-350 days in duration.


                        • #13
                          Well, to get some fat in her, you could always drizzle some oil over her hay. Canola oil doesn't have much smell/flavor to it and most horses tolerate it well. Just start with 1/4 cup or so per pile of hay to see if she objects. 1 measuring cup (237mL) is approximately 2,000 calories. I use it in winter for my 28yr old to bump up his caloric consumption without adding more bulk in his feed bucket.
                          ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


                          • Original Poster

                            Here's some photos of her condition, including her terrible feet. Apologies if these upset anyone.
                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              Oh dear. She is thin. Poor thing. Glad she has someone to watch over her now.

                              How soon will your vet be able to come see her?
                              ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


                              • #16
                                Is there not another vet covering for your vet? If not, if I were you, I’d want to find another vet to use as least as back up to not have uncovered periods of time when your vet is unavailable, especially with a foal on the way.

                                In the meantime could you try and contact a larger vet hospital or university and see if you can at least talk to one of their vets on the phone for suggestions?


                                • #17
                                  Aww poor girl Pictures can be deceiving, but just from this one side view she doesn't look bad enough to warrant being super careful about re-feeding syndrome. I wouldn't just throw grain at her, I'd still be careful, and I know you're currently feeding just hay so that's good. You just may not have to go as slow with that as the seriously thin horse. Introduction to the Spring grass will be the bigger issue most likely - that's going to have to go pretty slowly
                                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                                  • #18
                                    Poor mare, thank you for giving her and her soon-to-be foal a safe place.
                                    I had a starved, emaciated mare come to me, and it turned out (I found later) she was also in foal. Luckily, she was in early stage of pregnancy when she arrived. She was 18 and had had numerous foals.
                                    I had the vet out to check her and other than her emaciated condition she was in good health.
                                    To avoid refeeding syndrome, I fed her small amounts about 8 xs daily. A combination of 1st cut and 2nd cut alfalfa hay, and then gradually a small mush of soaked fat and fibre. Luckily she did not have a huge worm infestation, and I wormed her with Panacur.
                                    By the time she was checked in foal, I was able to increase her intake without worrying about causing damage.

                                    Very best of luck with your new mare. Thank you again. Please keep us posted on how she does. Fingers crossed.
                                    A Fine Romance. April 1991 - June 2016. Loved forever.


                                    • #19
                                      Thank you for taking this girl on. Please keep us updated.


                                      • #20
                                        Will add that if her parasite load is heavy, the foal will potentially burdened as well. Careful monitoring of fecals are in order. I would not rush to get her out in the herd. A good long Q is in order.
                                        Last edited by hoopoe; Oct. 26, 2019, 09:18 PM.
                                        -- * > hoopoe
                                        Procrastinate NOW
                                        Introverted Since 1957