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Is it true.....?

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  • Is it true.....?

    Okay, so I've heard from different people that a mares first foal is always the smallest and "won't be as nice" as the second, third, etc. foals....is this true? Because I know a lot of people who have bred their maiden mares and the foals don't turn out any different than the ones coming from "old pros" and they grow up to be just as nice......
    "Success is the best revenge"

  • #2
    Nobody told my 'ol mare that... she was 15.2, sire was probably 15 hands... definitely smaller than her. Her first foal is at least 16.2... I quit measuring him... I wasn't wanting a huge horse! Love him anyway and I think he's lovely.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by GabellaFarms View Post
      Okay, so I've heard from different people that a mares first foal is always the smallest and "won't be as nice" as the second, third, etc. foals....is this true? Because I know a lot of people who have bred their maiden mares and the foals don't turn out any different than the ones coming from "old pros" and they grow up to be just as nice......
      Not necessarily. It is thought by some that a first foal is usually smaller, but there are plenty of first foals out there that say otherwise <smile>. But, with that said, it has been shown that the size of the uterus and therefore, the amount of surface that the placenta has to attach to can have an impact of the size of the foal at birth. I am trying to find out some specific information related to this with regards to TB embryos that were transferred into pony mares. The study just dealt with the foals up to about a week post foaling. I wanna know how big those foals ultimately were at maturity. Stay tuned for more information...hopefully!
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      • #4
        I read on article of research done on this, and it's not true. Sometimes they come out smaller because possibly the mare isn't stretched as much, but very quickly it all evens out. So, while a few might be smaller initially, in the end the grow uo the same as any other baby.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by M.K.Smith View Post
          Nobody told my 'ol mare that... she was 15.2, sire was probably 15 hands... definitely smaller than her. Her first foal is at least 16.2... I quit measuring him... I wasn't wanting a huge horse! Love him anyway and I think he's lovely.
          I had 3 mares at one time and the only whose foal wasn't the smallest for the lst one was my smallest mare. And I don't mean when it was born. He was pretty average then. At 2 he was 16.2 so I'm sure he's a bit bigger now. Madison is only 15.2. That particular stallion was 16.1. Her next 2 foals were by a 15.3 hand TB and both of them were over 16 hands. The first 3 were all colts.

          I would be interested in Kathy's study.

          I should also note, the mare above whom I describe is a first foal herself. I have seen 2 of her siblings and they are both over 16 hands, one being 16.2. So genetically I'm guessing my mare has it in her genes. But oddly enough they are some of the smaller TB's close up.

          Terri
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          • #6
            Definitely not true for several of my broodmares. With my one mare, her first foal ended up finishing as one of her tallest babies (stallions were all of comparable height).
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            • #7
              Definitely not true (sometimes as mentioned it can be smaller when born but catches up quickly). Both our warmblood mares at my work had their first foals larger than their seconds. All had the same warmblood sire. One of them the first foal ended up being 17 hands and her second only topped out at around 15 hands...same sire! LOL It's amazing what genes can pop up in each foal.

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              • #8
                *Sometimes* the first of a repeated cross is the smallest.
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                • #9
                  i have seen many first foals smaller than either of their parents and also than their subsequent maternal siblings.

                  as with so many aspects of sporthorse breeding it is very difficult to make a fully scientific study covering all (or even many) of the variables. this is mainly due to the samples sizes from which we have to try to draw conclusions. as compared with purebred angus cattle, with literally millions of measured samples to draw from, or even the thoroughbred breeding industry, our data is weak and our conclusions often anecdotal. we do the best we can with what we have.

                  i personally take very seriously what i have seen in first offspring being smaller, but i also give plenty of room for the idea that many first foals could also be normal size and some perhaps even above average.
                  Hidden Pearl Farm

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by VirginiaBred View Post
                    *Sometimes* the first of a repeated cross is the smallest.
                    I will get so find out myself this year While my mare's first filly wasn't huge, neither is she. Although judging from the pictures her new owner sent me she is a very good size for her age. My mare is due to foal her second foal in a couple months by the same sire. I am excited to see the difference.
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                    • #11
                      I never believed this to be true --- until my younger mares began to have their 2nd, 3rd, 4th foals. Almost without exception, the first foal from my maidens has remained the smallest of their produce. Of course, this is not statistically reliable. I'm just talking about 5-6 mares' produce.
                      However, the 2nd foal can be bigger than the 3rd etc.
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                      • #12
                        I recall an article, I believe from research on TB farms, that showed that the 4th foal was the most successful in terms of performance, not sure if size was included in that.
                        "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

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                        • #13
                          If my mare's first foal (a filly) is going to be her smallest, I'm in trouble, because she's already the biggest weanling we have out of 12 or so.

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                          • #14
                            I'm with dressurpferd on this... My mare Bardot (Florencio x Wanroij) had her first foal (by Sir Donnerhall) in 2010 and I sure hope that her future foals won't be any bigger than Flash Gordon, the one she had in 2010!!
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Equine Reproduction View Post
                              Not necessarily. It is thought by some that a first foal is usually smaller, but there are plenty of first foals out there that say otherwise <smile>. But, with that said, it has been shown that the size of the uterus and therefore, the amount of surface that the placenta has to attach to can have an impact of the size of the foal at birth.
                              First question, does the size of the uterus expand with each foal?
                              Second question, would the weight of the mare impact on the size of the growing foetus? In other words, a mare that is fat might have a smaller foal at birth than she might if she weren't so fat?

                              Ultimately genetics determine the finished size of the foal, but what about birth size?
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                              • #16
                                My first child was bigger at birth than my second child...both by the same *stud*

                                I cant see why it would be any different in regards to horses or humans
                                (a virgin uterine environment by any other name is still a virgin uterine environment)..but IDK for sure.

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                                • #17
                                  My first child was bigger than my second as well. But then first was a boy and second was a girl so that probably made a difference ;-)

                                  Anyways, as far as foals I have seen some smaller first foals out of smaller maiden mares but some have not been smaller. I currently have a 3yr old Sagnol filly who is 17HH and both her sire and dam (maiden) were 16.2HH. She was not patiucularly large at birth but really grew and I am not sure if she is done yet. However, grandsires on both sides are 17HH so thinking she may have thrown back to that.

                                  Another maiden I had both her first and second foal matured the same size. Sire of first foal was a couple inches bigger than sire of second foal but I do think size genetics go back a couple of generations rather than always just looking at sire/dam's size.

                                  Another maiden TB mare I had, her first foal matured 16.2HH (same size as her) and her next two foals matured 17-17.1HH.
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                                  • #18
                                    I am not seeing that. If, so with my one mare, I am in trouble as her 1st born appears to be on track to match her at 17.1
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                                    • #19
                                      so I've heard from different people that a mares first foal is always the smallest and "won't be as nice" as the second, third, etc. foals....is this true?
                                      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12562940
                                      http://www.reproduction-online.org/c.../full/127/1/67
                                      Originally posted by Gayle in Oregon

                                      The studies conclude that the uterus can affect the foal's size for up to 3 years for some aspects.
                                      Just some other suggestions why these statements are made. The mare's milk may not be as good in her first year. Also it is possible the mare becomes a better mother in subsequent years, physically and care wise.
                                      Plus, as the mare has more foals the breeder gets a better idea of what the mare needs for a stallion. So I would think, in many cases, the choice of stallion for the 4th foal would be a more educated choice than the first one.

                                      P.S. Humans and horses do not have the same mechanisms for fetal development.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by sportnhorse View Post
                                        First question, does the size of the uterus expand with each foal?
                                        Yes...to a certain extent. Additionally, remember that it's the total surface of the uterus that the placenta attaches to. So, if you have an older mare that has a less than stellar uterus - think II b biopsy scores, for example - there is less healthy endometrium for the placenta to attach to. So, ever wonder why some old mares seem to throw foals that are a bit wonky in the legs? It's a theory, but I think one that bears thinking about. The question is if those foals unfold and grow to normal height and stature.

                                        Second question, would the weight of the mare impact on the size of the growing foetus? In other words, a mare that is fat might have a smaller foal at birth than she might if she weren't so fat?
                                        Don't know about that. I don't know of any research on that particular aspect of reproduction. Obviously, a good healthy weight and diet are going to have the best outcome for a foal so one should strive for that, regardless.

                                        Ultimately genetics determine the finished size of the foal, but what about birth size?
                                        It is well known in the cattle business that there are bulls that produce low birth weight calves that grow to a "normal" size. In the equine business we just don't breed that way. We make heroic efforts to reproduce animals that while they may be magnificent athletic specimens, may very well be poor reproductive prospects. We just consider them "problem" breeders <sigh>.

                                        Years ago, we bred a maiden mare with a normal sized stallion at a breeding facility I was managing. Mare went into labor and things progressed as one would hope...and then stopped. Totally. No further progress...two front feet and that was it. Waited. Nothing. Oxytocin. Nothing. Literally, no further contractions. Uterine inertia. It took three of us to get that foal out. Large but not excessive. The mare just quit pushing. Huh. Ah well...bred her again figuring it was just a nervous mare and things just didn't play out the way we would have liked. Nope. Following year, we ended up cutting that foal out of her. She was culled from the breeding herd. Shame as she was a lovely mare, but I think that we really do need to take a page from the cattle industry and make a few more decisions based on reproductive efficiency and not entirely on athletic ability. But that "is" my opinion and that and a dollar "might" get you a cup of coffee!
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