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debating about pasture foaling

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  • debating about pasture foaling

    I have never had a pasture foaling (except one mare which I screwed up the dates on) but I am debating if I should consider pasture foaling this year v stall foaling. I have 'finally' had two foaling stalls built on one half the soon to be barn, but they are still pretty 'open'.. so not my nice cozy beautiful stalls.. just stall in the most basic sense. Its still a construction site. The pasture is huge and lush, 4-strand hot rope fencing the exterior, but we are still cleaning up the home-made 'arena' built with small trees/wires/t-posts/4x4s smack in the middle (note: if I ever write on this board about getting another fixer-upper give me the coth smack-down, this is wayyyy harder than I thought it would be). So pasture is also pretty wet and soppy right now and Im not sure when things dry out around here (it rains in Washington-- a lot more than I thought!) but the stalls seem damp too, even with mats. I have about 3 weeks to go before the first foal, then the end of May for the other two. I may just be getting the pre-foaling hysterics because neither my vet nor farrier seem to think mares need all that much and that they are all just fine and healthy. So . if I went with pasture.. what do I need for the mare? Or am I just better off laying down a heavy layer of straw in the stall? Or am I making this more complicated than it needs to be? What are the 'basics' needed in a foaling situation, beside the obvious 'kit' and such? Thanks in advance for input and advice.
    www.windhorsefrm.org and on Facebook too!
    Where mares rule and Basset Hounds drool!

  • #2
    It's natural for horses to foal outside. The only thing I would be concerned about is if it rains as much as it does here (BC, your northern neighbour), and if there are huge puddles, I would make sure I was present. A mare I bred in Alberta had her foal when everyone had apparently fallen asleep and it being her first, I spose she would rather drop it in a cold puddle instead of in the prepared walkin shelter with bedding in it. They found the filly just in time and saved her. She was extremely cold and was just laying there in the water. It is colder there of course than it is here. My own mare foaled in an open paddock the last time and it was great. I was there but I didn't have to worry about her or the foal getting stuck in a corner. It's so nice to have the room to stretch out when they lay down. I don't know about you, but it's very very wet here this year. I'm so sick of it!!
    Dark Horse Farm

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    • #3
      Pasture foaling is great, IF everything goes well. It is the times when things go wrong when they can go REALLY wrong in a hurry. Since most mares foal at night, in the rain or snow, if things go wrong, you have the darkness and cold to contend with and possibly a mare who thinks you are an alien, not her "person" with a flashlight. And it can snowball from there.

      I've always thought the best "foaling place" would be a smallish, but not too small, paddock, with lush grass and floodlights and a nice shed in the corner with a well stocked "vet" cabinet, hot water and heat. And it would never be used for anything but foaling. Someday..............
      Patty
      www.rivervalefarm.com
      Follow us on facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/River...ref=ts&fref=ts

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      • #4
        The only "issues" with foaling outside are that it is harder if you have to intervene. Foaling usually occurs at night and out in a pasture if a vet needed to work with the mare it could be very hard. Also I had a mare that foaled out in the muck, was a WET spring and I had asked the barn help (a barn I managed) to please keep her in that day, as she was very "immenent" and I had to take students to a show. They did not, and she foaled outside. The foal struggled and could not get up in the mud and nsically suffcated.
        www.shawneeacres.net

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        • #5
          I have a large grass paddock (28x160) which is right next to the house's bedroom. We have spotlights that are portable and can light up the pasture. Leave the window open at night, wait for the splash. spend a few hours for baby and placenta and then back to sleep. Much more room than a normal foaling stall and much easier on foal watch. It has worked out exceptionally well for us.
          Cindy Bergmann
          Canterbury Court
          559-903-4814
          www.canterbury-court.com

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thank you for sharing those experiences. Ive been told when the rain stops it dries up fairly quickly Maybe Ill try to divide the one pasture nearest the house to create a paddock area. That way I can set up lights. One of the mares likes to come in and will wait for me, but the other two are more herd orientated. The mud does scare me though.. Ill pull them in if its not dried up. Thanks again
            www.windhorsefrm.org and on Facebook too!
            Where mares rule and Basset Hounds drool!

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            • #7
              I lived in western Washington (just south of Tacoma) and western Oregon for years. At that time I bred mostly for late April through early June foals. Usually by the first of May things were drying out pretty well and my mares foaled outside almost exclusively. I did fence about a half acre near the house so that I could light it up and it wasn't far to the barn (when I had one). Only had one foal that had any problems and it had been dry and nice for about 10 days, forecast for possible light showers...mom foaled about 3a and it was pouring down cold cold rain....got everyone inside and dried and an old sweatshirt on the foal (don't ask!) and all did well. Didn't rain again until about the end of June of course.
              Colored Cowhorse Ranch
              www.coloredcowhorseranch.com
              Northern NV

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by coloredcowhorse View Post
                I lived in western Washington (just south of Tacoma) and western Oregon for years. At that time I bred mostly for late April through early June foals. Usually by the first of May things were drying out pretty well and my mares foaled outside almost exclusively. I did fence about a half acre near the house so that I could light it up and it wasn't far to the barn (when I had one). Only had one foal that had any problems and it had been dry and nice for about 10 days, forecast for possible light showers...mom foaled about 3a and it was pouring down cold cold rain....got everyone inside and dried and an old sweatshirt on the foal (don't ask!) and all did well. Didn't rain again until about the end of June of course.
                Funny how you are in Nevada now.. the folks that were in this place before me moved to Arizona.. Im beginning to think the SW looks better and better after all this rain.
                Did you let the mares foal out on grass or did you lay straw down in any area? Knowing mares they prob. wont use the straw but just curious is you did anything to the ground?
                www.windhorsefrm.org and on Facebook too!
                Where mares rule and Basset Hounds drool!

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                • #9
                  Being in Australia the normal thing is foaling outside, I also have a lovely foaling stall but my vet and many others assured me it was safer for my mare to be outside when she foaled. I think that is probably a controversial statement to make, but there you go.
                  So we built a foaling yard, about .5 of an acre of nice green grass fenced with diamond mesh with a shelter shed and spotlights, close to the barn and also opening up to a further three acres of lush grass for when the foal was older.
                  Of course, murphy's law, my mare foaled during a night of not heavy rain but constant drizzle, and I was fortunate to be able to get mum and bubs once he was up and walking straight into the nice warm stable instead.

                  I think you can make it safe, my yard is close enough to the house that I can sleep in my own bed and have the alarm in the room with me. And if you have access to power then buying a couple of spotlights and putting them either side of the yard works well for giving you light.

                  You just have to hope your mare cooperates!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wehrlegirl View Post
                    Funny how you are in Nevada now.. the folks that were in this place before me moved to Arizona.. Im beginning to think the SW looks better and better after all this rain.
                    Did you let the mares foal out on grass or did you lay straw down in any area? Knowing mares they prob. wont use the straw but just curious is you did anything to the ground?
                    Hahahahaa...my mom lives near Phoenix and insists that sooner or later I'll be down there too. I told her I like the warmer and drier (mostly the drier..not so much into heat) but lack the lizard gene for basking in the sun in 100 plus degree days. I do miss the green though. Really miss it sometimes.

                    Mine usually foaled on the grass which was fine. I have put down straw and had them ignore it. Or eat it. Straw is expensive here and I had bought a really nicely bred mare in foal to a son of the then top cutting producing stallion and out of a hall of fame producing mare....so gave her my round pen and bought 6 bales of straw and bedded one whole side of it for her. Spent most of a night out there with her and went to the house for a bathroom break....back out and sure enough she'd foaled on the dirt half. And turned into the wicked witch of the west...charged across the pen with teeth and feet and every intention of causing damage...kept me out of the pen for two weeks while she ate all the straw in preference over the good alfalfa hay. Some mares are a PITA.
                    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                    www.coloredcowhorseranch.com
                    Northern NV

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      While we believe in pasture foaling 100% if the weather is right, I would be very concerned about foaling in a pasture with electric fence.
                      Fox Haven Farm, Inc.
                      Home of 2002 JC Registered stallion Artrageous

                      Artrageous has his own Facebook page!

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by foxhavenfarm View Post
                        While we believe in pasture foaling 100% if the weather is right, I would be very concerned about foaling in a pasture with electric fence.
                        Good point.. like I was saying this is a fixer upper, I may take down the tree branches and t-posts and leave the 4x4's, then put in cross boards to make a more legitimate arena/paddock. there is no grass, but if Ive got three weeks I could seed it. Or put up livestock panels to divide it on half.. (Im telling you all this is looking more redneck by the day).
                        www.windhorsefrm.org and on Facebook too!
                        Where mares rule and Basset Hounds drool!

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by coloredcowhorse View Post
                          Hahahahaa...my mom lives near Phoenix and insists that sooner or later I'll be down there too. I told her I like the warmer and drier (mostly the drier..not so much into heat) but lack the lizard gene for basking in the sun in 100 plus degree days. I do miss the green though. Really miss it sometimes.

                          Mine usually foaled on the grass which was fine. I have put down straw and had them ignore it. Or eat it. Straw is expensive here and I had bought a really nicely bred mare in foal to a son of the then top cutting producing stallion and out of a hall of fame producing mare....so gave her my round pen and bought 6 bales of straw and bedded one whole side of it for her. Spent most of a night out there with her and went to the house for a bathroom break....back out and sure enough she'd foaled on the dirt half. And turned into the wicked witch of the west...charged across the pen with teeth and feet and every intention of causing damage...kept me out of the pen for two weeks while she ate all the straw in preference over the good alfalfa hay. Some mares are a PITA.
                          Well, Im watching the weather in Wisconsin right now.. and being reminded why I moved. Its been either life threatening storms there or knee deep mud and never ending mizzle here...somewhere there is a place with ever green pastures and perfect weather.

                          Maybe Ill try to do something with all the livestock panels that were left here..I need to get over the 'prettiness' factor..
                          www.windhorsefrm.org and on Facebook too!
                          Where mares rule and Basset Hounds drool!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            We have two large foaling stalls that open into a small, secure grass paddock with lights. If they chose to foal outside the pair can be walked a short distance into a large, straw bedded stall. I like the babies indoors after they are up and nursing. They stay in for a half to full day then are allowed out again. I prefer a board fenced (low bottom board) or horse mesh wire as babies flop around a lot and I've seen them slip under some pretty low boards. Much to "mama's" horror!! I would not foal in an electric fenced area, though. Livestock panels would not seem like a good barrier, either. The holes are too big to be safe - for baby or mother!!
                            www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                            Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              if it is wet and muddy I would opt for the bedded stall. We have a foaling stall (double stall...so about 12 x 24) and a paddock off of the barn in easy view of the house and my bedroom window. Preggo mares go in the paddock in nice weather, the stall in not nice weather. In 10 years most foalings have gone well...some have not. The Have Nots are a red bag foal and a dystocia. Only one mare has foaled mid day/the others were all 10 pm or later. so...90% of the time things go right. It is the other 10% you want to be able to see what is going on. Mares will foal in some dumb places too. I had one that I was keeping in the paddock. I had to pick poop out of it. The area with the maure pile is in the next paddock over....so I left her paddock gate open while I went to wheel the wheelbarrow out to the maure pile. Would you believe she walked with me over to the manure pile. layed down on it and proceded to start to push. I could not get her up. She gave birth on the manure pile. Talk about a kid that I moved fast after birth (I quite literally dragged her onto the grassy patch) as soon as she was out and got an extra thorough coating of disinfectant on the umbilibal cord. Fool mare!
                              Providence Farm
                              http://providencefarmpintos.blogspot.com/

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by camohn View Post
                                if it is wet and muddy I would opt for the bedded stall. We have a foaling stall (double stall...so about 12 x 24) and a paddock off of the barn in easy view of the house and my bedroom window. Preggo mares go in the paddock in nice weather, the stall in not nice weather. In 10 years most foalings have gone well...some have not. The Have Nots are a red bag foal and a dystocia. Only one mare has foaled mid day/the others were all 10 pm or later. so...90% of the time things go right. It is the other 10% you want to be able to see what is going on. Mares will foal in some dumb places too. I had one that I was keeping in the paddock. I had to pick poop out of it. The area with the maure pile is in the next paddock over....so I left her paddock gate open while I went to wheel the wheelbarrow out to the maure pile. Would you believe she walked with me over to the manure pile. layed down on it and proceded to start to push. I could not get her up. She gave birth on the manure pile. Talk about a kid that I moved fast after birth (I quite literally dragged her onto the grassy patch) as soon as she was out and got an extra thorough coating of disinfectant on the umbilibal cord. Fool mare!
                                Yeah that would be my luck. Maybe Ill just try to get the barn finished in time. There is just a ton of work to get done.. you would think with jobs the way they are Id have guys showing up every day for work-- but nope, I get the no shows or the potheads. I should just keep preparing for both scenarios.. I miss my old barn!
                                www.windhorsefrm.org and on Facebook too!
                                Where mares rule and Basset Hounds drool!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I have a friend out west who just lost a newborn foal that was born in her huge mare pasture....maybe 100 acres or more...not sure. The newborn was found at the bottom of a bluff. Now granted you may not have a cliff in your pasture but I was just illustrating how fast crap can happen. The little colt had been born that night and somehow ran off, fell off, was chased off (by coyotes) or got pushed off in the first hours of his life.

                                  Another thing you said that I did not like is that your fence is electric. I do not like to see foals born anywhere near electric fence. I've got Horseguard also and that is a downside of it. Babies just born can roll into it, fall into it or just walk into it and get tangled up in their struggles. They don't see well and add to that their unsteadiness...it's a recipe for a mess. I now hold off turning out my babies in the electric until they are a few days old. By then, they figure it out and can avoid it.

                                  If I were you, I just use my stalls at night at least. Bed them down with straw and at least you know the baby won't be outside where you can't intervene if something happens overnight.

                                  Good luck.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                                    I have a friend out west who just lost a newborn foal that was born in her huge mare pasture....maybe 100 acres or more...not sure. The newborn was found at the bottom of a bluff. Now granted you may not have a cliff in your pasture but I was just illustrating how fast crap can happen. The little colt had been born that night and somehow ran off, fell off, was chased off (by coyotes) or got pushed off in the first hours of his life.

                                    Another thing you said that I did not like is that your fence is electric. I do not like to see foals born anywhere near electric fence. I've got Horseguard also and that is a downside of it. Babies just born can roll into it, fall into it or just walk into it and get tangled up in their struggles. They don't see well and add to that their unsteadiness...it's a recipe for a mess. I now hold off turning out my babies in the electric until they are a few days old. By then, they figure it out and can avoid it.

                                    If I were you, I just use my stalls at night at least. Bed them down with straw and at least you know the baby won't be outside where you can't intervene if something happens overnight.

                                    Good luck.
                                    Good grief... ok, that does it.. back to finishing the barn. We already have coyotes circling in to check out our dogs, the open mares have been super about going after them and driving them away, but Ive been concerned enough to think about buying a rifle (to shoot in the air or something, Im a coward) . I wanted this place because the pasture is flat and lush.. but as I write its raining again and I dont know if I can get the paddocks built in time. The stalls are 'perfect' yet, but they will have to do at least for the first foal.
                                    Thanks for all the input and advice. Really appreciated.
                                    www.windhorsefrm.org and on Facebook too!
                                    Where mares rule and Basset Hounds drool!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I live in Central Oregon and we don't really have mud, thank goodness.

                                      I have a big foaling stall, attached paddock and big grass paddock off of that. The dear girls had the last three foals out in the grass at 4:00 in the afternoon! How civilized can you get!?!

                                      We do bring them in once they were up and left them in the stall till the next morning. We opened the stall door to the first paddock for the first couple of days and then open to the grass paddock.

                                      Last years foal was born on the Fourth of July, so obviously it wasn't cold. But she would burrow in the straw banked in the stall and snooze away. Her Mother would be outside the stall door murmuring at her, SHE wanted to go graze, but the filly was very happy with her nice deep straw bed!
                                      Kanoe Godby
                                      www.dyrkgodby.com
                                      See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.

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                                      • #20
                                        Several years ago, I had someone foal out my maiden mare. My mare waited until someone arrived in the morning and then she went down in the pasture. My horse shared the pasture with another horse she had known for years and loved and who was also about to foal (both maidens). This other mare thought they would share the foal. After giving birth, my horse jumped up and went to work defending her new foal. There were double barrel footprints on the other mare's belly. The person watching had no control over the situation. Besides a hematoma, my mare and foal were fine, but I think things could have easily gotten out of control. I did not hear about the foal until 2 hours later and I've wondered what was going on. I don't think I'd want to be in the same situation again.

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