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Possible nurse mare needed & Help with mare rejecting foal!

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  • Possible nurse mare needed & Help with mare rejecting foal!

    We have a 2 day of foal who's mother is 'rejecting her' and may be in need of a nurse mare. I posted on Cyber Foal but thought to post here as well.

    The mother is a maiden and very aggressive towards the foal and has not demonstrated any 'bonding'.

    We have been working with the mare and foal non stop since birth. And are struggling to simply allow the foal to nurse on a regular basis.

    Will post additional detail of the mare's behavior and what interventions we have been doing later when i have time to write.

    Thanks in advance for any support or advice!

  • #2
    I had the same thing 4 years ago. The old horsemen around here said to use acepromazine, tie the mare to the wall, twitch her and even tie up a front leg if needed. I did all that because the foal was a good one and if the mare couldn't be a broodmare she was good for nothing else. In my case it did not work out but persistence, and total restraint of the mare are essential because the foal will be scared of her. Call all the vets in your area to try to find a nurse mare candidate. Are you sure your mare even has milk? If it is just a pet quality baby they do fine raised on a bucket. Also once in a blue moon foals have sharp edges on their front teeth which can be smoothed with a nail file.


    • #3
      Sandy's Nursemare Service provides nursemares in your area.

      Sandy's Nursemare Service & Colostrum Bank
      Blooms Corner Rd
      Warwick, NY 10990
      Phone: 845-988-5265

      If you do an online search you may find more contact info like an email and additional phone numbers.
      Altamont Sport Horses
      Trakehners * Knabstruppers * Appaloosa Sport Horses
      Home of stallions: Ambrosius af Asgard "Atlantis" & Hollywood Hot Spot
      Birmingham, AL


      • Original Poster

        Mare is allowing the foal to nurse with some restraint. We alternate between tying to a ring on the back wall of the stall and holding her by hand with a lead rope.

        It's not difficult to control the mare - but she has to be observed at all times.

        We keep trying to allow her to stand unrestrained but ultimately she tires of the expereince within a few minutes and attacks the foal with teeth or kicking.

        The mare has thrown the foal on the ground multiple times and has shown no signs of bonding.

        Normal delivery. Maiden mare so she tore a bit but no fever and swelling is improving all the time. Gave banamine etc. Mare is eating, drinking etc. Normal BM.

        At the time of delivery when still laying down - the mare was catatonic and not engaging with the nickering foal at all. We helped scoot to foal around to her head and rubbed the foal's scent on her etc. But she never nickered back. As soon as she got up from foaling she wouldn't look at the foal and after about 10minutes she went on the offensive and started kicking and biting at the foal.

        For the first 24hrs we stayed close by/ in the stall and gave tons of support to the mare encouraging her when she stood quietly for a minute and scolded her for aggressive behavior.

        Finally we decided to move the mare to a separate stall next to the foal. She simply can't be trusted unattended for a moment.

        We are now leading the mare into the foal's stall every 90min and allowing the foal to nurse.

        She has a great bag and milk supply and will tolerate the foal nursing for brief periods with us watching. Turn your back and the foal is thrown to the ground.

        Foal is gaining weight and looking healthy. Normal foal exam, no fever, normal BM and urination. Umbilicus looks great. Foal gets up easily and is strong with nursing.

        I'm just not sure what else to do. The mare doesn't nicker or show any signs at all of bonding with the foal. The foal is now 2 days old and I'd like to help her get out of the stall for a bit in the next day or so but can't trust the mare at all.

        I'm really concerned about the foal growing up with normal imprinting and 'horse behavior'.

        As a side note for those giving advice etc. I do have another broodmare on the farm who has a 30 day old colt at her side. She is a great mare. Always taking really good care of her foals and not overly protective.

        Not sure if my other mare can help us out in any way - but thought it would be good to include her as she might wind up being an asset to us if this continues.


        • #5
          This is really a hard one. The foal needs exercise, but if the mare attacks it outside, it could kill it. Because the foal has had the colostrum it needed, I might be inclined to put it out with the other mare and foal and rig up one of Fairview's igloo feeders for free choice milk replacer. Of course, you will have to make sure the other mare will accept its presence.

          Alternatively, you could keep the mare restrained (best way is to put a board across the stall at stifle height to make a standing stall for her, tie her with water and hay in front of her). The problem with that is that she and the foal both need exercise.

          Jingling that you get a solution. My gut feeling is that if she has not accepted the foal by now, she won't ever accept it enough to be safe.
          Mary Lou


          Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


          • #6
            That post is very interesting and I have questions:

            Doe's the "good" mare could nurse both foals ?

            Is the "bad" mare going to act that way with each and every foal she will have in the future or is that a maiden behavior ?

            Sending jingles to you.


            • Original Poster

              Spoke with a few other breeders and they weren't very optimistic either.

              So this afternoon the mare's milk supply has started going down. She 'appears' full but when you try to milk her using various methods they is little to be had.

              Just finished feeding the foal her first 'milk replacer' meal (sigh)

              So update is - Looking for a nurse mare!


              • #8
                we lost a foal last week but I do not believe ours would be a good nurse mare. Did you try one of the nurse mare companies like Sandy's ???


                • #9

                  If the foal has horsey company in the form of an older horse or a weanling, they will grow up fine. Try to get Land Of Lakes or Buckeye milk replacer as both are acidified and keep longer than Foalac, etc. Keep us posted and best of luck to you!
                  Mary Lou


                  Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


                  • #10
                    You should try giving the mare 2cc of acepromazine im If she has milk she might let it down better. (doublecheck with your vet), and just leave her tied, you could even hobble her. You can rig up some sort of straight stall partition in the box stall where she can live. Leave enough of a gap in the boards so the foal can reach in and nurse. It will suck for the mare, but??


                    • #11
                      On different farms I have been on and seen this same thing, I never seen good endings unless a Nursemare was brougt in. In some cases people got hurt and I mean bad hurt. Some were lucky and just got jammed fingers or stpped on, but others.... The foals have it tough until a nursemare gets there. Most of the farms get a nursemare. There are people that raise foals from a bucket, but the foals are nothing like a foal raised by a horse. I always thought it was the way a foal nurses. With its neck and head up and under. The natural way. Can't do that with a bucket or igloo. When we fed calves, they fed from bottles that were tilted down in the holders. The calves had to drink from up and under. They did well too. I hope you can get Sandys Nursemare Sevice. Shes the best at what she does.


                      • #12
                        Sandys contact numbers

                        Heres some more phone numbers. Sandys Nursemare Service. 845-452-7666 845-656-3537 or email Nursemareone@webtv.net Sandy is out on a nursemare run as i write this. She should be on her way back by now. It was in NY state. Give her a call, I know she has nursemares available.


                        • #13
                          This was awhile ago, but we had one violently reject her foal. We ended up keeping her aced and in a lip chain (now I think a bungee on the lip would work even better). It took about a week before we could let down our guard and start leaving she and the foal unattended and by 10 days they were normal. The next year it took a day of drugs and lip chain for mom to come around, the next a few hours and after that she was one of our best mares. I'm thinking that not all mares will come around like Kaleigh did, but she had a history of abuse and I think that may have had something to do with it.

                          Good luck.


                          • #14
                            Hi T-Having raised a few orphans in my day, with replacer he should do fine. We have a 6 month old orphan colt we are raising (rescue who's dam died 2 days after foaling and we got him when he was 6 days old) and he was trained to drink from a bucket from the beginning.

                            That being said, I wish you were closer as my oldest mare, who just foaled last night HAS nursed two babies at once, hers and another orphan, before and I know she would do it again.

                            Best wishes it all works out for all involved. We'll be thinking of you!


                            • #15
                              The experience Jennywho had is what I have heard can happen if the mare has milk and you you persist. The alternatives get expensive.


                              • Original Poster

                                We gave the mare ample time and opportunity to do the right
                                thing. We've talked with tons of knowlegable breeders who have
                                been in similar situations in the past and decided that 3 complete days
                                of working agressivly with both mare and foal to foster some type
                                of bond was ultimately just not progressing in a direction we could

                                We have at this point turned to milk replacers to support the foal and
                                have placed a half wall across the foaling stall and placed a quiet
                                young mare on the other side for some type of companionship.

                                The foal is remarkably in good spirits with strong appetite and is
                                gaining weight.

                                We'll be keeping a close eye on one hind leg that has a swollen
                                hock due to one of the mare's attacks. The foal is weight baring
                                and the swelling is coming down but her fetlock is 'tight'. So
                                the possibility of a sesmoid fracture exists.

                                Thanks to all of you for your support via private e-mails. All of
                                your input has been taken into high consideration for different

                                More updates to come!

                                We have been in touch with several nursemare programs but just don't have the budget at this time to bring in a mare for $3500 plus breed back fees.

                                We will see how bucket feeding and quiet companion works.

                                Thank you again for all the support and concern!


                                • #17
                                  The igloo works amazingly well! It keeps the milk fresh all day, no possibility of another horse dumping it, no flies. You can know the baby got what he needs, without another playing in it. Using the igloo lets you be able to keep the baby with others so they learn to be horses, and not be so dependent on humans. They grow up to be normal horses.

                                  Good luck with your baby.


                                  • Original Poster


                                    Can you give me details about the igloo??


                                    • #19
                                      I made a page to help others with orphans, after it worked so well with mine. I would never do it any other way. Buckets are so gross, and you just never know who has been messing with them if you have the foal out with others. http://members.aol.com/fairviewhorsectr/igloo.html
                                      Attached Files


                                      • #20
                                        Fairview-you're the bomb!!!
                                        I don't even have babies right now but that is just the greatest. I'm glad the mare is seperated from her baby-I was cringing that the outcome would not be good. Mares that reject their babies usually don't act catatonic-that is wierd. but, I am sure your baby will be fine. Do you have a good gelding to baby sit? Mine have always had those. And it is so nice to have them get beaten up instead of me-