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Orphan Foal Advice Please

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  • Original Poster

    Thank you all for your advice and well wishes. We have now had "mama igloo" up since friday night. He is using it and I can now sleep through the night. Tomorrow my vet is bringing her mini mare over so he can have a "real mom" to teach him how to be a horse and not people. Thing are looking up! Did I mention I can now sleep through the night! Happy Easter to all!


    • #22
      Luckily we have not had to deal with an orphan. And we have foaled a lot of mares over the years. I would be careful bucket feeding. I know its done successfully but it is an unnatural position for the foal at this time and you run the chance of and from what I have been told a very strong chance of the foal aspirating some milk each time it feeds and developing lung problems. If using an igloo hang it high enough so the foal will nurse in its nature position. We use The New Bolton Center a very respected clinic for our repro work and the following is the protocol for inducing milk that was send to me recently from them. If you were in the area we would have several mares that would suite and happy to lend/give one to you. NY has a lot of breeders so I would like to think you should be able to come up with one after a few phone calls.

      Hi, Larry, It is moderately labor intensive, but many veterinarians have had success with it.
      To start, you need a mare that has foaled before and is currently cycling (which all your mares should be by April 1). From there, there are two ways to go. The first is to give progesterone and estradiol (available in injectable form) once daily and to give sulpiride IM twice daily. 5 days into this protocol, you should begin milking the mare at least twice a day. On day 5-7 when the mare appears to be producing an adequate quantity of milk, the foal can be introduced.

      The other protocol involves just giving a shot of prostaglandin (Estrumate) on day 1 when you start the twice daily sulpiride injections. The mare starts getting milked on day 5 and the foal gets introduced at the appropriate time.

      The introduction is always the part that makes people nervous. It seems to be the consensus that you should wait for at least 2 hours after milking and give the mare a 3x dose of estrumate. Once she starts showing signs that the estrumate is taking effect (sweating, mild colic, increased respiratory rate), you bring the foal into the stall and let the mare smell and start licking it. You then lead the foal back to the udder and let it start nursing. Most of the time, within 15 minutes, the mare has accepted the foal and you can leave them alone. In the cases where she does not immediately accept the foal, wait 12 hours and repeat the estrumate and the rest of the procedure. During all this, you obviously need to make sure you have someone good holding the mare and the foal in case you need to make a speedy escape with the foal.

      The sulpiride is continued for approximately 7 days after adoption and then can be discontinued.

      If you have a mare that you think would work out and want to try this, I can look into the cost of the sulpiride. It is in the same class of drugs as domperidone, but it sounds like domperidone doesn't work as well.

      Also, most people use this protocol in the case of orphan foals, so they do recommend supplementing with a bottle of milk every 3 hours for the first few days to make sure the foal is getting enough nourishment.


      • #23
        In my experience, the danger of aspiration with an orphan comes from bottle feeding when the bottle is held too high or the foal is fed while lying prone. I have bucket fed with no problems. The igloo is great if you can get the foal to accept it, and a nurse mare is even better, but I would not be worried about bucket feeding and aspiration.



        Mary Lou


        Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


        • #24
          I'm happy to read that your little boy is using the igloo. It must be such a relief.
          Good luck with everything.


          • #25
            Originally posted by Avalon Equine View Post
            . Even if you can't find one willing to nurse him, at the very least get him in with another horse that will be kind to him and keep him company. Orphan foals raised with no equine interaction are the absolute worst!
            Sorry about your mare.
            However I disagree about no equine interaction being the worst.

            I have a horse that was raised as an orphan. He had to be separated from other foals because he was dysmature and needed some time to grow.

            As a result he had to become self sufficient. Although he continues to have an attachment to dogs and humans he eventually became socialized. He is the smartest horse I've ever owned.
            Fan of Sea Accounts


            • #26
              Originally posted by Avalon Equine View Post
              With regards to what to do, if you can find a mare that is willing to foster him, put her on Domperidone and keep your fingers crossed. We have had good success with that twice now. The big thing is getting a mare that will take him on. Even if you can't find one willing to nurse him, at the very least get him in with another horse that will be kind to him and keep him company. Orphan foals raised with no equine interaction are the absolute worst!

              Good luck!
              Excellent advice!!! I've had three orphans (all orphaned about a month old), and I was very careful to not "spoil" or interact too much with them. They NEED another equine. In all three of my cases the foals were partnered with another young horse, and as soon as they were old enough they went out in herds. They have very normal social skills. I've met some orphans that were absolute terrors, typically spoiled rotten and pushy, with absolutely zero respect for humans or other horses.
              Making Your Ambitions a Reality at Secret Ambition Stables.
              Quality Welsh Ponies and Welsh Crosses bred for sport
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              • #27
                B-where are you in upstate? I've raised 5 orphans, very successfully-one is my coming 11 year old Stallion. email me jean@classicsporthorses.com and I am more than happy to help.


                • #28
                  Did you find directions to make the igloo? I did not have directions, just purchased a lamb nipple at the feed store (buy extras) and went to Lowes plumbing dept. the guy working there helped me put something together, I hung it in the stall in a hay net. It was very portable and adjustable. The foal needs milk, but he also Needs Company- so that he learns how to be a horse. My orphan was taught to be a horse by a wonderful Morgan gelding (Bless You Pap Pap). If a nurse mare is not possible a baby sitter will really help. Most important treat your baby like a horse, he will be 1000 lbs for alot longer than he will be 100 lbs. Keep everything as clean as possible to prevent scours, and have what ever your vet uses to treat scours with on hand (they always get sick after hours). To wean, just slowly add less and less milk powder to the water in the igloo, when he is drinking good from a bucket let the igloo go dry, so that he looses interest in it. So sorry about your mare, you can do this, we will help you!!!
                  Last edited by csaper58; Apr. 2, 2013, 12:23 AM. Reason: spelling


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks everyone. "Goomba" is 4 weeks old now! He loves his "mama igloo"! I would love to share pics with everyone. How do I post them on here? We were not able to get a nursemare, but he does have a "mini mama" that keeps him company and in line, just can not feed him. It was very stressful in the beginning and I had a small melt down by the end of the first week, but all is well now. We are super excited to be raising this little guy with no complications so far. Our vet is very impressed with mama igloo and has requested the directions so they can pass them on to others if needed.


                    • #30
                      Great news!
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                      • #31
                        To post photos you can just open a Photobucket account and post links to the photos. To actually see photos in a thread you have to be a premium member.

                        Looking forward to the photos!