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Anyone Have This Issue with Their Mare(s)?

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  • Anyone Have This Issue with Their Mare(s)?

    Hi All,

    We had our only foal born this year; a filly. This is the mare's ninth foal. This mare is a very easy keeper. She is at a farm of about 30ish mares to foal each year and she's on a good feeding program. Trust me when I say she is in great physical condition.
    However, without fail her foals are scrawny little things upon birth. This filly is no exception and actually one of the more glaring examples. We have retained and raced every foal of hers that was physically capable and talented enough to do so but most of them have taken several years to mature and they almost invariably look the same upon birth: small, underdeveloped. Meanwhile, mama mare is always in beautiful flesh. Usually the best things for her foals is weaning.

    I am not really looking for suggestions as we're pretty comfortable with her (and her foals') care, and she has has pretty successful foals overall (albeit late-maturing) but has anyone else experienced this on a consistent basis from a broodmare? It seems to me some mares give so much nutrition to foals (to the detriment of their own condition) and this mare always looks great and her foals look pitiful until they're weaned off.

    Anyone else?

  • #2
    Lots of foals bare born looking scrawny. DO you have pictures of them from birth to weaning so we can compare? Maybe adding something like Rejuvenaide to the foal once old enough (5 days old to start I think) may do the trick. We use it for foals that are contracted but they sure do bloom after being on it too. It is a vitamin and mineral drench that can be squirted right into the foals mouth and not fed through mom. How is her milk? Do she produce enough. Maybe someone could suggest something to add to help increase production.
    Here is a link to read about it.
    Good luck!
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    • #3
      A friend always swore that if the mare was too fat, there was no room for the foal to grow. From weaning until three months before the due date her mares were on pasture and/or hay only. Her broodmares were alway thin to the point of seeing ribs. Three month before their due date, she would separate the mare and start feeding her. Then she would slowly increase the food amount until she was feeding 14 - 16 pounds a day. She said this way she was feeding the foal for growth and since the mare was thin, there was room for the foal to grow.

      My mares are fed year round and in good condition. The foals they produced have been born around 39 - 40 inches an 80 pounds (first foals). Her foals were born 40 + inches and 120 + pounds. So, there is definately something to her theory. Her foals also matured quicker then the ones I produced.


      • #4
        I have a mare that makes little foals but they have all matures to 16.1-16.2 hands by 5. Noe have looked dysmature at birth and all have been in good flesh as foals. I chalk it up to ease of foaling - little foals come out easily and are easy on the mares.
        Cindy Bergmann
        Canterbury Court


        • #5
          I would hate to interfere with this mare by trying to get bigger foals only to have her be injured or die as a result of a big baby.


          • #6
            Scrawny newborns are common but they should put on weight quickly and become well covered by 2 months. I have a mare that always has her foals 2 weeks early, they are always scrawny little things with no meat at all. The mare produces a lot of milk and the foals all turn to fat butter balls in no time, while she becomes a ribby nightmare. She eats me broke when she has a foal on her!

            But I suspect you are talking more about this type of scenario:
            I have another mare who had her first foal this season. It was born strong and straight but so skinny, not a scrap of fat on it. After 2 months it was drinking well and was very fit and healthy but still looked lean and under-fed with a patchy coat compared to my much fatter sleek-coated foals. The mare however was fattish and shiny and eating a fraction of additional feed compared to the others. Seems she feeds herself before her foal! I have been creep-feeding it and it has had a B-vit boost but on the advice of my vet I will wean this foal early.


            • #7
              I also believe that EZ keeper, pudgy broodmare tend to have scrawny foals. Mama's belly fat crowds the foal. If they are healthy and recover well, I don't know that I would mess with the mare's nutrition level. It is hard to know how much you should trim down the mare's hay/grass intake.
              Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


              • #8
                I actually prefer scrawny foals. The mares have an easier time delivering them and they tend to have less growth related issues.

                I do disagree a bit with the easy keeper thought process in the fact that I haven't seen a correlation. I have had easy keepers with bloomy foals as well as hard keepers with bloomy foals. The only time I have a scrawny foal past birth is when the mare isn't producing adequate milk and I have had both easy keepers and hard keepers do this.


                • #9
                  I agree, SJ66. I haven't seen a link with fat mares and scrawny foals either. I have a small but perennially fat mare that always has well covered newborns that turn into chubby gutter-bums in no time.


                  • #10
                    Ditto this.
                    www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                    "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                    Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by Kerole View Post

                      But I suspect you are talking more about this type of scenario:
                      I have another mare who had her first foal this season. It was born strong and straight but so skinny, not a scrap of fat on it. After 2 months it was drinking well and was very fit and healthy but still looked lean and under-fed with a patchy coat compared to my much fatter sleek-coated foals. The mare however was fattish and shiny and eating a fraction of additional feed compared to the others. Seems she feeds herself before her foal! I have been creep-feeding it and it has had a B-vit boost but on the advice of my vet I will wean this foal early.
                      This is precisely what I mean. This mare never looks like she missed a meal in her life, but the foals look like refugees more often than not.
                      I don't have many suckling vs. weanling photos, but I can give a couple scrawny babies as reference and how they ended up size-wise:

                      Mare's second foal (filly): http://smg.photobucket.com/user/Roux...tml?sort=3&o=3
                      She's a big ol' girl now, at 8 yrs of age. She has had two foals herself now as well; here's her with her first: http://smg.photobucket.com/user/Roux...ml?sort=3&o=35

                      Mare's third foal (colt):
                      Oh! here's one of him at about weaning age--he was actually in pretty good shape minus that hole in his abdomen wall that was repaired:
                      He's I guess maybe just at 16 hands but he's her second-tallest after the filly above. He's 7 now and still racing well for us.

                      Here's the newest filly (she is a full sister to the filly above) and I swear, she looks a lot beefier in this photo than she actually is! This does show her beefy mom pretty well though :
                      Front shot:

                      This mare does foal really easily, usually. Two years ago she did foal a colt backwards and upside down that was a real peanut and that probably helped them both survive. Mare got a year off last year because of it; the colt's now two and has finally hit a growth spurt.
                      Last edited by Big_Tag; Apr. 8, 2013, 09:01 PM. Reason: added pic


                      • #12
                        The foals look very typical of a blooded foal. Most of ours look this when born.


                        • #13
                          I also think your foal looks just normal.
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                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by EquusMagnificus View Post
                            I also think your foal looks just normal.
                            See, I am glad to hear that bc they honestly don't really fit the profile of most of the foals born on this farm. I should also point out they're Standardbreds, not Thoroughbreds. Her foals look underdeveloped when compared with the other foals on this farm.

                            As I said, these foals ultimately turn out okay; her smallest to date is her 4-year-old, who might top out at 15.1 but is built like a little Quarter Horse. They are just glaringly smaller/more underdeveloped than the others I'm seeing off this farm, as a general rule.


                            • #15
                              I so know what you mean! There's no point in posting pics of my runty one because it will look like a perfectly healthy newborn and 3 month old. BUT compared to the other foals of similar breeding and age, he is a scrawny under-fed looking thing. Smaller, ribby, with clear poverty lines, and a horrible coat. My vet says he is growing fine and he will come right but that the mare doesn't put much in her milk (she keeps it for herself!). He will be weaned shortly so I can get more nutrients into him.


                              • #16
                                It could be that the mare has a uterous that is less...functional?...where the foal gets enough but no extra. I think there is a difference between scrawny with no extra flesh but still thriving and dismature which is less than thriving and needs assistance. It sound like you have the first type and I also kind of like foals like that for foaling ease but I have a large breed(IDs) that can have big foals. I am always considering prior history of dams and sires when making my matches. Personally I am coming to think too big foals are more a mare issue but I will always choose a stallion for that type of mare carefully. The only disadvantage I have seen is they don't look as pretty for their first pictures as they need to plump up a bit. PatO


                                • #17
                                  I agree PatO. I'm not overly concerned about my scrawny foal but he is a bit embarassing to look at! Funny you should mention to overly big ones - I've had a couple of those too! Last year's filly was MASSIVE at birth with quite a bit of meat on her. She grew at an alarming rate and the mare had a bag like a cow. On my vet's insistance she was weaned at 3 months to monitor her feed intake and better manage her growth rate. As a yearling I have tried to keep her from getting too top heavy to limit the risk of growth issues in her limbs. This year's half borther isn't as big but is still big enough. The vet is equally concerned that he is growing too fast and that mamma has enough milk to feed a herd of foals. He is 4 months and looks like a 6-7month old. He will weaned this week.

                                  The big, top heavy ones are MUCH harder to manage than the scrawnies!