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Doing it the Old Fashioned way--foaling outside?

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  • Doing it the Old Fashioned way--foaling outside?

    Sorry, see my other pathetic thread re: the flooding from last night...

    So... Plan B:

    I do have a safe, clean pasture. I refer to it as my 'nursery' pasture because it's where all the newborns go until they're ready to go out with the group.

    I can see probably 80% from the top, a few small apple trees to hide behind. I can put up fencing at the bottom to keep her from hiding in the woods...

    I've had two mares foal out there during the day, and they were wonderful experiences. The foals seemed to get up more easily, it was very clean and dry etc. My worry is observation at night... and... I don't know. I'm worried about what I don't know about foaling outside.

    Experiences? Anecdotes? Plusses & minuses?

    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)

  • #2
    My only experience has been during the day with the same mare twice. She just likes outside better! Thankfully, it was a non rainy day in Ireland.

    I know of a person who has an area for mares to foal in with 2 lights around the pen and a camera and it does the job pretty well.

    That's all I can think of for night observation unless your the camping type!

    This probably won't help you much, but have nothing better!

    COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

    "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.


    • Original Poster

      what about rain?

      That's one of the worries... no shelter in this pasture. Grr. I guess I can try to throw one up? Not 'till days off. Forecast is rainy for the foreseeable future too.

      Oh--and yes, I would expect to either be on a cot or in my truck.
      InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

      Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


      • #4
        We have had many of our mares foal outside, either by surprise or by choice (the don't like foaling in a stall-honest).

        We have a large spot light that we can shine probably from here to the moon. If I have one who is close and they are outside in good weather conditions etc., I keep them out. If I "see" a foal on my checks or if my night time alarm system (my youngter stallion, who's 7) always whinnies when something is not quite right during the night-and we are up in a flash.

        I have had mares surprise me and foal 'early' or without warning and the weather has or is going to turn. Either way, even in good weather if they foal outside, I bring them in asap for 24 hours or so to be able to check them out, vet check, see that they are nursing etc.

        Now with that being said, I have two mares waxing right now and they are inside b/c we are having near monsoon rains today into tomorrow-the came in yesterday.

        I have never had a problem with a foal born outside.


        • #5
          Almost always my mares foal outdoors (they are all very sneaky). My last foal arrived outside in a rain/sleet storm in colder temperatures. No problems at all. She was up and bounding around already when discovered. The little filly was very hardy! No reason to worry. Keep watch as best you can.
          Snowline Sport Horses
          Breeder of Hanoverian horses


          • #6
            Mares have been doing it outside for thousands of years. In a good pasture it is clean and there is no chance of the foal being squished up against a stall wall. I did hear of a foal being born under a fence line and getting up the other side of the fence to his mom, though.
            Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


            • #7
              We actually have gone from locking them in to letting them foal outside in the attached paddock if desired. They seem to prefer to foal outside and to us it seems much less dangerous (like when mare lays down into a wall, etc). I've heard horror stories of the mare walking around the stall with feet hanging out and getting the foal's foot/leg stuck in the bars and breaking the leg... EEK!!!

              It's also easier for the baby to get up instead of playing slip and slide on wet stall mats.

              Our attached paddocks are about 36x72 and we have cameras in the stalls and the paddock so we can see them no matter where they are. We just leave the flood light on at night so we can see them in the paddock. When they begin pacing it becomes clear the time has arrived - so it seems actually easier to tell than when they are in a stall!
              Signature Sporthorses


              • #8
                I've had mares surprise me and foal outside. I've had them foal outside during the day. However after my latest episode of finding a mare with an amniotic sac and a placenta hanging out of her and no baby. I wish she'd been tucked in the barn. At least I would have known that A-there was no foal or B-it was inside of her still. There would be no C, D, E.

                I've always thought a grass pasture was much safer, and if you can sleep in your truck and attend the foaling that is just perfect!
                Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
                Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
                & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt


                • #9
                  Signature, what sort of surface are your paddocks? If they are grass, do you use them only for foaling, and do you put the mares in several weeks before they are due or only for a few days when they are imminent?

                  Just curious how you maintain the surfaces. I would love to foal my mares out but I'm afraid I would have a muddy mess by the time foaling occurred.
                  Ainninn House Stud
                  Irish Draughts and Connemaras
                  Co. Westmeath, Ireland


                  • #10
                    This year, all of my mares foaled outside in broad daylight, somewhere between 10 and 11:30 am. They all come in at night (to stalls with cameras so I can keep an eye on them). All chose to foal outside in their green pastures. My vet says it is more healthy for mare and foal. And more healthy for me since it occurred in daylight But leaving a mare out 24/7 - my only question would be, will you go out and monitor them at night? Do you have lights in the pasture? If so, do it! Clean grass is healthier than clean straw!
                    www.MysticOakRanch.com Friesian/Warmblood Crosses, the Ultimate Sporthorse
                    Director, WTF Registry


                    • #11
                      One of my customers, who bred to my Blue Who, called me one morning. "Sandy, Taffy foaled". I said oh Great!! She says "We cant find the foal". HUH?????? She thinks someone came in the pasture and stole the foal. Much calling, sheriff out, .............meanwhile mare not concerned at all.................it was determined (the next day) that mare had foaled near their pond which normally does not have water (lots of rain in the spring in Fl), and Taffy foaled close to the edge and the baby probably just slipped into the water right away and the mare never even knew she had the foal.

                      BTW.........not her first foal. HUMMMMMM................... Foal surfaced the next day. Sad sad.
                      hunter/jumper ponies


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sugarbrook View Post
                        One of my customers, who bred to my Blue Who, called me one morning. "Sandy, Taffy foaled". I said oh Great!! She says "We cant find the foal". HUH?????? She thinks someone came in the pasture and stole the foal. Much calling, sheriff out, .............meanwhile mare not concerned at all.................it was determined (the next day) that mare had foaled near their pond which normally does not have water (lots of rain in the spring in Fl), and Taffy foaled close to the edge and the baby probably just slipped into the water right away and the mare never even knew she had the foal.

                        BTW.........not her first foal. HUMMMMMM................... Foal surfaced the next day. Sad sad.
                        That is so sad!
                        Roseknoll Sporthorses


                        • #13
                          Oh gosh, I didnt mean to just post a negative. I have had a few foal outside. My Apricot Hill, dam to many famous ponies, was dripping milk one morning. Drip, drip drip, and she was looking like she wanted to just go out and graze a bit. OK, thats a plan!!

                          She went out and within 30 minutes (we were watching her), her tail went up, she went down, and we ran out. The colt was born in the pasture. Grass. Thats good. He stood and we walked the colt and "Maggie" back into her stall. It went well and we were there. I have had a few more catch me by surprise. But, since I have been doing this about 24 years, I guess I am due some surprises!!
                          hunter/jumper ponies


                          • #14
                            We had a maiden mare foal outside at noon last year and it was not a safe situation. Another older pony mare decided it was hers and a kicking situation started. THANK GOD - I was there right after it happened AND had help to handle the mares and get the foal up to the barn.

                            I'm NOT an advocate of leaving them in fields to foal. Very often mares will eat the placenta and then we have no way of knowing if they passed all of it. We also want to make sure we are there if something goes wrong. 10 years ago a mare had a huge foal and it was stuck. I was THANKFUL TO GOD that she was in a stall and we could get the Vets there to pull this (dead) foal out and save the mare's life.

                            We put so much into breeding these foals and it is a huge investment of emotion and also money and we want to minimize problems. I've heard stories of mares foaling up against the fence and the foals rolling out of the field. The story above about the pond breaks my heart. So sad.
                            Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Inc.
                            "Breeding Competition Partners & Lifelong Friends"


                            • #15
                              We foal outside

                              Both my mares foaled outside in the Nursery paddock we built. My one mare hates the stall, but I like that they can move around freely. The paddock is small bout 100'x100'. you can get solar lights to put on the post. just put them every so often. both my mares seem happy to be out there. one was a maiden and the other was her 6Th foal.
                              Not to mention it is a lot easier to p/u poop out of the paddock then in the stall in straw with 2 horses blending it around....Or is it only my mare that seconds as a blender???
                              Worth A Shot Farm
                              Finding the horse of your dreams, is always Worth A Shot!
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                              • #16
                                mine foaled outside, never had a problem myself with that. I find that the foals are stronger born outside.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Waterwitch View Post
                                  Signature, what sort of surface are your paddocks? If they are grass, do you use them only for foaling, and do you put the mares in several weeks before they are due or only for a few days when they are imminent?

                                  Just curious how you maintain the surfaces. I would love to foal my mares out but I'm afraid I would have a muddy mess by the time foaling occurred.
                                  Waterwitch -

                                  We have a sand type base with Bermuda grass planted. It makes a very firm base that doesn't get squishy-muddy with all the fluids at birth (drains well and grass is thatched so it holds the soil). Bermuda just happens to grow great in our area, and it loves sandy soil (hence why it always grows in the arena, LOL).

                                  We usually don't put the mares in there before foaling season so there is grass and not too much manure, etc. After foaling they stay in the paddock for a few days until they have good control over the foal and then we open the gate into the big field and they go out with the others. We have 6 stalls on the back side of the barn that are larger foaling stalls, 3 open to each of two paddocks. We have cams on both sides. I can send pics if you'd like.
                                  Signature Sporthorses


                                  • #18
                                    I think that this becomes a matter of hindsight (and of percentages). If all goes well, then foaling outside is great. We've had two mares foal outside, both outside births were unintended surprises, both were unattended (we found the healthy foal running around with mom), and each foaling went beautifully, resulting in healthy foals and healthy mares. But frankly that was just pure luck.

                                    Given all that can happen during foaling, it makes me cringe even now knowing that the mares foaled alone. If -god forbid- problems arise (and who among us will know with 100% accuracy that a problem is looming), then foaling in a stall is simply the better option. Read through some of the threads on this forum of the heartbreaking problems breeders have had. There are quite a few cautionary tales on this forum. Some narratives are so sad, the grief is palpable. There can be weeks where it’s hard to post a thread saying “we had a healthy miracle” because it would be like pouring salt in an open wound for other breeders here.

                                    Given the risks involved (and the expenses) it’s a wonder any of us breed. Given the huge commitment of time and resources required to put a healthy foal on the ground, seems to me that the best bet is to foal in a stall.
                                    Logres Farm on Facebook


                                    • #19
                                      All of ours are foaled outside. We have a special foaling paddock that is grass with a run-in shed. We also have lights and cameras that pretty much cover the whole paddock.
                                      Fox Haven Farm, Inc.
                                      Home of 2002 JC Registered stallion Artrageous

                                      Artrageous has his own Facebook page!


                                      • #20
                                        When I first started breeding, I was at a barn with no foaling stalls. But my mare was in a small, clean pasture with good fencing. I could see most of the pasture with the lights from the barn. Hooking up a camera was not an option, so I went out and bought a baby monitor.

                                        I vet-wrapped the "baby" part to the mare's breakaway halter and was able to listen to her through the monitor from the house. This way, she didn't feel watched (she was a notoriously sneaky mare and didn't like humans around for the big event). I'm sure she wondered why I came running every time she peed in the days leading up to the actual foaling, and I'm sure some of you will think attaching a baby monitor to a pregnant mare is just nuts, but it worked for me!
                                        Kendra -- Runningwater Warmbloods
                                        Home of EM Raleska (Rascalino/ Warkant) and Donatella M (Furstenball/ Jazz Time)
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