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How early is too early to foal?

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  • How early is too early to foal?

    How early have you had a big mare successfully deliver a healthy foal? At what day do you stop worrying about placentitis and think, this is normal, or a little early bagging up? First foal, so bear with me.

    I haven't seen my mare in a few days (I didn't get done working last night until well after midnight--it's been that kind of week) but the farrier told the BO yesterday that in his opinion she isn't waiting until the end of May. I actually agree, but guesstimate she she will be 7-9 days early. I'm basing this off of watching her vulva drop a bit, etc. She is only slightly bagged, unless something has changed in the last two days and no discharge. Her colt was at 342 days last year, but she was lower in weight (if that matters).

    Along the same lines...if a horse does go early, how long do the vaccines that you now didn't give 4-6 weeks prior perform? Are they still effective and at what point does immunity build? Same question for mares that go really late.

    TIA, btw. I've waited SO LONG (we all do) and have a wee bit of anxiety at this point--especially reading about late-term abortions on here!!
    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    The mare we just had foal last night got placentitis a week ago and she was 344 days when she got it or at least that was the first day I noticed bad discharge.

    She had a red bag delivery.....placenta was VERY brown....and thank God...we seem to have a healthy...though low body weight colt.

    This was one of the rescue mares we have only had for three weeks.


    • #3
      Our earliest ever was 318 days. Suspected placentitis around day 260 so we did the SMZ/Regumate protocol. She never really bagged up early, but bagged up QUICK on days 314-317, milk test was not off the chart by any means but I figured she'd go early (maybe 10 days early not 4 weeks early!)... next day we come home from work to find 8 legs in the paddock! Foal was small but otherwise healthy, placenta definitely showed signs of browning and looked gross in places.

      Interesting question about the vaccines, because we had given ours hers at day 310 (10 months) and so she did not have time to build the antibodies. Her foal registered about 600 on IgG, whereas her past 4 foals were sky high. I did the pre-foaling shots at day 300 this year for everyone.
      Signature Sporthorses


      • #4
        Mine foaled 3 weeks early with absolutely no problems.


        • #5
          I have a mare that foals as early as 315 fairly regularly. I have a friend who had a 303 day foal (placentitis that was being treated) and that foal made it despite having premie issues.

          I normally give the prefoaling vaccines at 300 days, but give them a week earlier to my mare that is known to go early.

          I feel a lot more confident if a mare waits until after 320 days, but reality is that a mare can foal at 315 with a perfectly normal foal, or alternatively foal at 367 days with a foal that will have many problems. As Kathy (Equine Repro) regularly reminds us, there is no such thing as a due date. The foal determines its readiness. All we can do is observe carefully, call the vet when things seem out of the ordinary, be there when the mare foals, be educated and proactive and do the best we can.
          Mary Lou


          Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


          • #6
            My mare just had a big, strong, and healthy colt a couple of weeks ago at day 315. There is absolutely nothing the matter with him.
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            • Original Poster

              Cool. She's at 307 today and I don't think she's foaling right away or anything, but I also don't think she's going to hit 340.

              Of course I was going to give vaccines tonight.

              Then worm her next week.

              What test is your vet doing to check for antibodies? Is that something everyone does? Just curious. I don't think the breeder I bought her from did it last year, and neither vet clinic has said anything.
              DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


              • #8
                What test is your vet doing to check for antibodies? Is that something everyone does? Just curious. I don't think the breeder I bought her from did it last year, and neither vet clinic has said anything.
                An IGG test should be part of every well foal check done around 12 hours after birth.
                Mary Lou


                Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


                • Original Poster

                  Well, the vet is foaling her out for me at his house, so I'll assume he knows that! [Actually I'm sure I'll say something and probably offend him]
                  DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                  • #10
                    Sounds like you'll be fine TTP.
                    Mary Lou


                    Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post

                      Of course I was going to give vaccines tonight.

                      Then worm her next week.
                      Others can chime in on this, but I would not worm the mare now. Wait till she foals, and give her Ivermectin within 12 hours of foaling. Studies have shown this gives protection to the foal for pinworms as well, but it must be done before the foal's gut closes.

                      I first read this in Karen Haye's foaling manual and I do it regularly. I've heard people say it also helps with "foal heat" poops, but that hasn't really been my experience.

                      I'd be curious to hear if other breeders do this as well.


                      • Original Poster

                        Interesting. Everything I've read says worm last time 4 weeks before foaling. So I too would be interested in hearing opinions.
                        DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                        • #13
                          My mares are wormed 6 weeks prior to their average due date and then I worm them again with ivermectin generally within an hour or so of them foaling.


                          • #14
                            I will worm my mares on a regular schedule while pregnant EXCEPT:

                            - Not in the first 60 days, so I try to worm RIGHT before she is bred

                            - If it is due on or after the 310-day mark of gestation. In that case I'll wait for the foal's birth day and give her an ivermectin sometime within the same 12 hours that I wait before the IgG test. This time in fact I couldn't find the ivermectin I had bought, so I got one from the vet when she was out to check the baby. And lemme tell ya... manhandling her new daughter AND worming her too made Ms. Mare very cranky!

                            To answer the OP's initial question -- my friend had a mare who TWICE delivered a healthy, well-cooked foal before the 300 day mark. The first time I thought maybe she had the dates wrong. Based on that mare, I'd love to know what the record is. She was a draft, and the kids had legs like little tree trunks.
                            Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


                            • #15
                              308 days....filly born healthy though slow to nurse and needed supportive care for a few days. Going strong at 3 years. Vet called it a "precocious pregnancy"....meaning that despite the early delivery, the foal had matured sufficiently. I do not know when you "breathe easy"....or assume gestation has been "long enough"...the fact is MOST deliveries go fine without incident and MOST foals are born perfectly normal...but like an expectant mother, we are ALWAYS worried about the minority of cases where there are problems.


                              • #16

                                He looked a tiny bit premature, but stood, nursed etc. just fine. At three days he looked like a newborn, within a week, absolutely normal.
                                InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

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


                                • #17
                                  The mare had placentitis and was on meds. The filly stood and nursed, had some premie issues, but otherwise healthy. Within a week looked like a newborn. She does have one wonky leg that should have been supported, but she was our first foal and we didn't know anything about that stuff.
                                  Now she is in foal and just reached day 328, yippee!
                                  Good luck!


                                  • #18
                                    A normal gestation for the mare is 320 to 370. 340 days is an average of averages, but in reality less than 20% of mares foal around that day. There is an article on our website about gestational length. With the equine, unlike most other mammals, the foal determines gestational length, NOT the mare. Hence the reason that you should NOT induce a mare. No way of knowing if the foal is done cookin' yet <smile>.

                                    Here's the article and please enter your foal's resulting gestational length. It helps other breeders when they begin worrying about when their foal will arrive!


                                    Good luck!
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