What to expect when you are expecting
Prior to breeding, the mare should have a complete health check and breeding examination which can include ultrasound and laboratory tests, if indicated, to check for underlying infections. Pregnancy testing should be carried out on all pregnancies, there is nothing
worse than waiting for 11 months only to find the mare was either never pregnant or has slipped a foal. Early pregnancy ultrasound is carried out generally from 16-25 days post breeding and is also the time to check for twin pregnancies (which often
result in the death of one or both foals, and sometimes the mare).
Further pregnancy scans are often carried out after 45 days of pregnancy to confirm the presence of a heartbeat and again ideally at mid-pregnancy or if there are any abnormal udder developments, discharge, or colic symptoms.
Gestation period is normally 320-365 days.
Mares should be vaccinated with their tetanus booster or 2 in 1 tetanus and strangles 4-6 weeks prior to foaling. Other vaccinations which are recommended include herpes virus (Duvaxyn) at the 5th, 7th and 9th months of pregnancy and occasionally salmonella and rotavirus vaccination.
Your mare should be on a normal diet for the first 2 trimesters (6-7 months) of pregnancy. In the third trimester (9-11months) the foal will grow rapidly and some mares may require extra nutrition.
Bring the mare into the foaling paddock 6-8 weeks prior to foaling to allow adequate antibodies against her immediate environment to be present in her colostrum.
In the days and weeks prior to foaling you will see the vulva swell and lengthen. The udder will develop and the teats will “wax up” 1-4 days prior to foaling.
Labour – There are 3 stages to labour:
Stage 1 – Often starts in the early hours of the morning. Majority of foals are born between 10pm and 2am.
*Looks like mild colic with the mare appearing restless and sweating.
*Ends with the mare’s waters breaking.
*Normally lasts 1 hour
Stage 2 – Should only last 20-30min. ANY LONGER = EMERGENCY
*Mare is on her side and delivers the foals 2 front legs, one slightly in front of the other with hooves facing down followed by the nose, head, neck, shoulders.
*When foal delivered the umbilical cord will be intact. The movement of the mare will break it. Do not interfere with it as the foal is still receiving blood from it.
*Passing of the placenta should occur 1-2 hours after foaling. Keep the placenta aside to be assessed to be sure it has been passed intact. If the afterbirth has not been passed in 2-3 hours post foaling call your vet immediately as complications can occur if it is not passed.