By Dr. Robert Hunter, DVM
Foaling season has begun, and it is time to prepare yourself and your mare for the blessed event. There are several steps to take at least one month prior to the calculated due date.
Your Mare’s Gestation Period Can Vary
Your mare’s gestation period is generally between 340-345 days. Many factors can cause this time period to vary. For mares foaling in winter, the length of pregnancy can extend 7-10 days longer than those foaling in spring or summer. If you had your mare under lights for the last few months of pregnancy the time period will be shorter. Maiden mares tend to foal 7-10 days late.
Vaccinate One Month Prior to the Calculated Foaling Date
Be sure to vaccinate your mare one month prior to the due date to increase antibody levels in the colostrum. In most cases, I recommend Eastern & Western Encephalomyelitis, Tetanus, Strangles, West Nile, Influenza, Rhino (EHV) and Rabies. You can learn more about vaccination schedules for pregnant mares on the Hunter Stallion Station website.
Start to Prepare At Least Two Weeks in Advance
If your mare has had a *Caslick procedure, your veterinarian should schedule her at least 2 to 4 weeks prior to the calculated foaling date to have the sutured vulva opened. This is also the time to decide where you will have the mare foal. If you will be moving her into an unfamiliar stall, or you plan to have your veterinarian supervise the birth, you should relocate the mare at least 2 to 4 weeks in advance to allow her to settle in to her new surroundings.
As with all things in life, foaling dates do not always take place on schedule. One sure sign that the date is near is a noticeable waxing of the mare’s teats. Milk calcium levels increase to 200 ppm within 48 hours of foaling. Your veterinarian can provide you with other signs that the time is near based on the mare’s foaling and medical history.
If you plan to have your mare foal at Hunter Stallion Station, please call our office at (916) 687-6870 to reserve one our foaling stalls.
*The Caslick procedure addresses potential genital infections in mares that have conformational abnormalities, or are otherwise experiencing a high frequency of genital infections.
During estrus the vulval lips become elongated and relaxed to allow for breeding, making the seal potentially ineffective. This can lead to contamination and a uterine infection.
The procedure consists of suturing the upper portion of the vulval lips to assure an airtight seal regardless of condition, work, or conformational abnormalities. The lower one third of the vulva is not sutured to allow for urination. The wound usually heals in two to three weeks.