Farm Talk

February 18, 2014

Treatments foals may need immediately after birth


Parsons, Kansas — It is routine for the foal’s activities to be monitored following delivery to insure it consumes the mare’s milk. The foal should nurse within one to three hours post birth, the sooner the better. This allows for antibodies to be passed from the milk and absorbed through the digestive tract of the foal. To insure antibodies were adequately transferred at large enough levels, an on-farm test can be conducted from a sample of the foal’s blood. This test is normally conducted about 12 hours post nursing. When detected, low antibody titers can be corrected with blood plasma infusions.

The navel area of the foal is treated with a disinfectant soon after delivery. The navel cord should break from the actions of the foal to stand soon after birth. Treatment of the cord can occur at that time, or it may be more appropriate to wait until the foal has stood, gained it equilibrium and nursed before interrupting the foal with this process.

General assessments of physical well being are done to monitor the attitude and behavior of the foal.

Veterinarian checks of lung function, heart rate, and other health related parameters may be conducted within several hours following birth. Enemas are given several hours post birth to assist with expulsion of fecal material.

Any indications that the foal is not normal in its behavior or unable to nurse within several hours post birth requires veterinarian attention.