Here at Hall Place Equine Vets, we are able to carry out a full range of stud-work. From advice on breeding your mare to Artificial Insemination with chilled or frozen semen, pregnancy scanning, health tests and certifications and post foaling checks and advice.

A mare is pregnant for on average 330 to 345 days so it is a long time to wait from the time of conception to the time of foaling and it is not without risk to both the mare and the foal. For this reason, it is important to weigh up the pros and cons before embarking on a breeding program.

There are several things to consider before breeding with your mare:

 

Mare factors:

Temperament – is your mare of a good temperament as this is likely to be passed onto her foals. Is she going to be easy to handle after foaling and allow you to handle her foal for vet-checks, foot trimming, halter training etc.

Conformation – only mares with good conformation should be bred with as any conformational defects are likely to be passed onto her offspring

Health – mares with ongoing health problems should not be bred with as the condition may be hereditary or the added stress of carrying a foal may exacerbate the problem and pose a risk to both mare and foal. Speak to one of our vets if you have any doubts about breeding from your mare.

 

Stallion factors:

Suitability – does the stallion match up well with your mare, do his strengths counteract your mare’s weaknesses and vice versa. Also check pedigrees and compare with your mares’ as in-breeding is never good!

Temperament – a hot-headed stallion over a fiery mare is likely to lead to a hard to handle youngster so think carefully about what you are aiming to breed and do your homework before choosing a stallion for his looks or pedigree.

Availability – this depends on whether you are using natural service or AI. Some stallions only stand at stud for short periods of time between competitions so this will affect the availability of natural coverage or chilled AI. Less of a problem if using frozen semen as it is stored and usually available at any time in the breeding season. It can be tricky co-ordinating the timing of your mare coming in season with the availability of chilled semen so working closely with your vet and with the stud is vital.

 

Facilities

For AI programs, do you have facilities to allow safe rectal ultrasound examination and insemination of your mare (stocks are preferable but we can usually do it over a low stable door, the mare may have to be sedated or twitched for the safety of all involved)

Do you have the facilities to keep a pregnant mare over the winter. If the foal is due early in the spring, do you have the facilities to foal the mare inside and a large enough loose-box for the mare and foal to stay in.

Do you have secure turn-out facilities (it is very important for the development on the foal to have access to regular, good quality turn-out).

Do you have the ability and assistance to handle the foal from a young age to get it accustomed to being worked with – halter trained, foot care etc.

 

Financial

There is more than just the stud fee to take into consideration when calculating the cost of breeding with your mare. Many studs now operate a “no foal, no fee” policy which means if your mare does not conceive the first season, you will get a free return the following year but the stud fee does have to be paid the first year. Be aware that many of the European studs only give you a half return the following year so you will have to fork out more should you wish to try again.

Veterinary fees can become considerable depending on the type of service/semen you are using. A mare being covered by natural service will need fewer scans than a mare being Artificially Inseminated but will need more tests to check for infectious diseases before going to the stallion.

Speak to one of our vets to discuss the best option for you and our mare and to get an idea of the costs involved.

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Foaling Advice

LATE PREGNANCY (3-4 months prior to foaling)

The average length of pregnancy is 335-342 days (can range between 320-400 days).

Worming

This should be done one month before foaling and before the mare is moved to a foaling box

Booster Vaccinations

Flu and tetanus boosters should be given at least one month before foaling to boost the mare’s immunity. She will pass on anti-bodies to the foal in her colostrum. It is also recommended to vaccinate mares against the Herpes virus (which can cause abortion) at five, seven and nine months of pregnancy.

The Pregnant Mare

Udder development starts approximately one month before foaling with a final enlargement in the last two weeks.

Waxy material may appear on the teats (known as ‘waxing up’) 72 hours before foaling and mares may start to lie down more at this stage. Milk may drip from the udder in the last 24 hours.

NB. It is important to ring the practice when foaling is imminent to make sure the duty vet knows how to find you in case of any problems which may arise during foaling.

 

Parturition (The foaling)

Stage 1

(Average 50 minutes, range 30 minutes to 6 hours duration)
The mare is usually restless, sweaty, flank watching and may roll..

Stage 2

(Average 20 minutes, range 10 to 60 minutes duration)
The mare’s waters will break and she may lie down. Foaling should occur within 30 minutes of the waters breaking. The foal is expelled forcibly in a sac and should break out on its own (provide assistance if necessary). The umbilical cord should be left to rupture naturally. The mare will usually be quite tired, so leave lying quietly for 30-40 minutes.

Stage 3

(Average 1-3 hours)
Passing of the after-birth (placenta) should occur in the first six hours post foaling. The passed placenta should be kept for the vet to examine to make sure it is complete when they check over the mare and foal.

When to call the vet during labour

  • If there is no progression of foaling 15 minutes after the waters have broken when abdominal contractions are present.
  • If the foal appears mal-presented (normal presentation is a head and two legs coming first).
  • If you see a red velvety sac at the vulva during Stage 2 instead of a bluey-white sac. This is known as ‘Red Bag’ and is a real emergency.
  • If fluid from the ruptured sac is a strong yellow/brown colour, this indicates the foal has been stressed and passed its meconium (first dropping) which it may have ingested/inhaled.
  • If the mare has persistent colic which does not pass with gentle hand walking.
  • If the placenta is not passed within four hours. A retained placenta can cause endotoxaemia and severe laminitis in the mare.

If you have any other concerns please contact the surgery straight away.

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The Foal

Suck reflex should be present in the first five to ten minutes.

Standing should occur one to three hours after birth.

Suckling should happen two to four hours after birth. Adequate colostrum should be drunk within the first six hours. The foal should suck five to seven times per hour.

Urination should occur eight to twelve hours post foaling.

Meconium should be passed in the first couple of days. After the meconium is passed the droppings will be soft yellow milk dung. If the foal strains excessively please call the vet.