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Miniature Mare Gestation:

On average, miniature mares carry their foals a gestation period ranging from 310 to 330 days. However, some of our mares have foaled as early as 300 days gestation, while others have carried up to nearly 350 days. We normally ultrasound between 18-45 days, post breeding, to most closely estimate the actual "bred" date, as well as the anticipated delivery date(s).

We have found that mares tend to follow their dam's gestation lengths. Typically, mares will also carry a little longer with their first foal.

Signs That Your Miniature Mare Is Preparing To Foal:

- One to two weeks prior to foaling, we usually notice our mares rolling more often.

- We also watch for any changes in her milk sac (temperature/heat and increase in size). Some mares may begin "bagging up" weeks prior to delivery, while others may wait until the last minute.

- We also check the consistency of the milk, daily (plus we check 2-3 times a day when it appears foaling is more imminent). 90% of the time, the milk will change from a watery consistency to a thick, syrupy, sticky texture, indicating the "colostrum" or mare's "first milk." This change in texture indicates the foal should come within 24 hours or less. Only a drop of milk is needed to rub between your fingers for the texture test.

- Very few of our mares "wax-up," like full-sized horses.

- We check for increased softness and "give" around the tailset.

- We check for swelling and/or elongation of the vulva.

- Some mares may also become nervous, restless, and "excitable."

- Loose stool and/or lack of fecal balls generally indicates the foal will arrive within 24 hours.

These are all signs that the baby will be coming soon. Just be aware that maiden mares may not have "read the book" or "checked the list!" Some miniature maiden mares will often show no visible changes prior to foaling.

After Your Mare Foals:

Apply strong Iodine or Novalsan to the foal's umbilical cord, after it is detached. Check with your vet about his/her suggestions. Current research indicates that most foals pick up bacteria from the ground, rather than the old school of thought that bacteria enters through the navel stump. (However, we still dip the cord stump/navel completely into a small vial of Novalsan several times daily for the first 2-3 days.)

Clean out the baby's nose and mouth of any extraneous fluids or mucous membranes. If you hear fluid in the baby's lungs, you may need to hold the foal up off of the ground by the hind legs and swing it gently back and forth. This will help drain some of the fluid from its lungs.

Pull on the mare's nipples to make sure that she has colostrum to feed her foal. Check the foal for sucking reflex.

The foal may nuzzle the milk sac and even make loud, sucking noises, but still not drink sufficiently. Make sure the foal gets a good hold onto the nipple and stays there sucking for 30 seconds at a time - at least. Foals MUST drink the mare's first milk. This colostrum is the only way the babies get protection and immunities. Without proper intake, they may need a blood transfusion. The foal should begin nursing within two hours of birth. The sooner they begin to drink, the more absorption of antibodies they receive. After 12 hours, it may be too late. Your vet can do a simple blood test to see if the proper amount of absorption has taken place.

The closer to 300 days gestation the mare foals, the closer you need to watch the baby's ability to stand to drink milk. The foal may be weaker and unable to drink a sufficient amount of colostrum. The vet can tube-feed the foal with colostrum, if needed.

If the mare is too uncomfortable following the birth, ask your vet what type of medication and dosage she may need. Some mares that are uncomfortable will not stand still for the foal to nurse sufficiently.

There are so many other things for you to learn, but these are the basics. Please ask if you have other questions.


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