how to tell when mare will foal. HELP : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We have mares that are late foaling. What are some of the signs that advise you of imminent foaling? Other than waxing which we are already aware of. We need to know if there are any other signs to look for. Please help ASAP. Thanks...Jake

-- Jake (, April 02, 2002


Might consider trying one of these kits:

Predicting Foaling Time-Water Hardness Test

For mares with unknown foaling history, or for mares which are unpredictable for some reason, there is help available. Several commercial kits to estimate foaling time have recently come onto the market. These test kits are based on the fact that in most mares, calcium and magnesium concentrations in prepartum mammary secretion rise progressively during the latter portion of gestation to the time of foaling. A majority of mares show a significant rise in calcium and magnesium concentration just prior to parturition. This allows foaling attendants to estimate time of foaling within 12 to 24 hours The kits have been most useful in determining when the mare will not foal. In other words, if the test shows no changes in the calcium concentration, the mare probably will not foal within the next 24 hours, and thus would not need to be watched as closely. When a rise in calcium is indicated, the foaling attendant could then direct more attention to the mare which is close to foaling. These test kits, available from veterinarians, are simple to use and fairly inexpensive (.25 to $1.00 per test). All kits require taking 1- 4 cc; of milk daily once the classical signs of approaching parturition are observed. Generally, samples should be taken for approximately 10 days. Recent research has shown daily samples collected during the early evening hours were adequate for detecting the prepartum calcium rise. Univ. Nebraska,

-- BC (, April 02, 2002.

Stall walking, restless , getting up and down, tail very relaxed when you lift it.

-- PJC (, April 02, 2002.

PJC is right, also, the muscles in her hips and around her tail will relax more, leaving her hind quarters indented. Her belly might seem to drop more and she will be restless. In all the years I've raised horses, the majority of them have been born between midnight and 7:00 A.M.. (My mares might just like to keep me up all night). Watch the milk bag, I've had mares with large bags and some that never did bag up until the foal was born.

I'm excited for you! Hope you get to witness the birth, it's so special! Best wishes.

-- cowgirlone in OK (, April 02, 2002.

Foaling dates can be very variable. We had one mare foal at 360 days. The most noticeable thing when foaling is imminent is a change in behaviour, restless, walking away from the food, grumpy, just different behaviour than normal for that horse. The different behaviour has worked the best for me to determine birth, so I have now caught both of the last birth's of my mares.

-- Stacia in OK (, April 02, 2002.

Waxing isn't the most reliable, but the mare's milk is. And you don't need a kit! Within 24 hours of foaling the milk will change to an opaque white to whitish yellow. Milk a couple of drops (and that's ALL you need) onto a black surface. Like a black plastic lid from a film canister or a piece of black vinyl. If she's ready, it will be hard to see the black through the drops of milk. You may also be able to see large white granules in the milk. It may take you a couple of foalings to recognize it right off, but once you do, it's unmistakeable, and more importantly, RELIABLE. If you can see the black easily through the drops and there are no granules, she's not ready. Just a comment on the kits, they do require 1-4ccs of milk. The foal will need colostrum and you don't want to be milking it out. Especially if you start checking upon waxing. Waxing can occur two weeks or more before birth. If you checked with a kit everyday for two weeks, that's 14-56 ccs of the best milk that foal can have - gone. Just my opinion.

-- Lee S. (, April 02, 2002.

I've had five foals born to three different mares here at my ranch in the past 20 years. In four of the five cases the mares' udders bagged-up to an immense and painful looking size. In those four births the mares dripped milk for up to 48 hours prior to delivery. Sometimes the dripping was more like a squirting of milk with every step the mare took.

The other birth -- well, the mare was 15 days past her due date, she bagged-up, but not to a very impressive size, and never did drip milk. I woke up in the morning and the foal was leaping about the pasture.

Of the five foals, one was born overnight sometime, one was born at 10:30 PM, two were born in the early evening, and one was born at 2:30 PM. For all but the "surprise" foal I spent several nights sleeping in the barn, and everyone at work knew that I might call in "unavailable" at any moment.

Good luck to you. It's a great experience. Each foal is a little surprise package - what sex is it, what are the markings, what shall we name it . . . - Liz, Vacaville, CA

-- Liz Spona (, April 02, 2002.

Everyone here gave great advice! I just want to wish you luck:-) What breed of horses do you have? I have "Ay-rabs", & this thread brought back memories as our "babies" turn 15 & 12 this week. Their mom is 25, her first foal was at 11 mos., 2nd was 11 mos. 14 days, & last was 11 mos. 18 days. Good thing we didn't get to breed her again, she might never of dropped the foal;-)

Hope you have healthy foals romping around soon!

-- Erica (, April 02, 2002.

Had to add in a bit more. Bagging & dripping milk, even streaming it may not be reliable. We had one mare do this two weeks prior to foaling. Same thing with another mare who was exhibiting all the classic signs -- restless stall walking, pawing, repeatedly lying down and getting up when bagged up, sunken tailhead, the works, just like she was going into foaling until 3AM when she decided to wait another ten days.

They are all signs that MAY help you recognize what is going on. The Foal Predictor system has so far been fairly reliable for us when I was working at the Warmblood farm. The mares who were the most unpredictable by this method were also the ones who later had problems in foaling (twins, extremely hard foalings, & parturition colic requiring surgery). Anecdotal, but it did seem to form a pattern.

I did get very tired of the false alarm mares, since I was the one on foaling call usually. Many mares will also stop foaling if they do not feel comfortable about the situation at the moment and can 'hold it' for days, unlike humans. We would usually put up cardboard (large boxes, opened & flattened) over stall partitions etc, to give the mare more privacy and security. You can also poke finger-sized holes into the cardboard as peek holes to observe without bothering her and upsetting the process. Or you could do like I did and hang the broadcasting part of a baby monitor in the mare's stall, go and sit in the warm tack room, and wait until you hear the mare going into labor before going out. (cheap alternative to close circuit cameras)

-- julie f. (, April 03, 2002.

How late are they? Are they bagged up? Where are you located?

I'm a fairly recently "transplant" from the northwest to southeast and tend to be paranoid about fescue related problems. If you don't live where fescue is a problem, nothing to worry about. If it's possibly fescue-related one of the signs is not bagging up much and being overdue.

Otherwise ... have heard that many mares seem to be foaling late this year for some reason.

-- SFM in KY (, April 03, 2002.

We had a mare go 367 days last year.I slept in the barn for a whole month.She was only with the stallion for three days so we know her dates.We were also very fescue concerned.I read the herbal handbook for farm and stable,and gave her raspberry and feverfew 3 to 1.I gave it to her at 10;30 pm,she foaled at 11.05.I would not have believed it if I wasn't there.I'm not sure I would do it again.When she went down ,I thought,well now what if the foal is not in position....too late!A friend used it the week after us with an overdue mare and she got cramping the first night and a foal on the second dose.We have miniature horses,and while births are not more difficult,when there is a problem you can't get in to turn anything around,so we realy like to be present at each birth.And we do use a fisher-price baby monitor,its the best thing!!!!!

-- teri (, April 03, 2002.

Just wanted to add that the test kits using the milk are not always accurate either. When my mom's mare had her first foal we used one, and it predicted a high probability of foaling the first night we used it, even though she wasn't *quite* as bagged up as we thought we should be, or squirting yet. However we kept watch in the barn all night to be on the safe side- no foal. The next night she looked ready to go and indeed foaled that night. In other words, using the test kit made us spend an extra night in the barn! They're probably helpful if you aren't familiar with the signs of foaling, but they aren't a guarantee by any means. Good luck!

-- Sarah K. (, April 04, 2002.

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