|Foaling Time - Miniature Horses|
By: Charlynne Ward
Miniature horses are a bit of a challenge to breed. The mares quite frequently have "silent heats" so if you are breeding in hand it's hard to know when they are ready to breed. Pasture breeding is good for them, but you don't always know when they breed, so it's a mystery as to when they will foal.
The gestation time is approximately 11 months, or 340 days. It is best to be in attendance at the foalings because the mare may have a problem and you can frequently help them and save the foal, mare, or both. We give our mares a PneumabortK injection at 5, 7 and 9 months during the pregnancy, and tetanus one month before foaling. This gives the foal immunity also.
You need to have all the preparations made and ready to go about 2 weeks before the birth is expected, you never know when it might happen early. Have a clean stall prepared with clean, dry straw bedding. We fix birthing stalls in our garage to have them close to us. We bring the mare in about 2 weeks before giving birth so they are comfortable with it, putting them out during the day to exercise. Be sure to watch them closely during the day too, many of them will give birth in daylight hours.
We make up a birthing kit to carry us through the season. This consists of:
There are some signs to watch for signaling that birth is imminent. The mare's teats will "wax" 12 to 24 hours before foaling. A small bead of waxy milk will appear. The mare may quit eating, be restless, getting up and down and rolling to get the foal in position. She may sweat. A bubble may appear from the vulva, or the water sac may break. Any or all of these things might be noticed and should be taken as a sign of imminent birth. When the mare lays down and is bearing down hard you need to be sure she is not laying against the wall so the foal will hit it when coming out, minis are small enough to pull around to a better position. Be sure to get the sac off the foals head immediately so it can breathe. It is a good idea to have your vet prepared to come out if he is needed. We call ours and tell him when we are expecting a foal, so if we have an emergency situation he knows what to expect.
Mini foals range in size at birth from 14" to 22", weighing from 15 to 20 lbs. After the foal is delivered, both mom and baby may rest a few minutes. It is good to put the foal around in front of the mare so she can lick it dry (as you see Sante Fe licking her colt on the photo on this page) and start bonding with it, but only do this if the umbilical cord has broken. If the cord is still intact leave them alone as long as they will lay there. When the mare stands up tie the sac in a knot (1) to keep her from walking on it and (2) to help it come out of the mare clean. Never pull on it to get it out. If the mare hasn't passed it in about an hour you need to give her Oxytocin or call the vet. Always check the afterbirth to be sure none was left in the mare, or save it for your vet to check.
The foal will stand on its own and search for the teat. We always help a little so it can get right down to eating the first meal. After all the business of birthing is over, then it is time to imprint the foal. We sit down in the pen with the mom and put the foal on our lap. We touch the entire body, rubbing, patting, etc. leaving nothing untouched. Stick a finger in its ears, mouth and nostrils. Do each area until the foal accepts and relaxes, then go on. Take the clippers and run them all over its body while running, this will make it easier to clip the foal when it is older. Pat each hoof on the bottom about 50 times to desensitize it for the farrier.
When all this has been accomplished to your satisfaction call everybody to come see!
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