Life Stages of Foals

Life Stages of Foals

A foal’s health can change overnight, so it’s important to keep a close eye on any signs and symptoms before the disease develops.

If you are an aspiring breeder, chances are you expect your mare to foal with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. While most births are normal and most foals are born without complications, there is still a small risk of complications during delivery.

Studies show that most deaths and illnesses in foals occur during the critical first week of life. The foal is most vulnerable at this time.

Premature birth

Premature birth, i.e. Carrying a mare foal up to 320 days has a great impact on his health. Those foals that were born at least a week ahead of time later have weaker health than those born on time. A premature foal will be smaller in size, have very sparse silky hair, soft cartilage, elastic hooves and will be very weak – sometimes too weak to stand.

Often, premature foals have underdeveloped internal organs, which leads to problems with breathing and thermoregulation (the ability to maintain body temperature). Chromosome abnormalities are common, as well as a condition called hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), in which an active foal becomes weak and lethargic in a matter of hours.

Some premature foals have an underdeveloped gastrointestinal tract, which prevents them from absorbing breast milk. These foals have to be fed intravenously.

Today, specialists manage to increase the survival rate of more than 65% of preterm foals, and even foals born before the 300th day of gestation, with intensive care, survive.

Birth of a foal

In a normal delivery, the foal should:

  1. Be alert and active.
  2. Must take a sternum position for 15 minutes.
  3. Try to get to your feet within 30 minutes of birth.
  4. Stand and start sucking milk within two to three hours after birth.
  5. Produce meconium – the first sticky dark manure – within 12 hours. Some foals are constipated and need an enema.
  6. The pulse is more than 60 beats per minute, which will gradually increase one hour after birth.
  7.  Respiratory rate 60-80 breaths per minute immediately after birth, which levels off to 30-40 breaths per minute after an hour.

Since the immune system of a newborn foal is still weak, it needs to be strengthened with the mother’s milk, which the mare produces during the first 12-24 hours after birth, and which is rich in antibodies that can protect the baby from disease. If the foal does not receive this portion of antibodies during the critical period, then there is a very high risk of infection from almost every pathogenic microorganism in the environment.

However, not receiving maternal antibodies is not the only risk factor for a foal’s health. Difficult or forced labor, maternal infections or other abnormalities of pregnancy can directly affect the foal’s health.

Sometimes the mare refuses the foal, showing fear or even aggression. In this case, the cause of this behavior (eg, swollen udder or mastitis) should be investigated immediately.

The first days of the foal

It is very important to know what “should” happen in the first few weeks of your foal’s life. Here is a basic timeline of major events in a healthy foal’s life.

In the first two days:

  1. The foal will suck milk several times an hour, completely emptying the mother’s udder. A full, hot udder means the foal is not feeding properly.
  2. He will often lie down for a short time with a breathing rate of 30-40 breaths per minute.
  3. He will urinate and defecate frequently and in small amounts. Most foals urinate as soon as they get to their feet.
  4. Many foals are born with weak, arched legs. You do not need to worry if your foal gets tangled and hesitant in his legs for the first two days. However, you should consult your veterinarian if limb weakness persists after 2 months.
  5. The level of antibodies in the blood of the foal should ensure its resistance to disease by this time. It can be checked by a veterinarian within the first 18-24 hours after birth.
  6. The foal’s heart rate should equalize to 80-120 beats per minute.
  7. A heart murmur is sometimes heard for the first time two days of the foal’s life, but it should disappear before the fourth day.
  8. The temperature should be between 37.2 and 38.9 degrees. Temperatures higher or lower, even a few tenths of a degree, may indicate problems.
  9. Depression, weakness or milk residue on the foal’s face are symptoms of ill health. Consult your doctor.

First weeks

  1. The foal may begin to show interest in the food its mother eats, tasting it.
  2. The foal will eat fresh manure (usually from its mother), which is called coprophagia. This behavior is very important for the baby’s health, as it allows him to populate his intestines with beneficial bacteria, which he will need when he can eat solid food.
  3. The foal will become more and more adventurous and independent of its mother.
  4. Most foals develop diarrhea 7-12 days after birth, as a natural response to changes in the baby’s gastrointestinal system as they grow older. Normally, the foal has watery-soft manure. The symptoms should disappear after a few days.

Signs of health problems. As you watch your foal, look for the following signs that may indicate a health problem:

  • drowsiness;
  • loss of appetite (full udder in the mother, milk residues on the foal’s face);
  • weakness;
  • labored breathing;
  • constipation;
  • fever (it is best to measure the temperature daily);
  • tumors in the navel or genitals;
  • pale mucous membranes;
  • disorientation;
  • cough;
  • inability to swallow;
  • sluggish reflexes;
  • decreased urination, or urine leaking from the navel;
  • diarrhea that lasts longer than a few days, or is profuse or bloody.

As we said, the health of a foal can change very quickly, so you should pay attention to these signs, especially in the first week of life. Often, by the time the owner notices them, the disease is already in full swing. If you think there is something wrong with your foal’s health, be sure to call your veterinarian. Most doctors prefer to be triggered on a false alarm, rather than in a critical condition of the patient, when their assistance may already be useless.

Newborn Foals – the First Hours of Life

Newborn Foals

In a very short time after birth, the foal’s body must undergo tremendous changes in order to adapt to life outside the uterus. Normally, the following happens in the first three hours after birth:

  1. Stretching and rupture of the umbilical cord – 1-2 minutes after birth.
  2. The first attempts to breathe – within 1 minute.
  3. Attempts to straighten up – within 5 minutes.
  4. The sucking reflex manifests itself within 5 minutes.
  5. Attempts to stand – within the first 30 minutes after birth.
  6. The ability to stand independently appears within 60-120 minutes.
  7. The first feeding with mother’s milk occurs within 60-180 minutes.

All of the above events must occur without fail. Any deviation signals the health problems of the newborn and the need to consult a veterinarian.

It is very important to observe the sucking reflex in the newborn foal. It occurs within 5 minutes of birth. This reflex may be weak at first, but gradually, during the first hour of life, it intensifies. The foal will try to look for the mother’s udder. It is important to make sure that the foal has found the udder and is drinking milk with its tongue wrapped around the teat.

During the first week of life, foals suckle milk approximately 4-5 times per hour, from a few seconds to a minute. If the foal tries to feed more often, it can be assumed that the mare does not have enough milk. If the mare’s udder appears to be enlarged and milk is dripping from it, it is likely that the foal cannot eat enough. This can be an early symptom of illness in a foal. An urgent consultation with a veterinarian is required.

If you are in doubt as to whether the foal is getting enough colostrum, you can contact your veterinarian who will take the foal’s blood for analysis and check how it is absorbing colostrum. You can also test the foal’s blood for antibodies from the mother between 12 and 24 hours after birth.

Soon after birth, the foals attempt to straighten up and sit up. They should actively move their legs and hold their head. Lying on its side is not normal for a newborn.

The foal’s first bowel movement occurs approximately 30 minutes after the first feeding. The foal’s first manure is called meconium. It consists of dark brown hard balls. Sometimes a newborn foal has difficulty with the first bowel movement (in this case, the foal is given a cleansing enema). He may arch his back and push to try to have a bowel movement.

A foal’s first urination occurs between 3-5 hours after birth. Occasionally wearers confuse straining to defecate (arching the back) with straining to urinate (squatting). Foals learn very quickly. In nature, they should be able to escape predators as quickly as possible after birth.

During the first few days of life, foals do not move further than 10 meters from their mother. As they adapt to their environment, they begin to gradually increase the distance between themselves and their mother.

How and Why Breeding Horses

Breeding Horses

Horse breeding is an interesting business, but very troublesome and costly. Horses can be safely attributed to capricious animals, they will not tolerate bad attitude, maintenance or lack of food and can rebel. They also need constant attention. The last thing that is important to understand is the financial side of the issue. Not only feed, but also the stall, bedding, the animals themselves, veterinarian examinations – everything requires money, you need to be prepared for this.

Why are horses bred?

Horses are bred for different purposes: as a pet, for sports, for walks, for meat, as an additional labor force. In each case, additional spending may be required. So, for example, when teaching sports horseback riding, you need to purchase sports uniforms not only for the rider, but also for the horse. Using an animal as a labor requires the purchase of supplies to harness it to a plow or cart. The same applies to all other cases.

So, so that you do not have to go to unplanned expenses, you should find out in more detail everything about the business that you want to run, what you need for it, and only then start it. In this case, horse breeding will not be a problem in the first year.

Where to begin?

The first thing to do before purchasing horses for breeding is to draw up a plan or a business plan. Only thorough preparation will allow the breeder not to be at a loss. You need to fully consider why the horses will be bred, in what quantity, what will need to be purchased, what you can save on at first, and so on.

It is also advisable for the breeder to scout out the prices for horses in advance and for the products that he will sell or services that he can provide in order to get some profit from horse breeding. Reconnaissance of the situation and demand in the market will help to adjust the work plan and business conduct.

It is also worth considering the issue with the staff in advance. If a large stable is planned, then you will need people who can look after it (clean the premises, horses, carry out regular feeding, watering, maybe even walk or train the horses). These are additional funds, but they are necessary. For example, raising a horse for sporting events is possible only under the clear guidance of a trainer – a person who knows how to train horses with maximum benefit for the breeder and the animal itself.

How to build and equip a stable?

After drawing up a rough or accurate business plan, it is worth considering a stable. It is certainly not worth buying horses that will have nowhere to sleep. So until the premises are built and equipped, horses cannot be bought. But how do you build a stable?

It all depends on the scale at which the breeder is aiming. One person cannot build large premises – builders are needed. Small, you can build it yourself, if you have all the building materials.

The size of the stables depends on the number of horses. The height of small stables, where 1-3 animals are kept, can be up to 2.8 meters. The height of rooms up to 10 individuals is 3.1 m, if there are up to 30 horses, then the ceiling should be located at a height of 3.4-3.75 m, and if there are up to 50 individuals, then the ceiling height is usually 3.75-4.5 meters. That is, the more animals, the higher the stall. This is explained by the fact that the high ceiling makes the room brighter, more spacious and functional.

Stalls are made in a large, built room. There should be as many of them as there are horses. You can also build 2-3 spare stalls for emergencies, because sometimes horse breeding is unpredictable.

The size of the stall depends on the age of the horse:

  • For peers – 4 m / sq.
  • For two-year-olds – 6 m / sq.
  • For three-year-olds – 8 m / sq.
  • For a horse with a foal – 9.6-11.5 m / sq.

If the size of the premises allows, you can make all the stalls large, as for three-year-olds, nevertheless, the horses grow – this will allow them not to be rebuilt after a while.

Walls, floors must be protected from mold, made of reliable material. It is also important to exclude any drafts, as they negatively affect the health of pets. Sashes and windows for ventilation are arranged at a height of 2.2 meters so that the wind “walks” at the top of the room, and not on the floor. Windows are made around the entire perimeter, but on the sunny side they should be matte. Feeders and drinkers are placed at a height of 50-70 cm, depending on the age of the horse, so that it is convenient for her to eat from them.

In addition to all this, horse care equipment is installed in the stable. It is also worth worrying about a large field or meadow near the stall, where the horses can walk, run and graze.

How to keep horses?

Now the hardest part begins. Horse breeding involves constant caring for them. Feeding, brushing, brushing, bathing, walking and many other points should not be ignored. There are a few important points in horse care that any horse breeder and staff should keep in mind.

  • The diet is always matched to the breed, purpose and characteristics of the animal – there are no standards for everyone.
  • Grooming and inspection of the hooves should be carried out daily or even 2 times a day if the horse is engaged in sports training, participation in competitions, or physical labor.
  • It is very dangerous to walk horses in rain, snow, slush, and in strong winds. The animal can catch a cold, get sick, dislocate its leg.
  • The stall is cleaned every day or even several times a day. It is important all the time to monitor the cleanliness of the litter, troughs for food, water. Even the windows and walls must shine so that fungus does not grow in the stable.
  • Food is always given fresh, cooked a maximum of half an hour before feeding. Compound feed, grain, hay are bought from one reliable manufacturer, since frequent changes in the type or quality of food can lead to problems with the horse’s digestion.

As you can see, caring for horses is difficult, but these proud and sophisticated animals will fully return love and kindness to their owners, you just need to wait until they grow up.

How to make money?

Horse breeding is very expensive. Initially, their maintenance will require a lot of money, but such a business can pay for itself completely not earlier than after 3 years of hard work with these amazing creatures.

Most breeders set up additional business in order to quickly recoup the costs. So, for example, on a farm where horses are bred for racing, you can open a horse rental service, horse riding, training of young riders. You can also make money at competitions and exhibitions. It is not uncommon for beautiful stallions to take part in photography and video filming for advertising or even surrender to be filmed in films!

So, in principle, if there is a desire, you can find how to earn extra money on horses, only this must be done competently so as not to harm the main business for which horses were generally bred.