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Service Information

Foals and foaling

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The arrival of a foal is an exciting and often emotional time for all those concerned. There are many problems that face the growing foal. The period between birth and six months of age is an extremely important stage and probably has the greatest influence on the future use of the horse or pony than any other stage.

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Onsite foaling services are provided by Debbie Temple of Plum Park Farm.

They have very large foaling boxes with CCTV, foaling alarms and an experienced foaling team. This is all just a few metres from our hospital facilities.

The newborn foal – abnormal behaviour and time concerns

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Should you have any questions, queries or concerns regarding your mares’ foaling or your newborn foals behaviour and progression, please contact the clinic on 01327 811007 or 01788 523000 to speak to one of our vets.

Post foaling checks

When your mare foals it is sensible to call the vet out in the first 12-24 hours after birth to check that everything is ok with both mare and foal. Once we have been satisfied that the foal is drinking from the mare and is bright and happy, he or she will have their heart, lungs and eyes checked to ensure there are no abnormalities like an irregular heartbeat, fractured ribs or cataracts in the eyes.

We also check the umbilicus for signs of hernia and ensure that it has been sufficiently disinfected. The foal will have his or her temperature taken and may receive an enema to ensure the meconium (first poo) has been fully passed.

While the foal is moving around we will also ensure that the limbs are correctly formed and with no flexural or angular deformities. If there are, we can advise the best course of action in order to rectify them as soon as possible.

A blood sample (foal must be more than 12 hours old) should be taken to check the level of antibodies he/she has absorbed from the mare’s colostrum is sufficient to be able to fight off any infection.

Finally, the foal will receive an injection of tetanus antitoxin to ensure immunity against tetanus during the first few weeks of life when the foal is most susceptible.

Once we have made sure all is well with the foal, the mare will also receive a full clinical examination to ensure she is in full health after foaling. She will have her heart, lungs and temperature checked and we make sure that both her teats are producing good quantities of milk and that they are not painful. The mare is examined for vaginal tears and also checked for adequate colostrum production. If a sample of colostrum is collected from the mare immediately post foaling this can be tested at the clinic for antibody quality.

The placenta will then be laid out on a flat surface to ensure it has been passed in its entirety and nothing has been left behind in the uterus as a potential cause of infection. (The placenta should be expelled within 3-4 hours post foaling, if it has not been passed by six hours post foaling then please call us as a matter of urgency).

Microchipping and passporting

All foals need a passport and are required to be micro-chipped. This must be carried out before the foal is six months old or by 31 December in the year it is born, whichever is later.

Microchipping and obtaining a pasport for your foal is required at an earlier age if you need to transport your foal without its mother.Registration with a particular breed society/stud book requires you to obtain the appropriate documentation from that society before we visit you.

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Vaccinating your foal

If  your mare received a booster vaccination in last 4-8 weeks of her pregnancy;

  • +/- Tetanus antitoxin at birth and 6 weeks old
  • Tetanus/influenza vaccinations start at 6 months

If your mare is unvaccinated or did not receive a booster;

  • Tetanus antitoxin at birth and 6 weeks old
  • Tetanus/influenza vaccinations start at 4 months

If you wish for your foal to receive vaccinations for tetanus only;

  • 4 – 8 weeks between 1st and 2nd vaccines.
  • 12 months between 2nd and 3rd vaccine followed by boosters every 2 years.

If you wish for your foal to be vaccinated for both Influenza and Tetanus;

  • 4 weeks between 1st and 2nd vaccinations.
  • 6 months between 2nd and 3rd vaccinations followed by annual boosters.

Worming your foal

The basic rules to follow when worming your foal are:

  • Ivermectin* based product at 60 days old, then every eight weeks
  • No need for tapeworm treatment until 7 months or over
  • November five day Panacur Guard
  • No ‘Equest’ until six months old

For example:

Month Age Wormer
May Born
June 1 month old
July 2 months old Ivermectin*
August 3 months old
September 4 months old Ivermectin*
October 5 months old
November 6 months old 5 Day Panacur Guard
December 7 months old
January 8 months old
February 9 months old Equest Pramox

Parasite control during the first year of life should attempt to limit but not prevent infection with worms, so foals can develop some immunity without accumulating significant worm burdens.

*Ivermectin is the main ingredient in Eqvalan, Eraquell, Vectin, Equimax, Noromectin.