Facility for foaling
In considering a facility for foaling, know that a pregnant mare should not be placed in a strange environment or have a stranger act as night attendant immediately prior to parturition. Any sudden changes may delay foaling. Ideally, mares should be placed in the foaling environment 2 to 3 weeks prior to her expected foaling date.
Pregnant mares can foal in a variety of locations, depending on the weather and facilities available. Whatever the choice of facility for foaling, the environment should be clean, have adequate space, and be reasonably quiet. Mares due to foal in the winter months will require a large (14' X 14' minimum), clean foaling stall. During warm weather, many producers choose to allow their mares to foal in grassy paddocks or pastures. Dirt lots should be avoided if possible.
For pregnant mares foaling in a stall, the stall should be freshly bedded with clean, dry straw rather than shavings. An 8 to 10 inch-thick bed of straw will decrease duts, chances of infection, and is easier to clean. Safety to the mare and foal should be kept in mind when selecting a foaling stall. Stalls should be constructed to allow isolation of the mare and safety to the newborn foal. Thorough disinfection of the stall prior to bringing in the mare will help prevent disease. The pregnant mare should be allowed ample exercise up to foaling. Stall confinement for an extended period just prior to foaling may predispose the mare to impaction colic and abnormal swelling.
Mares foaling in paddocks or pasture should either be isolated or have sufficient space to separate themselves from any other horses in the pasture. Additionally, the pasture/paddock should be examined for possible hazards to the foal. A shelter should be provided in case of wet or cold weather.
Regardless of the place, the foaling area should be isolated and quiet. Safety of the mare and foal should be kept in mind when deciding where the foaling will occur. The cleanliness of the foaling area cannot be stressed enough. Foaling in contaminated areas can predispose the foal to bacteria invasion and neonatal septicemia via the navel stump.
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