Archive for the ‘Raising A Healthy Foal’ Category
Vaccinating the newborn foal is controversial. The foal gets all his initial resistance to disease from the mare’s first milk. His immune system is competent, it just hasn’t decided what is bad for the foal yet. Vaccinations may tie up some of the mare’s antibodies and actually make the foal more susceptible to infection. We know this does not happen with the tetanus vaccination, so it is safe at this time. Other vaccines are still not known. Usually the foal is well protected for the first 3 months. Best for the foal is to be sure the mare is vaccinated one month prior to birth, then the foal get his first vaccines at 3 months of age.
Healthy foals should nurse within the first three hours after birth. Vigorous foals may nurse within the first 30 - 45 minutes. If the foal does not show interest in nursing after three hours, it may need some help and encouragement to get started. Also check for signs of illness or possible birth defects. Before helping the foal, be sure the mare’s udder and nipples are clean. Place one hand under the foal’s jaw and point its nose and muzzle toward the mare’s udder. With your other hand on the foal’s tail or thigh area, gently push the foal toward the mare. You may need to massage the mare’s udder to get a few drops of milk (colostrum) into the foal’s mouth.
An important test to be sure your foal is well protected against disease is an IgG test. This test will make sure the foal received adequate antibodies from the mares milk. An IgG test on the foal 16 hours after he first nursed would seem prudent to me. IgG is shorthand for the type of immunoglobulin the foal receives from the mares colostrum. An immunoglobulin is a protein that is produced by the cells of the immune system that circulates in the blood and provides defense against infectious diseases and toxins. So, if everything goes well, the mare secretes her own IgG into the colostrum or first milk to the foal.