Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00

BREEDING PART 2 - Care of pregnant mare,see how the foal grows


Care of the Pregnant Mare (Catch up with Part 1 read more)

The equine gestation period is approximately 11 months ranging between 320 and 360 days.

The mare will not usually show any obvious signs of being pregnant until the fifth or sixth month of gestation however care and observation of the mare are very important from the start to insure the foal will develop well and be healthy.

The earliest a pregnancy test can be performed by a veterinarian is at 21 days, this may be an internal examination to feel the foal and the change in the uterus or by an ultra sound.

Tips and notes

> Always be sure to provide the mare with unlimited access to clean fresh water,
shelter and a sensible diet. 

> Inadequate feed, nutrients and water will compromise the mare's ability to produce a healthy foal
and in some extreme cases she may well abort, however do not over feed the mare either.
> The feeding programme will consist of quality roughage in good quality
hay and foods rich in protein, minerals and vitamins. Feed manufacturers offer balanced mixes for all stage's and needs
throughout the pregnancy and the advice and quantities should be adhered to. 

mareingoodorder> Plan a programme of vaccinations and worming to allow the mare to
pass on her immune cells to the foal.

> A stabled mare with limited turnout will benefit from light exercise either
ridden or by lunging to reduce risks of colic and ulcers.

> Grooming will increase the mare's blood circulation and also by handling
her teats and rubbing her belly she will be more at ease when the foal begins
to nuzzle.

> Check the teeth regularly to eliminate any gum/tooth infections and allow the volume of forage to be chewed
sufficiently with no discomfort.

> Maintain healthy hooves with regular trimming and picking out. Foot infections, thrush, bruised soles or embedded
stones can all cause the mare unnecessary stress and discomfort.
What's going on inside.
Week 0 - 3
Following the mating the foetal cells drift in the uterus, drawing necessary nutrients from uterine and then the yolk sac. 
Week 3 - 5
The foetus, in the amniotic sac although under an inch long, shows very early forms of a head, buds for eyes, legs and tail and by the end of fourth week the heartbeat may be detected.
Week 6 - 7
During this stage the foetus becomes attached to the uterus lining and further definition of the head and limbs develop.
Week 8 - 12
 The head becomes domed, the ribs begin to develop and very short legs evolve. This stage is also when the placenta begins to develop, giving blood supply and removing waste products. 
Week 12 - 15
The size of the foetus is still no more the 7 inches long, however the nutrition supplied by the placenta is developing the characteristics and detail of hooves, spine, head and some hair.
Week 22 
Now the size of a rabbit rapid growth begins and more features emerge. 
Week 32
The foetus will have doubled in size and all features will be formed. 
Week 44
Now the foetus is the size of a large dog it will be covered in hair, have a short tail, fully developed lungs and strengthened legs. 
Week 48
The foal is fully developed and ready to be born. The mare will start to produce milk in her swollen udder.
Next time - Foaling - the big day arrives!
To be continued