Great Lakes Equine

Why and when should I have a new foal exam? \ by \

A new foal exam is performed at 10-12 hours after birth, assuming that the delivery was uneventful, the foal was standing and nursing within 2 hours of birth, and the mare passed her placenta within 3 hours of birth. There are several common congenital problems that are important to detect right away, including cleft palate, heart murmurs, delayed formation of bones in the knee or hock (“delayed ossification”), umbilical hernias, and contracted tendons to name a few. The most important thing is to have the foal’s IgG level checked. IgG is a type of antibody that is absorbed by the foal directly from the colostrum, or the mare’s first milk. This is the only immunity foals acquire, as they do not receive any immunization from the placenta like humans do. If the IgG level is low, this means the foal is at risk for life-threatening infections acquired just from breathing and eating in a normal environment. There are ways your veterinarian can supplement the IgG levels, but if not caught quickly, an affected foal is soon facing a life-threatening infection. It is also a good time to examine the mare as well as the placenta, as any small pieces left inside the uterus can rot and cause severe infection, often accompanied by laminitis.

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