Pregnant Mare Care: What should I do?

Breeding season is sadly coming to a close. While I’m relieved to see an end to the interruptions of my early morning and late night cat naps, I will miss the excitement of watching the docs confirm a mare is pregnant for the first time. If you just heard the awesome news that your mare is in foal, congratulations! Now what? Should you simply mark your calendar for 11 months from now, sit back and relax? ¬†Well, not exactly. Pregnant mare care is about to become a big part of your life for the year to come! Let me explain.

Cute ultrasound pics
If you were a pregnant human, you’d be visiting your midwife or OB/GYN about once a month throughout your pregnancy. For horses, we recommend ultrasounds at 14 days, 30 days (“heartbeat check”), 60 pregnant mare foaldays, 90 days, and 7 months of pregnancy. How else can you get cute ultrasound pictures to post on Facebook with your mare’s pregnancy announcement? But seriously, early embryonic loss is not uncommon in mares, so we like to do several ultrasounds during the first few months of pregnancy to confirm that all is well. The 7 month ultrasound is primarily to look for signs of placentitis, or infection of the placenta. When identified early, placentitis can be treated and can prevent abortion of a late-term foal.

Your mare, the pincushion
While there are many potential causes of abortion in mares, there is one that is very easily prevented: equine herpes virus. The Pneumabort vaccine is extremely safe, and designed specifically for pregnant mares to protect against equine herpes virus infection. In my humble opinion, giving your mare a Pneumabort shot at 3, 5, 7, and 9 months of pregnancy is a no-brainer! Also, don’t forget to schedule your mare’s pre-foaling vaccines 4-8 weeks before her due date. The docs like to vaccinate mares shortly before giving birth to boost those antibodies so they will transfer to the newborn foal in the mare’s milk. A brilliant plan, if I do say so myself!

Prenatal vitamins for horses
Now that she is eating for two, it may be time to increase or change your mare’s feeding program. Just like pregnant humans, mares need a strong vitamin and mineral package to support the healthy growth of their fetus. Lucky for you, there are several commercially available Mare & Foal feeds that are well suited to meet the needs of pregnant and lactating mares. Especially towards the end of her pregnancy, it will be important to keep up with your mare’s nutritional demands in order for her to produce enough milk once her foal is born.

So, fear not my friends. For although this year’s breeding season is coming to a close, you will see me again at least another half dozen times between now and when that adorable foal makes his debut! As a matter of fact, you can come see me at 6:30 pm on June 8th here at the Clinic for our ever-popular Skin Funk Seminar! If you bring me a treat, I’ll let you pet me. Well, I’ll probably let you pet me even if you don’t bring a treat, because I’m a good guy like that.

-Tony

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