Foaling and the Foaling Kit

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Foaling Kit

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Dear Cherry,

Our mare is due on Feb 9, 2002, and I have asked different people exactly what things I should have in my medical box - but they haven't given me a list of things that I should have - This is our first foal - so I can't go from experience - and the most of my other "horse friends" have never went through foaling either - so that is why I am asking if there is a list of things that I should have - I have the usual stuff - but I am not sure if these things will be of any help to me - in case I have a problem.. Thank You very much.

Sincerely, Peggy Sanford

Hi Peggy,

I'll get to the contents of a Foaling Kit in just a minute.

But first be sure you talk with your veterinarian on what type of medical treatment(s) he/she feels your mare and foal should have prior to and after foaling. I don't want to make any recommendations about veterinary treatments as they will vary depending on your situation and your skill level. Between you and your vet, you'll need to decide if the following things should be administered, when, and by whom. Your veterinarian might recommend none, some, or all of the following:

  • tetanus antitoxin for foal
  • penicillin for mare and/or foal
  • blood testing of foal (IgG - level of immunity)
  • deworming of mare right after foaling with ivermectin
  • probiotics for foal (vitamin, mineral, enzymes, live organisms in a paste to "jump start" the foal)
  • other tests or medical procedures depending on your mare and specific situation.

You should have a general equine first aid kit in your barn. (Reference Horse Health Care p.73) In addition to your main equine first aid kit, you should have a Foaling Kit with some specialized items for the foal and some for the mare. Here's what I have in my barn foaling kit:

  • CELL PHONE IF NO PHONE IN BARN CAMERA (I like my digital camera as it takes great pictures WITHOUT a flash so as not to disturb mare and foal.)
  • BOOK - The Complete Book of Foaling by Dr. Karen Hayes

Here are details on some of the items:



CLEAN TOWELS. For many uses including to dry the foal, stimulate circulation, clean out nostrils if necessary. But don't do too much of this unless it is very cold. Let the mare and foal have their natural bonding time together. Only step in if the mare is not attending the foal or the foal is very weak or cold.

TINCTURE OF IODINE (7%). You can dip or spray the umbilical stump. I like to dip. I fill an empty plastic film container, snap on the lid and have it ready stall-side. It is a good idea to make up an extra in case the first gets bumped or spills while trying to dip the navel on a frisky foal. Once the foal is up and the umbilical cord has broken, have someone hold the foal around the chest and hindquarters. Raise the film container of iodine up and press it over the navel cord and surrounding area. Hold for 5 seconds. Be sure to always use 7% iodine. "Gentle" 1% iodine is not strong enough to sterilize the navel area fast enough.

FLEET ENEMA. Ask your vet if he/she recommends that you give your newborn foal an enema as a matter of course shortly after birth or if you should wait until the foal has difficulty with his bowels. There are differing opinions on this and you should follow your vet's advice.
      Fleet Ready-to-Use Enema is a convenient method of relieving constipation caused by difficulty passing the meconium (hard dark feces) that is present at birth. The adult, green label Fleet works well and is available in most drug stores for about $3. You might want to have 2 on hand. The soft, flexible Comfortip is pre-lubricated to provide easy and comfortable insertion. If the foal's rectum is very dry, you can lubricate the tip with your saliva (spit on the tip and spread it around) or use KY Jelly (see next item.)


**With very gentle steady pressure, insert enema tip into rectum with tip pointing slightly upward.
Insertion is easy because the foal will have a reflex reaction to the touch as if having a bowel movement.
This helps relax the muscles around the anus and the Fleet tip tends to insert itself.
**Do not force the enema tip into the rectum as this may cause injury.
**Squeeze bottle until the liquid is gone.
**Remove the tip from rectum and release foal.

KY JELLY is a water soluble lubricating jelly made by Johnson & Johnson. It is available in any drug store for about $2 for a 4 ounce tube. It might come in handy for lubricating the foal's enema tip or lubricating an obstetrical sleeve during a vaginal exam of the mare prior to foaling. During foaling, artificial lubricants are not necessary; the mare's natural secretions provide enough lubrication.



MILD SOAP AND CLEAN CLOTHS. I prefer Ivory liquid soap for washing the mare's perineal area (Reference Horse Health Care page 36-38) and udder prior to foaling. But take care you don't use too much soap on the udder and be sure you rinse it thoroughly. Otherwise the soap residue could cause the foal to reject the mare's udder or if he ingested soap, it could cause him to have diarrhea.

TAIL WRAP. Prior to foaling, you'll want to wrap your mare's tail COMPLETELY with either a bandage or Vetrap. It will get pretty dirty during foaling so using Vetrap, which is disposable, is more convenient as you can throw it away. By completely, I mean besides wrapping the top, you want to wrap the entire length of tail to keep the long hairs out of the way during foaling. If you want to use a cotton bandage, wrap the top of the tail (Reference Horse Handling and Grooming pages 142-145), then put the rest of the tail inside a tube sock, bring the tube sock up to the tail wrap and tape the top of the tube sock to about the middle of the tail wrap using several wraps round of sticky adhesive tape. Alternatively, you can braid the mare's entire tail, fold it up on top of the top portion of the tail and then wrap it all up in one thick bundle.

OBSTETRICAL SLEEVE/GLOVE. These disposable shoulder-length thin plastic gloves come in handy if you need to assist your mare or handle her placenta. In case the foal does not present in the proper position for delivery and a vaginal assist is required. The sleeves are not for the protection of the attendant; they are for the protection of the mare. No matter how well-scrubbed your hands are, they are not as clean as sleeves.
      You can also use a glove to help gather up a hanging placenta - while holding onto the placenta with the gloved hand, use your other hand to take the edge of the sleeve by your shoulder and pull it downward which turns in inside out capturing the placenta inside. Tie the glove and its contents to the placenta near the vulva. You can purchase a box of 100 sleeves for about $10 from a vet supply or just get a few from your vet.

STRING. Have several 2-3 feet lengths of thick string or baling twine available to tie up the placenta. Some mares release their placenta right away, so tying it up isn't necessary. But for those mares who take an hour or more to shed their placenta after foaling, you'll want to bundle it up and tie it to itself to keep the mare from stepping on it. If it drags on the ground, and she steps on it and rips it prematurely from her womb, it could damage her uterus.

CLEAN PLASTIC MUCK BUCKET OR GARBAGE BAG FOR PLACENTA. Your vet might want you to save the placenta so that the day after foaling he/she can spread it out and look it over carefully for missing pieces (retained placenta can cause serious infection in the mare). You can temporarily store the placenta in a clean plastic muck bucket (lay an old plastic bag on top of it to keep it from drying out) or you can put it in a garbage bag for disposal.

Have a great time foaling!

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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