What Are the Signs of a Mare About to Foal?

The birth of a new foal is very exciting, yet may cause some anxiety for horse owners. If this is your first time delivering a foal, you probably have a lot of questions. One thing every horse owner in Cannon Falls, MN should be familiar with is the signs that a mare is about to foal. Below are the most common signs, along with advice on when to contact a horse vet.

Udder fills with milk

The earliest sign of foaling is when a mare’s udder becomes enlarged with milk. Milk production begins anywhere between two and six weeks before she goes into labor. During this time, foaling attendants should prepare a large, disinfected stall for delivery and monitor the mare for additional symptoms. A local horse vet in Cannon Falls, MN can provide guidance on how to create a comfortable environment until the foal arrives.

Muscle relaxation

Just a few days before foaling, the muscles that control the reproductive organs start to relax. Attendants should evaluate the mare close to her expected delivery date and look for signs of relaxation in the vulva, vagina, pelvis, croup and tailhead. These are crucial pre-partum symptoms that help prepare for the birth. Gestation periods vary among horses, but delayed relaxation of the muscles could indicate a problem and warrant a visit from your horse vet.

Swollen teats

Some mares display signs of swollen, engorged teats anywhere from two days to two weeks prior to foaling. Not all mares will show swollen teats right before their delivery dates, so don’t be too concerned if they haven’t changed at all. Pre-partum signals vary from one horse to the next, and yours could display all or none of these telltale signs. If the mare presents zero symptoms, set up a foal alert system so you can attend to the birth right away.

Presence of colostrum

Colostrum is the first milk a female horse produces to feed her baby. It’s vital that your mare produces colostrum because the milk is packed with antibodies to support the foal’s underdeveloped immune system. The production of colostrum is often called waxing, which is when a yellowish substance is secreted from the teats. Colostrum appears one to four days before foaling, so it’s a good indicator that the mare is about to go into labor.

Colicky pain

Stage one of labor is marked by a drastic change in behavior. The mare will become anxious and pace around her stall. She’ll experience symptoms similar to colic, such as biting her flanks, lying down and standing back up, sweating and frequent urination. An hour or two should pass from the onset of symptoms, then stage one labor will begin. If colicky pain persists longer than two hours, contact your horse vet in Cannon Falls, MN right away.

All these symptoms are perfectly normal and show that your mare will produce a healthy foal. The best thing horse owners can do is give their mares space and monitor them for complications. Plan to have a foaling attendant from Cannon Veterinary Services Ltd. on speed dial in case complications do occur. Our staff is trained to assist owners with every phase of the foaling process.