Post foaling checks

We strongly reccommend that you get a vet out to check your mare and foal. If your foal appears bright, and is drinking well, this can be done 12 hours after the birth so an IgG test can be performed. If you are at all worried, for rerasons such as the foal is not bright or drinking, you should get a vet immediately as foals can quickly deteriorate.

Afterbirth

Check that the afterbirth is intact. It is a complete bag in a Y shape that is intact except where the foal has come out. It should hold water if filled. If there are any tears or pieces missing, you will need to get your vet to check your mare to see if there is any afterbirth remaining inside her

If you are not sure whether the afterbirth is intact it may be a good idea to get it checked, particularly if your mare is looking uncomfortable as retained foetal membranes (afterbirth) may cause serious health complications for your mare.

What is an IgG test?
An IgG test is a simple blood test that can be performed at your property in a matter of minutes. If the IgG level is low the options of colostrum or Plasma supplementation can be discussed. This test is performed on most thoroughbred foals & on client’s foals who feel that their foal is “not quite 100%”.
This option can be discussed with your veterinarian especially if you have a mare or newborn foal with E.I.
We are still getting reports that most foals are coping well so it is the owner’s decision on whether they want their foal checked.

IgG Test- The foals’ immunity can be checked at 12-24 hrs especially if the foal is not drinking frequently (average 3-6 times/hr), or if the mare ran milk before the foal was born. This is definitely needed at more than 24 hrs if the foal is to be insured. This test checks the foal’s Immunoglobulin level, which is an indication of the level of antibodies in the foal’s body. If these levels are low Colostrum or Plasma can be given up to 24 hrs old. After this time Plasma is administered as the foal absorbs minimal Colostrum after 24 hrs.

What is Plasma?
Plasma is a blood product drawn from horses who have been hyper-immunised, a bit like how they use horses as producers of anti-venom. Plasma can be sourced from our own horses but this is not as good as the hyper immunised source, as the antibody levels tend to be not as high, and because commercial plasmas can be targeted for specific diseases such as Rattles (Rhodococcus).

How does Plasma work in a foal?
It provides anti-bodies to boost the foal’s immune system. It also adds protein to the blood which assists in hydration.

What happens if the foal does not have good immunity?

It is susceptible to all common bacteria that would not normally have any effect thus it is much easier for the foal who has very little in the way of energy reserves & undeveloped immune system to develop a life threatening infection.

This information has not been put forward to generate more work for the veterinary industry. We just think it is important for owners to know what some of their options are so that they can make an informed decision when caring for their foals.