Keep Your Foal Healthy During the First Week of Life
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Keep Your Foal Healthy During the First Week of Life

November 18, 2019


Hey, Good Morning is Doctor Rob Franklin I am an Internal Medicine Specialist in Fredericksburg, Texas and one of the co-founders of FullBucket. We’re going to continue our series on the FOAL. This is episode number two, where we’re actually going to be talking about the Foal’s first week of life. Now in Episode 1 we went over how to prepare for foaling. How to make sure the Mare is ready to be foaled and what to do whenever the foal gets there. That is available on the website and on facebook as well for you to go back to review that and in this communication we’re going to talk about the first week of life. So once the Foal actually arrives, there’s going to be some things that we need to know how to take place and what to instigate and also what to watch out for. And the first thing on day one is to make sure that you know what sort of vet checks that you’re going to need to have accomplished so that you should have a good relationship with your veterinarian your veterinarian should know that you have a Mare that is about to foal and you should you should make sure your veterinarian or someone is available in their place if they’re out of town to come out to get your Foal examined in that first 24-hours. There’s a critical period where, as veterinarians, we want to come out and do a healthy Foal check and a mare check and that’s typically between 18 and 24 hours. The reason is is that in that period we have what we call passive transfer that should have taken place so that first milk drink is is called colostrum and colostrum should should have all the antibodies that foal is going to need for the first couple of months of life and during that 18 to 24 hours the intestines actually allow that that colostrum to be absorbed into the bloodstream after 18 to 24 hours that can’t take place anymore and so that Foal’s is going to be predisposed to severe infections if that does not take place so as veterinarians we’re always going to schedule our Foal vet checks no later than 24 hours of age and as early as 18 hours and sometimes a few hours earlier it depending on what time the Foal was actually born so you should have a good record on when the foal was born and as soon as that has taken place within business hours you don’t need to call us at four in the morning to schedule your afternoon appointment but during business hours you give us a call and and and get us scheduled on our route to come out to your place and to have the Foal inspected now during that time we’re not only to be looking at the Foal we’re also going to give the Mare an examination. Mares normally have no problem with foaling but sometimes they have some very subtle things that can cause major problems the first is that we’ll we’ll do an inspection on their reproductive tract to make sure they didn’t have any tears or holes during the delivery process and sometimes the foal’s hoof can go through areas and tear areas where we need to do some repair or we need to soften the Mare’s diet perhaps to allow easy passing of feces around that bruised area they can also retain the placenta so we we talked about last time about retaining our preserving that placenta so that we can inspect it and make sure that it’s been completely expulsed during that during that first three hours as we talked about 1 2 3 last time with one being the Foal should stand in an hour and two it should nurse in two hours and three the Mare should pass that placenta within three hours. So we’re going to look at the placenta we’re also going to make sure that her intestines are working okay that she’s she’s got a good appetite she’s not running a fever they can develop infections they can actually get a tear not only on the outside of the reproductive tract but also in the inside and the uterus the Foal can tear them during the delivery and that can lead to a problem called peritonitis or an infection there in the in the abdominal cavity so we’ll be looking for signs of that colic is another thing that some of these Mares will develop after Foaling. So it’s good for us to put her eyes on them I remember a time during my residency at the University of Florida we had a very very sick foal come in into our neonatal intensive care unit and we had a whole team what we would call the Foal team they just, you know, descended on this foal and began to provide life support and emergency sort of procedures for this Foal and about the time we get this this Foal stabilized I turned around and looked at the Mare and it was just on the divided part of the stall and that mare was in a terrible spot she had she had severe peritonitis when she walked in and she was in shock herself and you know the Mare’s stoic nature you know she was she was doing all she could to keep together and ultimately you know we had to do some emergency services on her as well so it just you know sometimes lightning strikes in two places so don’t forget to put put a good set of eyes on your Mare. Make sure she’s good and as veterinarians will do that as well so when we look at your Foal, we’re going to do a complete examination we’re going to make sure that there’s no congenital or birth defects we’re going to listen to the heart the lungs look at the eyes check for cleft palates make sure that the gastrointestinal and the reproductive tracts are fully developed as they should be we’re also going to look at the legs and sometimes we can get some crooked legs some weak or contracted tendons that require some some special treatments and so we’ll take an assessment there and we’ll we’ll also go ahead and provide you with some instructions on what to do following that up now we’ll also take a blood sample and sometimes we’ll run a blood test right on the farm the the one that you’ll always know is going to get run is called an IgG which stands for an immunoglobulin or antibody G and then we’ll uh, that’s the passive transfer part that we talked about and then we will also be perhaps looking for other signs of infection early indicators of infection could include something called serum amyloid a which is a stall side test that we can do in the field we may take a CBC and fiber engine back to the laboratory for complete blood counts a lot of our insurance companies when we do insurance examinations for newborn foals they want the complete blood count along with that in the IgG and you know depending on the risk factors there may be other tests as your veterinarian must to perform on the fold so be prepared for that and for a little a little being a puncture of blood draw for the full so after we’ve done that we may talk about doing plasma therapy in a plasma therapy is where we give the full harvested donor plasma which plasma is the liquid part of blood the non c’è they’re part of blood it does contain immunoglobulins or antibodies and so a lot of times we will take those antibodies and will give us the foals if they’ve had failure past transfer where they didn’t get the colostrum either the mayor didn’t make it folding drink it or it wasn’t absorbed any of those things can lead to the failure of passive transfer situation that ultimately will lead to infection and death so we’ll give them a plasma if they need it and then some situations and in Texas Florida in particular and in Kentucky where we see problems such as Rhodococcus equi which is a cause of pneumonia in folds that are that are anywhere from four to twelve weeks of age we’ll give them some plasma from from horses that have been vaccinated against that disease and where they have a really high antibody count and we’ll try to get those antibody levels really high because that that infection occurs very early on in life it doesn’t develop into full blown pneumonia until four to twelve weeks of age but the whole process begins very early on so we’ll well sometimes a little depend on the risk factors will take class Prime their systems with a high dose there we can also be again replacing they didn’t absorb the costume so we give them the plasma that has the antibodies intravenously so we’ll do that write it on the first day in many many cases you may have an outbreak of something like diarrhea this going on at the farm in those cases we we may also give them a plasma transfusion hopes of getting those antibody levels even in a full that did absorb colostrum but give me those antibody levels really high so that they can not be affected with a disease outbreak that may be present so then once we’ve got the full checked out the mayor’s checked out we’ve done our plasma done our blood tests we do want to go ahead and get that full of exercising we talked to this last time that exercise is good now you you do want to look at your environment and make sure that that you’ve got a safe place good fences that the external environment in terms of the weather that we’re not challenging the whole with severe weather that’s normally pretty intuitive the other thing you want to think about though is is what sort of I what types of animals are returning in the fold out with you don’t want to turn a mare in foal out with a band of geldings or or even sometimes bird mares that haven’t bowled yet those animals can be very curious about the foal and they can chase the full around and what you’ll see is that bull will actually get exhausted it won’t have the the normal sequence of events where it runs and plays and and drinks and sleeps and and you’ll actually wear that Folau and it can it can cause some serious problems so don’t turn a newborn foal in a mayor and even an older full with Mayor out with a random group of horses that that’s not ideal they either need to go up by themselves and they need to go out with a similar age matched band of birth mares and foals and depending on what your environment is and also 10 sighs you know if you’re if you’re keeping them up at night perhaps or in Florida where we we typically keep them up during the day because it’s so hot and turn them out at night you know if you’re doing that you typically will have a groups that you’ll put them out with and that’s ideal and then the size of the pen you don’t want to put them out in such a big pin that again they’re going to end up in the back of the pendant where you’re not going to be able to observe them or that there could be a neighbor’s horse that’s going to harass them if it’s in a really small pen that is going to chase them up and down the fence line so so use your veterinarian as a resource if you’re if you don’t have the experience to know what’s the appropriate size of pen who’s who in my herd would it be appropriate for them to be turned out with the the Days two through seven are typically non eventful in a normal fold they’re going to spend a lot of time sleeping but when they wake up from that sleep they’re going to they’re going to play around and they’re going to drink and they’re going to pass a lot of clear urine that indicates they’re staying hydrated but there shouldn’t be anything dynamic happening with that bull it’s just going to be gaining about pound and a half to two pounds a day so they really put on some weight in it should be getting stronger and becoming more more inquisitive about its surroundings and about the people in its surroundings and the other animals and so it’s quite a nice time when you’re dealing with healthy foals in that first week now we do need to know in the back of her head that this is actually the most vulnerable period of the foals life the first week is where we see most of our problems when we’re talking about losing foals because they can get very very sick and their bodies just don’t have any bandwidth to absorb that illness and so it basic um to it very quickly and so we have to really keep our eyes peeled and do the use of you know just frequent checks or having hired hands that really provide the sort of eyes and ears for you to make sure that things are going well we talked about is with full bucket that we do have a sort of a product line that is it that is developed especially for these this first week of life and that’s our full kit we talked about last time that the full kickstart is got a high dose of antibodies that we would go ahead and give them orally at the time of birth and so we can line their entire intestine track with with antibodies so that that those will bind any of the disease-causing organisms that they might encounter on that first day and then we give them the whole probiotic can we give that twice a day half a tube twice a day and what that does is it continues to get a smaller dose of the the antibodies but it also provides a couple of strains of very beneficial microorganisms or probiotics and prebiotics which are essentially the fertilizer that allow the normal microorganisms to to grow in the intestinal tract and the probiotics which fend off the bad organisms and and allow the expansion of the normal organisms remember that a false digestive tract just like a baby human baby is born with with no microorganisms and so there it’s essentially a petri dish which is something that is designed to host microorganisms but it hasn’t been populated yet and so they’re going to use their environment to populate their intestinal tracts and hopefully the environment doesn’t contain a lot of aggressive microorganisms things like bacteria like Salmonella or Clostridium or viruses such as roto virus or corona virus and those things whenever they enter the intestinal tract and there’s no defense mechanisms there and they consider shot very quickly and caused pretty severe disease so we we go ahead and and we have those probiotics that fight those things off the prebiotics to allow for an to expansion and then the provision of the antibodies that does help intercept things and then we give them some enzymes that help them break down their milk as well and so we do that during the first week in hopes up again with all the other steps we’ve taken we’re trying to get that baby through that first week of life and without without having any major problems typically if everything is gone well what you’ll see is is somewhere between six and twelve days of age you’ll see what we call full keep diarrhea if only diarrhea is not a disease process and in so much is that there’s a disease-causing microorganisms play what this typically is is just that normal intestinal tract developing the microflora developing digestive process allowing some fermentation to take place and so you get an environmental change there in that intestinal tract that can cause some loosen or typically it’s very self limiting it lasts for one or three days the foals attitude is always bright it’s nursing well and it is it is plain there’s been absolutely no setbacks with that bull it’s just got a little bit of a messy tail back there the diarrhea is typically not a large volume and it’s typically not real watery so any of those things there that are happening that that I described are not happening those would be cause for more alarm but typically we’re looking at that six to twelve day mark where we just have a little bit of a wet tail but we’ve got a very bright full that temperature is normal normal temperature for a foal is up to 102 degrees now remember if they’re outside on one of these warm spring days and you bring them back in you stick the thermometer in there that they could have a higher temperature but at rest in the shade their temperature should be no higher than 102 and that 102 benchmark really starts to they start to adopt a more normal temperature of an adult horse which is up to 101 it’s the highest they start to transition to their about three or four months of age and then they should be back 101 at the highest but Norma somewhere between 100 101 is it full they’re going to be in there between 101 and 102 so we’re making sure that that any wet tale that we see is just full he’d area and the reason we call cojidas because typically that Mayor will come back into estrus or back in with breeding reception at about a week after she’s given full or she’s given birth and and then she will be able to go back to the stallion to be bread or bread artificially that can be a fertile period for some air so some mares we elect to let them go through their full heat because the the uterus is still sort of cleaning itself up from the polling process and so we choose not to breathe but anyways is that the timing that’s of that that list manure to the to the mayor’s breeding cycle that the reason that we we call it a folky degree because they typically both happen at the same time now the the full should clean itself up you can you can you can treat the fold symptomatically with the anti diarrhea drench that we that we have as both probiotic and also a substance to help remove any toxins and tighten them up a little bit and in some electrolytes to help keep them hydrated you know pepto-bismol a couple of bounces of pepto-bismol works fine in that situation as well so so those are really what we call palliative treatments they’re just taking care of the symptoms there’s no route calls there for us to address and that’s that’s typical but but do check in if any of those things are occurring that shouldn’t be where the fold it looks depressed it’s not nursing this cough fever you know even if it’s that that day 6 to 12 if they have diarrhea that you need to be concerned if it has some of those other problems other signs that maybe the foal is not normal is that what you really need to be dialed in to not just at six to 12 days but but really that one seven days where that critical first week is you got to know what’s normal and then we’re going to look for things that that may be outside the picture so again the normal thing is that Foles like to sleep in the ark to sleep a lot remember they’re they’re gaining a pound and a half two pounds a day and in so that they’ve got a they’ve got to do a lot of growing during that period and that’s going to happen while they’re sleeping so they should sleep but whenever they sleep they should be roused very easily so if you go in there you make a noise whatever they should just hop right up and go up they typically will have a bit of a stretch go urinate they’ll typically have a whenever they do urinate remember you should see lots of clear urine being passed which would indicate they’re staying hydrated and then they should have a suck from the mayor and then they’ll play for a little bit and then they’ll go back to sleep and so that’s the normal process sometimes you’ll see folds that are standing up sleeping normally that’s not a normal fold sometimes they’re very tired they just can’t find a because the mayor is keeping them on the run because there’s too much stimulus in their environment then they may do that but not only that’s that is not a normal science so any fool who’s sleeping standing up we should have a closer look at the old barometers like a donkey their ears when they when they get flat that’s that’s not a good sign that in the case something’s going up going on if you see especially early on and like you to see a folded straining to urinate or defecate that can indicate that we have a problem there as well now normally a clients will call and they’ll bill indicate the foals having difficulty urinating 99 percent of the time it’s actually difficulty defecating or passing feces and only in that first day or two of life where they have their passing their meconium now remember during one there in the mayor they are having cellular debris solid waste that they are passing the urinary waste the food waste their passing that right from their bladder it mixes back with blood that goes to the mayor and the book and the mayor cleans that out for them but they’re solid waste are being compacted into these species that are called meconium and they look like black tarry stool and horsemen are very comfortable knowing what those look like when they’re being passed in and they’re typically going to be passed in a fairly large pile and that that colostrum meal has a bit of a laxative effect to it to help them pass that and so it should be passed in the first few hours alive now sometimes they can pass some and they can get one of those balls hung up and and it can cause can cause them to have difficulty in they can colleagues so with that colic you can it can range from just mild straining to defecate they’re somewhat constipated too they can gas up they can get very very painful and rarely we even have to take him to surgery to operate on that but but a meconium impaction is a very common problem for foals and that is where they get constipated from this hard tari stool called meconium that they develop whenever they’re in the mirror and so we should look to see if they’re straining to defecate we should check in have they passed the meconium a lot of times you can give the over-the-counter fleet enemas purchased at the at the drugstore the grocery store those can help soften that up there’s also some full enemas that your veterinarian may may brew up and an administer those sometimes we give them IV fluids and some things to help help get that passed on and some pain relievers and typically with we don’t have any problem getting those full service sometimes I have to spend the night in the clinic but normally we get those goals through the meconium infection it’s the straining to urinate it’s that’s uncommon there is a problem where we’re foals can have an injury to the bladder and this occurs more commonly in Colts in a dozen Phillies but whenever they’re being passed through the birthing canal sometimes if there’s a lot of pressure in there their bladders full that they can actually get a rupture to the bladder and interestingly those fools don’t typically strain to urinate because they don’t have any sensation that the bladder is actually full right the bladder is is depleted and the urines just entering the the abdominal cavity instead of being retained in that bladder and those goals do require specialized hospitalization whenever you have a ruptured bladder again the sign of that is not so much them straining to urinate that is them failing to pass urine and them beginning to get a bloated appearing abdomen or belly and that’s the only that the the thing that tells us that we’ve got a problem there so we want to make sure they’re your name def getting okay the normal full sort of milk feces or kind of tan pasty in color in you know they’re going to pass that they’re going to have it on their tail it’ll be in their environment you normally don’t have any trouble seeing that it’s to the real watery stuff that we want to be concerned about and as they get scalding on their the backside that normally indicates there’s a problem there’s a lot of acid in the feces that scalding them and that’s typically associated with within a problem not not just a benign case of full heat scours another thing that can be very important to recognize early on is lameness and I hear a lot of people say off that whole you know it hops up and he’s lying but he walks out of it and making a marriage of step time well maybe so that in my experience mayor stepping on fold that doesn’t occur very often and if you watch it even a big old 14 hundred pound thoroughbred mare she walks just as is conscientious about where every hoof is landing when her holes on the ground they’re amazing they know they know to avoid those long spindly legs that are stuck in that straw but instead you need to be concerned that there could be an infection on and the OL of course means turn for this is as joint ill or Mabel ill and what can happen is they can actually get bacteria in the blood stream that can that can circulate throughout their body in and the blood is going if high velocity and then it gets down to a joint the velocity slows down and that bacteria can actually enter into that joint through the capillaries it can cause a very severe infection that requires aggressive antibiotic treatment and oftentimes hospitalization where wheel plus the joint sometimes we have to use our thrust be to remove fitness debris from the joint and even do things like regional impro fusions where we apply antibiotics in a concentrated fashion just in that particular area that’s infected so those are big deals and not to be missed because if you just say oh maybe the whole got stepped on and you and you wait for a day or two before you get that assessed that can that can very quickly turn into a situation that’s going to potentially result in long-term arthritis potentially that can turn into multiple joints getting infected bone getting infected and ultimately we can lose a fuller before may have a decreased athletic performance so lameness our joint swelling either one of those things you need to call your veterinarian roll away and have them come out and inspect that now coughing is not a common problem in foals especially younger fools as they get older they do in our next sequence will talk about some of the older full diseases but respiratory problems are typically problems of older foals where we think of gastrointestinal or diarrhea problems being problems of younger poles but if you do hear a cough in a foal that’s not normal and that should be investigated you know one cough everyone gets the benefit of the doubt but if you’re seeing something that is that is frequent where the full is is coughing or having a nasal discharge of any sort whether it be milk coming out there green substances which would be something like bio where it’s coming up reflux is coming up from there their intestine or mucus which would indicate more of a traditional type of respiratory infection any other things should be should be tips for you to call your veterinarian and have your veterinarian come out and exam and the respiratory tract of of the foal remember that in about the first week the baby is going to break its it’s two in sizers and so you’ll see that those in sizers will come in at eight days and then the next ones you know we get the eight days eight weeks eight months situation where those teeth have erupted but that you should see those stars come out so they may see a little bit of a raw spot developing there where their incisors are breaking through on that during that first week alive but that should give you a good indication of what’s normal some things to watch out for that are not normal and so hopefully you get over this critical first week of life that I you know is such a fun time to hang out and watch foals and when things are going great but it’s also a time where as veterinarians we really have to earn our keep because these basically just become critical so fast and in their life-saving efforts can be difficult under the circumstances so an ounce of prevention upon the cure you know the story be proactive being communication with your veterinarian don’t cut any corners in terms of trying to save it a little bit and hoping something sorts itself out these problems go from bad to worse really quick so don’t play around during that first week and I hope that you’re following season goes well for you if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email at info at full bucket health.com you can post comments here on Facebook and we’ll be happy to reply to those as well thanks to my Ziegler and after rat floor has my good Porto Rican veterinary friends for joining us in this live broadcast and those of you that will watch it two down the road we look forward to hearing from you thanks so much and don’t forget to be good and do good and all the things you do

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