Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How can you tell when a mare will give birth?

The mares udder will begin to get bigger about 3 weeks before she gives birth. It will begin to swell at night and get smaller during the day.

Usually, the udder will stay full and large on the day before she gives birth. Colostrum may drip from the teats. The colostrum will dry and form what looks like wax over her teats, which is where the term 'waxing' comes from. Waxing normally means that the mare will deliver her foal within 24 hours but its not uncommon for waxing to occur 2 to 3 days before the mare gives birth.

When the little drops of wax fall off of the teats, milk will usually drip out and that normally means the foal will be born within 8 to 12 hours.

Notice I often use the words 'normally' and 'usually'? Well, that's because pregnant mares are much like pregnant women. When it comes to pregnancy, there is nothing written in stone! All horses are different, so your little foal can choose to make his or her dramatic appearance earlier or later. (Maybe they like the attention and like to keep us on our toes!)

I know horses have been giving birth for centures without our help but since we can have some measure of control in our domesticated horses, keep a close eye on your pregnant mare when it's close to her delivery time and have the vets' phone number handy or on speed dial. Most deliveries go perfectly fine but why not be safe instead of sorry and use the assistance (if it's needed) to ensure a healthy mom and baby?

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Please feel free to email me your horse questions and I'll do my best to answer them or at least point you to someone or someplace that can. (Scroll down to the "About Me" section and click on "View my complete profile" to send me an email) I look forward to hearing from you! ~Melanie