Orphaned foal - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 12-14-2012, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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Orphaned foal

Hello, my friends mare had a foal yesterday but sadly died today. My mare has a three month old foal. She has loads of milk. Do you think it possible to introduce them in the hope that my mare will adopt this foal?
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post #2 of 9 Old 12-14-2012, 11:19 PM
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You can definitely try it. I would first separate your foal and mare. Give the mare an hour or two to really become engorged with milk than restrain both her and the new foal and try to get the foal to latch on and nurse. You might need a mild sedation for the mare as well. It's unlikely that your foal will be gung ho about sharing the milk machine with a new foal and he can be rather nasty and dangerous to a foal who doesn't understand rules. Keep him restrained anytime the new foal is in with the mare until you are confident nothing is going to happen.

Another option is to find a milking dairy goat.
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post #3 of 9 Old 12-14-2012, 11:27 PM
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Buy formula and get him drinking out of a bucket

Hopefully the foal got colostrum ?
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post #4 of 9 Old 12-14-2012, 11:29 PM
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Not likely. Grafting an orphan foal onto a mare is not easy. Generally mares don't have enough milk for two, even though she has a nice bag. It takes a really special mare to accept an orphan. Generally, a nurse mare who has lost her foal is the best option, but that's hard to find.

The best bet is to get a milk goat, or a nurse cow. We've used both over the years. We had an orphan that nursed on a milk goat. My husband built a special stanchion where the goat could stand high enough for the foal to nurse. Anything can be raised on goat milk, as it's the most versatile and nutritious milk. Probably the easiest/fastest bet is to get a Jersey and get the foal to take milk from a bucket.
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Last edited by 6W Ranch; 12-14-2012 at 11:31 PM.
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post #5 of 9 Old 12-15-2012, 08:57 PM
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Get mare milk replacer. And forget about getting mare to accept foal. It is too dangerous with another foal in the mix, and not fair to it to take its milk away either.

Or get a goat. But there is no way you can monitor the situations that can arise with a mare that decides it won't accept a foal.

And what about colostrum?

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post #6 of 9 Old 12-15-2012, 09:03 PM
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I second mare milk replacer. Bottle feeding is a headache; however, finding a nurse mare is a) expensive b) hard during this time of year.

A nurse mare is expensive and often requires that it be sent back to its original home in foal. Which means you pay a stud fee in addition to housing this mare. The way they "train" nurse mares is to have their foals wear a blanket and train the foal to a bucket. Then when the mare is needed they take the mare and blanket. The put the blanket on the new foal and the mare recognizes the scent and does not make a fuss. To have a mare take on and nurse her foal and another mare is going to take a very special mare.

I say colostrum is the biggest concern. Otherwise, you risk sepsis and foal death due to infection because they lack an immune system.
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post #7 of 9 Old 12-15-2012, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Hi all, thanks for all the advice. Unfortunately we live on a small islands miles from no where so at lot of things suggested can't be gotten for a while. My friend has however managed to get one tub of milk replacement thankfully and has ordered more which should get here in two to three weeks.
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post #8 of 9 Old 12-15-2012, 10:09 PM
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I agree, colostrum is the biggie. Do you know if the foal was able to get any colostrum? As little as a quart will do to get the immune system going. We've had calves that got so weak from the birthing process they were not strong enough to suck. Worst case, we've had to rope a wild cow and tie up her leg so I could milk her for the colostrum.

On one hand your're so lucky to live on a remote island, but in this case, I'm sure you'll be wringing your hands until the replacer gets there. Do you have enough to get by? Good luck with the baby. Please keep us posted.

If the mare you mentioned has plenty of milk, you may have to milk her. You could milk your mare some to supplement the replacer, and stretch it until more arrives.

Last edited by 6W Ranch; 12-15-2012 at 10:14 PM.
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post #9 of 9 Old 12-16-2012, 08:19 AM
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Did the foal get to nurse the mare before she died? If so, the foal should have gotten Colostrum from nursing her even once. If not, the foal will need one IV transfusion of IgG Solution. It is a concentrated form of Immunoglobulin and will give the foal all of the immunity it needs. Colostrum from other species like a cow or goat will not work. We keep horse colostrum frozen. It keeps for years. BUT, a foal can only absorb it the first few hours of life. After that, immunity must be given by IV only.

We have a couple of mares that will take any foals. I twitch them a couple of times and then they will take them. I have put a jacket over a mare's head and that works for some. Smearing fresh manure from the mare's foal helps for some. Others, you just have to put on milk replacer.

I will say, however, that you do not have to buy the very expensive horse milk replacer. I have raised several very healthy foals using the 'premium' calf milk replacer. I use Land O'Lakes Calf Milk Replacer that is 'pure white' (not pale yellow) and has no soy products in it. It is all milk product. I get them to drink it 'cool' (not warm) from a pan. They have all done great. We have never lost an orphan.

I never use a bottle because YOU become their mother and they are very maladjusted. Starting out with the pan, you can just leave them a bucket of milk. NEVER make a PET out of them. Switch the bucket out every few hours at first. In the summer, flies and heat are bad problems That should be a lot better this time of year.should

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