Nurse Mare Foals? Why don't people know about it?
I just recently found out about nurse mare foals. This is a cruel yet well kept secret. I've been riding horses for 7 years and owned horses for over a year. But yet....all this time I did not know about the nurse mare foals. I feel like I need to do something to stop it. When I first read about it last month....I was shocked and horrified. Here is more info for people who do not know what a nurse mare foal is and some videos:
This is from Nurse Mare Foals:
Orphan nurse mare foals are a product of the nurse mare farm industry. Most people associate these babies with PMU (Pregnant Mare Urine) babies and that couldn't be farther from the truth. PMU babies are generated as a result of breeding mares specifically for their urine, as menopause drugs for women are manufactured from hormones found within their urine when they are pregnant. Though they are both generating foals, usually PMU ranches allow the mares to nurse their young.
Nurse mare farms breed mares to random studs for the purpose of bringing the mares into lactation. The pregnancies they carry are unwanted, the milk is the name of the game.
Once foaled, these mares are then leased out to other farms to nurse foals other than their own (usually high dollar show or race horses). Their own foals are pulled away from them anywhere between 1 day and 1 week of age. Their foals are then discarded due to the level care they require and the costs associated to raise the orphan foals.
There are many reasons why people think nurse mares are necessary. A mare may die in birth, a mare can immediately return to work as a show or racehorse, she may be transported immediately without having to worry about transporting her foal, or she can be covered (bred) on the foal heat, etc.
This has been happening for 30+ years, but has remained "underground" so unfortunately, it could be happening right down the street and you probably wouldn't know it.
Many myths have surrounded this industry, including the most popular; it's a Thoroughbred thing; and its understandable why people have come to that conclusion. In order for a Thoroughbred to be eligible for registry, they must have been a live cover breeding. Though the racing industry is a major player, many different breeds are involved in the practice. So to answer the question: "What is a nurse mare foal?" These foals are unfortunate by-products of a industry in practice of leasing a mare out for her milk.
The biggest challenge these orphans face is the myth that they are worthless. These foals will grow and mature the same way any other horse would. They just need a chance! Typically these make much calmer, relaxed, and bombproof horses. The bond they share with people is usually unsurpassed. They have been there and seen it all by the time a regular foal is being weaned.
If you find you are caring for an orphan foal, whether it is a PMU, nurse mare baby, rejected by its dam, or otherwise, it is very important to remember that each individual foal is different. So just because it works for one foal does not mean it applies to all! Always use common sense when making choices & decisions on your foal's care. Don't be afraid to ask someone with more experience, and always gather all the info you can through all the available sources. Remember that a little hard work & effort really pays off as you see these guys grow into the healthy & beautiful horses they will become.
And here are some videos about nurse mare foals:
I wouldn't believe everything that you read on the internet. A lot of PETA activist's tend to stretch the truth on a lot of subjects relating to "horse abuse" as well as animal abuse in general.
A healthy mare shouldn't have any problems producing enough milk for her own foal plus another. Therefore I don't get the point of taking the original foal away.
No, it's a real thing. One of my best friends from grade school lived on a thoroughbred breeding farm in Kentucky. They didn't own it, but leased a house on the property and I think her mom worked their part time. Anyway, they had a couple nurse mares cycle through. One mare was just nuts and attacked her foal so they took the foal from her and gave it to the nurse mare. I didn't really think too much of it at the time, but we were told the nurse mare's foal was just raised as an orphan. If I'm not mistaken a friend of theirs adopted one at one point. It's pretty sad for the nurse mare's baby, but these people at least would only use them as a last resort. I'm sure it's expensive to lease one.
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I dont know enough about it to state anything one way or another. They are cute though. :-)
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There are actually a couple of people in the same town I live in who do this for a livelihood. Truth - yes if the mare is needed they pull the foal and hand raise it. They do not discard the foals and they breed very carefully so that the foals will have value. Lie - No these mares (at least the ones I know of) are not bred 'to random stallions'. No their foals are not cosidered worthless. Truth - these folks provide a very necessary service for those whose mares have foaled and for whatever reason, rejection, lack of lactation, fescue poisoning, death, cannot nurse their own foals.
I'm not saying that the whole story is untrue, but speaking for the folks I know, it is not.
Someone hand me a checkbook.
Because I'm about to adopt a crap load of adorable baby horsies :l
Baby goats and baby calves are taken away from their moms in the dairy industry.
The babies are run through the auction in hopes of someone spending a few $$ and hand raising them or they're sold/given away on Craigslist.
The baby goats/calves are just as cute as the baby horses......
Every time I think about nurse mare foals I get so sad! It really is a shame, but then so are many other things that people do with horses.
My horse shares a pasture with two nurse mare colts that our BO adopted from Last Chance Corral. They are wonderful guys and are very, very lucky too. I understand that on top of the other challenges these foals face, they are also typically sickly from not having access to mare's milk. It takes a ton of work to keep one going in the beginning.
I've got to say that, tragedy aside, that movie of all the babies running around together is pretty adorable.
I don't know much about the industry at all, but I'm hearing more and more about embryo transfer being done on high dollar show/race horses - if this trend continues won't it over time eliminate this issue? No doubt having access to a nurse mare if a foal is rejected is always handy, but my understanding is that the main factor fuelling the industry is the desire to keep high dollar mares performing? Embryo transfer allows the mare to keep doing so without even being interrupted by pregnancy, and only 1 high value foal comes out of the deal.
But the jockey club recovers live cover...so I don't think they would allow embryo transfer.
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