"Clean" Foaling area?
I worry a bit about my mare foaling in my dirt floored pens, because I worry about the baby getting an infection through the navel. If I am present, I will get iodine on the navel as soon as it breaks, but if it is born overnight and I don't catch it happening, then it might be several hours before I get iodine on the navel. I can put down some straw when foaling looks imminent, but should I be doing anything else?
I could put Isabelle in a "new" pen I plan to make (I just ordered some more panels), but then she wouldn't have any shelter, and she would still be peeing/pooping in the pen so it would be contaminated anyway. But not as "contaminated" as where they are currently kept. (The current set-up also allows them access to a 3-sided metal barn.)
When I asked my vet, he actually told me it was good for the baby to be exposed to things right away, but I guess I worry that if I miss the birth I will miss putting iodine on the navel right away.
Do you guys worry about navel ill a lot? I can keep the pens somewhat dry/clean, but they still have had horses peeing and pooping in them for years, so it's not exactly sterile conditions if you know what I mean. :neutral: I don't have pasture, just a "dry lot" situation (as is common here in Arizona).
Thank you guys for all your thoughts! :smile:
I wouldn't worry overly much. If you miss the birth, try to get the iodine on the navel as soon as you discover the baby, and continue to dip it twice a day for the first several days until it dries up. I think in general pasture foaling is much better than in a stall, I didn't want my mare delivering in my pasture only because I was scared she'd deliver in my run in which has a concrete floor. I think if you throw down stray when she gets close, and keep the paddock picked as well as you can, it should be fine.
When our pony foaled our vet told us not to worry about it and he would do it in the morning. She was born around 6ish on a sunday and it was 10am before he got there the next day. i wouldnt worry much.
I'd be worried having a mare foal on dirt, I'd put straw down and pooper scoop it everyday until she foals. Could you clean out a section in your barn and set up a stall there, it can be as small as 14 feet x 14 feet and just straw the floor and basically make a proper stall for her.
Try and get the iodine onto the navel as soon as possible - if you're checking her every half an hour near foaling as normal then you should catch it pretty quickly. The dirt floor can also be a problem if the mare gets dirt in her reproductive tract from the placenta and cause infection so do watch her. Saying a foal needs to be exposed to stuff right away is not a great idea - their immune system is pretty immature - hence the need for colostrum and antibodies from the mare, I've seen a foal with an umbilical infection that spread to it's joints and unfortunately it had to be put down as it's joints were ruined.
Foaling out in a clean pasture would also be more preferable to foaling inside on dirt, just make sure it is a small paddock so you can catch her easily if needed!
Hope all goes well!!:)
I would just put a gate up in the "metal barn" (we just call 'em run-ins) - making it a makeshift stall. Just put down straw & make it home-y for her. Clean it out every day to ensure that the foal does not have a "high chance" for infection. (:
Of course keep poop picked out-- several times a day is best of possible. Is this an outside pen that can get sunlight? If so I would strip it clean of bedding at least several times a week to let the sun hit the dirt-- sunlight actually is a great disinfectant, and its warmth will help hasten the drying out of the top layer of dirt as well. You can do this 1/2 at a time once the foal is born, so that the foal will always have a bedded area. Straw, while comfy and insulating for a foal to sleep in, can also harbor germs, bacteria, and etc., so covering dirt with straw is not a foolproof method of keeping things "clean" especially if any of the straw has been down more than a day or 2. It DOES help prevent dirt and other small particles from entering/sticking to the orifices of either the mare or foal, but after everything is dried up and closed, other types of bedding are just as safe, and some are easier to clean and manage.
Here is an excellent article on issues resulting from an infected umbilicus.
AEC Veterinary Medicine News - Neonatal Diseases
I agree that it's time for a new vet.
My new filly, Rumour, was just born on this sunday, and my vet cam out an hour after I called and brought his whole family! I was thinking to myself, he's a great vet. Didn't even hesitate that it was Sunday.
About the stall, if you could, you could get rubber mats with no-slip footing and lay them down on the dirt. They are easier to keep that stall clean than just a dirt floor.
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Thanks everyone for your input.
We just have dirt pens with a run-in barn. The floor in the barn is also dirt and the horses like to pee in there. :-(
But everything that extends out from the barn get sunlight and I pick it up daily. Wish I had a pasture though!
So I will just have to do the best I can, and I think when foaling looks imminent I will put down straw in whichever pen I end up deciding is best, and pray for the best.
When you take into account everything that can go wrong, it will be a miracle if the foal survives! From foaling in the correct position, to keeping infection from entering the navel, to making sure the baby gets colostrum, to orthopedic and nutritional problems, my head is spinning!
I am almost to the point that my goal is for my mare to come out of this okay (and I pray the baby does too) but I just can't worry about EVERYTHING anymore. I have already been freaking out on what's best to feed my mare and worrying about calcium to phosphorous ratios and excess protein since I've been feeding alfalfa, and trying to balance that out. I've decided that horse breeding is wayyy too complex, the nutritional aspects alone have been making me neurotic!
So I just hope it all goes well at this point. :-|
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