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WVTrailRider01 06-12-2010 12:55 PM

Mare's Milk drying up Early???
My mother-in-law owns a 4 year-old paint mare that foaled a beautiful little black filly on Mother's Day. It's her first foal, and she is doing a wonderful job caring for it. Only problem, her milk supply is already drying up... Any ideas why??? She's actually overweight (probably body score of 5) and she seems to be allowing the filly to nurse on a regular basis. She has unlimited supply of grass and water and she's on 24hr turnout. The foal doesn't seem to be suffering to many ill effects at current (good weight, but not growing as expected), but I'm really worried it could get much worse. We tried to get the filly to nurse on a bottle last night, but no luck. She either wasn't hungry enough, or she just didn't like what we were offering. Any tips to increase the mare's milk production (oxytocin shots possibly???)? A friend suggested we actually feed her the same specialized grain milk cows get... not sure if that's a good idea or not... If no ideas to increase milk production, anyone have any tips to bottle feeding a foal? I've fed calves before, but this filly seems to be a little more difficult...

smrobs 06-12-2010 08:45 PM

Please talk to a vet and have them check out the pair. It doesn't take very long at all for a baby to start going downhill.

danastark 06-12-2010 10:51 PM

What makes you think the mare's milk is drying up? Her bags won't seem as big after a while (not as engorged) but she could still be producing sufficient milk.

shesinthebarn 06-12-2010 11:47 PM

I agree with PP. Why do you think she is not making enough for the foal? Is baby peeing/pooping regularly? When baby is new she will have engorgement and huge, tight looking bags. As her supply regulates to suit the foals needs (foal controlls this, just like a human baby does with mommy!) her udders will look quite a bit smaller and not at all tight. If the foal is constantly pulling off and then re-latching and bumping her udders with her nose/head, that may be a sign that she is not producing enough. It's not all that common for a mare to not produce enough.
Does this mare have accesss to iodized salt? I understand that she is not on any concentrates, but maybe consider giving her a ration balancer such as Purina Equilizer or Masterfeeds Finishing Touch. You only have to give 200grams 2X daily and it contains all the salt and vital minerals your mare may be lacking if she is indeed having issues with production.
If you are very concerned, please call a vet to have things checked out. There are also some natural herbal options you can look into to increase production that DO work. I would look into natural ways to increase production on the mare before looking to supplement. There realy is no supplement that is on par with mama`s milk - it is perfectly made just for the baby and contains wonderful antibodies etc that are so important to a little one.
Good luck!!

shesinthebarn 06-12-2010 11:52 PM

Oh, forgot to mention that I have never heard of oxytocin to increase milk production. Only use I have seen it used for in horses is in labour induction and placental or post-delivery bleeding management. I may be wrong but I don`t think oxctocin has any effect on milk production. I believe that is controlled by a hormone called prolactin which is produced in the mothers brain when stimulated to do so through nursing.

Eastowest 06-13-2010 12:44 AM

Oxytocin can help (among other things) a mare's milk to "come in" soon after she foals, but I am not sure of its effect on established milk production.

I agree with the other post-ers.

It is almost impossible to milk much out of a mare with an actively nursing foal because foals nurse often for short periods and keep their dams pretty "empty"-- A mare that has a regularly nursing, growing foal will not fill up between feedings and have a huge engorged bag. In fact, if her bag looks huge and full, it usually would mean that the foal has slowed down or stopped nursing for some reason (for example seperation, illness, injury.)

If the foal is of good weight and good attitude and is observed nursing normally and doesn't act overly hungry, The mare is probably still producing enough.

A healthy bright foal is usually its own evidence of things being normal, but if you are not sure, having a vet check would help you know all is well.

WVTrailRider01 06-13-2010 04:08 AM

The foal seems healthy enough, but my concern was to the appearance of her sack. Her sack appears to look almost as small as it was before she was ever bred. It is sunken in, with loose wrinkles... As to the vet, I'm trying to convince my mother-in-law to have her checked over at her cost... If she doesn't agree to it, I will call my vet on monday just to be on the safe side. As to the suppliments, all of our mares do receive a little bit of a snack daily... 1 scoop of strategy per horse... and a mineral block is always provided to them... I really don't think it could be a nutritional issue. Shesinthebarn--- what herbal options are there for milk production? Just curious, and I'm sure it couldn't hurt to atleast know them for future reference.

shesinthebarn 06-13-2010 07:57 AM

Consult a vet for dosage, but brewers yeast, blessed thistle COMBINED with fenugreek. These herbs are easily available at health food stores but can be quite costly in large doses. I'd look into a bulk supplier online if you go that route. Brewers yeast is pretty easy to get you hands on and is available at some feed stores. It is also a probiotic to there are many benefits.

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