Penn Vet's New Bolton Center is offering a new foaling service for healthy mares that provides around-the-clock observation as they approach their due date, and care throughout and after the foaling.
“We are responding to requests from the equine community for New Bolton Center to provide this service,” said Dr. Barbara Dallap Schaer, Medical Director of New Bolton Center, noting that some local farms have retired from the foaling business.
“We are staffed 24/7 with veterinarians and nurses,” she said. “We can care for these mares, monitoring them regularly as part of our daily routine.”
Depending on a farm's purpose and workflow, checking a pregnant mare every hour, day and night, can be an enormous challenge, especially for an owner running a small equine business.
“The Healthy Mare Foaling Service allows owners to focus on other aspects of the operation, and gives them peace of mind about care of their pregnant mares,” Dallap Schaer said.
Time is an important factor in foaling, as active labor for a mare should not exceed more than 20 minutes.
“If something is abnormal, we will be able to recognize it and manage it immediately,” said Dr. Michelle Linton, a specialist in Internal Medicine and Neonatal Intensive Care. “If something goes wrong, the mare and foal are already in a hospital environment.”
Mares will be stabled in an area of the New Bolton Center hospital dedicated to foaling, with 24-hour monitoring. They will be turned out daily, weather permitting, in a dedicated field.
Veterinarians will observe and evaluate mares from admission up to, during, and following foaling. In addition, veterinarians will perform a health check on foals and closely monitor them in the critical hours after birth.
The Healthy Mare Foaling Service, priced at $1,500, includes two weeks of board. If the mare has not foaled within that two-week period, additional board will be provided at a reduced rate.
Mares that would benefit from the service include those: that are pregnant for the first time with a normal pregnancy, that have foaled previously with a normal foaling history; that have previously displayed delayed maternal bonding, that require reproductive assessment post-foaling, and those with a history of foals with angular limb deformities.
Additional candidates for this program are mares at risk for having foals with neonatal isoerythrolysis, a potentially life-threatening condition in which the mare's antibodies, delivered in colostrum, attack and destroy her foal's red blood cells. Costs associated with management of these mares and foals, and administration of donor colostrum, will be discussed in detail.
At the time of admission, veterinarians will conduct a physical examination of the mare, including a transrectal evaluation of the foal and placenta, and basic blood work. A veterinarian will place a birth-monitoring transmitter, foalert, in each mare as well.
The mare will have 24-hour monitoring for signs of foaling, as well as mammary secretion testing.
Board-certified veterinarians in Reproduction and Internal Medicine will attend the foaling, and will evaluate fetal membranes and colostrum quality. The foal will receive a physical examination after birth, including a limb conformation assessment, and a routine enema and qualitative IgG analysis.
Mare and foal will be turned out in dedicated fields. Veterinarians will continue to evaluate foal limb conformation and will consult a specialist for recommendations for treatment, if necessary. And they will conduct a post-foaling reproductive examination of the mare, prior to discharge.
The team will even take digital photographs of the foal and email them to clients upon request.
Mares and foals will be discharged 48-72 hours post-foaling under the standard program. Additional fees will be charged if the owner chooses other options, including additional board beyond that period. The owner also could choose to have the mare and foal transferred to New Bolton Center's Hofmann Center for Reproduction for additional post-foaling and re-breeding care.
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