Ask the Vet – Foal health

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DAN: “I wonder if
SmartPak in general, not specifically “Ask the Vet,”
could do a ‘foal 101′ video? For example, when to do what,
i.e. vaccinations, farrier work, and wellness on a foal.” This also, of course, got a
lot of questions and comments. DR LYDIA GRAY: We don’t even– DAN: Any time you
mention foals, it’s always going bring
in a lot of comments. So from Breakfast Foods,
which also, fantastic name– DR LYDIA GRAY: I love that. DAN: “I’ve been interested
in becoming a vet, so I’ve always loved to learn
new information about foals.” And then Lauren said, “I just
want to see cute babies.” Lauren, I– DR LYDIA GRAY: Baby
horses, especially, like, miniature baby horses. Baby donkeys. [GASP] Maybe the videographer will
put a baby donkey picture in. DAN: Oh, I think we can
find a baby donkey photo. [LAUGH] DR LYDIA GRAY:
They’re the cutest! DAN: –baby foals, I agree with. And I agree that we
should absolutely do a foals 101 video. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. All right. So this will be our
start, and we’ll kind of gather up the
information from this, and then move on. DAN: I was kind of
hoping there was going to be a foal waiting in
here when we came in today. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh! Sorry. So Sorry. So foals 101. Oh, gosh. This is a huge, huge topic, and
might take more than one video. So I put everything
together, and I’m trying to condense it
down to what we can cover in three minutes here. I think of foals as sort of
before they’re on the ground. So mare care, and
then the first 30 days or so of the foal’s life
up to weaning, and then life of the weanling. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: You know, so
those discrete segments all have special veterinary medical
or preventive wellness care needs and nutrition,
and everything. So I guess the first
piece of advice is, or whatever included
in a foal 101 video is make sure your mare
care is up to date. So that includes
vaccinations and deworming, because the mare’s health
influences the foal’s health. You know, that first
milk, the colostrum. What the scientists or the
veterinarian would say, the passive transfer of maternal
immunity or immunoglobulins is really important. And that comes from having
your mare vaccinated against common diseases early. DAN: OK. So make sure mother
is in good health– DR LYDIA GRAY: And that
she’s at a good weight. I mean, if she’s
thin or fat, then she’s either not going
to make a healthy baby or be able to feed a healthy
baby or have foal out well. So you want to have a good
five-ish body condition score. And I’ll say this
so I don’t forget it is if you’re breeding a mare
or you’ve got a young horse, you’ve got to have your
veterinarian involved. There are so many
pieces that are a part. Like for example,
when the mare foals, the veterinarian
needs to come out within the first 12 to 24 hours
and do a wellness foal care. Whether you see
a problem or not, the vet needs to
evaluate that foal for, did he or she stand up? Is the nursing going on? Is the cognition all there? Is there a heart murmur? Do the eyes look good? Is there a patent
urachus, umbilical? I mean, there’s so
many things to look at. You need an expert who can
quickly do a physical exam and make sure that
everything is OK. As an owner, your job is to make
sure the foal has and continues to have, because
things change quickly, straight legs or standing
completely on their hoof. They’re nursing, they’re
sleeping, they’re running. They’re doing all good baby
horse things or baby donkey things. There’s so many things
that can go wrong, that if your foal is
not doing those things, then contact your vet. Obviously, this is like
the last topic, behavior. You need to do a lot
of reading if you’re going to breed a mare, have
a foal, have a young horse, because there’s a lot to know. I don’t want to
get into specifics as far as when you
should do what, but I did read on a farrier’s
website that I trust, he likes to be out there
looking at horse feet and legs and trimming on them
in the first month. So 30 days. And he likes to
come every 30 days to make sure that things
are progressing correctly, because there could be angular
limb deformities, flexural limb deformities, contracted tendons
that if they’re handled early, if you’re on top of them,
you can make them without– the horse can end up having
a useful, productive life and be healthy and sound
without surgical intervention. DAN: So the farrier
likes to come out early to do any foundational
work on the feet that could be impacting any
of the upper limbs. DR LYDIA GRAY: And examine them. This farrier said, I like
to watch the foal walk and make sure
they’re landing heel to toe and the legs
carrying straight, and there’s nothing
funky going on. So this guy stays on top of it. You know, she asked I
think about vaccinations and deworming. There are protocols. Your veterinarian
will help you develop the protocol that is right
for you, because it differs. Was the mare vaccinated
ahead of time or not? That’s a huge difference. Where you live
geographically, the foal’s risk of exposure to
certain diseases. The type and brand
of vaccine used. All that depends
on what vaccines are given when and which
intervals, because with foals or the first time a
horse gets a vaccine, you don’t give just one. One’s a booster. We have to start the series
of one, two, or three. Yeah. And nutrition, it’s important
to feed the foal right early. When to begin creep feeding. What do you creep feed with? Having the foal’s body
condition score of five is important, because
they get too heavy or they get too much
sugar in their diet, and then you run into
developmental, orthopedic disease and other problems. Boy, there’s a lot of stuff. DAN: There’s a lot. DR LYDIA GRAY: There’s a lot. There’s a lot. DAN: So a lot of
it sounds like one, you know, your own
horse’s condition, the mare’s condition,
then the foal’s condition. When it’s born, if there’s any
sort of deformities or things that have to be– DR LYDIA GRAY: Know normal. DAN: Yep. DR LYDIA GRAY: And then when
to call the vet for abnormal. But your veterinarian will
need also to make assessments. We don’t wait that
first 12 to 24 hours. You get the vet out and
make sure things are OK, because things might look good
to you that are not on track, and you want to
jump on them early. DAN: OK. And especially, so
work with your vet closely for finding out all
those other vaccinations and things of that nature,
depending on your area and your horses’ health. DR LYDIA GRAY: Mm-hmm. DAN: Well, if you guys have any
other questions about foals, make sure to send them our way. And if you have any
photos, please send them. You can send them
directly to me. It’s OK. What? DR LYDIA GRAY: Baby donkeys. DAN: Oh, and baby donkeys. [LAUGHTER] We’re into all of that,
and I will definitely get working on that
foals 101 for you.

 

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