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My mare lost her gorgeous filly today. I don't know how it happened. We went out to check on them and she had given birth, cleaned the baby, they obviously walked around a bit, possibly suckled, then i found it dead under a tree. It seemed perfectly healthy. Any ideas what happened? Could another horse in the field have hurt it? Its so upsetting. Also, what can i do for the mare now? Should i get vet out? i didn't see any placenta (though that doesn't mean there wasn't any). We might try put an orphan foal on her and see will she take to it? Can someone please give me advise as i've never had this experience before and its terrible. Thanks very much.
I'm sorry for your loss ;-( It is not nice when any horse dies, but it always seems a bit harder when it is a defenceless foal. Unfortunately, as I'm sure you know, it is inevitable sometimes that some die. On the stud we would always lose a few during the season. You can try a orphan foal on the mare. Some mares take to the roll very well and others just don't. Much like people, some just can't cope with it. To make it a bit easier for the mare, I would cover the dead foal in a towel, blanket or foal rug. To get the scent onto the material. It sounds like you might have an orphan already? Cover the material over the new foal and let the mare sniff that. She will be more likely to accept the foal if she can smell her own foals scent. Julie is right, they will always do better on mares milk than being hand raised. We also do the same with calves and actually have two calves on the same cow if needed, as they can cope with the milk demand ;-) Obviously make sure it is a very controlled environment for at least the first day and it needs to be done as soon as possible. I would get the vet if you have any concerns about the mare at all. You need to weigh up if the expense is worth getting the vet for the foal. Was the foal valuable? If so, you would probably want to know what happened. Has she had a foal before without incident? If so, then you could just take this a bad luck, if this is her first then you might want to look into genetics. Check the foal over very well, you might find evidence of obvious trauma and then the vet would not be needed. It sounds like you have other horses, if you wanted to, you could express her colostrum. It stores well in the freezer and would be vital if you happen to have a mare die during foaling. The vet should be able to loan you a hand expresser or a human one will work as well. Personally we separated off mares close to foaling and then after birth, only put them in with mares who already had a foal at foot. It is just safer as some horses can get very possessive of the current herd order. It also prevents unnecessary injury if the mare is very protective and fights start from curious onlookers. My gelding was injured a few years back from a mare with a 4 month old foal. She was just a super possessive type and would not tolerate him within 20 metres. If you can't find an orphan foal for her, you might want to separate her off from other mares with foals at foot. She "may" try to take their foal, it just depends on the mare. It would just be unnecessary stress for all involved. I wish you the best, it is certainly not a nice situation. Good luck ;-)
It's possible another horse cold have killed it, that's why you separate mares and foals from other horses, including other mares with other foals. Did your mare get her veterinary care during her pregnancy? This could be a reason for the foal's death. It's possible the foal was just sick. It could have had a genetic disease or internal problem. I've heard of a mare who killed her baby last spring, we were all astounded because the mare was an extremely good mother, we had an autopsy done and found the foal had an intestinal problem, in which case the mare ended up killing her foal to 'save' it. Look hard for a placenta, really hard, if/when you find it make sure it's whole, fill it with water and make sure it doesn't leak. If it's not whole it's possible it's still in your mare, if not gotten out, your mare can become lame with laminitis. Get a vet, yes, you should always get a vet when a foal is born. As for the orphan foal idea, yes that's a wonderful idea, but only after your mare has been cleared healthy by a certified veterinarian, it's possible she can have something wrong with her milk supply or her and then she'll only pass it to another foal and it might die too.
The first thing that comes to mind that could have killed the foal, other than some sort of physical trauma, is clostridium. It's a disease where a foal will be running around playing and be totally fine and then will be dead in 36 hours. It's a disease where the bacteria attack the intestines. One clinical sign of it (other than sudden death) is either foul smelling and/or bloody diarrhea. I would also check the foal's membranes (look at her gums) and see if they are yellowish at all. If so she most likely had neonatal isoerythrolysis. That is a disease where the dam produces antibodies that kill certain types of red blood cells (horses have different blood types just like us), and the foal gets progressively weak over the course of 2-3 days and will die if not treated. The filly also could have had septicemia which is a bacterial or viral infection which can start before birth due to placentitis (infected placenta). There are lots of things it could be, but regardless you should talk to your vet and if you can afford it, have a necropsy. You need to remove the filly's body ASAP in case it is something contagious so that you reduce the risk of infecting any other horses or foals. Store the body away from the barn and other places like that until a vet tells you differently. You will then want to either bury or burn the body to prevent the spread of whatever the filly had. You also MUST have a vet check your mare. No exceptions. This is not optional. You have to make sure that she has passed the placenta in its entirety or you will have a world of problems with your mare. Since you couldn't find it, one of the horses (most likely the mare) probably ate it, assuming it's not still in the mare. Yes it's gross, but happens all the time. It can cause colic too so keep an eye on your horses for that. As for giving her an orphan foal, that is a great idea. Make sure the mare gets the indiana from the vet first though. Tell your vet you want to give her an orphan foal and if you don't have one (hopefully not) then he can find one for you. Somebody always wants a nurse mare. But when introducing the orphan foal to your mare, there are many many precautions you will have to take. You can distract her with grain, blindfold her, put her in a nursing chute (or make one out of panels), put peppermint oil or Vicks on her nose to throw off her sense of smell, etc so that she doesn't try to injure the orphan foal. You will also have to watch them very VERY carefully for a few days to make sure she doesn't reject it. Make sure not to leave the two of them alone for the first few hours also as a precaution. I'm very sorry for your loss and if you have any other questions feel free to email me and I will be happy to answer them for you.
Yes, it would be great if you could find an orphan foal for her to nurse. It will kill two birds with one stone- your mare will be happier and the foal will be healthier if it's getting milk. Post ads online, it would be a great thing to do. Anyway, the only way to tell what happened to the foal is to have a vet do a necroscopy and examine it. It's very possible that another horse killed it (why were the mare and foal out with a herd already?). It also might have had a genetic disease, in which case you'd really want to get the vet to look at it so you can know that for future reference if you ever rebreed the mare. Two years ago my trainer lost a foal in a freak accident of some sort... mare and foal were out alone on 5 acres and the foal was found dead in the middle of the field. The vet looked at it and said that the foal had somehow hit its head so hard it died... we aren't sure exactly what happened because the mare was a great mother- maybe the foal got riled up and flipped itself over or something. These things happen sometimes, you have to be very careful with foals.
There is a syndrom called failer to thrive that can effect foals but the only way to know is have a vet look at it,If the mare has not passed the after birth then yes you need to get the vet out it can rot and become infected in the uterus. as for having your mare with other horses its perfectly FINE and i doubt another horse killed it wild horses bring there foals to the herd hours after there born your mare would have wandered away from the herd had her foal then came back after it could walk and reconize her... Ranchers around my part do it all the time with there mares they jsut go out every few days and check the mares to see whos foaled. But anyways im sorry for your loss.
You let a mare stay in field with other horses. yes another horse could have killed it. yes get a vet out to check and also check the foal. depends on mare if she will take another foal. she may have killed this one.