We begin testing our mares milk approx 30 days before their due dates. We use pool strips to test their milk moring and night. We use 0.5cc of milk and 3cc of distilled water. We Mix the milk and the water in a zip lock bag, then dip the pool strip in. We monitor the Calcium (shows as Hardness level on pool strip) and the PH. As the mare gets closer to her due date, the PH drops and the Calcium increases. Typically when the PH reachs 6.2 and the Calcium reaches 1000, we do not leave our mares alone as they can foal at any time with those readings. We are often posting updates of our strip reading and other symptoms we see on facebook. Check out our facebook page for more details.
Signs of Early Labor
We have quite a few new mare watchers, and many have not participated or maybe seen a birth of a foal. So we are sharing as much info as possible. Knowledge is power....and we want everyone to feel comfortable noticing signs and confident enough to call us with updates. Might be old news for some, but just catching everyone up on what we have witnessed in the past with our mares.
Most mares have signs or changes days prior to early labor such as udder enlargement also known as bagging up, waxing, up until she could possibly be dripping milk as the babies birth gets closer. Usually when we see our mare is dripping she is close. We constantly watch for irritability increasing restlessness. Restlessness in a mare can look like pacing and constant walking around the stall , circling the stall, looking at her abdomen and her tail moving back and forth. These are signs she is progressing and possibly feeling contractions or discomfort. Also mares typically slow down their hay intake leading up to the big day. Can be seen passing small amounts of urine or soft manure. Watch for sweating or showing colic like symptoms. We have also noticed our mares putting their tail to the wall of the stall and pushing toward the wall to help relieve some of the pressure they are feeling. Then move to laying down, standing up then laying down as that restlessness continues. During this stage, we attempt to stay as quiet as we can....watch the camera from outside the stall or sit directly outside the stall door and we let her labor as she feels comfortable. This can go on several hours until her water breaks. At that time, we go to her side and stand by while she delivers her baby. Any of these signs, are perfect signs to call and give us an update so we can get to her side.
After her water breaks, she moves into stage 2, the active labor stage. This stage is usually quick compared to Stage one and it ends with the birth of her foal. This is were we watch close for signs of trouble for early intervention if needed.
The final stage is delivery of the placenta. We want this to slowly happen without pulling or trauma, so you will see on the video we often are re positioning or tying up the placenta so it does not get tugged on. This placenta is then assessed and saved for our vet to assess again at his visit.
At this time, Mom and baby are biggest concern....we want them to spend time together, bonding, the foal will be learning to stand and nurse.
How and When to Contact us:
If you see one of our mares in labor or you have questions on what you may be seeing or you are noticing changes,
please call or Text 24 hours a day
Christina Riggs at 734 497-1294
Kim Stevens at 734-915-3421
or Jay Trombley at 517 366-3988
We are available 24/7 for our mares, we would rather have updates and we run out to check on the mare and over check her a million times then not check her and our mare or her foal is in trouble.
Our Foaling Camera
These pictures are from Lillie pregnant with Dipper.
First set of pics are from May 2nd 2016.
PICS below ARE FROM MAY 8TH 2016...THE DAY DIPPER WAS BORN.
Comparing the top set of pictures to the bottom set of pictures. in 6 days, Her vulva was changing over the weeks before then the day of foaling she appeared swelled......her bag continued to enlarge then her utters began to space apart.....her milk was a clear yellow then turned to a cloudy milk color. PH fell from around 8.0 to 6.2. Once she hit a ph of 6.2 she foaled within 12 hours.
the Waxing was a sure sign when we looked at all the signs together.....she began waxing approx 3 hours before the restlessness began. THis is a great example of waxing.
Hope these pictures help explain signs we are watching for and when we post it on facebook, this gives a clearer picture. Also great to compare other horses too who may be getting close to foaling. We keep our mares pictures to compare the next year so we can try and pin point the timing of the birth based on the previous years experience.