Post foaling checks

Following the safe delivery of a foal the following checks should be made:

The foal

Most foals are on their feet within an hour of birth. The foal should search for the teats and suck vigorously within 2 hours of birth. Most foals then suck 5-7 times per hour in the first few days. Veterinary attention should be sought if:

  • the foal gives any immediate cause for concern
  • it is not standing within 2 hours
  • it shows little or no inclination to suck within the first couple of hours following birth

The importance of colostrum:

Colostrum is the thick, yellow liquid in the udder when the foal is born. It contains antibodies that provide protection against infection and must be sucked by the foal within the first few hours of life. If the mare runs milk prior to foaling this essential protection is lost. Arrangements must be made to protect the foal in other ways. Contact your vet for advice.

Veterinary check – 24 hours Post Foaling Check:

A veterinary check of the new-born foal and mare is recommended. Any problems and weaknesses can then be dealt with at once. Things the vet may check include:


  • that the foal has a strong suck reflex, full tummy and is feeding well
  • IgG levels via a blood test – this is vital if there are any concerns that the foal may not have received adequate colostrum
  • the umbilicus and dip with dilute iodine solution
  • identify dummy foal
  • identify any congenital flexural or angular limb deformities
  • identify any other congenital problems e.g. cleft palate, congenital cataracts
  • identify any umbilical or scrotal hernias
  • the vet may choose to give the foal a tetanus antitoxin and antibiotic injectiona
  • a ‘fleet’ foal enema may be given to ensure meconium has been passed


  • check the udder to make sure the mare has plenty of milk
  • check the placenta to make sure all is passed intact
  • check the vulva and vagina for tears that may require suturing
  • check the mare is not bleeding

In Summary, the arrival of the foal should follow 3 rules:

  • Within 1 hour: foal should stand
  • Within 2 hours: foal should suckle
  • Within 3 hours: placenta should be passed
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