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Prediction of Foaling Dates

The generally accepted gestation period for a mare is 340 to 342 days (11 months). Although there has been some breed variation reported in the length of pregnancy, the majority of the gestation length variation is attributed to the age of the mare, size of the dam, size and sex of the foal, month of the conception, plane of nutrition, and season of birth. (temperature).

Potential foaling dates can be predicted by first determining the last day the mare was bred. This date represents the most likely date of conception. Typically, the mare will foal 11 months and 5 days from that date. However, foaling managers are encouraged to allow plus or minus 7-10 days on their foaling date calculations to allow for routine variations. Subsequently, most breeding farms calculate a normal gestation length as 340 or minus 7 days.


From LB Forums

Stallion Not Interested In Breeding - The other question is regarding the nature of him as a three-year-old 32" stallion. I feel he is old enough to breed.. I have three mares... one of which, goes into heat very easily. He doesn't seem to be interested in her at all. What is the problem? Shouldn't he become somewhat aroused? If anyone can tell me, please contact me as soon as possible.

  • I had a problem with a small stallion just like your situation. After watching this stallion breed mares (when he finally did) I found out that he would ONLY breed mares that had a follicle, just because mares come in heat does not mean that they have a follicle to breed on (mares only get in foal if they have a follicle). This little guy knew WHEN to breed and not waste his time or mine. He did get every mare in foal, but in his time scheme, not mine. Also, check to make sure this stallion has dropped both testes. If not it could mean he doesn't have enough testrone to make him aggressive like some other stallions sometimes are. Don't give up on him, he may be smarter than you think!
  • Don't worry, I bought a 3 yr. old stud and put him with my 7 yr. old mare who had foals before. He showed no interested, even with her in heat, (she was real desperate) he would sniff, drop and then walk away, this went on for about 5-6 months, and then finally I couldn't believe my eyes, he actually finished and bred her, she is in foal now for next spring, it only took him 2X's
  • Have you checked to see if he has dropped? Some studs mature late. If he has dropped & still doesn't act interested, I would have him checked out by a vet, including bloodwork for hormonal & other problems. If you have just bought him, you might want to check with prior owners to find out what his habits were with them & if he could have gotten hurt by a mare.

Getting & keeping mares in foal - Has anyone got any info on getting mares in foal and keeping them in foal, having trouble with mares have had foals before? Mine seem to not want to settle. Different studs have been used, thyroid has been ruled out as of now.

  • Any mares that do not catch in the spring during their first heat we have the vet out to infuse them with a broad antibiotic like naxcil, or the vet can culture to be more specific. At our farm this is usually all it takes. If problem continue the vet can due a complete exam which would include manual palpation and ultrasound, exam of cervix to check for tearing or scars that could prevent it from closing and allow an embryo to escape before it implants in the uterus. Also urine pooling in the vagina will prevent her from getting in foal. There is a surgical procedure called a urethral extension to help correct this. Most embryonic loss occurs in the first 40 days of pregnancy. If a mare is pregnant as shown by ultrasound around 15 to 18 days you can talk to your vet about putting her on a regulating hormone. To make a long story short, make sure your vet is knowledgeable in equine reproduction, not all are, and go from there. Also call and get information from the vet schools in your state, or well known ones throughout the country.
  • Anytime you are having trouble with getting a mare in foal you need to have your vet do a reproductive exam ie, palpate, ultrasound, cultures etc. These are done to rule out common causes of infertility such as: metritis (Inflammation of the uterus), Endometritis ( inflammation of the endometrium), Pyometra, (chronic uterine Infection) etc. etc. ~~~ Once the cause is determined your vet can assist you in developing a proper plan of treatment for the problem. If the tests are all negative then you may need to consider hormone therapy again, your vet can help you there too. ~~~ We immunize all of our pregnant mares against Rhinopeumonitis to avoid viral abortions. This is a common cause of abortion on some farms. ~~~ Proper nutrition, a good deworming program, sanitary breeding practices, ie ensuring a mare with an infection is not bred and the stallion passes it on to the other mares. Etc. are all measures we employ at our farm.

Red Bag deliveries (placenta previa) - Does anyone have any experience with red bag deliveries or the reoccurrence of them. I have experience in delivering them but my question is does anyone have any ideas in preventing them. The reoccurrence is only in this one mare that I own and she is due in the spring. I have asked a lot of vet's and vet schools but not much to go on. Any info would be appreciated.

  • When the fertilized egg implants in the uterus, it usually implants up high but when it implants in the lower segment of the uterine cavity, it can cause a previa. This means the placenta covers the opening of the uterus and in order for the foal to come out, the foal would have to come through the placenta. What happens is usually with a complete previa, if this were diagnosed early, a c-section could be performed to save both mare and foal. However in most cases the mare delivers early because the placenta abrupts (pulls away) and the foal becomes a stillbirth, which in turns starts the labor process. There are degrees of previa from total to low lying. In humans, complete bed rest is ordered so the mother does not have gravitational pull of the baby's weight pushing on top on the placenta. If it is a complete previa, then a c-section is ordered. If it is only a partial previa, then she is monitored closely on bed rest, and through labor. If the fetus starts having distress, then a stat c-section is ordered. We are not able to do this with horses, so if it is a previa and a ultrasound can tell you this, only a c-section will save this foal and the mare. Many mares bleed to death from a previa if she is not attended to and the placenta is not delivered in time after the foal. The cause is usually from scar tissue that has formed up high in the uterine segment. Scar tissue prevents implantation of an egg. Scar tissue can form from infections, which can be caused from retained placenta parts of previous births, or just any infection that affects the uterus. The red bag is the sack, which has filled with blood from the placenta that has either partially or fully separated from the uterine wall. Mares who have had multiple pregnancies and or multiple abortions for whatever reason are at high risk of having a previa. Mares that have had a previous c-section are also at risk the next pregnancy of a previa. Sometimes if you check your mares throughout the pregnancy after the half way mark, you may find vaginal bleeding. This is a big red flag. This is painless. Your vet can perform an ultrasound and may be able to detect this. I hope this is useful information.
  • I was bedazzled by your explanation of placenta previa. I had often wondered what was the cause of this problem. I have seen this occur many, many times in foalings through the years. Your explanation makes perfect sense to me. In my day to day life where I assist in many foaling, the "red sack phenom" does not seem to follow the "model" that you have presented though. My first several years foaling, I would tend to agree. We probably averaged 75- 100 foalings a year, for several years with the majority of these resulting from pasture breedings. Projected foaling dates were arrived at from vet. palpations. I saw very few foalings though. My foaling method was to check the mares at 11 pm, 1:30 am and 3 am. We had no foaling monitors. Occasionally, I would find a mare in active delivery, and infrequently I would see the red sack protruding. I would have no idea how long the mare had been in labor. For several years, I had not saved a single foal from a placenta previa. My vet told me that if I jumped right in there as soon as the placenta was presented that I could save many of the foals. My problem was that I was not there when labor commenced. Soon thereafter, we bought the FOAL ALERT foaling monitoring system. We didn't buy it for the placenta previa problem though. I had resigned myself to the inevitability of placentia previa. Our main foaling problem was of foals being born unassisted, but not getting out of the sack and therefore suffocating. With the foal alert, I was able to assist the mares at the onset of foaling, as soon as the bubble protruded from the vulva. I started to save a lot of the placenta previa foals. Now I am only talking about 4-6 or so placenta previas a year occurring on our farm. What I do, is as soon as I see the red sack, is I tie the mare to the wall (so I don't have to chase her around the stall), I wrap the tail with tail wrap, I slit the sack with a pocketknife (it is too tough to tear), I cover my hands with Betadine scrub and I put a hand into the slit of the red sack to "feel what is going on". I usually find a slight presentation problem. Perhaps the muzzle is pointed down as well as the forelegs and I just reposition things and pull the foal out and it is alive. It could be really bad positioning though, and the foal will probably be born dead. The other scenario I encounter, is a premature foaling: the legs and head and too fine boned for the foal to be full term. These are usually delivered without much trouble (2-5minutes), and I observe that the foal's haircoat is too short and fine to be full term. Also, in most cases (all that I can remember) the eyes are cloudy which implies that the foal has been dead for a while. I have also found from experience that in our herd, placentia previa, seems to occur more frequently in the early part of the foaling season, perhaps as an effect of cold wet weather. My thoughts are that the stress is enough to cause abortion or perhaps a bit of a premature delivery with the foal not being correctly positioned at the time of iniation of foaling. We always have our worst problems at the beginning of the foaling season. This year, we have 2 foals on the ground (we breed later than most people to avoid cold weather, and the dystocias that tend to go with it), I had two placenta previas, the first a premature dead filly, which I delivered easily with the placenta coming out intact. This mare I watched for 40 minutes as she would lay down in the paddock and occasionally roll. Normally, I would never allow this, but I was not sure if she was having a mild colic or was getting ready to foal. The filly was not positioned correctly and I feel that perhaps your "model" for this would apply here. The second placenta previa of the year was our first live foal of the year. A beautiful, loud, bay and white probably homozygous pinto filly out of the dam of a National champion. She was positioned with her head in the right spot, but legs were pointing down; I delivered her within 3 minutes or so and she never missed a beat. I am a pretty good foaler, but I don't consider myself to be exceptional at all. I think that if you are there at the onset of labor that you can save probably 50% of placenta previa presentations. We owned one mare that had 3 placenta previa foalings in a row, all resulted in live foals. We sold her and she again had a live foal for the new owner, but I forgot to ask if it was a placenta previa foaling or not. This was a young mare, which had a total of 4 pregnancies. I also haven't had much trouble with retained placentas from placenta previas. Out of hundreds of foalings we have only ever had one c-section. But we stay away from under 30" mares generally speaking, although I have found that a tiny mare can have a huge pelvic opening and a much bigger mare can have a tiny opening. If necessary we find it prudent to sacrifice the unborn foal, which would probably be foaled dead anyway, than to endanger the life of the mare with a section, which can also leave the mare infertile. Perhaps our luck with not having to do c-sections is due to having a truly talented veterinarian. This post is totally not meant to be confrontational. It is just my experiences with placenta previa and dystocias.
  • In a normal foaling the first thing that you see is a fairly translucent bubble usually with a front foot followed very closely by the other front foot and nose. If instead of seeing this cloudy clearish bubble you see a red bag that looks like liver or velvety textured, that is the placenta which should have ruptured allowing the amniotic sac to emerge from the vulva first. This occurs usually only if the mare has been in hard labor for a while and the placenta due to the terrific forces of contractions has separated from the uterus. Once that happens the foal no longer is getting oxygen through the umbilical chord, but instead is starting to die or suffocate. This happens sometimes if the foal is malpositioned and the straining of the mare finally separates it, or can be caused by the mare's grazing fescue grass infected with an endophyte that causes tough placenta and other foaling problems. It can also be caused by some trauma to the mare such as being kicked very hard or some other disturbance to the cervical area. When you see a red bag, the first thing is to quickly open it and it is very difficult to do by hand, so grab whatever is handy: a knife, a screwdriver, this point don't worry about sanitation (remember I AM NOT A VET!!), just worry about speed. Then try to feel how the foal is presented and get it OUT quickly!! If you get it out very quickly you may be able to save the foal, but if the placenta has been separated too long the foal may be born dead. One year when we had a fescue problem of which we were unaware, we had eighteen red bag deliveries. Of those probably fifteen were alive when they foaled, but in spite of vet care around the clock for most of the others we only saved TWO!! Many of the ones that did not survive seemed fine at first, but got progressively weaker and usually died within eighteen hours even with intravenous feeding by the vet hospital. It was explained to me that the brain was deprived of oxygen and their retardation progressed quickly although at first they seemed normal. Some of them would fall asleep and would have to be vigorously shaken to get them to wake. Let me assure you that you may go years without seeing this happen and I hope that that is the case. I had probably gone ten years before ever seeing it. If the foal is in the correct position this will not happen so don't let it worry you excessively, just remember IF you see it....hurry. Every second that you waste is like a child under water in a swimming pool waiting for a lifeguard.

More on Red Bag
   I saw your information on Red Bag deliveries on your wonderful site, and thought you might be interested in my experience with them. I have only been raising Miniature Horses for a few years, but between my best friend and I, we have already had 4 red bags. The first one was delivered --- stillborn--- while I was gone. The second, my friend tried to deliver alone. She had nothing with her to break the bag, and she lost the foal. After hearing this, I bought some 6" long "craft sticks" (they look like tongue depressors) and cut one end at an angle to form a fairly sharp point. We each put several in our foaling kits, just in case. 
   Last year, a maiden mare of hers went into labor. It seemed like all was well, but the longer the mare pushed and nothing emerged, the more worried we became. Finally, the red bag appeared. With the help of one of my craft sticks, I cut through the placenta and then through the water bag. The foal was difficult to deliver, but was alive when we finally got him on the ground. This year, the mare delivered her second foal, and red bagged again! Luckily, both of us were there again and had a stick handy! Again, it was a live birth, but this time I had to actually reach inside the mare to cut the placenta open (it was only visible for a second or two when she pushed.) This baby, like the other one, was properly positioned, and was fairly easy to deliver. Both dam and colt are doing well.
   Our equine vet tells us that one theory for premature placental separation (especially in mares who have had more than one) is that in the month prior to foaling the cervix begins to open. This can cause an infection. This in turn can cause the placenta to separate prematurely (in other words, a Red Bag delivery.) He suggests that Bactrium, an antibiotic, given the month before foaling, might clear up this infection and prevent the problem. ~~~ Pat Elder, Rosa Roca Miniature Horses.

!! Please view this page for additional information and a photo:  RED BAG DELIVERIES

Finding the right stud service - Spring is coming & so is breeding season. Whether you have a bred or open mare, you are probably starting to consider who to breed her to for your next foal You may have your own stallions, or you may be considering breeding to an outside stallion. People do this for a variety of reasons. Some people do not want to even own a stallion as they are at times a bit of a handful. Others may want to bring in some fresh bloodlines to in the way of foals to breed back to the stallions they now own. Still others are looking for a particular stallion for its bloodlines, show history, color or maybe they just like the way it looks! Stallions should be picked with a specific goal in mind, in crossing with your mare. Can he correct your mares shortcomings, "stamp" his foals with his better qualities. Research should be done before choosing a stallion for this & other reasons. Once you have narrowed down your search for a stallion that you like, you need to discuss the actual cost of the stud fee & extras. Some breeders will have a set fee for all mares, some will only allow a select few mares to breed to their stallions, and others will vary the fee according to the mare or breeder. Find out what type of live foal guarantee you can expect. The standard live foal guarantee means the foal will be born alive & stand & nurse. In the case of a death most breeders will breed back once for free. It usually does not cover if the foal dies weeks or even months after birth. If your mare does not breed after multiple tries, can you get a refund, minus a handling or shed fee, or substitute another mare or stallion? Does the live foal guarantee only cover if the birth is attended by a professional, a vet...YOU? If the foal is born with a defect, do you have any recourse?

Ask for details on the stallion such as an extended pedigree or buy one from the AMHA. You can see the background of the stallion including sizes & colors. Ask for an offspring report or show results. You should not only see it in person & perhaps its current foals, you should look over the place that is to be your horses home while breeding. Common questions to ask are will she be in a stall, or in a pasture, what type of care will she have? Ask about grooming, farrier work, and exercise. Find out the costs involved-over & above the stud fee. Many places charge a mare care fee, which includes general boarding. "Wet care" charge is for a mare with a foal by her side. Ask when your mare should be brought in & how long they keep your mare. Some require the mares to remain on the farm until they are confirmed in foal, others will let you take them home as soon as they are no longer in season & you would return them if they come back "in". This may save you the daily cost of mare care, but you may end up running her back over to the breeding shed the next month. Do they have on site availability to sonogram your mare *(usually found only in the larger farms) or can you use a vet of your choice? How are you expected to pay for sonograms, to the stud owner, or directly to the vet? You can also do a bloodtest to check for pregnancy, is this allowed at this farm?

Other things to ask for is to make sure that the stallion is with the correct Registry that you wish to have a foal from. Is he DNA tested? If you get your mare tested, then you can parentage qualify your foal in the AMHA. If he is a well-known stallion, you may need to ask permission to use his name in naming your foals to reflect his parentage. The breeders in both the AMHA & AMHR restrict some farm & stallion names, & you have to have permission to use them.

If you like everything you see so far, then ask for the stud service contract. Find out how they will require payment. Most places ask for a non refundable booking fee of anywhere from $50 up, this fee acts like a deposit holding your "spot" open for breeding, & in some cases if you change your mind or a problem arises, the booking fees is not refundable. Do you pay the whole stud fee prior to breeding? Can you pay half at time of breeding & half at time of foaling? Find out what the health requirements are of your mare. Do you need to provide a current shot & worming record, along with a coggins? The stud owner may want to know the breeding history of your mare. Is she a maiden? Does she have short or long heats? Does she have a silent heat? Does she need to be hobbled or will she allow a stallion to breed easily? Is she gentle to handle or hard to catch? Does she have any strange habits? Do they provide feed or do you need to bring your own? What type of feed are they using? Is there an extra charge for medicating a mare to bring her in heat? (regumate). Are you required to have your mare insured while at their farm? The stud service contract should state all of these requirements along with the other subjects we have discussed. As with any legally binding contract, it is always in your best interest to have an attorney look it over & advise you of your rights. Not many of us have the luxury of paying to do that. At least have a knowledgeable horse person read it over or even a second person that you trust. You may overlook something important! Do not agree to anything that you are not sure of or unhappy with. Ask questions of the breeder. If you are unhappy try to get the breeder to compromise, or perhaps explain their reasoning, given a chance to explain may wash away any future concerns. Some breeders will be easier to work with than others. In the end, you need to decide what you want, in both the stallion you will breed to & the farm that you will keep your mare at. - Many thanks to Debbie Gross of White Star Miniature Horses for allowing us to use this article.

Please visit The Best of the Miniature Horse Forum archives to read more information from experienced breeders.


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