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Signs to watch for as foaling approaches


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#1 wcr

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 11:46 AM

One of the most asked questions I see on the forum is what signs to watch for that the mare is getting ready to foal. Changes start about a month out with the bagging and body changes that experienced people look for to predict when a mare is leading up to foaling.

Let's hear from all you experienced people what signs you look for, at what time you put your mare in the barn, when you know foaling is imminent. All mares are different but we all have signs we watch out for.

I have found that mares start to bag up about a month out. As soon as they start to bag then I keep them close to keep an eye on them. I spend more time with them scratching and feeling the bag as it develops and baby my mares as they like the attention and are used to me messing with them. This rapport helps when I have to be in the stall at foaling time and they are used to my presence.

As foaling time approaches they will get a little like jello in the muscles above their tail(not all do this) Sometimes you can see the hooves move in this area when the foal is in position to be delivered.

The last week or so the foal moves into position towards the birth canal and your blimpy looking mare will start to look more slab-sided. This is definately when I put them in the barn under cameras. They will also lose the rounded abdomen in front of their back legs and tend to be a little flatter. Edema and milk veins along the bottom of their abdomen and in front of the bag tends to be more prominent.

I know I will think of more so lets hear from everyone.
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#2 pepperhill

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 12:03 PM

I watch for the bag development, of course, but I also pay attention to their rear end as a whole. They can start walking funny on those back legs. As the muscles start to relax they get loose gaited and unbalanced. I watch for that softening of the tail area, and have noticed that many cannot hold their tails down towards the end. Also, the elongation and swelling of the vulva area is a good thing to watch. When they get really close they start kicking at their belly and nipping at their sides in a reaction to painful contractions, and they seem to want to stand off by themselves. And finally, I have a few mares that stand with their butts pushed up against the fence, almost as if the counter pressure feels good. As we all know, there isn't just one or two sure-fire things to look at to make foaling predictions. Maybe these observations will help! Linda
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#3 rabbitsfizz

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 12:12 PM

Define "bagging up"!!! smile.gif
My mares bags start changing around Christmas, and it is from then on that they are checked every day.
This year my foals are due later and so the change is starting later.
From now on, which is up to four months from foaling, I can see a definite change, especially in my maiden mare. Her tiny little scrunched up baby bag has sort of relaxed, you can now feel both nipples, and they are definitely larger, deeper than they were.
My experienced mares, who are not due this year until May, the "left over" bag they had from the last foal has gone and the bag is developing in a similar fashion too the maiden, except they will start to make milk before she does.
Probably rolleyes.gif
The Arabs always started to actually bag up, ie let down and start a tiny bit of milk production that you could feel but not express, thirteen weeks before they foaled.
The Minis do roughly the same, but each is far more of a law unto herself than the Arabs ever were.
Again, the Golden Rule of Foaling is....
There is NO rule!! wacko.gif yes.gif
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#4 Miniv

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 12:58 PM

Nicole just provided a great photo example of a mare "dropping" -- which is a definite sign.

I also watch a mare's bag (or rather feel!) and I also feel the mare's butt muscles. The muscles get all mushy -- one description I tend to use is "jello butt".

Some mares, but not all, will have a "bloody show" where the blood vessels will come to the surface and expand inside the vagina.

If liquid is able to be expressed from the mare's teats, the sign that colostrum is present is how sticky and thick the liquid is. The consistency can change over night. (We are a milk test strip user.)

Mares will flip their tails a lot, kick at their bellies, and bite at their sides.

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#5 littlesteppers

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 01:06 PM

Last year I took this picture of my mare..I came in to upload it..when I looked out the window she had her foal!!
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#6 Joyce

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 02:17 PM

First off, I hand breed so know approximately when the mare is due, give or take a few days. I watch the bags, look for the V shape of the mare, keep her on camera where I can watch her in her stall nights, and most of all I go by the "bloody show" in the vagina. When it turns that bloody dark red, foaling is emminent.
Besides the camera I also use the Breeder Alert so I don't have to spend nights in the barn. I have been present for every birth but one which was an old mare who didn't lay down to foal outside so the Breeder Alert didn't go off. The sack broke when the baby landed on the ground apparently and all was well but I missed seeing the little fellow arrive.
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#7 HGFarm

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 02:35 PM

Oh boy, well I dont think ANY of the Mini mares have read the 'rule books' on what to do prior to foaling. I have had them bag anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks prior. I have had some that really relaxed and got the 'rafter looking' rear- some did not at all. I have had some wax up, some never did.

I watch for over all belly shape- and the nipples on the bag (which may or may not be a sign!!) changing which way they are pointing.

However, my mares come in when they are at about 305 days, as I had one foal on day 310!!! I have a camera and a breeder alert as well and my beeper going off is the sign I look for, LOL!!! One thing I have observed with the camera and beeper. MOST of the time, when they get close - like a day or two before foaling, they do not seem to lay flat at ALL. Has anyone else noticed this?

Also, another good sign is the color inside the vulva deepens to a DARK deep red prior to foaling rather than just the healthy pink. I find this sign pretty consistant.

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#8 OhHorsePee

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 02:55 PM

Any advice for one that wants to kill you if you touch her? I think I'm gonna have trouble! It is Promise. She is 50% better than she was when I first got her. But I do know she is not going to be a picnic to assist if needed and she is a maiden. Kay has been able to witness her behaviors. Terrible!
And I just have to say that it is wonderful all of the information you guys generously hand out. I think your great!
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#9 Guest_kaykay_*

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 03:07 PM

fran i am praying really hard that ginger doesnt have trouble because i have serious doubts that she would let you help. For sure I think you are going to need to have a twitch on hand just in case.

One of the most predictable signs we have found is a hot to the touch udder.

#10 Frankie

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 03:15 PM

Well, they foal when you quit watching!!!!!!! new_shocked.gif

None of my mares have ever read the book, and all have been different. Last year had one who delivered almost a month early and honestly, had zero signs! Baby was fine.
Your gut is a great indicator. yes.gif
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