Had a sucky start to 2007

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victoria

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We have had a sucky start to 2007 and lost both a mare and foal 2 nights ago with a horrendous foaling. We have lost our matriarch and are completely wreaked over it, and feel like bad horse mummys even though we know we did everything, we still feel like it wasn't enough...

On talking a few things though we keep coming to back to fescue and the possiblity that it could be contributing, we are not looking to blame anyone just wanted to prevent this again in the future if possible and would like others thoughts. Info on fesue over here is often disregarded here, the story is the mare had been off our property since early Novemeber and had 2 foaling dates one due for early december and one for early January (however the second breeding was a bit of a joke and the stallion did not really want to breed the mare and she was not screaming in season, but he did so very half heartedly and only twice, as I was getting married this is the only mare we didn't scan as I said well you will know by the beginning of next year if she is not in foal and re-bred her then as it was late anyway)- the mare uddered up and looked like she would foal in early December - she was setting the pager off and looked all systems go - things suddenly stopped, udder disappeared and she carried on until Wednesday night (being early Jan) when things all went bad. Firstly it was a red bag - this is the 3rd red bag we have had in 2 years and only breed 2 or 3 mares a year. The strange thing is the mares that have had the red bags are those that have been off our property the longest and have been slow and had rough uddering up patterns and in 2 of the red bags the foals have been mispresented and with prolonged gestation. We have been breeding for about 10 years and have only in the last two years had any issue with red bags which roughly coincides with them being introduced to this outside pasture in the later part of their gestation. The other thing is this foal seemed enormous like it had just kept growing and growing and growing and this is not normal for either sire or dam who are both proven an noted for producing nice fine bone. We authorised a c-section but your vet advised the mare was not a viable candiate as they have intervened too much already and enuthenaisa was the kindest option as the mare was in a very bad way. Our vet is totally gutted as she has never not been able to get a foal out so it is a whole bunch of firsts for everyone involved. Fescue has been discussed here in NZ but it seems may refuse to acknowledge that it could contibute to problems.

Does this sound like its an avenue worth pesuring or do you think it was just a one off things went wrong thing?
 

miniaddiction

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Oh man Victoria Im so sorry you lost them both, how awful. Yes the fescue thing is not something Ive had great sucess with over here. Ive rung many different ag. testing places to try and get my pastures checked because I wouldnt have a clue what Im looking for, and come up with nothing. I am paranoid about fescue after hearing stories like this one and Im desperate to find out if its going to be a problem. Im sorry Im no help with what you want to know. I just wanted to say Im thinking about you guys, thats got to be so hard to deal with. I really hope you work it out.

Helen
 

Miniv

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From some of what you describe........you have circumstantial evidence that it is fescue toxicity. This includes the timing of when the mare(s) were on an outside pasture, the red bags, and the udder development.

If there is a way for that pasture grass in question to be tested by an agricultural lab, I would do it, just for my own sanity, if it were me.

And if you have any other pregnant mares that have been or on that pasture, I would pull them off ASAP and find a source for colostrum, just incase.

My heart is going out to you for your loss........Losing a foal is hard, but losing a beloved mare is horrific, I know......I've been there.

MA
 

Charlotte

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Oh no! My heart just breaks for you. I KNOW what you are feeling right now.
In our case it was black walnut trees, but what you are experiencing (the history of it) sure does point to fescue being a possible culprit.

I don't have solutions for you beyond removing the mares from the suspected pasture(s).

Fescue is a wide bladed grass that grows in clumps if sparsely planted, but lots of other grasses look like that so it sounds like you need an expert (horticulturist?) to identify the type of grass you have.

I'm so sorry.

Charlotte
 

Miniequine

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OH, I am so sorry.


I hope you can figure out the problem.

Some info, although I'm sure you al;ready have it.

Again, I am so sorry.

~Sandy

We get a fescue/endophyt warning here at my feed store:

In horses, pregnant mares are most at risk when eating fescue, since the alkaloids produced by the fungus inhibit prolactin release. Mares will have an increased risk of prolonged gestation, abortion, stillbirth, dystocia (difficult birth), foal mortality, retained or thickened placenta, no milk, and mare death (in foaling, or from a retained placenta).

Toxicity is the result of an endophytic ("inside the plant") fungus, which is believed to enable the grass to be more hardy and outcompete other grass species. The grass itself is not toxic. The fungus is passed in the seed, and is not transmitted directly from plant to plant.

The toxin remains active in hay.

 

Becky

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Oh, I am so sorry!!

I've had my share of environmental foaling disasters and it sure sounds like that is what you are dealing with. Fescue could be a real possibility if it grows in your area.

I wish you the best for the rest of the year and hope you find the culprit to your problems!
 

Viki

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I am so sorry for your loss and the difficult time your going threw. You have my heart felt sympathy!

Just on the chance that it is fescue, I'd sure get my mares off that pasture ASAP.

Viki
 

Humhill

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This is a great picture! The best way to tell any grass from another is by the seed head. Fescue has a very "fluffy" seed head.

If mares are taken off a fecue pasture in the last few months of their pregnancy, they should be fine. If you suspect you have fescue, you can make a dirt lot and feed them hay. They won't be as happy as if they we're in a lush, green pasture, but it's safer.

I'm so sorry for your loss. We lost a foal this year (the first mini foal we'd had in 8 years) that we were very excited about. It's so heartbreaking.

Hope things go better with your other mares!
 

wildoak

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I'm so sorry - every breeders worst nightmare. Is there an agricultural service or even a university who might test the grass for you?

Jan
 

Bess Kelly

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I feel your pain!!!! I am so sorry for the loss of your mare and foals.

In 1995 I lost 14 foals from fescue toxins......had 2 c-sections in 6 days, fortunately did not lose any mares.

Several of the foals were lost within the 4-8 week period prior to due dates. I hated to walk into the barn each morning
Never knew what you would find! At first this was thought not to be caused by toxin but was later confirmed that late term loss WAS from toxins....(a published vet study, approx. 1999).

All the things mentioned here are so true, except the fungus IS within the grass leaf, it just cannot pass to any other plant from that leaf -- only the infected seed can begin another infected plant. There are some fine universities in the USA that test -- we sent ours to one for confirmation. The animals ingest the toxin via the grass. It can be stronger/weaker depending upon the conditions of weather, age of plant, feritilization, etc. Ours was young, well tended fields -- the optimum for plant, devastation for mares.

The foals can be huge -- one of our C-sections needed TWO men to lift the foal out -- they usually have extra, extra long hoof pads, the hair is normally far longer than a normal foal and quite silky feeling. The toxin normally affects the liver of the foal, and it keeps the appropriate hormones from developing to tell the mare "I'm ready to come out"....in layman's terms. The redbag is often seen, not always.....because the foal wasn't getting into position, dystocias are most common. It can & does affect the mares ability to rebreed and hold the pregnancy until her system is totally cleared. They concieve, fertilized egg doesn't seat well inutero and slips.....recycle, rebreed, slip......and on and on. It also APPEARS to take minis/ponies a little longer to eliminate the toxins and it is thought to be because of their metabolism....per vet studies. If born and survive, foals can be short lived and/or affected as if a dummy foal.

IF you still have mares to foal out who have been on this pasture, there is something that will help, Domperidone. It is a paste form and helps counter the toxins, etc. Your vet will need to order it for you, if can help save the foals and mares.

I have BOXES of info and vet studies that were published -- and on the web if you know how to look them up -- confirming these things. Anyone who needs the info, email/PM me and I'll go pull it out and share.
 
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Tammie

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I am very sorry for the loss of your mare and foal. My prayers will be with you.

Tammie~
 

lyn_j

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Victoria, Thats the type of start we had last year... lost two mares and their fillies ........ Im holding my breath for this year.....

Hope you find your answers and have a better rest of the year.

Lyn
 

REO

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I'm so very sorry
: What a horrible thing. {{{{Hugs}}}}

Bess, that was great info. I appreciated it.
 

hairicane

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Im so sorry for your losses! And Bess Thanks for all the info. What an awful ordeal u and your horses went through.
 

wiccanz

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Oh Victoria, I am really, really sorry to hear that... I really feel for you in this situation. PM or email me if you want to, perhaps you would be better off keeping your mares at home...
 

victoria

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Thanks for all your kind thoughts - its much appreciated. The mare was actually featured in the Dams of distinction section of Pat Elders book and Im so pleased that I took the time to nominiate her and she qualified. She has left behind 4 daugthers, 3 of which we still have.

I have also had a few days to think further on it and spoken to a few other people who all suspect it is environmental. The statistics are not good we have breed 5 mares the last 2 breeding seasons, 3 have been redbags, of those 3 births, 2 foals were mispresented, the other was hypoxic although the birth was very quick and seemed straight foward behind the the redbag, and our only other mare to foal this year needed assistance to pass the afterbirth. We all agree Fescue is worth persuing so can someone give me an idea of how we go about getting our pasture tested. Im pretty sure they wont do it here and we will have to look offshore. So the contact deatils of places that do the testing would be very helpful. I have been told that Fescue is routinely planted with Timothy and Rye here so could be in a multitude of feed sources.

I feel our first step would be to rule out or rule in our pasture and feed sources, then we can think about our next step.
 

Becky

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You mention rye and I can tell you that I had terrible issues here with annual rye and nitrogen fertilizer.

I had two of the worst foaling seasons ever a few years ago with multiple dystocias, multiple foal losses and horrible deformities. We were pulling our hair out trying to figure out what was going on. We tested water, soil; a multitude of things trying to find an answer. It finally dawned on me that my problems started when I began planting annual rye in the fall and fertilizing it with ammonium nitrate.

After a lot of research on my part, I found that rye itself can be naturally high in nitrates during certain growth conditions and that adding fertilizer to it could produce extremely high nitrate levels. Further research found that nitrates ingested during pregnancy can cause fetal deformities, thickened placentas, prolonged gestation, late term abortions, agalactica (no milk), etc. I immediately pulled my horses off the pasture, stopped planting rye and stopped fertilizing and my problems stopped along with it.

I wish you the best of luck in finding answers.
 
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