The establishment and loss of twins, often results in a mare that is barren for a year and the associated economic loss. The incidence of twin births has been documented as occurring in 1-2% of the equine population with twinning accounting for 6-30% of abortions in the mare. When twins are present, gestation proceeds normally until the conceptuses begin to compete for uterine space or placenta. With or without mummification, death of one fetus leads to abortion, usually between 5 and 9 months of gestation. Lactation commonly occurs after one foal dies and causes premature mammary gland development. Surviving foals are usually weaker, more susceptible to infection, and slower to develop than singletons. Fortunately, with the use of ultrasound and an increased understanding of the mechanisms involved in twinning, better approaches to twin reduction have been developed.
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What Can Cause a Mare to Lose Her Pregnancy?
Mares can develop problems during pregnancy or be at high risk of losing the pregnancy for a variety of reasons. These include age (old mares frequently have endometriosis in which the uterus is unable to properly supply the fetus with appropriate blood supply and nutrients), physical conditions (placental and fetal fluid abnormalities; body wall tears; chronic debilitating conditions such as laminitis and Cushing’s disease), and acute disease or injury (placentitis, uterine torsion, surgical colic, colitis, acute laminitis, or fractures). When a mare becomes stressed or debilitated, inflammatory chemicals and prostaglandins increase and induce abnormal uterine contractions and potential pregnancy loss. Reproductive problems that arise during gestation, however, when detected and diagnosed early, can still result in the survival of the mare and usually the foal. The abnormalities most commonly seen during the middle to late stages of pregnancy will be discussed in this article.
Placentitis in the Mare - Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
Placentitis, an inflammation of the placenta usually caused by an infectious agent, has emerged as a leading cause of reproductive loss in the equine breeding industry. This has a large economic and emotional impact when the pregnancy progresses until close to term but unfortunately ends in abortion or the birth of a small ill-thrifty foal. The placenta is composed of the amnion, which surrounds the fetus and the chorioallantois that attach to the endometrium of the mare. These structures protect the fetus and provide gas and nutrient exchange allowing the foal to grow. When placentitis occurs it usually affects the chorioallantois compromising the foal because there is a loss of attachment of the placenta to the endometrium or the presence of infection and inflammation. In this article, Dr. Karen Wolfsdorf of the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, discusses the causes, diagnosis and treatment of placentitis in the mare.
Preparing Your Mare For Breeding
There are many factors to consider before you breed your mare. This Q&A with reproduction specialist, Dr Karen Wolfsdorf of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute will help you be prepared. Questions answered include - Where do I start if I want to breed my mare?, Why do I need to get my mare examined by a veterinarian?, What does a pre-breeding exam include?, What can be done if my veterinarian finds a problem at the pre-breeding exam?, How should my mare be prepared for mating? and When do I find out if my mare is pregnant?