The mare-foal bond is a special connection that’s normally associated with the behavioral interactions between a mare and her foal. What’s not usually thought of is the bond formed between their immune systems and microbiomes. A healthy gut microbiome goes hand in hand with a strong immune system. Foals have innate immunity at birth, but several adaptive immune responses can take up to a year to develop to those of an adult horse. The correct development of a foal’s immune system is very important in protecting them from microbial pathogens and, in turn, gastrointestinal disease.
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Care of the Newborn Foal
What transpires in the first 24 to 48 hours of a foal’s life is critical to his health and well-being from early life and up through weaning. As a foaling attendant there are several “milestones” to keep in mind as you watch the behavior of both the baby and the mare post-foaling. In this article we discuss the milestones they both should make within the few hours after the foal’s arrival into his new world. The care delivered, attention to detail, and respect for the nature of the horse will help set up your foal up for a healthier adolescence.
Why Colostrum Transfer is Critical to a Foal's First Weeks of Life
Foaling season is officially upon us and right about now equine veterinarians have little else on the brain but colostrum. That’s how important colostrum is to a newborn foal; it can literally mean the difference between life and death. In this article the members of FullBucket, a company providing veterinary strength supplements for horses and dogs, discuss the foal's immune system, why colostrum is such an important factor in the their first hours of life, and what you can do to ensure their life starts right.
Foal Diarrhea - Avoiding it Altogether
A newborn foal’s biggest adversary is infection from pathogens such as Rotavirus, E. coli and Salmonella bacteria. In fact, diarrhea or sepsis (generalized body infection) is the leading cause of neonatal intensive care in foals. The illness starts out as invasion by one of many viruses or bacteria. Rotavirus is highly contagious and happens when foals ingest focally contaminated material or lick surfaces contaminated with manure. One teaspoon of Rotavirus-infected feces from a foal can contain more than 10 million virus particles – enough to infect whole herds of foals. Unfortunately, too, the virus is so hardy that it can survive more than nine months at room temperature and over winter on farms.