Preparing a Foaling Kit: Everything You Will Need for at Home Delivery of Your Foal

It’s surprising how many people are well aware that the gestation for a mare is approximately 11 months… but somehow end up getting “surprised” by a foal arriving before they have gathered up the supplies they need for the big event.

I like to prepare the foaling kit around day 300 of the pregnancy. A foal born before day 300, almost never survives, because the challenges are too great. After 300 days, a foal may have challenges and need special care, but it’s viable. So once my mare gets past that 300 day milestone, it’s time to start getting ready.

Typically, I use a large plastic storage bin as a container for my foaling supplies. I like to have this container handy, so it’s at the barn, either in the tack room or in front of the foaling stall. Here are the things it should contain, and why.

1. Clean towels, at least two large bath towels and several hand-towels or shop rags. These will be to clean and dry the foal, as well as for wiping human hands that are wet/dirty.

2. Enemas. These are the Fleet Enemas you get at the drug store. I get two each, saline and non-saline per foal that is expected. (Salineis very gentle but can be dehydrating to a new foal, so I use one of each type shortly after birth, and have the other two in reserve for the next day if needed.)

3. Empty film canister, to use to treat the foal’s naval stump. If you can’t find a film canister, a very small drinking cup will work.

4. Chlorhexadine solution, to treat the naval. For years, everyone used iodine, but it can be harsh. Chlorhexadine solution is gentle and effective. It is not typically sold in the correct dilution, so you will want to prepare a 2% solution in advance for the foaling kit. The remaining solution is a great general purpose disinfectant for minor wounds, or stable use.

5. Newborn foal vaccines do not actually go in the foaling kit, since they will need to be refrigerated. If you do not have a refrigerator in the barn, keep them in the house. You will want to check with your repro vet, for his/her preferences for your location and needs. All new foals need tetanus, and many vets prefer a shot of broad spectrum antibiotic such as Amikacin. Depending on your area, your vet may want you to give Rotovirus and/or Salmonella.

6. Banamine, Ace and Rompum with syringes and needles in the any or all are required for the mare. If you cannot give IV shots, have Banamine paste on hand but remember that banamine takes much longer orally than when administered IV. These do not need to be refrigerated so they can be in the foaling kit, or you can keep them in the refrigerator with the foal vaccines if you prefer to keep all the meds together.

7. Leather foal halter. I prefer the figure eight style as they fit well and are comfortable.

8. Bran mash, for the mare post foaling. I get the special kind made by the folks who make “Stud Muffins” and make it into a very wet mash.

9. Twine, to tie up the placenta. A hay string works just fine.

10. A 5 gallon bucket with a lid or cover, to put the placenta in until it can be examined.

11. Ivermectin wormer, for the mare post foaling.

12. Sterile lubricant and a couple palpation sleeves, in the event you have to reposition a foal to deliver it.

13. Sterile lidded container for expressing some colostrum to freeze. I usually use a clean Tupperware, or gladware container.

14. A disposable camera- since it’s almost a guarantee you will not be able to find your camera at the time, or the batteries will be dead.

15. Flashlight, with fresh batteries. You never know when the power will go out, but when it does, your barn lights will not work.

16. Desiden Ointment, A&D Ointment and/or Shiney Hiney. You won’t need these for foaling, but they are often needed in the first week, so why not just have them on hand? It will save you another trip to the drug or tack store.

17. A clipboard, with pens, blank paper, and the following that you have prepared in advance. On this clipboard, you’ll have a list of key phone numbers (vet, back up vet, any foaling helpers), a summary of the mares breeding history including last date bred, number of days you’ll want on for previous foal(s) if known, dates of her pre-foaling vaccines, etc) and your Foaling checklist. Plan in advance, so you can refer to your list to ensure you do all the steps. You can also record key information, including times that the labor started, the foal was born, foal stood, foal nurse, mare passed placenta. This gives you something to refer back to at a time when you may lose track of time. Most of the time, you won’t need this information-but in the event of a retained placenta, you will want to know just how long it’s been since the baby was born.

Having these items on hand well in advance, along with preparing your checklists, will mean you will not get caught off guard. Having the necessary supplies, and the checklists, are a great way to help ensure that things go as smoothly as possible.

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