Equine Health Update Issue 2 Volume 19 - Page 15

EQUINE | Equine Disease Update we just learned), and keep up with their dams. At the same time, the mare must recover from foaling and eat enough to provide nutrition for a growing foal, and her reproductive system must rebound to prepare for another pregnancy. That’s a lot going on in a short time. Peter R. Morresey, BVSc, MVM, MACVSc, Dipl. ACT, ACVIM, CVA, of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, ad- vocates that the mare’s foal heat—which occurs about seven to 15 days after foaling—might be the best time for a veterinary examination to be sure the foal is hit- ting his marks and the mare is ready for breeding. While there are many reasons to breed a mare, a major reason is financial. Selling the foal as a weanling or yearling re- quires that he or she be a good size and healthy at sale time. As such, illness or problems that affect growth, health, or soundness have an economic impact. At birth, a foal is at 10% of his mature body weight, and the most rapid period of growth is in the months follow- ing. So foal heat is the ideal time to be sure he’s grow- ing normally. Vets assess musculoskeletal development, breathing, heart activity, body structure, way of moving, umbilicus, weight, and, of course, nutrition. It’s likely the foal will have diarrhea (called “foal-heat diarrhea”), but normally he should not be “sick” with it, Morresey said. So if the foal is depressed or diarrhea is ongoing, it’s time to investigate further. Then there’s the obvious need to be sure the mare is healthy, because that’s the best way she can take care of her foal. She has the tremendous job of feeding the foal (that consumes 20-25% of his body weight each day in milk!), as well as repairing her own system to prepare for the next foal. She needs a reproductive exam, including ultrasound, to be sure she’s ready for breeding. From a commercial standpoint, Morresey suggested we think of the mare as an airplane: She lands, discharges the foal, and must be ready to take off again so she can fly past the stallion, pick up the next passenger, and be ready to land again in 340 days. That means turning her around in a timely fashion, which is healthy for her as long as all systems are go. He recommended consid- ering breeding on the foal heat as long there were no post-foaling complications. Finally, the mare should get a general health exam, in- cluding soundness, dental, skin, and endocrine or meta- bolic function. Appropriate hoof trimming is a must and, of course, be sure she gets enough and the right kind of feed. Catching problems early, minimizing mare and foal stress, and keeping the mare in best reproductive health is the best way to protect your investment. Low Platelet Counts and Sick Foals: An Un- lucky Combination If only predicting survival in sick foals were as easy as shaking a Magic 8 Ball for an answer. Researchers have evaluated various measures to help owners make diffi- cult decisions when caring for sick foals, including white blood cell counts, fibrinogen levels, and glucose and lactate concentrations, among others, but none have been as effective as practitioners would like. Recently, a Colorado State University (CSU) team investigated the impact of platelet counts on foal survival. Elsbeth Swain, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, of CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biological Sciences, explained that many hospitalized foals fRrFVWB6VG2&VfW'&VBF2F&&7FV766FVBvFFV W76W2vVF267W'2FRf( 2&BFW6( B6@&ǒF26FF( 27B7W'ffvWfW"27F&6ǒ&VVV6V"F&WGFW"VFW'7FBF&&7FV7v@v'vFW6EdF5d5dT425d5`( "fVR"( "VR#r(