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Equine practice
Post-parturition examination of the newborn foal and mare
  1. Chris Shepherd

    Chris Shepherd graduated from Liverpool in 1983. After four years in mixed practice, he joined the Willesley Equine Clinic in Gloucestershire. In 2009, the Willelsley practice merged to form the B&W Equine Group, where he is a director and responsible for the equine reproduction department, including artificial insemination.


Checking the newborn foal and mare following parturition involves clinical examination of both animals and a discussion with the owner to ensure that any ongoing prophylactic care and management is instituted as necessary. The animals should be assessed within the first 24 hours following birth but the actual timing will depend on the parturition and the early period of adaptation being ‘normal’. Some owners may need guidance over the telephone to determine whether the sequence of events during a birth has been normal. At the examination, a brief discussion relating to the mare (eg, breeding history, general health and gestation length) will alert the veterinary surgeon to potential problems. Foals born before 320 days' gestation are considered premature. An assessment of standard parameters for the foal will confirm whether it is adapting satisfactorily. This article describes the routine examination of the newborn foal and mare, using a body system approach, to ensure the normal transition to extrauterine life of the former. Pre-prepared forms may be useful to make sure that nothing is missed. Medical or surgical emergencies are beyond the scope of this article.

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