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How to recognise a sick newborn foal

Many problems affecting foals in the first week of life have similar and subtle symptoms.

A newborn can deteriorate within hours, so seek immediate veterinary advice if your foal:

  • Fails to stand within 2hr of birth, or to suckle good-quality colostrum within 4hr
  • Seems less alert, has little interest in feeding or spends excessive time lying down
  • Appears to fall asleep on his feet
  • Is lame (even if you think this is because the mare has trodden on him)
  • Has diarrhoea or colicky symptoms
  • Has milk on his head, or if the mare has a tightly distended udder or milk on her hindlegs

    Call the vet if a foal more than a week old:

  • Is “off suck” — that is, no longer drinking milk
  • Seems quiet or depressed
  • Has diarrhoea
  • Is breathing more rapidly at rest (more than 30 breaths per minute)
  • Is lame, or has swelling around the joints
  • Is not gaining weight and condition as expected

    Read more about foals

    Read more about breeding

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