Orphaned foal saved by his great grandmother thanks to human sickness drug

  • An orphaned foal has been given a new chance in life thanks to a drug that allowed his great grandmother to produce milk.

    The rare Cleveland bay colt, Craigiewood Benbecula, was born on 27 May in Aberdeenshire.

    Sadly his dam, Tregoyd Virginia, died two days later after suffering colonic torsion.

    “It was incredibly sad — there wasn’t a lot we could do,” breeder Muick Wood told H&H.

    Mr Wood contacted the National Foaling Bank for help, but there were no foster mares in the area.

    Johanna Vardon, founder of the organisation, mentioned that a drug, Domperidone, had been successful in the past at bringing mares into milk.

    Credit: Jen Straughan

    Credit: Jen Straughan

    “I had never heard of it,” said Mr Wood. “It only works if the mare has done a full lactation themselves naturally and the foal’s great grandmother, Miss Givings, had had two foals of her own in the past, her last was five years ago, so we thought we would try it with her.

    “She had shown a great interest in him and was going to be a nanny if all else failed.”

    Mr Wood’s vet, Mairi Sinclair, of Ardeen House Equine Vets managed to source the drug, which is used in humans to combat sickness.

    The mare was fed tablets containing the medication for 10 days, morning and night.

    “Sure enough on day 10 she bagged up and got milk again. It’s been an absolute godsend.

    “The most important thing is that he’s getting a natural start to life with other horses.

    “The mare is absolutely fine and has become quite proud of him. If you didn’t know you would just think they were dam and colt.”

    Mr Wood has bred Cleveland bays since 2006 and the colt is by his own stallion Craigiewood Tobermory.

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    “I got involved in the breed having competed on part breds as a child and ended up getting my own pure bred,” he said.

    “I wanted to give something back by breeding a few.”

    Ms Sinclair was pleased to have been able to help support the Cleveland bay.

    “It’s great news for the breed which is so short on numbers,” she told H&H.

    “It’s very sad to lose the mother but she lives on through the foal.

    “Credit to Muick and all the people that have helped him.”

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