‘She never gave up on her foal’: Suffolk mare and filly thriving after complicated birth

  • A Suffolk foal who survived a complicated birth and spent her first 10 days in hospital is now thriving.

    Suffolk mare Whatton Jasmine, owned by Tommyshop Farm near King’s Lynn, went into labour on 22 April but veterinary intervention was required when the foal became stuck.

    The farm’s head groom Claire Bartarm told H&H seven-year-old Jasmine was around five to six days overdue and noticing she had become “twitchy”, Claire phoned the vet to say she expected her to foal that evening.

    “Five minutes later we had a bag, so we didn’t get much warning!” she said. “But it soon became apparent she wasn’t going to push the foal out herself. There was no way.

    “We had the two legs and a nose but the mare couldn’t push her any further, the foal was rapidly stuck.”

    Claire said the vet arrived and after 40 minutes, Tommyshop Astra was born at 10.30pm. The filly, by Colony Cuthbert, showed signs of being a “dummy foal”; neonatal maladjustment syndrome is a condition caused by oxygen deprivation that can cause a newborn foal to be slow in following expected patterns of behaviour, such as standing or drinking within the normal time-frame.

    “She was struggling to get up on her back legs on her own, and while she had an excellent suckle reflex she couldn’t get the jist of tipping her head to feed,” Claire said.

    “I milked the mare for the first 24 hours and bottle-fed her but we weren’t making any progress and Astra started to look like she was going downhill.“

    The mare and foal were referred to Newmarket Equine Hospital, where Astra underwent plasma infusions and was treated with antibiotics.

    “We thought everything was going well then Jasmine developed signs of foaling laminitis,” said Claire. “She was treated with ice boots and painkillers but it was a real worry.”

    After 10 days Jasmine and Astra both improved and returned home.

    “We kept them in an extra couple of days just to make sure everything was 100% before they came home. Collecting them was the most exciting day,” said Claire.

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    “Now they’re just amazing. Jasmine is a first-time mum and she never gave up on her foal, she was so good letting us milk her. Astra is now feeding well and is a little live wire running around.”

    Claire said welcoming a filly had been “extra special”, and the foal is the farm’s first for seven years. The farm has five Suffolk mares and is embarking on a breeding programme in the hope of boosting the rare breed’s numbers.

    “We are hoping to have two foals next year. The farm’s owner Jackie Taylor also likes them to be used for exercise and working on the farm too so we will also use embryo transfer when we can,” she said.

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