CANADIAN CODE OF PRACTICE FOR EQUINES #6
Horses, donkeys and mules are bred for multiple purposes. Established breeders generally follow a specific breeding program producing quality offspring for a specific market. The term "purpose-bred" describes horses bred for a specific industry, including meat production.
(AS SHOCKING AS IT MAY BE TO SOME PEOPLE GOD NEVER INTENDED HORSES TO BE RAISED FOR MEAT EATING. THE HORSE COMES UNDER THE LAW OF GOD AS AN UN-CLEAN ANIMAL. AND FURTHER THE CREATING OF THE HORSE WAS FOR THE SERVICE AND PLEASURABLE JOY FOR MANKIND. THERE SHOULD BE LAWS AGAINST THE RAISING OF HORSES FOR MEAT - Keith Hunt)
Many welfare problems can be prevented through responsible breeding. Responsible breeding:
is purposeful rather than accidental or indiscriminate; is managed by owners and handlers that are trained and knowledgeable; involves careful selection of a mare and sire that are proven in their field, have good conformation and temperament, are healthy and free from known hereditary conditions that will impact on the welfare of the offspring; is based on comprehensive criteria for breeding, including past reproductive performance, age, size of the sire and mare produces offspring that has a known market or purpose.
Mares and Jennets have special care requirements during pregnancy, foaling and the post-foaling period. A young foal also requires special care. The decision to breed should be carefully considered. Breeding can be very expensive, and is not without risk to the mare/jennet. If there are complications during gestation, costs can increase substantially. The horse market is unpredictable, and there is frequently an oversupply of average horses for sale. If you do not wish to sell the offspring, it is important to be aware that horses can live in excess of 30 years, which may be longer than your ability to care for the animal.
Do not breed horses unless you are familiar with and able to provide the basics of care as outlined in this Code for both the mares/jennets and foals.
a. seek advice from a veterinarian or experienced breeder prior to breeding a horse
b. plan for what you will do if you are unable to sell the foal or if you are no longer able to care for the foal
c. breed only if the foal has a known market or purpose.
Evaluating Soundness for Breeding
It is important to ensure that the mare/jennet is assessed by a veterinarian, professional breeder, or technician at a breeding facility prior to breeding to ensure she is physically fit and healthy for the pregnancy.
A breeding soundness examination is recommended in order to detect reproductive abnormalities. The examination is particularly important for mares/jennets that have never been bred before; previously lost
a foal; or have failed to conceive in the past.
a. arrange for a breeding soundness examination to be done by a veterinarian proficient in equine reproduction
b. select stallions/jacks with an appropriate body weight and size for the physical development and size of the mare/jennet, when natural breeding is used
c. ensure mares have a body condition score of at least 5 out of 9 before breeding (refer to Section 4.5-Body Condition Scoring)
d. ensure jennets have a body condition score of at least 3 out of 5 before breeding (refer to Section 4.5-Body Condition Scoring)
e. treat mares/jennets for reproductive abnormalities before they are considered again for breeding in subsequent seasons.
Care of the Pregnant Mare or Jennet
Attentive management will help ensure the birth of a healthy foal with no injury incurred by the mare/jennet. The average length of gestation for mares is 341 days (+/-15 days); for jennets, it is 365 days (+/-20 days).
Appropriate vaccinations and biosecurity planning helps to protect the mare/jennet and fetus during gestation. They also help to protect the foal after foaling through the immunity transferred from the mare/jennet to the foal via colostrum. Vaccinations should be boosted three to four weeks before the projected foaling date to optimize the antibody concentrations in colostrum.
Mares/Jennets requiring medical care during gestation must receive such care.
Pregnant mares/jennets must have some form of exercise or turnout, unless under stall rest for medical reasons or severe environmental conditions make this temporarily impossible.
a. consult a veterinarian to develop a health management plan tailored to the mare/jennet (e.g. pregnancy examination, pre-foaling instructions, contact information for emergency care during gestation or foaling). Refer to Section 4-Health Management
b. ensure the mare/jennet is appropriately vaccinated and dewormed
c. consult a veterinarian or experienced breeder for appropriate levels of exercise during late gestation.
The physical changes indicative of impending parturition (foaling) may include:
development of an udder
softening of the tail head
the presence of a waxy substance on the end of the teats
elongation of the vulva.
(I'M SURPRISED THEY MISSED......"STEAMING" - SEEN IT HAPPEN MANY TIMES WHEN WORKING ON STUD FARMS IN ENGLAND - THE MARE LITERALLY HAS STEAM RISING FROM HER BODY - Keith Hunt)
Some mares/jennets will foal without showing any of the above signs; therefore, it is essential that mares/jennets close to foaling are closely observed.
Most mares/jennets will foal unassisted; however, it is critically important to be knowledgeable about the foaling process so that a problem can be promptly identified and addressed. Survival of the foal and/or the mare/jennet is improved by rapid intervention when foaling difficulties arise. Contact a veterinarian or experienced personnel promptly when abnormalities during foaling occur, and be prepared to report relevant timelines (e.g. minutes since water broke). A normal foaling takes less than 20 minutes from the time the water breaks. If after ten minutes of active labour the foal is not visible, provide appropriate intervention without delay.
Individual mares/jennets tend to show similar signs of impending parturition and follow similar timelines from one breeding season to another. When reviewed in subsequent breeding seasons, the records also provide valuable information to better predict foaling of individual mares/jennets. Appendix K provides a reference to a template foaling record.
A plan must be in place for the foaling process, including a plan for getting prompt expert advice or help if needed.
Mares and Jennets close to foaling must be observed at least twice a day for health, well-being and signs of foaling.
a. consult a veterinarian or experienced breeder to become knowledgeable in the foaling process and how to provide appropriate assistance when the mare/jennet is having difficulty foaling
b. ensure mares/jennets foal on clean pasture or in a large, clean box stall
c. ensure a veterinarian or experienced breeder is available to attend the foaling at the first sign of difficulty
d. arrange for the veterinarian to examine the post-partum mare/jennet, primarily if they did not follow the normal foaling progressions. The placenta should pass within three hours and be saved so it can also be examined.
Care of the Newborn Foal
A healthy foal will be active, alert and responsive, and will keep the mare's udder empty. The most common signs of abnormalities in foals include:
inability to rise within one hour after birth
not nursing within two hours of birth
not passing its first feces (the meconium) within three hours of birth
straining to defecate or urinate
excessive salivation or milk appearing in the nostrils
grinding its gums
signs of colic (e.g. rolling on its back)
milk staining on the face (due to a sick foal standing at a full udder and not sucking).
Newborn foals must be monitored to ensure they can rise and suck unassisted.
a. treat the navel stump during the first 24 hours using an appropriate product, such as 0.5% chlorhexidine (dip the navel for 30 seconds each time). The use of caustic substances (e.g. 7% iodine) is harmful.
b. clean and dry the udder and inner thighs of the mare/jennet before the foal sucks (note: this may not be possible when foaling takes place on pasture or range)
c. have a veterinarian evaluate the foal and include a test for adequate colostrum intake. A veterinary evaluation is strongly advised in cases where the foal does not suck adequately in the first six hours of life (see Section 7.5.1 for more details).
Colostrum is the first milk produced by the mare/jennet at parturition. It contains high concentrations of antibodies, which protect the newborn foal from infection until its own immune system is fully functional. Failure to receive adequate colostrum is one of the main risk factors for severe infection in foals.
The newborn foal's ability to absorb colostrum antibodies is highest immediately after birth and decreases by 6-8 hours after birth. A veterinarian can perform a blood test to assess whether a foal has received sufficient colostrum.
Mares produce colostrum only once in each pregnancy, approximately within the last 2-3 weeks prior to foaling. IF mares stream colostrum prior to foaling, the colostrum can be collected by milking and frozen for later administration to the foal. If colostrum is not available from the mare, plans should be made to provide an alternative antibody source. When supplementation is necessary, provide the foal with frequent feedings of colostrum as soon as possible after birth.
Foals must receive colostrum or alternative care to maintain their health and vigour.
a. discuss colostrum management with a veterinarian or experienced breeder before the foal is born
b. keep a frozen store of (or have access to) high quality colostrum
c. thaw stored colostrum in warm water (not a microwave)
d. use good hygiene practices when collecting, storing and feeding colostrum.
Weaning is necessary in order to facilitate more handling and training of the foal and to allow the mare/jennet to regain lost body condition. Under managed conditions, the foal is typically weaned at 4-6 months of age and may experience one or more of the following stressors:
separation from the mare/jennet, a change in diet, exposure to new surroundings, and the expectation for more handling than what the foal has previously experienced.
There are several weaning methods. Each method has advantages and disadvantages, and the method chosen will depend on past experiences and the facilities available on the farm.
Facilities or fencing used during weaning must be safe and made of strong materials free from protrusions.
Corrective action must be taken if the foal or mare/jennet injures themselves attempting to reunite during weaning.
a. consult a knowledgeable and experienced horseperson for advice on weaning methods
b. base weaning decisions on the mare's/jennet's milk production and body condition as well as the
foal's age, physical development, and health status
c. wean foals in a manner that minimizes stress to the foal and mare/jennet
d. keep weaned foals in the company of other equities, such as other weaned foals or older, calm horses (isolation is stressful to foals)
e. plan weaning so it does not coincide with other stressful events or times when the foal's immune
system may be compromised (e.g. adverse environmental conditions and painful practices)
f. if creep feeding is to be provided, introduce foals to creep feed at least one month before weaning
g. ensure foals have access to a high quality, high fibre diet (e.g. grass, hay or haylage) before, during and after weaning.
TO BE CONTINUED