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Help with foal refusing to nurse properly.

6 replies

getyourfingeroutyournose · 27/04/2016 12:50

I don't own the horse but the owner has been posting on good old FB to keep a timed and dated record of what's happened without clogging her phone memory up. Owner seems to be very tired and on overdrive trying to figure out what's going on and making sure the new foal is okay.
Foal was born yesterday I think (she first posted that she had made it into the world yesterday morning at 6:45 am). Foal is rather tall. Owner mentioned that birth wasn't the easiest because foal was big but everything seems fine other than the nursing issue. Vets have been out multiple times. Foal can suck on the vets thumb but won't take a bottle. Owner decided to milk the mum into a feed scoop and see if the foal would at least take something. Foal is happy to take the milk from the scoop and there are videos of the foal sniffing around the mums teats and moving her lips around but she doesn't get much further than that. She can suck as proven by the vet who felt her do it when they had their thumb in the foals mouth. Dummy foal syndrome (?) has also been ruled out as unlikely by the vet.
Is there anything my tired friend can do to encourage the foal to nurse properly? She has tried a lot already but I wondered if anyone had any new ideas that maybe hadn't been thought of yet. It looks like the foal is not in a good position (height wise) and other than that is doing really well.
Please can anyone help?

OP posts:
BaldricksWife · 28/04/2016 09:47

Last foal we had was very tall and took forever to get standing, had problems using the milk bar and vet monitoring said to let them sort it themselves- which they did. The milk/teat area gives off a scent/hormone which attracts the foal to that area so if foal can suck (and is not poorly) and mum is making milk then all ought to click into place.

frostyfingers · 28/04/2016 11:30

No experience myself but it might be worth you friend contacting the National Foaling Bank - // - for ideas.

villainousbroodmare · 01/05/2016 21:15

What happened?
Foal should have been stomach tubed with colostrum as a matter of urgency and continued with tube feeding every few hours until she managed to suckle herself.
Dummy foal syndrome is a spectrum disorder and the behaviour you describe is typical of a mildly affected animal.

getyourfingeroutyournose · 05/05/2016 13:26

Sorry I've been too busy to check this. The foal was fed by milking mum into a scoop for first day and then on the second day the owner fed her less and less to get foal interested in feeding herself. The vet ruled out dummy syndrome on the first day but did write the foal off as she wasn't feeding herself. The second night the owner went home and let the foal spend time alone with mum as she had shown signs of being interested in the nipple (biting/nipping it to get milk out) In the morning she returned to a starving foal so she fed her milk from her mum and seconds after that the foal suddenly began to nurse for herself... No idea how or why but a bit of tough love seemed to work. She got the hang of it in the end. She's a week old now and has started kicking everything. Her owner is sharing everything with us on facebook and we have all been following it on the edge of our seats lol

OP posts:
BaldricksWife · 05/05/2016 22:01

That is good to hear. Be aware though that with delayed transference the foal will be susceptible to bacterial infection and best to keep a very close eye.

getyourfingeroutyournose · 08/05/2016 22:41

Thank you Baldricks. I would mention the infection thing to her but I have a feeling her being there every day and frequent vet visits may already have this covered (I'll mention it anyway though). She's had foals and dummy foals before but I believe this is her last baby. She said "no more horses" but I'm not sure if she's just saying that because she's knackered from the day and night surveillance and worry from the foal not feeding at the beginning. This baby seems to be coming on in leaps and bounds and had already taken top spot with all the others (her mum and two shetland ponies that I'm aware of). She's definitely not small and has grown a fair amount that I can see. I'm loving the updates from her owner though. She's hilarious. She's definitely got some serious character!

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