Every horse farmer should be well aware of how a horse's pregnancy should proceed. He must know how to ensure the correct conditions for her detention and how to deliver in order to be warned against various kinds of complications. It is worth considering in more detail the features of the course of pregnancy in horses, how to diagnose pregnancy, how much care is needed for a mare, as well as signs of an approaching foal.
On average, the pregnancy process in horses lasts 11 months, although there are cases when mares give birth both earlier and later. In order for the process of carrying a baby to go easily and without complications, it is necessary to strictly adhere to all the recommendations and advice of the veterinarian. The entire pregnancy of a mare can be roughly divided into 3 periods, each of which lasts about 100 days.
- The first trimester lasts from one to 100 days, this period includes the conception of the baby, as well as the formation of the ovum.
- The second period begins after the hundredth day of pregnancy and also lasts 100 days. It is characterized by the fact that the embryo gradually develops and increases in size, since it receives all the necessary nutrients from the mother's body.
- The last trimester begins at day 201 and lasts until delivery (approximately another 100 days). The embryo is already fully formed and growing.
During pregnancy, a horse needs special care, close supervision and supervision from the farmer. If there are deviations from the norm, you should immediately call a veterinarian to prevent the sad consequences - the death of the embryo.
Methods for determining pregnancy
It is very important to be able to determine the pregnancy of a mare at home. It is worth noting that if a horse is carrying a foal for the first time, then the pregnancy process may take longer, which on average is 12 months. The condition of the mare and many other factors also affect the duration of gestation, so it is worth preparing in advance in order to be ready for everything.
You can find out about the pregnancy of a mare only in the second week after mating . After intercourse, you cannot be sure of the pregnancy of the mare. Usually mares do not become pregnant after the first time. A proven method is a call from an experienced veterinarian who can diagnose for sure whether a mare is pregnant. Several different methods are presented today that indicate pregnancy or a horse with a high level of confidence. It is worth familiarizing yourself with the two main methods of determination in more detail.
Clinical examinations can be done to diagnose pregnancy in a horse, and a veterinarian must be present. These procedures include the following:
- blood test - it allows you to determine the level of estrone sulfate and serum gonadotropin, this analysis can be performed only 100 days after mating, otherwise it will not show the correct result;
- urinalysis - to determine the presence of estrone sulfate, this option also needs to be done only 100 days after mating;
- transrectal palpation of the horse's uterus is performed exclusively by a veterinarian; this analysis can be performed only 16–20 weeks after mating;
- ultrasound examination of the uterine cavity will help to accurately determine the pregnancy of the horse as early as 2 weeks after mating.
It is interesting! Even before the use of ultrasound, X-rays were taken to determine if the horse was pregnant or not, but this procedure has a negative effect on the development of the fetus, so it was eventually abandoned.
To determine if a horse is pregnant without calling the veterinarian, it is worth bringing the mare back to the stallion about 3 weeks after the first mating. If the mare is indifferent to him, then this indicates her pregnancy. She will not turn her back to the stallion and lift her tail. At home, you can determine the pregnancy of a horse if you closely monitor its behavior. If she becomes pregnant, she will behave normally. If conception has not occurred, then the following signs of estrus can be observed:
- lifts its tail in front of the stallion;
- crouches to the ground to mark the area with vaginal discharge to attract the male;
- The swollen vulva contracts rhythmically from time to time.
Important! The first 100 days of pregnancy is a crisis period, since it is quite often during this period that miscarriages occur, so the mare requires rather careful care.
To confirm that a horse is pregnant, you should pay attention to the following accompanying signs:
- the mare starts sleeping longer;
- she begins to lie longer;
- increased appetite;
- interest in stallions disappears;
- tries in every possible way to keep his territory under protection;
- tries to retire.
Duration of gestation
Usually a pregnant horse walks and carries a cub for 11 months, although there may be deviations from the rules. The due date can be shifted in one direction or another by 14 days. Although it can be concluded that most mares are born earlier than the planned date, but stallions, on the contrary, appear post-mature.
During pregnancy, the mare needs special care and attention. To make it easier for breeders, the following tips should be followed:
- the load on the horse should be reduced within a month after she became pregnant;
- it is recommended not to take the horse out in bad weather conditions;
- you should behave carefully with the mare, it is forbidden to raise your voice to the animal or use physical force in its direction, you must refrain from any kind of sudden movements, these actions should also apply to non-pregnant horses;
- it is worth carefully monitoring the choice of feeding products - it is necessary to immediately abandon frozen, musty, moldy or caked products, it is also recommended to refrain from straw that is covered with rust or fungus;
- it is worth preventing a pregnant mare from walking to water bodies, especially when there is ice on the street.
Pregnancy in a horse requires that the stresses on the animal be reduced. Of course, the mare cannot perform her usual affairs. But slow walks in the summer will be an excellent prevention of edema.
Food and drink
A horse's diet is a very important part of caring for a pregnant horse. If you stick to it, then the baby will not appear premature. If in the first months of pregnancy the mare eats the same way as before, then in the last three months it is worth increasing the nutritional value of feed by 40%. The amount of food should be reduced, but the number of meals, on the contrary, should be increased, because the mare will not be able to eat normal portions in the last months of pregnancy.
Modern horse feed manufacturers offer separate nutritional formulas for pregnant mares. It is strictly forbidden to water pregnant horses with cold water, because this can lead to abortion.
During pregnancy, special attention should be paid to nutrition. Until 8 months of pregnancy, you need to vary the amount of feed in order to prevent the development of excessive obesity or dystrophic conditions. If you do not change anything in the diet, but carry it out in the same way as before pregnancy, this will lead to intestinal obstruction. Already from the 9th month of pregnancy, the horse begins to feel strong hunger, because during this period the organs of the future foal begin to form intensively.
It is necessary to increase the nutritional value of food by about 35-40%. It is worth increasing the number of feedings, but reducing the amount of food. As the fetus begins to take up more and more space, the volume of the stomach is significantly reduced, and the intestinal capacity also changes.
During pregnancy, the horse should be fed the following foods:
- fresh hay;
- herbs collected from the meadow;
- vitamin and herbal flour;
- vitamin and mineral supplements;
- fresh vegetables and fruits.
Particular attention should be paid to the proportion of calcium, since during this period the horse needs an increased amount of this element. With its lack, lactational tetany can develop, which is dangerous both for the health of the expectant mother and the future stallion. With this disease, the mare cannot take an upright position, her body is cramped, as a result she cannot feed and care for her foal.
Place of Containment
When choosing a place for a pregnant mare, you need to find a warm corner where drafts are never encountered. It is imperative to lay a soft bedding on the floor so that the pregnant woman can enjoy the silence. If the mare is on pasture, it is necessary that she be in the stall at night.
Signs of an approaching foal
To understand the approaching foal, you should carefully monitor the behavior of the mare. Before giving birth, her anxiety and anxiety increases. She can get up and lie down several times in a row, looking at her stomach. Another sign is increased sweating. It is also worth paying attention to the udder as it becomes swollen. But the external genitals begin to swell and secrete mucus. With such signs, the mare can give birth at any time, so you should immediately call the veterinarian.
It is very important for childbirth to choose the right place, which will have roomy dimensions, characterized by warmth and dryness. During childbirth, other horses may be in the stable, but so that the pregnant mare does not disturb anything, it is better to hang the side walls with cloth. The floor should be covered with straw.
Important! If the mare is giving birth for the first time, then all the above signs may be absent, so it is worth inviting a veterinarian in advance.
Bearing a foal is a rather long and difficult process. It is necessary to help the mare as much as possible to make this period easier for her. It happens that horses give birth to two foals at once. If a horse is carrying two fetuses at the same time, then it is worth paying even more attention to the pregnant individual, since it significantly increases the risk that something might go wrong.
See below for how to feel the movement of a foal in a mare's belly.