Horse Gestation Information
Foaling,  Horse Breeding,  Mare Care

Horse Gestation

The gestation period for horses is approximately 11 months, or 340 days, although it can vary slightly from mare to mare (ranging from 320 to 400 days). The length of gestation is influenced by a number of factors, including breed, age of the mare, and environmental conditions.

During the first few months of pregnancy, there may be few outward signs that the mare is pregnant. As the pregnancy progresses, the mare’s belly will begin to grow, and her appetite may increase. She may also show signs of moodiness or irritability.

During gestation, the mare’s body undergoes a number of changes in preparation for foaling. The mare’s uterus enlarges to accommodate the growing fetus, and the mare’s mammary glands develop in preparation for lactation.

Around the seventh month of pregnancy, the foal’s hooves will begin to harden and the mare’s udder will start to enlarge. Milk production will begin a few weeks before foaling.

As the due date approaches, the mare may exhibit a number of signs that foaling is imminent, including restlessness, pawing, and sweating. The mare’s udder may also fill with milk, which can be pH tested to determine how close she is to foaling, and the vulva may become more relaxed and elongated.

When the mare goes into labor, she will typically lie down and begin to push. The foal’s front legs and head will appear first, followed by the rest of the body. The foal is usually born in the amniotic sac, which the mare will break open shortly after birth, but if it does not, you will want to break it. Once the foal is born, the mare will usually stand up and break the umbilical cord by stepping away from the foal.

After foaling, the mare and foal will need to be monitored closely for any signs of complications or health issues. The mare should pass the placenta within 3 hours of birthing the foal, and you will want to make sure the placenta is complete, that none is left inside the uterus as this can cause major complications or even death.

The foal will begin to nurse soon after birth, which is critical for receiving colostrum, the mare’s first milk that contains important antibodies and nutrients to help the foal develop a healthy immune system. A healthy foal should stand within 1 hour. Should start nursing within 2 hours. Should pass the meconium (first feces) within 3 hours after birth. If these items don’t happen in a timely manner, you will want to step in and help. Or if you are not comfortable helping, you will want to alert your veterinarian.

Overall, gestation is an important time in the development of a healthy foal, and proper care and monitoring of the mare during this time can help ensure a successful birth and healthy foal.

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