Foaling Tips for Horse Owners-Article One: Equine Gestation

Hello horse owners with upcoming foals or those thinking about breeding! This will be a three-article piece that will cover gestation, the foaling process, and what to do once the foal is born. Our hope is that this will help educate you and get you excited for your mare’s upcoming parturition. A new article will be posted each week, so be sure to continue checking our website for more information!

Article 1: Gestation

Gestation Information: 

Equine gestation should last from 335 to 342 days. The length of gestation can vary based on season (may carry up to 10 days longer in the winter or early spring). This is a normal phenomenon and usually does not cause any problems for the mare or foal. On the other hand, fescue exposure can also result in longer gestation periods, but this is not desirable. It is a disease condition that can cause issues for both the mare and foal. An endotoxin that lives within the fescue plant can increase gestation length to 360 days causing the foal to be abnormally large when born. Unfortunately, this endotoxin can also cause the mare not to have milk once she foals. This is especially concerning because the “first milk” or colostrum is the milk that gives the newborn foal antibodies to protect it from diseases in the environment. Without those antibiodies, foals are at high risk of becoming extremely ill within the first few days of being born. Several things can be done to prevent this condition including keeping the mare off of fescue for the last trimester of pregnancy and administration of domperidone to the gestating and lactating mare (begin ten to fifteen days prior to foaling and continue after foaling).

60 day pregnancy per ultrasound - click image to enlargePregnancy diagnosis:

Pregnancy diagnosis can be confirmed via rectal ultrasound as early as fourteen days into gestation. Often veterinarians like to check this early to confirm the pregnancy and check for twins. Twinning in horses is fairly rare, and it is even rarer for a twin pregnancy to result in the birth of two live foals.



Nutritional requirements during pregnancy are very similar to adult maintenance for the first 8 months. Pregnant mares should be kept at a body condition score of 6-7/9. Following the first 8 months, energy and protein requirements begin to increase. This is because the majority of fetal growth takes place during the last trimester. Increasing calorie intake the last trimester is also important because the mare needs to be in a positive energy balance going into foaling. Lactation is very taxing on a mare’s body due to it’s a high demand for energy. Mares need to be fed appropriately to maintain body condition when going into the period where they will be feeding their foals. Mares in the last trimester should be fed high quality forage and grain in order to meet their metabolic demands. Feeding alfalfa hay and a quality grain formulated for pregnant mares can also increase the protein of the diet.



Mares should be vaccinated with their annual vaccines (Rabies, EWT, WNV) prior to breeding season. Do not vaccinate during first 90 days of pregnancy. Most modified live vaccines are not used in pregnant mares (They can cause abortions.). By vaccinating during the last month of gestation, colostral antibodies can be passed to the foal.

Vaccine Schedule:

  • Vaccinate for rhinopneumonitis (EHV1) at 5th, 7th, and 9th months of gestation
  • EHV1 of Herpes virus can cause abortion in mares and rhinopneumonitis in foals and growing horses. So, this is an important vaccine for all brood mares to receive prior to being bred.
  • Vaccinate for EWT, influenza, WNV at 10th month of gestation
  • ± Botulism – to protect foal – for mare’s first foal vaccinate at 8th, 9th, and 10th month of pregnancy, do at 10th month on subsequent pregnancies
  • ± Rotavirus – 8th, 9th, 10th month of pregnancy
  • Rotavirus is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in foals.
  • ± PHF – for dam – usually April and August



Regular deworming throughout the pregnancy is important. Most horses stay on their normal deworming program (dewormed based on fecal egg counts or consistent deworming every several months). It is important to confirm that the dewormer you give can be used on pregnant mares. Most ivermectin products are for administration during pregnancy, but you should always check the label to be sure.


Ultrasound fetal check-ups:

Fetal viability can be assessed via transrectal ultrasound throughout gestation. On ultrasound the veterinarian can see fetal movement, count fetal heart rate and assess the health of the uterus and placenta. Once the fetus gets too big to be viewed via ultrasound, your vet can rectally palpate and feel fetal movement.



Mares can be exercised during gestation, and often, fit mares have an easier time with the birthing process. Normal work (similar to what work you were doing before the mare was bred) can be continued up until about the 7th-8th month of gestation. After that light riding is still possible until about a month before foaling. It is important not to over-work or over-heat pregnant mares, but some exercise is beneficial.



Mares should be moved to the area where they will foal about 4-6 weeks before her due date. This not only lets her get familiar with the area, but also exposes her to the environment the foal will come into, letting her develop antibodies to pass to the foal in her colostrum. The area where the mare foals should be clean and dry.



We hope you enjoyed the first article in our series on foaling. Now you and your mare are ready for the pregnancy! Check back next week for more information on the foaling process. If you have any questions, please give our office a call at 540-788-6094. One of our large animal veterinarians would be happy to give you a call back and discuss your questions with you.

Health Focus Months

Health Focus Months at Catlett Animal Hospital

Catlett Animal Hospital works hard to highlight important pet health concerns year round. Join us in these special focus months to learn more and receive special promotions and discounts in these important areas of pet wellness!

A list of our planned Health Focus Months for 2017 may be found below. Please realize this is a tentative list, and may be updated or changed throughout the year. Feel free to call us if you would like more information or further details throughout the year!

Feline Health Month
Cats need regular care and vaccinations just as much as dogs do, but many don’t come to the vet as often as they should. Get 10% off feline tests and vaccinations this month. Get 15% off the same for NEW feline patients!

Dental Health
10% discounts on all dental procedures including complete oral health and cancer screening exams, ultrasonic tartar removal, and tooth extractions. Free pre-dental mouth assessments are available to determine if your pet would benefit from a dental procedure. Dental health goody bags with free samples provided after every dental procedure.

Lyme Disease and Lyme Vaccination
Our region of the country is a high-risk area for Lyme disease! Get your dog better protected against Lyme disease and receive a discount on the booster as well as a free gift. (while supplies last)

Parasite Testing and Prevention
Parasites want to feed on your pets from the inside (worms) and out (fleas and ticks). 10% off stool sample testing and heartworm testing, as well as many discounts and rebates on all of our parasite prevention products.

Wellness Bloodwork Screening
Discounts on comprehensive wellness blood and urine screening packages will allow you and your doctor to get crucial baseline information for your pet and allow for early detection of serious diseases.

Anxiety Management
Fireworks and thunderstorms can make our pets especially anxious in the summer which is why we are featuring anxiety management options this month.

Pain-Free Movement
Summertime should be full of fun activities for all pets. This month we focus on ways to protect and support joints and to relieve pain from injuries or arthritis.

Summer Break!

Healthy Weight & Pet Weight Loss Challenge
Obesity is one of the leading diseases among pets, and weight loss can be one of the most challenging things to accomplish for caring pet parents. Join us this month for education, motivation, and specials related to keeping pets at a healthy weight!

Dental Health
10% discounts on all dental procedures including complete oral health and cancer screening exams, ultrasonic tartar removal, and tooth extractions. Free pre-dental mouth assessments are available to determine if your pet would benefit from a dental procedure. Dental health goody bags with free samples provided after every dental procedure.

Microchip Identification
Collars get lost or stolen, but a microchip will always be there to help reunite you and your pet. Discount on microchip implantation.

Half-Off Treats
Let us help you and Santa out for holiday gift giving with awesome specials on pet treats!


Holiday Safety! Xylitol, Salt Dough, Poinsettias, oh my?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! As you’re celebrating, are you aware of what you can do to keep your pets safe and happy, along with all the other family members?


Here’s a list of some great overview articles on important winter and holiday safety for pets!


Additionally, here are some specific things we’d like to feature for you this year in our efforts to keep your pets safe and healthy!


There has been an increase in products that use the artificial sweetener xylitol, which can be incredibly toxic to dogs. (and real bad for cats too!) Even tiny amounts can cause poisoning, especially in small dogs. For something like sugar-free gums, depending on the xylitol content of the particular product, we are talking 3-4 pieces of gum in a small or medium sized dog! More peanut butters and diet foods are being made with this, so make sure to check the label before you “treat” your pets to any special holiday snacks!

This link has a large list of xylitol containing products!

Salt Dough Toxicity

Salt dough toxicity has also been in the news recently, and while this is an infrequently reported home poisoning risk, salt dough Christmas ornaments are certainly popular and prevalent! The amount of salt in these homemade doughs can cause severe toxicity, neurologic issues, and even death in some cases. If your dog or cat is an “unpicky” eater, and eats things he or she shouldn’t, make sure that these decorations are kept up high!

Poinsettias – good news!

This falls in the category of good news! Poinsettias are one of the most commonly cited holiday hazards, and while your pets certainly shouldn’t go around chomping on them, the good news is that they are much less dangerous than other things on our watch list. Chewing a poinsettia is likely to result in some mouth and stomach irritation, but usually doesn’t cause lasting damage for your pet. All the same, it’s best to avoid letting your pets chew on these living decorations.

All of us here at Catlett Animal Hospital hope you have a very happy and safe holiday season 2015-2016!

Winter Lice In Cattle

Winter Lice In Cattlecattle_lice&eggs_ncsu copy

It’s winter (despite our unseasonably warm weather right now!) and it’s time to consider another important but often overlooked part of cattle management. While we spend lots of time focusing on nutrition during this time, when there is little to no grass, and preparing for calving season, we should also take one other tiny pest into consideration: lice. Winter is the perfect time for lice infestations in both mature and young cattle. While lice can be present on cattle year round, their numbers greatly increase during the winter.

Types of Lice & How to Find Them

Both biting and sucking lice can be found on cattle, and can be detrimental to our herds. Lice spend their whole life cycle – egg, nymph, and adult – on the host, and normally all three stages are present at one time. Clinical signs suggesting a lice infestation include frequent scratching or rubbing on fences, posts, and other structures, and hair loss. Lice can be visualized on cattle by parting the hair and looking around the neck, brisket, tail head and between the rear legs. Lice on cattle can cause stress and decrease weight gain, so control is important.Linognathus-cattle


A systemic pour-on or injectable insecticide (an ivermectin product) is often the most common method for treatment of lice in cattle. Late October through January is often the recommended time for treating lice. All cattle in the herd should be treated at this time. Timing of treatment may be more important if your pour-on contains a grubicide. Typically medications containing a grubicide should not be administered between November 1 and January 1 due to the potential reaction of grub larvae in the spinal column to cause paralysis to cattle. Sometimes two treatments for lice may be needed throughout the winter months.

Help increase the comfort and health of your cattle in the cool months by treating for lice!

Call our Large Animal Veterinarians at 540-788-6094 with any questions about parasites or care for your livestock!


Fall Lambing Season!

Fall Lambing Season

The temperatures are getting cooler, the days getting shorter, and the leaves are starting to change color. It’s almost time for lambing season, right? Say what? That’s right; fall lambing season is just around the corner!

Why do we fall lamb?

Some producers choose to lamb in the fall in order to reach a different final market than traditional lambing crops. Often fall born lambs are worth more because the supply is much decreased when they are marketed. Some fall born lambs will go on to be show lambs for early summer shows and some will be marketed for spring holidays like Easter.

What is special about fall lambing?unnamed

It is very difficult to get sheep bred in the spring to lamb in the fall. Sheep are actually seasonal breeders who normally only cycle when the days are short (in the fall). In traditionally managed flocks, sheep are often bred in the fall to lamb in the spring.

How do we get ewes to breed out of their normal breeding season?

In order to get sheep to breed out of season, we have to select for white-faced ewes who are naturally more likely to breed in the fall, alter natural light, or administer exogenous hormones to get them cycling. In addition to hormones, producers should increase the nutritional plane of the ewes to encourage cycling and fertility. This involves feeding a high energy feed like corn at 1-2lbs/head/day. The out of season breeding protocols are similar to cattle estrous synchronization protocols and include use of a sheep CIDR, PMSG and prostaglandin. One common protocol involves administration of PMSG and a 14 day CIDR, and then giving a shot of Lutalyse when the CIDR is pulled. Rams can go in with the flock 2 days later.

What should we do to prepare the ram?

Like the ewes, rams need an increase in energy intake in order to be fertile. Feed should be increased for rams about 8 weeks before they are expected to breed. Shearing the rams to keep them cooler and keeping a fan on them will also increase fertility out of season. Finally, it is important to note that rams will not be able to cover as many ewes out of season as during the normal breeding season. Rams should be expected to breed 5-10 ewes during out of season breeding.

Overall, it does take some extra work to have fall lambs, but the baby lambs jumping through fall leaves make it worth it!

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