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Kim's Foal Watch Diary 2007 - part 2

Continuing news of Aurum's coming foals and their mums!

(View part 1 here)

(View part 3 here)

Well things are due to start happening again on the foaling front.

Sunday 25th November 2007

Tidal Wave (Gloria) is due to foal in the next few days and due to her unusual history and behaviour she has been up with an alarm on for about a week. So far her pregnancies have lasted 323, 303, and 343 days and she always drips milk for between one and six weeks! However she does normally become pretty agitated in the day or so prior to foaling. So far although she is showing all other normal pre foaling signs, she is still pretty relaxed so I am not watching her all night. Although last night I did check her 3 or 4 times.

Unfortunately, as most of the colostrum is down Glorias’ back legs, when her foal arrives we will need to give it colostrum from our store.

Gloria is currently in foal to Renegade Z (Ramiro Z). In spite of her rather inconsiderate foaling history she has produced some pretty special babies including Aurum Invader, Aurum Aquaria and not forgetting Hewey aka Aurum Remarquable.

Tidal WaveTidal Wave

Tidal WaveIt might look like mud but it's


We must apologise for the delay on this update but I have actually been sick.

Monday 26th November 2007

There was no change in Gloria's behaviour so again I just checked her every 2 hours through the night.

Tuesday 27th November 2007

Today we were carting hay all day in pretty hot conditions and did not finish until 9:30 pm. We then had to feed up so by the time we finished it was 10:30. Gloria was still pretty calm but I was actually heat stressed and had no choice but to head straight to bed. I tried getting up at 11:30 but that ended in an eventful trip to the bathroom and then back to bed! At 12:30 Richard came to bed as there was no change in Gloria's demeanor. She has always walked for hours before foaling so we thought that we were pretty safe.

Wednesday 28th November 2007

However at 1:28am the alarm went off. We staggered out and could see that Gloria was down with membrane protruding. In the seconds it took to get out in the paddock (in bathrobe I might add!) there were two feet and a nose, slightly on their side but nonetheless nicely presented. As most of the fluid was right there behind Gloria I am confident that she had basically ‘broken waters’ and lay down straight away. We hadn’t missed much which was a relief! As she pushed the off fore was a little retarded so when she relaxed I pushed the near for back a bit and gave both legs a ‘wriggle’. Gloria sat up and half rose to her feet making the foal ‘suck back in’ and rotate a little. She then lay down again and with the next contraction everything was moving as it should. I applied gentle traction to help things along while Richard held the foal's head off the ground. By 1:35am a rather big filly with a pretty star had arrived.

She started breathing normally and had a good strong heartbeat and her ‘righting response’ was present almost immediately. She started trying to get up almost straight away but every few seconds would lie flat and almost stiff for a second. We had the oxygen at the ready so gave her a bit of a boost with this as the most likely explanation was that she was just having a hiccup in switching from foetal circulation to neonatal circulation. She did this a maybe half a dozen times in the first 10 minutes but then gradually stopped and after another 10 minutes was completely normal in her attempts to get to her feet. She was very bright and Gloria showed no ill effects from the birth.

It was a beautiful warm night and we wanted the foal to be well switched over before bottle feeding colostrum to her, so we were in no hurry for her to get up. Gloria got to her feet and very shortly afterwards delivered intact afterbirth (which weighed 6.35 kg).

We have a baby food warmer to thaw the colostrum and most of the bottles we have fit straight into it. We don’t have the equipment to test the colostrum, so base our evaluation of it on the IgG result of the foal from the mare that donated it. As we knew that Gloria was not contributing any, our aim was 1 litre of good quality ‘gold’ from our bank. Rose, Tat and Penny were the donors.

Ramiro Z/Flooding foal
Ramiro Z/Flooding foal

Richard had already named the new filly Hayley due to the fact that we had been carting hay all day and Hayley thought the idea of the bottle was great. She simply started sucking and warm tasty liquid arrived in her mouth! Too easy!

I was happy to sit on the ground feeding her at intervals as I, like Hayley, was having difficulty standing up! Normally we help the foals to stand but I knew it would be easier feeding her before she stood. Also she was so big I actually had little hope of helping her other than to break the odd fall. By the time that she had finished the first bottle she was on her feet but not for long. Gloria was just happy eating anything in sight and Richard had brought her out a small feed. Hayley got up and down a few times but I was still managing to get her to take the bottle without any trouble. By about 3 o’clock we had finished 580ml of colostrum and decided that it was time to head for the stable. On the way in we weighed and measured, 60.5kg and 42 inches tall. She really is a big girl!

Over the next hour and a half in the stable Hayley had another 330ml, we had the much needed Milo and Richard headed to bed. At 4:30am Hayley lay down for a sleep and as I could still hardly stand up I decided to head off to do the same for an hour or so. Hayley had not yet investigated a drink from Gloria and I did not mind whether she did or not at this stage. If she didn’t find it by the time I came back I would give her another bottle of colostrum to make sure that she had enough, but if she was drinking from Gloria it was probably OK as she had 910ml, close enough to 1 litre.

Ramiro Z/Flooding foal

When I came out out check her, Hayley was actually up drinking. Fabulous, I could go back to bed again! We had a busy day ahead as Wednesday is farrier and vet day as well as lessons and a mare due to arrive to visit Aurum Alloy. Next time I checked she was again drinking, she had obviously worked it out very nicely on her own.

Hayley is a very lively girl and was entertained by the mares coming in for their scans. Expenses, Money Miss Spent, Belle, Montana and Cheval de Pas all had their second preg scans and each has a single nicely developing embryo. Hayley is on penicillin twice a day and will stay in a straw box until we are sure that her IgG is adequate.

Thursday 29th November 2007

This morning we took a blood to check Hayley's IgG . Thankfully the colostrum worked and her IgG clotted at 6 minutes 45 seconds showing that the IgG level is greater than 8g/l.

Wednesday 5th December 2007

This morning Dreamie, who had a full bag about 2 weeks ago, had waxed up. We have moved her up to the house and put an alarm on her. She is fairly relaxed and is not due until the 12th. Last year she actually went six days over but as it was our first year foaling her down, I don’t know if that was normal or not. So the waiting and watching commences.

DreamieThis is wax showing on Dreamie's teats!

Natheira (Millie) is also due on the 12th but she does not look close although she has begun to develop fullness in her udder. She is in foal to Aurum Flash Flood. Dreamie is in foal to Aurum Invader. In each case it will be the stallion's 2nd foal for this season (for us that is).

Thursday 6th December 2007

Dreamie was fairly settled for most of the day but by early evening was walking fairly constantly. She was still picking the grass as she went. She is enormous and has a huge bag which should be very easy for a foal to find!

Friday 7th December 2007

At 4:30am, as Dreamie was standing in the corner near the water trough her membranes ruptured and the flood started. She was very unconcerned by this and was still picking at the very scant grass. I decided that this was the worst place in the paddock to foal as it was right in the corner with other mares across the fence, and also there was no grass cover. I moved her to the middle of the paddock in a nice grassy spot where it was clean and dry. Practically straight away she lay down and the membranes became visible. Soon after the first front foot so I reached in and found the other foot and nose all in the right spots. By 4:45am the delivery was complete and we had our first non-chestnut by Aurum Invader, a bay filly with a small star and one hind sock. Interestingly after 2 seasons he is yet to father a colt and he did have a bay filly last year, but she was not one of ours.

This filly sat up almost as soon as she arrived and we only had to hold her head up for seconds. Dreamie was happy to sit for a while so they stayed a good 10 or 15 minutes with the cord attached before the filly's attempts to get to her feet ruptured it. This made for an almost bloodless separation which is good as it means there was maximum transfer to the foal.

At 5:11 she was up but very unstable, so I supported her while she was swaying and staggering for a moment or two but then she slowly sat down again. After a short rest she was back up in just under 10 minutes and this time managed to stay there with only a little help. As Dreamie has a great udder (almost like a cow!) the filly had found a drink just before 5:45. It was a pleasant morning and amazingly the flies were already out!

We like to wait for the afterbirth to be delivered if possible before we head into the stable. Dreamie got down a few times and looked like it was going to be expelled but it was still annoyingly stable. She was carting the foal around the yard and warning the onlookers next door to keep away (as she took her over to them!), when the foal stepped on the trailing membrane. This was just enough and the whole lot arrived intact. Of course however tempting it is to give it a tug, one is not allowed to do this for fear of tearing the placenta and leaving some behind in the mare. The foal obviously had not read the book though and we didn’t mind as it worked! So after giving Dreamie a wash we were safely in the stable by 6:45am, with the foal sound asleep having been laid down by me.

Brilliant Invader/Family Ties foalMum having a bite to eat after work!
Brilliant Invader/Family Ties foal
Bubs, still half in the bag!
Brilliant Invader/Family Ties foal

This was a bit of a struggle as she weighed in at 54.5kg and 41 1/8 of an inch tall. The after birth was 5.15kg. Foals often have more trouble laying down than getting up for the first few times and you'll often see them dead tired on their feet because they can't work out how to lay down. When you lay them down they usually crash almost instantly!

Although the filly had her first poo out in the paddock at 5:56am, it was a bit dry and hard. She did keep doing small amounts during the day but it was still hard work for her. Rather than waiting for this to become a problem I gave her an enema to help things along and by 4pm there was milk poo coming through. This is always a relief to see as it lets you know things are working pretty well. Most of Friday was taken up by eating and sleeping but there was some entertainment for her when there were follicle scans in the box next door.

Saturday was a much more lively day as school horses were coming in and out for lessons and of course there were lots of visitors. She is already enjoying scratches and playing with the plastic bottle (toy) hanging in her window. There was no hurry to take her IgG as we do not expect her to need plasma so we will do that on Sunday. If she did need any we would wait until Monday anyway as we do not need to add emergency rates to the cost! Brilliant Invader/Family Ties foal

Friday 14th December 2007

Tonight we brought Natheira (aka Milly) up closer to the house. She was actually due Wednesday but has shown no signs of imminent foaling. She still does not look any closer but I will sleep easier if she is up with an alarm on just in case. She is a funny mare as she can be very difficult to catch but seems to get easier when she is closer to foaling. I did think of bringing her up last night but when I went to catch her a couple of the other mares chased her away so that was the end of that.

Over the next few days I will move Milly into a day paddock with a little grass in it but which is a bit borderline for the alarm range. At night she will move into one well in range.

Sunday 16th December 2007

Tonight Milly still looks no different but, although she ate her hard feed, she is not interested in her hay. This may be the only warning she gives. We had decided to leave Hayley and Gloria out in the small foaling paddock as this is Hayleys’ first cold night out and she has a rug on for the first time. This now has to change to move Milly into this paddock, as it is the best for foaling down. It has the best light and grass cover and is also the easiest to watch from and closest to the house. So Hayley gets to go into the stables again which she is very pleased about and leads me in at a trot ahead of mum!

Monday 17th December 2007

After watching Milly for most of the night we were rewarded with a pretty straightforward delivery at about 4:40 am. Like Dreamie, she chose the bare patch in the corner so I moved her into the grassy middle. Although the foal appeared well presented, she got up and down a couple of times and the last time moved right beside the oxygen cylinder and foaling kit. I guess she wanted to be prepared too!

The only unusual thing this time was that inside the amnion, there were a few very large clots of fresh bright red blood. I was able to pick them up like double handfuls of jelly and they amounted to about a litre in volume. The chord was still intact at this stage and they were definitely inside the membrane with the foal. Neither mother nor son seemed in any trouble so I presume there was just a small leak in the vein in the umbilical chord immediately prior to or during the birth. I have not seen this before but there is always something new!

Milly was happy to rest as was the foal, who is a bay colt by Aurum Flash Flood. He was very bright and sat up straight away and cleverly rested his chin across his legs saving me from holding his head off the ground (so that he does not ingest any nasties).

Milly got up at about 5:05am and delivered the afterbirth, had a few mouthfuls of grass and lay down again. Even at this point she had not shown any wax or dripped any milk. Floyd (at this stage anyway) was doing all the right things trying to get his legs organized and attempting to stand, which he did with a little help at about 5:20. He found that it was harder to balance than he thought and sat down again very gently and in slow motion. A short rest and 10 minutes later he was on his feet again, wobbly but with the help of stabilizing arms he managed to stay upright. Family Ties/Flooding Colt

Even though Milly did not wax up getting the first drink was pretty easy as she has the most enormous nipples. In fact I had a little trouble stealing her colostrum as her teat would not fit easily into my milking syringe. I am not sure if I mentioned it earlier but we use a 60ml syringe with the end cut off and smoothed for milking.

By 6am we were in the stable and the first of the meconium was passed. The colt weighed in at 54kg and 41.5” in height. The placenta was rather heavy at 7.1kg but did appear normal. I suspect it was holding rather more fluid than usual.

Tuesday 18th December 2007

Interestingly the blood collected for the IgG, had a much smaller clot (which comprises the red and white blood cells, platelets and clotting factors) than I have seen. I had the bloods from the previous 3 foals and these had the clot taking up about 75% of the volume whilst in this one it was less than 50%. The IgG clotted at about 13 minutes which means that the value is between 4 and 8 g/l (less than 10 minutes is >8 and more than 1 hour is < 4), so it is acceptable but if we saw any problems we would need to jump on them straight away.

This result was not unexpected as the colostrum from Milly was a little on the pale side as it was last year, and the IgG from Brilliant Connections, her 06 foal clotted at 12 minutes.

The next entry should be after Christmas as Lallique is due to foal on the 27th.

... Well it should have been!

Friday 21st December 2007

This morning when I went down to the broodmare paddock to feed breakfast, they were all a distance away by the trees. Risqué (Gi Gi) was a little to the left of the group with (so I thought) another mare behind her as I could see their head ‘under her belly’. She then turned away from me and I could see a chord hanging and as she stepped forward more the ‘head’ became a little ‘pile’ on the ground! Fortunately I could see that it was sitting up so it was only minor panic.

I quickly phoned Richard who was just driving out the driveway into Melbourne and then decided to feed the other mares so that they would be distracted. That worked and I turned to go and get Risqué. My heart sank as the foal was now lying flat down and I was too far away to see any detail. As I ran across the paddock it sat up again and as I approached it got up quite quickly. It had not just been born!

Risqué decided that she did not want to be caught and after thinking about it for a few moments the call of breakfast was too much so she took off across the paddock in her very flash extended trot with baby cantering along beside, a little wobbly but pretty much in control. On arrival it was straight into the feed and as Richard had arrived we caught the foal and then Gi Gi. Richard had to let go of the foal to open the gate. The other mares suddenly spotted the foal and two of them tried to claim her. In the confusion she headed off clinging to the side of the wrong mother (who incidentally is just in foal to this foals’ father, Weltmeyer). We managed to quickly sort it out with a flying catch by Richard reuniting bubby with her real mum. You can see how foals could get mixed up or stolen with multiple births in a paddock. Mother and daughter were whisked through the gate and up to the foaling paddock albeit a little late! We had to do this as the stables were all occupied and had not yet been cleaned.

The weather had been appalling. We had 33mm of rain over night and all I knew about the birth was that it had occurred in the twelve hours between feeding dinner and breakfast. The afterbirth had not yet been delivered but the foal was too advanced to be only a couple of hours old.

Poor Hayley and Gloria drew the short straw to vacate a stable as Hayley is the oldest and biggest foal. She had worn a rug a few days earlier so at least she was OK with that.

Weltmeyer/Regardez Moi filly

We did a quick shuffle and ended up with the new foal, a very cute black filly with a tiny ‘candy cane’ shaped star, in the stable that can have the crush built into it. The placenta had still not appeared so there would need to be treatment for that but the foal had all bodily functions operating.

We gave Gi Gi 1.5ml oxytocin intra muscularly and waited for a result without success. This could have been 1ml by slow intra venous but this mare is not good with needles. It needs to be slow iv so as not to precipitate a bleed by suddenly contracting the uterus. We did this again 1 1/2 hours later but when she had still done nothing another 1 1/2 hours later, veterinary intervention was required to remove the placenta.

Gi Gi was sedated and then we ‘built the crush around her’ with the foal standing under her nose. The vet has to remove the placenta if possible with out tearing it and also without ‘pulling’ the uterus inside out. This required gentle and well directed force. Fortunately he succeeded in removing it in one piece. This is not always possible at the first attempt. Any placenta remaining will of course ‘rot’ and cause serious problems for the mare. Once removed a quick flush containing betadine and oxytocin, followed by finadyne and neomycin penicillin injections and it was all done.

Weltmeyer/Regardez Moi filly
'Candy' - Weltmeyer/Regardez-Moi
Weltmeyer/Regardez Moi filly

She will be flushed again on Sunday and is on antibiotics twice a day with a close watch kept for any problems.

We are also a little concerned that Gi Gi does not have a lot of milk so she is getting a stimulant to encourage milk production.

This is the first time that we have been caught by a mare foaling out in the back paddock and also the first retained placenta. Last year this mare went 359 days and yet this year only 326 days so I hope I can be excused. I always say to them that I don’t mind if they foal on their own as long as they get it right, however this was a bit of a shock! Still one cannot complain about getting a gorgeous black Weltmeyer/Regardez Moi filly can one!

Friday 21st December 2007

Lallique who is in foal to Aurum Invader and due on the 27th has changed shape a little with the muscles beside her tail becoming quite soft, so tonight she comes up and has an alarm on. She is at the bottom of the peck order (unlike Gi Gi who was 2nd in command) so I don’t want to risk a repeat of this morning!

Saturday 22nd December 2007

There is no change so again I will just rely on the alarm.

Sunday 23rd December 2007

At about lunchtime I noticed that Lilly had waxed up. She has only done this the night before in the past so I guess it will be tonight. Luckily Aurum Invader, who has been confined to a stable for the past 6 weeks following colic surgery, is allowed to go into a yard today, so we are able to have a box cleaned and with a straw bed at the ready.

During the day Lilly progressed to dripping milk and as evening approached she started walking the yard. It is easy to watch from the house when they are walking as the light covers the whole area nicely. As midnight approached she was actually trotting up one side and then walking back around and then repeating the procedure.

Monday 24th December 2007

Shortly after midnight Lilly slowed up a bit and then at 12:36am the waters broke but only in a dribble. The fluid continued to flow as she lay down and 12 minutes later at 12:48 a chestnut colt was delivered. Presentation was correct but it was a bit of a tight fit.

Lilly was pretty tired even though the birth was relatively easy and contractions minimal. I think she had worn herself out a bit moving around for the hours before. She was not keen to get up and only did so for short periods. Her colour looked normal and she did not seem unduly uncomfortable so even though we kept a close watch on her we felt she was just resting. She is an older mare so of course we are mindful that things can go wrong.

The colt was keen to get up but he was very ‘soft’ in the tendons so was a bit wobbly and unstable. Nevertheless he was up in under an hour but had to work hard to stay on his feet which took his mind off sucking. We did encourage him a little by offering him some from a bottle but were still having trouble with the feeding. By the time we moved into the stable he still had not fed from mum but she had delivered the afterbirth.

Finally at 2:36 and with much help the colt had managed a drink. Two hours is not really excessively slow but the midwives prefer it to be much less! After that we lay him down for a short sleep which he desperately needed. Lilly also lay down but her vital signs still looked OK. However I did not feel that I could leave them just yet so stayed on watch for another few hours until the foal had fed on his own a few more times and mum still appeared stable. The foal had started passing the meconium shortly after coming into the box but it was sometime before I saw a pee. I always like to see that this is coming from the right place, particularly with colts, so I was glad when finally I caught him at it. The consistency of the urine also gives you a good idea of the foal's hydration level.

During the day we were able to keep a pretty close watch as we were preparing the stables for our annual Christmas Eve BBQ. Every thing seemed pretty normal and the colt gradually strengthened and became more stable.

That night the 4 resident foals (Candy, Bodie, Floyd and now Billie) were both entertained and entertaining as we had about 35 people sharing the stables for the BBQ. The stables have windows opening into the breezeway where everyone is so there were many arms to chew and scratches to be had.

So this time definitely no more births before Christmas!

Even though Lilly had fairly pale colostrum we collected some to freeze, and happily when we tested the foals IgG it was >8mg/ml.

Early in the new year we expect the first of our Jazz babies from Mary Poppins, our Walt Disney mare. She is progressing well and has started to bag up slightly.

Our previous foals out of her have been by Prince Noir (sold to Heath and Rozzie Ryan), Brentano II (still available) and Wyndemere (sold to Merridith Billings in WA) and have all been excellent quality. We're looking forward to this year's Jazz baby with great anticipation!

Mary Poppins

Continue to part 3...