Saturday, 19 January 2019

Post Natal Care

Post Natal Care
13 Aug

[MUSIC] [SONNY] Hello everyone, we're so glad you can join us for this live web presentation My Horse University and EquiNetwork are excited to be able to offer horse enthusiasts a science-based series of courses on horse breeding and selection

The series consists of four online short courses coupled with four live web presentations featuring nationally recognized experts This is the fourth live web presentation of this series and tonight we're excited to welcome Dr Jason Turner from New Mexico State University who will be presenting on the topic of Post Natal Care Just to tell you a little bit about Dr Turner, her grew up in the green country of Oklahoma in a small rural community with family ties to the Quarter Horse racing industry

This fuled his interest and desire to persue further study of horses through 4-H and FFA activities These experiences lead Dr Turner to persue his Bachelors Degree in Animal Science at Oklahoma State University He then obtained his Masters Degree with a focus in Equine Reproduction and a PhD with a focus on Equine Health Dr

Turner has taught equine science and horsemanship courses in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, North Dakota and New Mexico, he has conducted clinics and horse owner workshops in several US states, Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic He oversees a very active teaching extension program at New Mexico State University He also serves on many national committees focusing on research and youth, as well as adult educational programs in the horse industry Aside from his career as New Mexico State University professor, Dr Turner has judged youth open and breed association shows in several states and in Mexico

Before we begin, we would like to thank our sponsors; Purina Mills, Horse Tech, and Iron Spring Farms Please feel free to ask questions pertaining to the slides during the presentation You can use the text box below and we will also have time at the end of the presentation for questions and answers Please welcome Dr Jason Turner

[DR JASON TURNER] Okay, hopefully everyone can hear me now If you can't hear me, please write in on the chat or if you're having problems with your equipment, please let us know so that we can make sure everyone can hear I want to thank you all for joining us tonight You know, I have the wonderful opportunity to talk probably about one of the most enjoyable parts of the horse industry and that's where we get to work with our new foals and weanlings so we can see that all of our hard work has paid off through the breeding process

I want to begin tonight with a couple of lesson objectives that I put together and these, I feel, are the key things that I hope all of you will be able to do once we've completed this online course The first one being that you will be able to describe the normal parameters for foal development from birth up to the weaning process And then secondly, be able to develop a timeline for pre-weaning management of your foal and plan for the actual weaning process of your foal So those are two key objectives that I want you guys to have in the back of your mind as we approach this In terms of our outline, I am going to take a chronological approach in terms of presenting the information and we'll look at the foals first day of life, then the foals first week, then we'll move on and talk about pre-weaning management period and basically there I'm talking about one to four months of age

We may extend that out if your weaning date isn't going to be until six months of age But that's what we're going to refer to as the pre-weaning management period And then we'll talk about the specific weaning process and then make some final summary comments So I thoroughly encourage questions; I hope you all have a lot of questions for me because this is a wonderful topic to discuss I would like you to try and save the questions until the end just so that we can get through the information and I think as we go through some of the stuff early on will be reinforced in later slides

So if you can save the questions until the end, just write them down and we'll address all those at the end When I was asked to put this talk together, one area that I asked about was how much do we want to talk about the actual foaling process and the immediate post-partum period? And the emphasis was to be more on the pre-weaning management So I'm not going to spend a lot of time discussing the foaling process I do want to refer you back to the article that was published in Equus I think there's a lot of information for you there and throughout this presentation I'm going to point you towards some different online resources that I've reviewed and I think will be helpful moving forward and supplementing what we talk about here

So in terms of that foal's immediate post-partum period or first day of life, probably the most important thing that we have to do as horse owners is to be able to assess what is normal versus what is abnormal If you don't know what normal is, it's really hard to determine if it's abnormal or not So again, in the article I think it does a really good job talking about the foal's behavior and what you can expect to see and when you can expect to see it relative to foaling Also, it gives you a good overview of the foal's normal vital signs and how they'll change somewhat early in life The second thing that's immediate post-partum period, is we need to disinfect the foal's navel

And roughly you want to do that first at about thirty minutes post foaling, whenever it's a good time to get in there with the mare and foal and do that And we want to continue that daily for about three to four days of age And that can be done relatively simply with what I have shown here on the right This is an empty syringe casing filled with clorohexadine or novasan solution and you can simply place that over the foal's navel, push it up flush to his abdomen and shake it around and disinfect that entire area and it's really nice and simple to do The third thing I have shown here is we want to collect a colostrum sample and that's what the picture down here represents

This is a picture of when I was managing the horse farm at Kansas State University and we collected colostrum to save for our colostrum bank, but also we collected it to test the colostrum so that we could determine how much antibodies were in that colostrum So we're just simply milking the mare out by hand and collecting it into a small plastic bag Once we have that colostrum collected, then we're going to evaluate the quality of that colostrum And the means of doing that we utilize what's called a colostrometer And it's this piece of equipment here shown to the right where it's basically a graduated cylinder filled with water

We take that colostrum and place it in this chamber and then submerge it in water And the metal rule up top here, I know you all can't see that but it has graduated markings on it with numbers that indicate the specific gravitiy in the colostrum So when we look at the specific gravity of the colostrum what we consider to be an acceptable level is anything that is 106 and above The reason being is that specific gravity of the colostrum gives us an idea of how much IgG or immunoglobulin G is in the colostrum – that is the primary antibody in the colostrum that is passed from the mare to the foal to transfer immunity from the mare to the foal

So with 106 specific gravity, we can expect a correlated value of 4,200 miligrams per decilieter of IgG in the colostrum and that doesn't really tell us a whole lot about the passive transport of immunity other than the mare has good quality colostrum If we were up here less than the 1045, which you will see sometimes, we can expect that that colostrum does not have very much IgG and it would not be sufficiently transferred to the foal The final correlation we can make based upon some of these research studies is that if that colostrum is 1

06 or greater, at twenty four hours of age, the foal should have approximately 800 miligrams per decileter of IgG in their blood serum And that is the real important number that we want to look at It really doesn't matter how much is in the colostrum, the big number, the important number is that the foal absorbs So one might ask, why is this important? And the reason many people will do this is to collect that colostrum immediately after birth And like I said, you can freeze it, bank it, and use it to give to another foal if the mare has poor quality colostrum

The other thing it allows us to do is evaluate that colostrum and if we find that the mare has very poor quality colostrum, it gives us a few hours to look for an alternative source of colostrum or perhaps consider our options in terms of having synthetic IgG that we can administer to the foal So, like I said, the important number that we're concerned with is how much IgG is in the foal's blood So roughly at about twelve hours following birth, we're going to take a blood sample on that foal and conduct a test And as I mentioned previously, if the mare has good quality colostrum, the foal nurses well and so on, we should have adequate passive transfer of immunity or transfer of the antibodies from the mare to the foal through the colostrum An adequate passive transfer is considered to be anything over 800 miligrams per decileter in the foal's serum

The next category would be what's considered partial failure of passive transfer at 400 to 800 miligrams per decileter And partial failure of passive transfer, you can look at it as these are a group of foals when compared to our adequate group, they may be expected to have an increase incidence of infection or maybe bouts with sickness as opposed to our adequate group that receives good quality antibodies And the last group in terms of passive transfer is what's called FPT or failure of passive transfer and those are those foals that have less than 200 miligrams per deciliter of IgG in their serum These are the ones that are going to be most prone to subsequent infections and bouts of sickness and so on So we really want to make sure that these foals get started off on the right foot at birth

The graph shown here on the right is just from some work we did here at New Mexico State in the past couple of years and we measured IgG on foals from birth through 180 or six months of age And I put this graph up here just so that you can kind of see what happens with those serum antibody levels The IgG is going to be absorbed roughly through about twenty four to even forty eight hours of that foal's life After that twenty four to forty eight hour time point, the foal's intestinal wall closes down and does not allow the antibodies to cross and enter the serum So this bar represents seven days of age, we can see that antibody level is at its highest point and that is due to the transfer of those maternal antibodies

Then over time, these antibodies will decrease and then they begin to increase when the foal's immune system takes over production of its own antibodies So that just gives you a little idea of what's going on with the foal's immune system The important thing to realize about colostrum and the serum IgG is that if we start very low over here around birth, it's just going to get progressively lower and that's why those foals may be more prone to disease The other thing we want to do immediately post-partum to first day period is we want to check to make sure that the foal passes his meconium and that is simply the first feces and oftentimes, this happens without any problem But in some cases, foals will have a hard time passing the meconium and they can even have an impaction type colic resulting from that

So what I have shown here on the right is a simple disposable enema that some people will use to help the foal pass that meconium The other thing during this first day of life, I think it's important that we try and observe the structure and movement of that foal Oftentimes, we have some complications with how the foal was carried during the pregnancy or some things that may have occurred in the birthing process and the foal will have some structural abnormalities – they may be really weak in their pasterns or they may be really upright in their pasterns or they may have some weak joints throughout their body So in terms of this, I would tell you from my experience to air on the side of caution and if you have concerns about the foal's pasterns if they're really weak and walking on their fetlocks and so on, we definitely want to make sure that we provide them with adequate stall rest and help them develop before we turn them out on pasture when the mare's going to run across the pasture and the foal's going to be expected to keep up So this, as well as other health concerns, if you've got any questions about that, I would definitely refer you to seek out veterinary evaluation so that it can be evaluated on a specific basis

One of the things I'll mention throughout our talk today is relying on our powers of observation I think the most important thing that we can do to plan for normals and so on is to observe that foal, so I strongly encourage you during this early time period to observe that foal and keep track of these things If you have more questions about the foaling process and what you need to do to prepare for that, I've put a link here to get to that EquiSearch article on the foaling checklist And I think that will kind of help point you in the right direction if you have further questions One common question I get, whether it be a phone call or email, from producers is about imprint training and that is the concept put forward by Dr

Robert Miller and I have conducted imprint training with farms that I've been on and done the opposite and not done that So there's a lot of questions and I just briefly wanted to touch on it in terms of advantages and potential disadvantages So the question being to imprint or not to imprint? And the advantages put forward are that foals bond to humans and see the humans more as a herd leader, and that's definitely helpful as we're working with those foals later in life The other nice thing during this time period when the foals are relatively easy to handle and they're kind of a captive audience so to speak, we have the ability to sensitize them or desensitize them to certain stimuli, whether it be pressure on the body, be it a plastic bag, a set of clippers and so on So those are some of the advantages put forward for imprint training

Some of the contrary points I guess that I wanted to bring up is that research reports looking at imprint training versus other handling methods have reported that imprinting does not appear to work any better than the other handling methods studied That's not to say it doesn't work or it's better or this one is better and so on, it just reports that they're similar in terms of the responses that were measured in the research studies I think the question to imprint or not really is something that each individual owner is going to have to decide based upon the resources they have available as well as their time But if you are interested in learning more about imprinting, there's a nice chat transcript available on the EquiSearch site that Dr Miller conducted a few years ago

As we progress through our timeline and look at that foal's first week, we're going to bring up a few things that are normal and we should be expecting to see as well as some of the management practices we need to consider And I've already talked about dipping the foal's navel, again, we need to continue that through about three or four days of life In terms of nursing, we can expect these young foals during the first week to nurse about seven times per hour And that's going to gradually decrease over time So at four weeks that age a foal can be expected to nurse about three times per hour and by four months it will be down to about one and a half times an hour

So that is the frequency of nursing It will decrease over time however, what happens on the other side, the length of each nursing bout increases Again, we want to make sure that we're evaluate our normals during this first week of life to make sure the behavior of the foal shows that he's thrifty and vibrant It's definitely okay that they lie down, take a nap frequently, that's to be expected However when they are up, we want them to be alert and really vibrant, not showing signs of lethargy or illness

And it's important to be familiar with our vital signs in case we need to check anything there to make sure that the foal is doing okay One common concern particularly of new foal owners is that of foal heat scours And foal heat scours is going to occur around five to fifteen days of age and it's associated with the mares first heat period following foaling The most probable reason for this occurrence has to do with changes in the foals digestive tract So it's going from working with amnionic fluid and colostrum then moving on to milk and there's going to be a shedding of that internal lining, there's going to changes in enzyme function and so on

So that's the most common accepted reasons for foal heat scours Again, like I said, this is normal when it's not something we would normally have to treat unless it presists for more than three days or the foal becomes dehydrated And again, I'll refer you back to the Equus article It talks about the skin pinch hydration test and that's a real simple easy method to detect Finally, in our first week of life it's important to remember that this is one of the first times or opportunities that the foal begins to taste and possibly even consume small amounts of solid feed

So if you are feeding your mare some type of grain, it's a good idea to feed them on the ground in a feeder that the foal can access so he can become accustomed to the grain source Also during this first week, as soon as that mare and foal have bonded barring any structural problems or other needs for stall rest, it's important to get that foal integrated into the social structure It's important that he develops a bond with other horses and fits into the pecking order of the herd so that he can fit in with other horses later in life An example I would give you of this is when we consider orphan foals, for those of you that have been around orphan foals, most of their social structure has to do with the human handler that shows up to feed them throughout the day They're normally segregated from the rest of the horses and so we'll see them develop quite a few abnormal behaviors I guess, would be more bonded towards humans than horses and this can present as a problem later in life because we try and reintegrate them into the horse herd

So if at all possible, even with your orphan foals, if you can find them a buddy or maybe give them some opportunities to interact with the horse herd throughout the day or a few times a week or something, that will go a long way to helping their future behavior If you haven't conducted imprinting or done any other handling or had any human contact with that foal, this first week is a great time to do it simply from a size consideration – they're obviously a lot smaller and easier for us to handle at this stage than as opposed to three or four months of age Some of the research that has been conducted has shown that handling early in life, not necessarily in that imprinting post-parturition period, but just handling young foals, definitely increases their managability and their learning ability later in life So what I would recommend during this time is to start small, keep it simple, maybe we start off with the haltering process and get the foal used to having the halter on and then make a daily progression each day once the foal is comfortable with the new thing So we can progress on to brushing and handling their feet and add a few other things as we go

The main thing I want to stress in regards to this handling is that we need to remember these guys are really young and have a short attention span so we want to make sure that we keep our lessons really short and we don't over do it So we don't need a thirty minute power marathon picking up their feet You know, as little as possible – five to ten minutes a day, but maybe what we're shooting for and some of the research out there has shown that as little as ten minutes a day each weekday until roughly two months of age will have a significant improvement on the foal's learning ability So, like I said, this time period, this handling is very important but it is relatively small, short bouts Now moving onto that pre-weaning management period I talked about roughly encompassing one to four months of age, maybe on until six months if you choose to wait a little longer to wean

But again, this is an important time period for that handling and socialization if you haven't done it earlier in life, you definitely want to do consider about doing it now In terms of training, it would be nice if we had our foals halter broke where they would lead readily while they're young and we can still handle them I know most of the farriers out there, and particularly my farrier really likes it whenever they show up to trim weanlings and the weanlings have had their feet handled So picking up feet is definitely going to score you some bonus points with your farrier and this is also a good time to work on that sensitization and desensitization So I will often work with me foals and get them to more their hip over in response to pressure, get them to move their shoulder and so on

Desensitization, you know, yet again we can get them used to a plastic bag or a set of clippers and so on So just a little while back I told you how important it was that the horse be integrated into the horse herd and develop horse behavior, and that's definitely true But I think the other thing that we would like to do during this pre-weaning management period is to get our foals accustomed to humans and develop some type of bond with humans, hopefully an enjoyable and pleasurable bond for that post-weaning period, particularly in those instances where you may only have a single mare and foal and the human bond is really all they're going to have after that weaning time So this is a good time to develop the bond with your foal I want to shift gears now and talk – kind of lead into talking about nutrition and I think we need to start off and consider what's going on in terms of lactation with that mare

So what I've done here with these two tables where we look at the nutrient density of the mare's milk shown here in the top table and this is taken from the 2007 Nutrient Requirements of Horses and it's based on the 500 kilogram or 1,100 pound mare And what we have shown are the different months of lactation so zero to one, one to two, and then two to five and this is based on conservative estimates where we don't factor in a decrease in the amount of milk produced or a large increase in milk produced So these mares will be expected to produce about fifteen kilograms or about thirty two pounds of milk per day, or about three percent of their body weight What I have shown in the different columns, we have the digestible energy of that milk in megacalories, the crude protein in grams, calcium in grams, and phosphorous in grams So what I have highlighted in yellow is the nutrient content of that milk roughly at about that four month time period when we're going to think about weaning

Here on the bottom we get the daily nutrient requirements for horses with an expected mature weight around 1,100 pounds So we don't have a lot of research data available for normal foals to look at nutrient requirements prior to four months of age So we'll start here at four months of age roughly when we're thinking about weaning, and what I wanted to show you were the nutrient requirements of the foals, so we can look at the nutrient requirements highlighted here in yellow and then go back and look at the nutrient density of the milk And we can see, obviously, that there is somewhat of a discrepancy about what's supplied So we need to remember during this time the foal is going to be consuming grain if it is available and consuming good quality hay and pasture, hopefully

But the thing I wanted to point out is that the mare's lactation isn't totally meeting the foal's requirements so we need to make considerations on how we're going to supply that supplemental feed to the foal As we look at changing the foal's diet and consider what's going on in terms of nutrition there's some obvious changes that we're aware of in that nutrients are being delivered in different forms, so we're going to liquid milk to a solid feed, whether it be pasture or some type of grain There's also changes in those nutrient sources The crude protein makeup of milk is obviously going to be different than a grain supplement that we might put together One key point about these changes and foal nutrition early on, the thing to remember – just like a human infant, the younger the horse is the more nutrient dense that diet needs to be, so we need higher levels of crude protein, calcium, phosphorus and so on

During this time period of one to four months of age the foal is also going to be experiencing some changes in digestive function and one of those big changes is the change in the enzymes produced by the gut to digest the different nutrients and that is going to change from whenever they're consuming milk to the solid feed Also during this time we're going to see some foals, or a good majority of foals actually, that will consume feces of other horses Normally they'll consume fresh feces out on the pasture and so on and sometimes it's troublesome to the owners, they wonder if they have a nutrient deficiency or mineral deficiency, something of that nature But it's actually natural that they do this The horse is a hindgut fermenter and that simply means that they digest fiber in the large intestine and the cecum or the hingut of their digestive tract

And in order for this fermentation to occur, they have to have microbes or bacteria present within the cecum so the foal is consuming those feces in order to innoculate that hindgut and to get it to develop adequately During this time our basis for that foal's diet is going to be high quality hay or hopefully pasture if it's available and then we want to think about providing a creep feed that is specfically formulated for young growing horses In terms of creep feeding suggestions, I highly recommend it and one reason is it's been shown that it can help ease the stress of weaning and we've got some research data here in a moment that will kind of show you why that's so important The rule of thumb about creep feeding is to start early, roughly about one month of age and begin providing feed for that foal So we want to start out at about half a pound per foal per day and then gradually increase the amount we provide going along with their consumption until we reach a point where they're consuming about one pound per day for each month of age, and that's a good rule to follow so that we're providing enough creep feed but yet we don't over feed them

And when we talk about this amount of feed, we're specifically talking about the grain portion, we're not taking into account any hay or pasture they may be eating The other thing that creep feed helps with is it helps to stabilize weaning growth If we have that foal on a good plane or nutrition prior to weaning, it's going to help keep him on a level growth stage post-weaning so that we don't have any growth spurts which can lead to subsequent problems like developmental orthopedic disease or OCD lesions or anthing of that nature In terms of putting your creep feeded together there are many designs available, you can do Google searches and find a lot of information in terms of how to put one together Midwest Planning Services is another resource that you might Google to find plans on actually how to build a creep feeder

But creep feeding is simply a means of controlling access to the feed that we provide, and that's what's shown here in the small diagram We have a simple board rail fence system where there's a trough placed in here to put the feed in And this fence system allows foals to go under this top rail but it's not tall enough to allow the mares access in so the foals can go in and consume the creep feed without having to fight with the mares When you're looking for a creep feed to purchase in terms of commercial creep feeds, I'd remind you to look at the feed tag and see exactly what's in the bag or on the labeled bag And the recommended composition, we want to look for crude protein levels of 16 to 18 percent

That should provide an adequate amount of amino acids and the type of amino acids that the foal needs Calcium we would like to see between 08 and 10 percent And phosphorus levels at 0

6 to 08 percent And the next two nutrients are copper and zinc and we'd like to see copper present at 10 to 30 miligrams per kilogram of feed which most commonly you'll see on the feed tag as parts per million, so we'd be looking at something between 10 and 30 parts per million (ppm) on the feed tag In the case of zinc, we want to look at 40 to 120 parts per million on the feed tag So now that we've got our foal and creep feed, he's accustomed to it, he's eating it, what we want to monitor in terms of assessing normal versus abnormal is to look at growth and weight gain

So over here on the left I have some numbers taken from Evans's book, The Horse, which gives the normal percent of mature height for light horses by age So at six months of age we can expect our light horse breeds to be about 83 percent of their mature wither height That's going to increase to about 91 percent at twelve months of age and about 95 percent at eighteen months of age And if this is something that you want to monitor, you can simply find a good level surface like a concrete pad and take a wither or hip height stick and measure wither height or you can use something like a seamstress tape if you have someone help you Over here on the right is a table that I put together using some research data from Ringler and Lawrence at the University of Kentucky and what they did was monitor Thoroughbred foal growth throughout various ages

So this table shows the actual body weight of Thoroughbred foals at different months of age So we have our ages represented here in the left hand column This 'n' represents the number of foals measured at that stage of development or at that age So we have birth weight data on 340 foals and we have six month body weights on 215 foals The next category is the actual body weight of the foals in pounds and then over here on the right we have ADG or average daily gain of the foals in pounds

So starting off we look at the growth rate of the majority of Thoroughbred light horse foals are going to be around that 135 pound mark and then when we look down here at weaning, what we're looking at is about 450 pounds at four months, 500 pounds at five months, and roughly 550 pounds or 560 at six months of age During this time I want to draw your attention to their average daily gain – this is when they're roughly gaining about 2 pounds per day and this is when that creep feed or supplemental feed becomes very important It helps support that growth so that they're not growing, let's say one pound per day at age 4 months and when we do wean them and stick them on feed, maybe this jumps to 25 or 3 where we could potentially have some problems So we really want to try and stabilize that weight gain and have a nice sequence of events

In addition to the changes that are going on with the foal's digestive system and growth and so on, the other thing that occurs during this time is the development of their immune system And as I mentioned previously, when we started off we can look at antibody levels in the foal And this graph here simply represents specific antibodies that are geared at protecting against West Nile Virus and this pattern of decline is something that we can expect to see for all of our antibodies, whether it be something for Influenza or Rhinopneumonitis, or whatever So, again, they're going to start off relatively high because of that passive transfer of immunity and as that foal ages, they're going to decrease until the foal begins to produce its own antibodies and that normally occurs in response to natural infection or exposure to the antigen or infectious agent or following vaccination So these foals that were on this research study were not exposed to West Nile Virus and not vaccinated for West Nile Virus until after six months of age so you can see that progressive decline in antibodies for West Nile Virus

At the same time antibody levels are declining We see an increase in the number of lymphoctyes and lymphocytes are the white blood cells that produce antibodies So this is actually a good thing that we see antibody levels increasing from birth all the way up to our weaning time period – that means that they have a more competent immune system and they're going to be able to produce more antibodies on their own whenever they are exposed to the infection or vaccination And these, I would like to point out, are only for illustrative purposes, this is not something that we're routinely going to measure on foals unless we suspect it's a problem So unless a foal becomes sick or shows signs of some type of disease, we're probably not going to do the blood test to measure these antibody or lymphocyte levels

Now we're getting close to the weaning process – you know, roughly we're about 30, 45 days out so during this time period we want to think about our final preparations for weaning And the key things I think we need to look at here; one are healthcare and two is our location of weaning So we'll address healthcare first Some things we might want to consider doing in this time period are obviously deworming and vaccinations Deworming, there are several products out there on the market that are cleared for use in foals and I would encourage you to consult the product literature from that

But the biggest thing I see as a problem from dealing with different producers is we have a hard time determining body weight If we don't have access to a set of scales, it's difficult particularly if we haven't raised a lot of foals to estimate body weight So again, I referred you here to an EquiSearch article that tells you how to go about measuting or estimating that foal's body weight and it can be done simply, again, with a flexible measuring tape In regard to vaccinations, this is where I would tell you to consult with your local veterinarian and that may seem like a canned response but it's really in your best interest to find out what diseases are prevalent in your geographic area because they will vary throughout the United States and I would hate to recommend to someone, "You don't need to vaccinate for Potomac Horse Fever" when, actually, based upon your geography, you probably do So that's something where you definitely want to consult with your local veterinarian

Prior to that consultation, the AAEP, or American Association of Equine Practitioners, have a guideline prepared that's up on the web and I encourage you to take a look at that, read that, and that can help you when you go to visit with your veterinarian about your vaccination program One of the key things, and I really want to stress this, during our plan for preparing for weaning, the weaning process in itself is very stressful We don't want to compound that stress or complicate it any further So our goal with our pre-weaning management program is to avoid stressful situations within two weeks of weaning whether it be pre-weaning or post-weaning So if you're planning on doing the first hoof trimming or castrating your colts or doing some other type of stressful procedure, I encourage you to try and keep that outside this window

In regards to the location of weaning, we obviously want it to be safe for both mare and foal It should be readily accessible and provide a good means of observation for us to keep an eye on those horses If you're going to be moving the horses off of the farm to a different location or a significant move, we need to move that mare and foal to that area approximately 30 days prior to the weaning date so they can become accustomed to the new area, get settled in, and have a chance to be exposed to the infectious agents there and deal with that prior to the weaning so we don't stress them anymore than that Alright, lastly, the weaning process And to me, I think the first thing we need to address is the purpose of weaning and obviously it has a management reason in that we want to make better use of our feed dollars by putting that feed straight into the foal and not continuing to have the mare lactate

So from a management standpoint we want to improve feed efficiency, we also want to break that bond between the mare and foal so that we don't have a herd bound mare and foal and it's easier to manage them as individuals And that kind of leads to our behavior standpoint – it's important to break that bond so that if our weanling gelding is going to be a world champion barrel racer, you know, we probably can't haul him and his mother both around the world So it's important to break that bond and get them functioning on their own During the weaning process, like I said, there's the potential for stress and there's two types of stress that we'll see: one is behavioral stress which is simply increased vocalizations or whinnying or nickering, or increase activity such as running the fence So those are behavioral signs of stress that we'll observe

Physiological stress is most commonly measured by evaluating cortisol levels in the blood And cortisol is a steroid hormone that is released from the adrenal gland in response to stress So that is our most common measure of physiological stress When we get to procedures for weaning, this gets to be a little more variable There's lots of ways that we can tailor the weaning process to our operation

And we can look at the approach in terms of stall weaning versus pen weaning So over here we've got a box stall setting where we plan to wean an individual mare and foal – and we put the mare in a box stall adjacent to the foal and that is an example of stall weaning Up top here we have a picture of a couple of small drylot paddocks and we can see on this side of the blue fence, we have a mare that's standing up there at the fence, most likely talking to her foal over in this pen And we've got roughly 6 or 8 foals in this pen over here that are on the creep feeder being weaned So that is an example of pen weaning

The second part has to do with how we remove the mares And abrupt weaning is the instance where we abruptly and totally isolate the mare from the foal So in the case of our stall weaning method here, we may have them in the same stall, put the foal in his stall and then we're going to remove the mare and take her probably a mile away or something so that she's out of earshot and out of sight of the foal If we were doing that in our pen situation here, we would have our foals in our pen and then we would take each mare out, and again, remove her from sight and sound of the foals That is an example of abrupt

So in the case of gradual if we're doing stall weaning, we would keep the mare adjacent to the foal for roughly 24 to 48 hours prior to total isolation, giving them a chance to break the physical bond of nursing before they have to break all the bonds in terms of nursing as well as companionship In the case of our pen weaning, that's really what's illustrated here – this is an example of gradual pen weaning where the mares are placed on this side of the fence for 48 hours prior to total removed from the foals A question comes about, "Which is the best for you or which one is right for me?" It really depends on what you have access to If you have good, safe pipe paddocks or pens that you can utilize in this type of setup – and the key point here is with our blue fence we've actually got 2 fences up there and that's to prevent any nursing through that fence You know, if there's any nursing taking place, we're not achieving our weaning goals

So which is best for – right for you depends on what you have available to work with As I mentioned in terms of physiological stress, cortisol is our most common measure of that and this graph illustrates a weaning study we did at Kansas State a few years ago where we abruptly weaned foals represented by the white bar and we gradually weaned foals represented by the black bar The abruptly weaned foals were immediately isolated from their mares, the mares were taken approximately a mile away so they were out of earshot and eyeshot of the foals The gradual weaning foals had fenceline contact with no nursing with their mares for 48 hours prior to removal So as shown here on day 2 of the study, those mares were removed gradually from the foals

And the reason I wanted to show you this is to give you an idea of how the pre-weaning period can affect weaning management So normal plasma cortisol levels in foals of this age are around 40 nanograms per mililiter And what we typically see in stressed foals, we see that going up to 60 or 80 nanograms per mililiter And as you can see from the graph here, the foals in this study, which I think it represented about 14 foals, all stayed right around 50 nanograms per mililiter And to me, although our study can't prove that, my observation would lead me to believe that our intensive handling of these foals and working with them in the pre-weaning period made it easier for them to break that bond with their dam because they had access to human companionship

If we look over here on the right, I think this graph will drive home the importance of a good creep feeding program and what is shown here is average daily gain (ADG) in kilograms So roughly one kilogram is equal to about 22 pounds So if we look at the time period 30 to 23 days prior to weaning, they were gaining about 2 pounds a day and they remained around this 2 pound mark until weaning took place And we look here in the post-weaning period, that 2 pounds of average daily gain is basically gone down to one pound through about ten days post-weaning

And that's probably due to; 1) their increased activity, they're more active, they're burning off more calories, but more importantly they have reduced feed intake due to the stress So if we were to have them accustomed to eating creep feed and weaned onto that, we're sitting very well here to manage them in the post-weaning period So to wrap up, if you've got further questions about weaning, again, there's a really good EquiSearch resource that offers some supplementary information into this And before we summarize, I want to leave you with a few key comments about the post-weaning period

And one is to keep the foal on the creep feed that they're used to This is definitely not a time that we want to be changing their diet around – our whole goal is to keep them eating normally and keep them on feed So also to that end we want to keep them on good quality hay or pasture that we've been feeding them And then once we have the weaning bond broke between the mare and foal, whether it be in a pen setting or a stall setting, we want to provide that foal in the post-weaning period unlimited free exercise Obviously we want them in a safe area, but this does two things for us; 1

) it's going to improve their managability and behavior while working with their human handlers Obviously, you know, we don't want a stall sour foal because they're harder to deal with But more importantly, the stress on the bones, the exercise that they get is important for normal bone development We have to build those bones up, break them down, build them up again for normal bone development to occur And like I said, I think the most important thing we can do is continue to monitor the growth and feed the foals accordingly so refer back to your benchmarks for height and weight standards

And then the other thing is we want to remember that we want to keep these foals at a moderate body condition score of five or six We definitely don't want to get them obese during this time period because it will predispose them to a variety of metabolic problems potentially on down the road And one more resource provided for you in terms of body condition scoring foals, and this is a really neat little supplement that can teach you that very quickly So in summary, first few weeks of life it's important to know what's normal and expected If you're a new foal owner or this is your first foal you're expecting, I encourage you to seek out assistance from an experienced source and again, set aside that time to monitor that foal during the first few weeks – make sure everything is occurring normally

During our pre-weaning period, this is where we want our sound feeding and health program, get them started on creep feed and continue to monitor the performance And then during the weaning period the best advice I can give you in a nutshell is realize that it's going to be stressful for both the mare and the foal and even the horse owner so be prepared and have a good plan And lastly, we're all in the horse business to improve our quality of life and enjoy life so above all, make sure that you enjoy your new arrival So in the immortal words of Porky the Pig, "That's all folks!" I want to leave you here with the references that I used in putting this together so you can feel free to take a look at any of that information I know we went a little bit over on time but I will be here to answer any questions that you may have, so please let me know

Okay, our first question – it says "will a poor-colostrum mare always poor colostrum or can we change it with better nutrition?" And that's a really good question because actually I've seen the colostrum quality on mares change from year to year Generally I would say a mare that has 106 colostrum will typically have 106 colostrum But it may change the next year

And I haven't seen anything that really has tied that to nutrition Obviously if a mare is really thin and on a poor plane of nutrition, she's not going to have the nutritional reserves to produce antibodies So, in theory, that could affect it but that would be in those severe cases So honestly, I don't think that there's much you can do other than having a good, normal feeding program that will improve that So the second question says, "Can we get a copy of the web addresses?" Sonny just popped up and said, "We will have a recording of this presentation that you can access through the course site

" And that is the case so I apologize for going too fast but I wanted to make sure we got it all covered, but this will be posted up on the website where you can access it Any other questions? Okay, our next question – okay, I'll get it back open We had two coming in at once It says, "If we can do weaning at six months, would you recommend it?" Uh, in my opinion that four to six month range is perfectly fine It's really where you want to set your dates and have that weaning occur

In some cases I've even weaned foals at three months of age but they were doing very well and I set up a good creep feeding program before I did it So there's nothing wrong with waiting until 6 months to wean those foals either So it's really up to you Next question, "Can the foal's immune system be built up prior to foaling by providing quality nutrient-rich food to the broodmare during gestation?" Plane of nutrition is very important for normal development of the fetus, but is there any supplements we can feed to improve that – not necessarily The foal's immune system is really transferred from that mare to the foal through the colostrum

Foals are basically born with a non-functional immune system Once they ingest colostrum, they ingest the antibodies – they also ingest some other factors that help turn on the immune system So that's another reason that that colostrum is so important , but there's really nothing that you can do other than feeding good quality diet to that pregnant mare to ensure that that foal is more normal and with a sound development Okay, next question, "How soon should the foal pass the meconium before knowing when to give an enema?" And I would say that's something that – it's going to vary quite a bit between foals I guess what tips me off to considering giving that foal an enema is if they're really straining, trying to pass the feces and they don't get it passed

So I would let them strain for a little bit, maybe try two or three times over the course of an hour, but if they're continuously straining, trying to pass the meconium and they can't get it done, then I would go ahead and give them an enema to help aid that process Okay, next question, "How long will the foal's system accept the mare's antibodies? Was it seven days or seven hours?" And I know we went through that really fast and basically the foal's intestinal tract allows antibodies to cross it somewhere up to 24 or 48 hours of age So we want to get the colostrum into the foal as soon as we can, we measure blood serum levels of IgG roughly about twelve hours after getting that colostrum so that we can see what's present in the foal's system and hopefully that gives us a few hours if that IgG level isn't very good where we can give the foal supplemental colostrum or synthetic IgG prior to reaching that 48 hour mark So basically long story short, the intestinal tract remains open pretty well through 24 hours of age but is definitely closed by 48 hours of age and all the research will pretty much support that Okay, next question, "Do you know if there are more or less first weaning stress depending on their age; in this case, 4 to 6 months?" And that's a good question, and to be honest with you off the top of my head, I can't think of any research study that has looked at differences in weaning stress based upon weaning age

In my opinion, the 4 to 6 month age is going to be so similar in terms of their developmental stage whether it be behavior or physiology that they're probably going to handle it equally as well As a reference, the graphs that I showed you about the work that was done in Kansas where we looked at cortisol levels and so on, the foals in that study – like I said, there were 14 foals and they ranged in age from 4 to 6 months when we weaned them So they were kind of all across that age range Next quesion, "How important is pasture to the growth and development of the foal?" It's very important; it's one of those deals if we've got them out there on dry, dormant, native pasture in Northern Oklahoma expecting them to do well, they're obviously not going to get enough nutrients from that pasture So foals, while we may not think about it or realize it, you know, on our occasional observations and so on, they will consume quite a bit of good quality pasture to help supplement the milk coming from the mare

The problem is that the foals don't have the best developed hindgut so they're not going to digest all of that forage as well as a mature horse But it is still an important component of that pre-weaning plan Okay, next question from Wanda – it says, "When do you recommend foaling shots for the mare before foaling for best transfer?" And that's a great question; that's one thing that really interests me so I'm glad you asked that Routinely what most people are going to recommend is somewhere 4 to 6 weeks prior to foaling is to give that mare her booster shots for the vaccinations in question And that's about the right time period to do that

That gives the mare a chance to mount an antibody response and really ramp up the antibody levels present in the serum And then the antibody levels that are present in the serum are going to be transferred into that colostrum within two weeks prior to foaling so about 4 to 6 weeks out Excellent questions! Okay, next questions, "I had an abrupt weaning process with one foal and it was really stressful but just for the foal She jumped against the stall door so we had to turn her out over several times a day for nearly a week until she got over it That's why I asked so much to make it better next time

So that's a good point to bring up about it being stessful" Different foals are going to handle it differently and just because you do the pre-weaning management and have the interaction that I talked about does not mean that it's 100 percent You know, these are my best recommendations based upon what I've learned over the years and based upon the research available So that is definitely something that can happen and I appreciate your comment there I've got about five more minutes before I have to be somewhere else but I do want to try and take all the questions we've got so if there's anybody else that wants to weigh in I truly appreciate the opportunity to talk to you guys and I hope it was informational for you

So if there's any other questions, please bring them up Okay, I don't have any more questions coming so I appreciate all of you and the nice comments you have made I hope you got a lot out of this – I know it was a lot of information to cover in a short period of time But I want to thank My Horse University for providing me the opportunity to visit with you all tonight and I hope you have an enjoyable evening and a good foaling Thanks! [SONNY] Thanks, Dr

Turner, we appreciate this wonderful presentation And just to let everybody know the presentation – the recording of this presentation will be available through the course by tomorrow and so if you want to go back and review, you can just go into your course and look at the web presentation details to access the recording Thank you again, so much Dr Turner Everyone, have a good night

Buh bye

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