Foaling Guide


  • Veterinarian nearby and on call.
  • Clean safe place for foaling. Near to home with a foaling alarm is ideal.
  • Foaling kit – ropes, towels, bucket, warm water, etc.

Signs a mare is foaling

  • Filling of the udder begins 4 weeks before foaling.
  • Teats become engorged 4-6 days before foaling.
  • The pelvic muscles and the vulva relaxes changing the shape of the hindquarters a few days before foaling.
  • Teats will form wax 1-2 days before foaling.

Foaling, Morphettville Equine Clinic (Hills Clinic), South Australia

Labour: Stage 1

  • What’s happening: Foal moving into position, uterine contractions begin.
  • Common signs: Discomfort, restlessness, sweating, urination and mild colic are normal.
  • Time: Lasts several hours.
  • Abnormal/Contact vet: Severe pain

Labour: Stage 2

  • What’s happening: Water breaks, Contractions intensify, foal is delivered.
  • Common signs: Legs appear, followed by head and rest of foal, intense contractions in groups of 3-4, mare changes position, usually will lay down for foaling.
  • Time: 20 minutes from water breaking to delivery of foal.
  • Abnormal/Contact vet: Severe pain, hemorrhage, abnormal foal presentation (only 1 leg, no head, a tail first), thick red bag presented first (this is a Red Bag delivery, break bag and immediately deliver foal.

Labour: Stage 3

  • What’s happening: Expulsion of the placenta.
  • Common signs: mild contractions and pushing, placenta still attached to mare.
  • Time: 3 hours.
  • Abnormal/Contact vet: extreme straining, severe pain, Retained placenta for more than 6 hours.
  • Check placenta is intact, Y-shaped with intact horns and a hole the foal exited through.

When born the foal Should:

  • Stand within 2 hours
  • Nurse within 2-4 hours
  • Pass meconium (Dark, firm faeces) within 12 hours
  • The umbilical cord should break shortly after birth or when the mare or foal stands.
  • The mare should be non-aggressive and interested in the foal, standing still while the foal feeds.

What you should do:

  • Stand back and observe from a distance, only intervene if necessary.
  • Dip the umbilical stump in dilute iodine, take care not to touch the umbilical stump with ungloved hands.
  • Monitor closely for the first 24 hours
  • If the mare or foal is not behaving as expected or if you have any other concerns, contact the veterinarian.
  • A mare and foal check by a veterinarian is recommended at 24 hours, serum IgG can also be checked.