University of wisconsin-madison

Neonatal Care

Umbilical chord - Once the umbilical chord breaks during parturition, it can be treated dipped with iodine. This should be done 2 times per day for the first 3 - 4 days or until the umbilical stump dries. Either 1 or 2% betadine or 7% tincture of iodine can be used.

Nursing and colostrum - The foal should stand and nurse within 1 hour or less. The first milk produced by the mare is called colostrum and contains a large amount of antibodies in the form of IgG. These antibodies can only be absorbed through the foal's intestine during the first 24 hours of life. The efficiency of the transfer begins to decline within 6 - 8 hours of birth. To get maximal antibody transfer it is estimated the foal will need to drink 1 - 2 liters of colostrum. The foal will not begin to produce antibodies of its own until 4 weeks of age and even at this time it is only minimal amounts. It is therefore essential the foal gets up and nurses frequently.

This foal is just trying to stand for the first time. It may take several tries before it is successful.
This foal has already stood but is being directed to the mammary gland. Foals will eventually find it but we are helping this foal to induce oxytocin release associated with suckling by the foal. This will help delivery of the placenta shown in the image to be not yet delivered.


Angle Slippers - During gestation the ends of the hoofs are covered with a protective coating. This coating is lost soon after birth. The first time an owner sees this event they may think the hoof is is coming off but it is only the sheding of the angel slippers. An image of angel slippers is shown below with the hoof being black and the angle slippers the white material that will be lost within a few hours.

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