Frequently Asked Questions
What is average gestation length for mares?
The gestation period in horses approximately 335-340 days, or 11 months from the first time being bred. Some mares will be inclined to foal earlier or later than the average.
What is FoalWatch?
FoalWatch test kits help predict foal birth within 24 hours by measuring the concentration of calcium in the mare’s colostrum. The calcium level increases sharply as labor approaches. It is intended as a foaling aid and should not substitute for standard veterinary care. See kit instructions for test procedure and interpretation of test results.
What is included with each FoalWatch Kit?
The kit contains everything needed to perform 20 tests: 20 test ampoules, a beaker for collecting the mare’s milk, bottle of distilled water, bottle of indicator solution, syringe, sample cup and instructions.
When do I begin testing my mare?
Begin sampling and testing once or twice a day about 10-14 days before the mare’s expected foaling date. In mares with an unknown breeding date, testing should begin as soon as you note some udder enlargement, and mammary secretions can be collected without undo effort.
How many kits will I need?
We typically recommend 1-2 test kits per mare, depending on when you begin testing.
How should the kit be stored?
The kit should be stored in the dark and at room temperature.
Is there a shelf life for the FoalWatch kit?
The kit has a component that has an 8-month shelf life.
Are there any interferences or complications that could affect the accuracy of the test?
Mares that have been exposed to fescue grass, specifically the Kentucky-31 variety) during the last 60-90 days of gestation may fail to undergo normal udder development prior to foaling. Without a sample of prefoaling milk, testing will not be possible with this kit. The supplement domperidone, which is given to some mares to increase milk production, can impact the calcium level of the mare’s milk, causing inflated reading with the FoalWatch kit.
Does sampling impact the quality of the colostrum, or “first milk”?
Obtaining the small sample volume that is required for testing, on a once to twice daily average, for 10-14 days prior to foaling, does not deprive the foal of any significant amount of colostrum or its antibody content.
For more information, please read The Use of a Prefoaling Milk Calcium Test Kit in the Foaling Management of Mares by Dr. William B. Ley