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The Early Postpartum Period in Horses


Patricia L. Sertich

, MS, VMD, DACT, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Last full review/revision Feb 2021 | Content last modified Mar 2021

Uterine involution is characterized by expulsion of the fetal membranes and contraction of the uterus, cervix, and broad ligaments to normal nongravid dimensions. To achieve maximal reproductive efficiency, a broodmare must produce a foal every year. Horses have an average gestation length of ~340 days. Therefore, to maintain a 12-month foaling interval, the mare must be bred again within 25 days of foaling. Mares can be bred on “foal heat,” which is the first postpartum estrus that occurs 5–11 days after foaling in most mares. However, mares that experienced dystocia Dystociain Horses Most causes of dystocia in the mare are due to abnormal presentation, position, or posture. A dead or compromised fetus often is not properly positioned in the pelvic canal. Dystocia due to... read more Dystociain Horses or retained membranes Retained Fetal Membranes Normally, the membranes are ruptured by the foal over the avillous cervical star region of the chorioallantois. The chorion (red velvety surface) and allantois (shiny surface containing many... read more Retained Fetal Membranes and metritis Mares: Several specific diseases are associated with metritis or endometritis. These include brucellosis (see Brucellosis in Large Animals), leptospirosis (see Leptospirosis), campylobacteriosis (see... read more should not be bred on foal heat. Foal heat pregnancy rates are higher for mares bred after 10 days postpartum.

The fertility of the first breeding may be increased if breeding is delayed and PGF (dinoprost, 1 mg/45.5 kg, IM, or cloprostenol, 0.55 mcg/kg, IM) administered ~5 days after the foal heat (first) ovulation. The mare can then be bred at the ensuing estrus just before the second postpartum ovulation.

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Management of the Neonate
Large animal neonates are born immunocompetent but lack antibodies. In their first few hours of life, neonates must suckle good quality colostrum from the dam to obtain maternal antibodies (immunoglobulins). Which of the following factors might compromise the quality of colostrum?
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