If any of you have spent many nights awake waiting for your mare to foal – here are some helpful tips. Please remember these methods are not fool proof and often it is helpful to employ several of these methods to help monitor when you mare is going to foal.
Recent studies compared multiple techniques for evaluating when your mare is going to foal, and it turns out some are more accurate than others. Most methods did involve testing the mare’s mammary secretions. The results were that the calcium titration and pH methods seem to be the best methods for predicting foaling.
The calcium titration method (FOAL WATCH) works by measuring calcium concentrations which rise significantly from 72 to 24 hours before foaling. The pH test was another good method and was both easier and cheaper than the titration method. The pH strips need to be in 0.2 increments. Normal mammary secretions are slightly basic and have a pH above 7, but when they are about to foal and the pH drops below 7, the mare will likely foal within 24 hours. Using the calcium titration and pH strips together can increase your chances even more of catching when your mare is going to foal. The last foaling system evaluated was the FOALALERT system which is a transducer sewn into the mare’s vulva lips and once the lips separate due to the foal protruding through, it sends a signal to a receiver that calls the pre-programmed phone numbers that are plugged in. This can be an expensive system (although you may be able to find in eBay or borrow/lease from other breeders) and also can have many “false alarms”.
As we all know, mares can be sneaky and try to hold out until things are quiet and nobody is around, and in addition some mares may not develop an appropriate udder but these tests can help you get a little more sleep at night and help you narrow down when your mare is going to foal.