Foaling Injuries and Complications

Foaling Injuries and Complications

If your mare is about to give birth, chances are that the foal will emerge normally and in good health..However, just as human births can develop complications, equine births can present complications, and these complications may threaten the mother, the foal, or both. It helps to know what might happen and to be prepared for it by having veterinary assistance on hand.

Breech births occur when the foal is positioned abnormally in the womb, forcing it to emerge tail first instead of head first. This can create a variety of complications, including internal damage from the foal's misplaced hooves and uterine ruptures. In the course of a normal birth, the mother may retain some or all of the placenta, a situation that can lead to septicemia and other serious conditions. Even if it appears that the entire placenta has been expelled, you must make certain that no small parts of it have been retained.

Hemorrhaging is another possible complication of foaling. Some forms of hemorrhage confine themselves to intra-uterine or local bleeding, but an abdominal hemorrhage can cause lethal shock to the mare.

Several foaling complications involve surrounding systems such as the digestive tract. Colic, for instance, is a common after-effect due to twisting of the colon during the birth process. Additionally, foal with misplaced hooves may also cause damage to the rectum that requires veterinary treatment to repair.

Help for the Foal

Complications and injuries can also cause serious problems for the foal unless veterinary care is readily available. For instance, if the placenta detaches prematurely during foaling, a "red bag delivery" may develop and the foal may not receive adequate oxygen, causing brain damage or death. If the mother accidentally steps on a newborn foal's foot, the foal may need immediate treatment for a severe traumatic injury to the hoof capsule and other tissues. Foot fractures may also be evident. In some cases, a newborn foal receives lacerations or puncture wounds from nearby objects such as exposed wire, bits of glass or nails. Inspect the birthing site carefully to remove any such objects beforehand. If this sort of wound does occur, the foal will likely need antibiotics, bandaging, and in some cases, drainage of any infections that might develop.

Kane, Phd; Ed. “How to Handle Common Foaling Complications and Injuries.”


Find us on the map

New Office Hours effective Dec. 1, 2018

Our Regular Schedule - Call for 24 hour emergency service 920-837-7766

Clinic Hours


7:30 am-4:00 pm


7:30 am-4:00 pm


7:30 am-4:00 pm


7:30 am-4:00 pm


7:30 am-4:00 pm






Feedback from our clients

  • ""Excellent and very knowledgeable clinic and staff. Very supportive of area's youth, their projects, and organizations!""
  • ""It's been a pleasure to have Dr. Matt as my vet for the past 21 years. He and the staff at Dairyland have always been kind & helpful.""
  • ""I cannot say enough about them! Very helpful with my potbelly pigs! I am so VERY happy I found them!!! They are so willing to help you and not deplete your bank acct!""
  • "We love you Dr. Matt! You helped Apollo keep his eye sight, you never got frustrated with my 5 million questions, you were very patient and always explained things so we could understand what was going on with him. Your staff is great at returning phone calls and making sure patients get exactly what they need. You have been the best vet ever."
  • "I want to give a huge shout out to Dr Matt Schaefer with Dairyland Veterinary Service. I had been struggling to get weight on Kahlua. She wouldn't eat anything I put in front of her. Dr Matt came out and looked at her and we discussed her attitude and habits. He had a good feeling she had ulcers so he suggested treating her with ulcerguard. I got her on it and she is just 2 days from finishing the 28 day treatment. The change in her is phenomenal. She's put on weight and now looks perfect!
    And "