Once the foal has received colostrum, vital in the first few hours of life to ensure its body is able to fight disease, there is then the dilemma of finding a suitable alternative to the dams milk, on which the foal will thrive. Locating a foster mare can be difficult and there is no guarantee that she will take to the orphan foal, so hand rearing with a milk replacer, such as Buckeye Mare's Milk Plus from Baileys Horse Feeds, becomes the only option.
Mare's Milk Plus contains the highest quality milk proteins, vitamins and minerals for optimal growth and is simply mixed with tap water. What Buckeye and Baileys have discovered though, is that better results have been achieved by allowing the foal 24 hour ad lib access to the milk rather than following a rigorous bottle feeding programme.
Although bottle feeding may be necessary in the first day or so, foals can easily be taught to drink from a bucket which can then be hung at a safe height to allow the foal easy access. This allows the foal to drink as often as if the mare was present so that there is a natural, even flow of milk through the digestive system.
When made up, Mare's Milk Plus has a slightly tart taste to discourage the foal from drinking too much milk at any one time. It is also slightly acidic (pH5.3 + .01) to help maintain the normal pH level in the foals digestive system and to aid in the preservation of the milk after mixing with water. All these factors result in the foal being fed as naturally as possible with fewer digestive upsets, improved milk digestibility and progressive growth. There is also the added advantage of not having to hand feed the foal every few hours, day and night!
Baileys have put together a Rescue Package to include a 6kg tub of Buckeye Mare's Milk Plus with comprehensive guidelines on managing an orphan foal plus follow up from a qualified nutritionist. Larger studs can keep a tub on hand to help them cope should they lose a mare but the Rescue Package is also to be just a phone call away with 6kg tubs being kept by each of Baileys Regional Sales Managers and at Head Office.
A tub will last, on average, four days, says Liz Bulbrook, Senior Nutritionist at Baileys, as these tragedies invariably happen at the most inconvenient times, this gives the breeder a chance to organise longer term supplies in the form of 20kg sacks. Trained nutritionists are then on hand to work with both breeder and vet to ensure that, nutritionally, the foal is given the best possible start in life.
For further information, please visit www.baileyshorsefeeds.co.uk