It is the rule for all species of mammals… the baby must breathe at birth.
In the wild, a baby that doesn’t breathe is meant to die in the very first instants of his life.
Most foals do breathe perfectly normally as soon as they are out of the birth canal and are free of the amnion. It takes them an average of 10 to 20 min to arrive after the mare breaks her waters.
Your foal – well, your mare’s foal – might have a hard way to breathe, or not beathe at all.
In these condiotions, what can you do ?
First of all, you should have been prepared to this kind of eventuality by having followed a foaling training beforehand. You must have an emergency kit handy, as well as the phone numbers of the available vets close to your barn.
It there is no respiratory movement ot heart beat at all after birth, you must first place a call for assistance and then follow a few guide lines.
- First, make sure the airway is open. Remove the amnion from the nose (if needed) and remove any mucus, meconium or debris from mouth or nose.
- Second, attempt to stimulate the foal to breath. Vigorously dry the foal with towels for 20 to 30 seconds. If breathing doesn’t begin, tickle the inside of the nostrils with a clean piece of straw or stick your fingers in the ears.
- If the foal is still not breathing, provide emergency ventilation support.
I you need further advice, you can read all you need in this very precise article Foal CPR
Kevin Suplicki on Flickr took this beautiful picture at the exact right moment