horse industry trends are very much in favor of foals born at the
beginning of the
calendar year. To get these "early foals", many people
express interest and concern with
re-breeding their mare as soon as possible. The mare is a very
unique animal since she has
an estrus period soon after foaling that many people term
"foal heat". The mare can
exhibit foal heat from the third to twelfth day post foaling.
This foal heat, or
incorrectly called 9 day heat, is somewhat shorter that normal
periods. It is reported that mares bred at foal heat have a lower
fertility rate than those
bred at regular heat periods. I tend to disagree with these
statements. Practice on our
farm yields about a 92% pregnancy rate with foal heat breedings.
Also at University of
Pennsylvania they report 100% foal heat breedings yielding in
positive pregnancies in their
wild herds of ponies. The point being, if one desires to move up
the mare’s foaling date
for next year, foal heat breedings are a good solution to this
There are several
factors that can reduce fertility and candidacy of foal heat
these items are present, it is recommended that foal heat
breedings be avoided.
1. The presence of
fluid in the uterus,
2. Abnormal discharges or excessive tearing in the vagina.
3. Retained placenta after foaling
4. Complicated foaling.
tool is to "short-cycle" mares using hormones. this
time for the mare’s uterus to return to normal, yet, she can
still be bred earlier than the
first regular estrus period.
However, if your
mare produced a normal, live, healthy foal without complications,
foal heat breeding may be a viable option for you. One quick
suggestion that our farm
finds to be quite successful is a uterine lavage with a mild
saline solution and Betadine
prior to breeding. I don’t feel that uterine lavages immediately
following the foaling day is
beneficial, but on day 5 and/or 7 (for example) greatly improves
the chance of conception
with foal heat breedings.
If you feel that it
is questionable whether or not to breed your mare in foal heat or
mare can not be properly evaluated, it is best to wait until the
first regular estrus period to
breed the foaling mare.