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Colt, Filly, or Both?!

A mare’s uterus is barely big enough to carry two full size healthy foals to full term. There have been draft breeds that can carry and deliver a healthy set of twins without any issues, however a normal 900-1000lb mare is often not able to. On the rare occasion the twins do live, one foal, if not both, is often very small, requires special attention, and is more susceptible to illness the first few weeks of life. Carrying twins also puts the mare at risk for life threatening foaling complications.

Often mother nature will take care of the smaller of the two twins while they are still embryonic vesicles. If both fetuses survive to later in gestation but then one naturally dies, the mare often aborts both. If one fetus dies and the other survives the mare may begin to develop mammary glands prematurely and compromising her milk supply for the live fetus once it is born. The complications of a mare carrying twins are great for both the mare and the foals. For this reason, veterinarians often try to avoid breeding a mare with duplicate follicles.

No matter how careful we are, or how closely we track the mare’s cycle, sometime a twin pregnancy will still occur. Anytime a mare is bred it is recommended to have her pregnancy checked via ultrasound within 13-15 days post breeding. It is important to check a mare early in her pregnancy before fixation occurs in case twin reduction is necessary. If twin reduction does not occur naturally within the first couple weeks of pregnancy one vesicle should be manually eliminated by a veterinarian. After one twin is eliminated the other twin continues to grow and thrive without any complications and the mare does not experience any negative side effects. While eliminating a twin is not something any veterinarian enjoys doing, it is important to understand that by eliminating one vesicle we are saving the life of the mare and the other embryo. Eliminating the one vesicle at an early stage also prevents the mare from naturally aborting both fetus once they are much older and almost fully formed and have simply outgrown her uterus.

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  • Penny King, Oblong IL

    I can’t say enough about Dr. Stone & his staff. They go above & beyond & take the extra mile to take care of your horses needs. They really care about what your horse really needs.

    They have been up all night with emergency colic surgery with a positive outcome. They saved a foal that was born three weeks early. I can’t even begin to tell everything we have been thru together. But I can tell you one thing, they don’t come any better than Dr. Stone & his staff. They are like family to our horses & us.”