Foaling Signs
Pages Made By Kim Landis ~ Photos Courtesy of Sheri Hill
Photos may not be copied without permission!  

Mares Gestation length varies, the due date is usually calculated for 340 days (approx 11 months) after the
last breeding date, but healthy full term foals can be born as early as 310 days. It is best to start looking for
changes in the mare starting at 300 days gestation. In Miniature Horses the average is 330 days gestation,
but they can arrive as early as 298 days gestation and be perfectly healthy and normal!
It is also not abnormal for mares to go as long as 350-380 days gestation!

1. Behavioral Changes
The most important task for the foaling attendant is to familiarize yourself with the mares routine leading
up to foaling. Spend time (an hour or so a day) when the barn is quiet watching the mare and learning what
is normal for her. Sometimes a simple change such as standing in a different corner of the stall may be a
sign that stage one of labor is beginning for that particular mare.  

2. Foal will shift in position, changing the look of the mare's belly
The belly may appear more centered, lower and caved in at the hips. This is often called "dropping" or the
"dropped" look. It can also be called V-belly or V-shape, because of how the mares belly is more pointed at
the bottom like a "V".
Kim Landis ~ 717-368-0343 ~
Lititz, Pennsylvania
Copyright ©  2006-2015 Crayonbox Miniature Horses
Dawnie maiden mare 300 days gestation, side view and rear view, notice the appearance of her stomach,
compared to mare below. This mare foaled 12 days later.
Feb 19, 2001: A day before foaling, showing the 'dropped foal' look. Notice the pointed look of the
stomach, compared to the mare above, and also the relaxing of the ligaments around the croup. This mare
foaled the next day, on day 353 of gestation.
3. Mare's vulva will relax and lengthen in preperation for impending birth
Be aware when you lift the tail, the mare may react and tighten her vulva.
Try to observe at other times.
Feb 20, 2001: Showing relaxing of
vulva, notice how long the slit appears.
Mare foaled 6 hours after photo.
300 Days, vulva not relaxed, or
showing extra length. This mare foaled
12 days later.
4. Inside mare's vulva will show a change in color
This sign is not reliable on it's own, it can be valuable when taken into consideration with the other
factors listed on these pages. Be aware anytime the mare lays down, and gets up it can briefly change the
vulva color.  
Feb 20, 2001
Inside vulva, showing deep scarlet color, phota
taken at 4:45pm, mare foaled at 7pm.  
Inside vulva 340 Days,
mare foaled same day.
5. Mucus Plug
The mucus plug is a thick tacky substance that during pregnancy seals the cervix closed. Another reason to
check a mare's vulva is to watch for the mucus plug to be expelled. It is a clear rose sort of color as seen in
the photos below.
The release of the mucus plug is a sign the cervix is relaxing in preperation for labor, if you do find evidence
of the mucus plug, foaling often happens within 24-48 hours. The mucus plug is also called the "Bloody
Show." This sign should be taken in consideration with other signs. Mares can start to shed the mucus plug
3 weeks prior to foaling as part of the preperation for foaling. If you have any concerns always check with
your vet!
I recently found out that the mucus plug can also be a white/yellowish color.

Photos below courtesy of Mona Stone
Thanks for sharing the photos Mona!
Mare was a maiden
foaled 5 days later.
Udder Development (common term: Bag)
A Mare's udder will start developing around 30 days prior to foaling. Mares who have foaled before may
have a small bag and even some fluid year round. Maiden mares and sometimes a few experienced mares
can foal with no udder or milk, until during or after the foal is born.

Mares that have been on fescue hay or grass before foaling will not produce milk, your can get an antidote
from the vet to bring in the milk, but you must have an alternate source of colostrum for the foal.
5. Changes in mares udder (milk bag) and teats.
Note how teats start pointing inward, and then change to pointing more straight down as mare's
udder progresses. Also note some mares will foal with no change in udder size until after having foal.
4-20-02 Day 332
Mare foaled on day 340
4-26-02 338 Days
mare foaled on day 340.
Same mare's udder in April 2002
340 days gestation, the day mare
Feb 20, 2001: 353 days gestation
at 4:45pm mare foaled at 7pm.
Waxing: dried milk on end of teats
(very few Miniatures wax before foaling)
337 days: 1pm, foaled 11pm.
Maiden mare at 300 days
foaled 12 days later on day 312.
6. Changes in color and consistency of milk.
Milk should be easy to express from teats, changes can occur within hours or over a day or more.
If you find the thick sticky, yellow colored fluid, watch that mare! Foaling should occur soon!
Do not leave a mare unattended for more than 1 hour that is showing any of these stages of milk.
A mare can foal during any of these stages, sometimes the milk changes to opaque white only after the foal
is born.

You can also buy a kit with test strips to test the milk, they measure the amount of calcium and/or PH level
and use that to predict foaling. This can help if you are new to foaling and need reassurance on the
color/consistency of the milk.
Details on how this test is further down on the webpage.
Milk Yellow/Golden color, very
sticky, thick similar to honey.
11am 4-28-02 Mare foaled at 4pm.
Different Mare showing
Golden/Yellow, Thick & Sticky

From Same mare as left
Opaque White fluid
Skim Milk Color, starting to
change to opaque white
2-20-01 at 1pm,
mare foaled at 7pm.
Milk is opaque white
2-20-01 4:45pm mare foaled at
Testing Mares Milk for Predicting Foaling

You can use Predict-A-Mare testing kits or generic water hardness testing strips which have a total of 4-5
squares all the same color that change when the calcium in the milk spikes close to foaling. This type tests
only for the calcium (hardness) in the milk and most mares will only test high in calcium when close to
foaling. But sometimes a mare (like one of mine) will show all 5 squares changing within seconds (which
according to the instructions she should foal within 24 hours) for several days to a week prior to foaling. It's
enough to wear out even the most eager and excited foaling attendant!

A mini breeder told me in 2008 about testing both hardness (calcium) and PH of the milk for much more
accurate results. Details on this type of test is below. I have had 100% accuracy with this test! Another new
brand of test strips on the market is Mother Nature brand, these test both calcium and PH. Some breeders
like to use this test along with the Test described above, use whatever works for you!

1. Supplies
-Pool/Spa water Test Strips found at Walmart or Pool supply store
(Be sure the PH scale lowest is 6.4 for most accurate reading)
-Distilled Water
-Sterile Containers for collecting milk
-Sterile Container for mixing milk/distilled water*
-Sterile Syringes

*I use the syringe case to mix the milk & distilled water, it's perfect size for dipping the strips!
You can reuse the containers, just be sure to rinse them well with distilled water, not tap water! Tap water
will affect your results.
2. How to do the test:

Be sure to wash/rinse containers in distilled water, because contamination
from tap water can give a false result.

1. Collect 1/4-1cc (.25-1cc) milk in a clean container/cup from the mare. Don't Overmilk!
2. In a seperate container/cup add milk and dilute with distilled water according to chart below:
1cc milk to 3cc distilled water
1/2cc(.50cc) milk to 1.5cc distilled water
1/4cc(.25cc) milk to .75cc distilled water
3. Gently invert milk/water to mix
4. Dip test strip in mixture for a few seconds, remove and don't shake strip.
5. Wait 1 minute for results, compare to chart on box.

3. How to Read the Results

You are looking for the Calcium/Hardness to test high,
(my mares have usually tested at 200 or 400)
And the PH to drop low, the lowest on the scale
the Walmart brand the lowest is 6.4 for PH.

*The PH can drop in one day, so if the mare tests in the middle of the scale in the morning, if she is showing
other signs (udder full, etc) I would test again in the evening, because they can change fast. Know your
mare and use the test strips along with observation and the other signs of foaling on previous pages.

Good Luck!!
Link to Page from Southern Heart Ranch:
Series of Photos of a Total Birth Of A Miniature Horse
Sample of Test Strip of a mare close
to foaling. Results she should foal
within 24 hours
First Square: Hardness
Dark Purple 400 (calcium)
Third Square: PH
very light orange or 6.4 (as low as it
goes, close to foaling!)

Same strip on the right with the
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