Mammary Gland Secretion pH Could Predict Foaling
Talk with any experienced foaling manager, and he or she will have a favorite method of knowing when a mare is about to foal. But you’ll also hear stories of mares that fooled them, and of the time they stepped into the office to grab a cup of coffee and came back to find a newborn foal.
Normal gestation ranges from 320 to 365 days, and normal signs of imminent foaling, such as bagging up, “waxing” teats, and relaxed pelvic ligaments, can mean foaling is anywhere from hours to days away.
So a simple, inexpensive, noninvasive test would be a welcome addition to a horseman’s bag of tricks. Robyn E. Ellerbrock, DVM, Dipl. ACT, presented information at the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention indicating that a simple pH test strip might be just the ticket. She said she’s used this method in practice at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, in Urbana, the past three years with good results.
She said to “milk” the mare of a few drops of secretion into a Dixie cup, and use a test strip or pH meter to get a reading on it. (Taking a sample does not affect the colostrum.) Most commercial water hardness strips are not sensitive enough. You need a range from 5.5 to 8.0, in increments of 0.1 or 0.2
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