It’s nearing the best time of the year again–foaling season. Although most foals are born in the spring of the year, between February and June, sometimes we see foals in late December or early January. Often these tiny newborns delivered to our hospital around Christmas are preemies (premature foals), but of course, premature foals can be delivered at any time during the season. In the past, a premature foal was regarded as a lost cause with little chance of survival and less hope of being an athletic adult. However, prematurity is not a death sentence anymore, nor is it an automatic label of "non-athlete." With the establishment of neonatal intensive care units in many university and private practice equine hospitals, the survival rates are increasing. Our knowledge and understanding of the problems associated with premature foals also are increasing, thus helping us treat these foals more effectively. Premature foals often require intensive care to survive, but with the proper treatment, many of them can and do survive.

So, what do you do if your foal is delivered early? How do you know if your foal is premature? What are the problems to be aware of? Why was the foal delivered prematurely in the first place? In this article, we will define what a premature foal is, describe the complications that occur with premature foals and their treatments, and also describe some of the reasons premature foals are delivered so early.

What Is A Premature Foal?

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About The Author


Christina S. Cable, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, owns Early Winter Equine in Lansing, New York. The practice focuses on primary care of mares and foals and performance horse problems.

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