Managing Meconium Impactions in Neonatal Foals

Meconium impactions are the most common cause of intestinal obstruction and one of the most prevalent health issues overall in neonatal foals.
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Meconium impactions
Meconium impactions can cause strained and repeated attempts to defecate, along with frequent or continued tail-lifting. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Ruben Anguiano

As Northern Hemisphere foals are making their entrances into the world, it’s important for owners and veterinarians to be on alert for signs of trouble. Meconium impactions are the most common cause of intestinal obstruction and one of the most prevalent health issues overall in neonatal foals.

The meconium is a mixture of digested amniotic fluid, glandular secretions, mucus, bile, and epithelial cells. Foals normally expel it within three to four hours of life, following their first meal.

The meconium can take on many appearances, from “rock hard” or pelleted to a sticky, firm, glutinous mass of dark brown, green, or black material

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