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Testing Strips Prove Valuable

We used milk test strips again to predict foaling and they did the job again. Evie went to 85% on 3rd April at 8am, then moved to 95% at around 6.30pm and foaled at 11pm. Foxy tested at 85% 2 days before foaling and on the evening of 28/3 she was between 85 – 95%, she foaled at 3.15am.

Also had the benefit of CCTV which can be viewed on an iphone/ipad from anywhere in the world! So as well as me here at Kettlesnout, the whole family has been involved. Pip knows the signs and has kept a close watch from Manchester and alerted me to Foxy rolling at 1am, Foxy foaled 2 hours later! Foal watch has also taken place in Leeds [Sarah] and India, Spain and Italy [Robert] .

I would recommend using the tests and the Swann CCTV cameras. Swann have a very helpful support line and can help set up your laptop/phone so you can’t really go wrong.

Foxy’s test the day before foaling

April 6th, 2014

Evie Foals – Palomino & White Colt

Evie foaled at 11pm on Thursday 3rd April – a gorgeous little colt, palomino with white legs, white star and white band around his middle. It was quite a difficult birth, the vet was on her way but I managed to help Evie and get him ok so she turned back!

Evie has done fantastic for a first time mum and has taken to it like a natural. Evie foaled just 5 years and 1 day since she herself was born here at Kettlesnout so now into 3 generations.

In his John Whitaker dog coat for his first chilly night

 

April 6th, 2014

Foxy Foals! Good News & Sad News

Foxy had a son at 3.30am today, after 4 fillies. The birth was very fast, he was born in the time it took for me to get outside. He was lively from the start and is already a lovely little character. Foxy had a few after pains but is recovering now.

Below are a few pics on his first day.

On a sad note, Cindy lost her baby on 6th March. She had an early red bag foaling, it is most likely that the placenta had failed. It can be possible in some cases to save red bag foals but time is of the essence and the red bag must be broken immediately for the foal not to suffocate. The only good thing is that Cindy was unaware, it being her first foal, so she didn’t fret the way she could have so we were at least thankful for that, she got lots of tlc all the same. Cindy is very special to us, we love all our ponies but had so looked forward to Cindy’s foal but she is young and there’s time for her, it’s probably just one of those things.

Sleepy Boy

No I haven’t really lost the plot – just a bit of a fun pic!

 

March 29th, 2014

Foaling Facts/ Statistics

Whilst on foal watch the other evening, I was consulting the book record I keep on each mare in foal and started to compile some simple statistics which I thought I would share. This is based on our foaling experiences to date and may or may not reflect the experience of others. I think shetlands can be a law unto themselves and whilst the data can be useful as a guide, of course being as vigilant as is humanly possible close to foaling time is all anyone can do.

Gestation

Because our mares mostly run at grass with our stallion, we can not be 100% sure how long each mares gestation period is as they can come back in season without obvious signs.  We keep a date record of when we see them looking in season or seeing them actually being served [but of course they can be sneaky]. The shortest time a mare [Foxy] has gone is 308 days, or just over 10 months. The average seems to be 11 months ie about one week less than the official 340 days gestation for a horse. Anything less than 320 days is considered premature so 308 is quite early but the foal was absolutely fine and Foxglove has tended to foal earlier than other mares.

Bagging Up Period

We have observed differences between mares and how early they develop a milk bag. The earliest a mare has started to get a bag was over 2 months before foaling. Poppy kept us on pins all summer, to the extent I missed a wedding in Sicily on 1st August – she foaled that morning!

The shortest time was 2 weeks prior to foaling but the average is that the milk bag begins to develop 4 weeks prior to foaling. Only once has one of our mares had no significant bag as at foaling but friends have reported this has occurred for them so it’s a lesson not to rely on bag development.

Times of Birth

70% of our mares have foaled during the hours of darkness, leaving 30% of foals born during the day. It’s interesting to note we haven’t had any foalings between the hours of 4.30am and 12 noon but again friends have. 44% of mares have had night foalings only whereas the rest have had both day and night foalings. One mare has had her foals within 15 minutes each time – 3.15am seems her favourite time!

Colts:Fillies

We’ve had 58% fillies and 42% colts so slightly better on the fillies but not far from 50/50. I’ve read some interesting facts about an acidic uterine ph favouring fillies though how you can achieve this is something else. Some studs report filly success by breeding early, on the basis female sperms live longer, male sperms swim faster but die sooner, hence if the mare is covered before ovulation, the males sperms can have died, leaving the females to fertilise the egg. To achieve any success with this theory you would need to know ovulation date and serve in hand or use AI. If you google it, some studs claim success with this but who knows, Foxy has had all fillies so far, Poppy all colts so both defy the odds.

Milk Testing

We’ve been using this for the last couple of years with good success to date. By testing a few drops of the mares milk, you can predict the likelihood of foaling. When a mare’s result reaches 95% , she is likely to foal within 12 hours. From having the 40% reading to actual foaling we’ve found has averaged 7 days, the shortest being 4 days but again each mare can be different so we use this as a guide with other observations.

Foaling Time of Year

67% of foals have been born in April/ May as is probably to be expected. The earliest foal was born on 27th February, the latest 1st August although since then we made the sensible decision to take the stallion out earlier to shorten the foaling period and keep our sanity!

March 18th, 2014

New Arrival

Funny but on more than one occasion we’ve had a bird appear around foaling time though never a stork! One year we had a pigeon and then a goose and this year it’s a hen that has taken up residence – no idea where it came from but seems to want to stay!

March 16th, 2014

Cakes

Nothing much pony news wise until foals arrive and while the ponies are caked in mud, made a birthday cake with an Africa theme for daughter who is Africa bound at Easter.  Over the years have concocted all kinds of cake, mostly themed on what was a favourite thing of the time, here’s just a small selection:

Cinderella’s Castle for a Disney Fanatic!

Wallace & Gromit

Mandarin Duck (we kept & bred mandarins for a time)

Telly Tubbies!

Cake on left, toy jack-in-a-box right

Rainbow with Zippy, George & Bungle – the recipient was concerned, “but where’s Geoffrey?”

Roses for a deserving mum/gran

February 3rd, 2014

Red Sky at Night

Sky at Kettlesnout one evening, shown reflecting in the window too.

 

February 3rd, 2014

Countdown to Foaling – Dates & Colours!

Tom with Evie, Cindy & Foxy

Might be around 8  weeks to the first 2014 foal.  Foxy, Evie and Cindy have been scanned in foal and are all now in the ante natal ward (field). They are in a field with just a bit more grass and will get a little mix each day. Here’s information on dates and colours for each mare:

Foxglove

Foxy went in with Tom from 1/5/13. She has a tendency to go less than 11 months, with Silvie she was just over 10 months and Silvie was absolutely fine, in fact she’s still with us. On that basis the earliest date for Foxy could actually be 1st March but if we take her average it’s more likely to be mid March, so we will keep a close eye on her and use the milk testing as a guide once we get closer if she is looking ready. She will be observed on cctv also nearer the time. Foxy has always foaled in the hours of darkness from 9.45pm to 3.45am.

Foxy has a 50% chance of having a palomino and then a 25% chance of either a cremello or chestnut  and she could have a tobiano, equal chances of solid or tobiano.

Foxy has had 4 fillies so far, Cindy with Redcedar Firefly Bobby  and Bee, Luna & Silvie with Merriville Prince Charming.

Cindy

Cindy was with Tom from 17/3/13 and being her first foal there’s no history of course to guide us. She was observed being served by Tom on 15/4/13  so will work broadly on her going 11 months which would give a foaling date of 14/3/14 but given her mums history, we’ll have to be vigilant from an earlier date.

Cindy has a 50/50 chance of either a palomino or chestnut foal.

Evie

Evie was in with Tom from 8/5/13 so again based on 11 months, gives a foaling date of 7/4/14 but again with a first foal, we’ll observe her before that date.

Evie has an equal chance of a chestnut or palomino and whilst she’s not be tested, given her ink spots and her mum’s history, we suspect she may be homozygous so think she will have a broken coloured foal.

January 20th, 2014

The Hills are Alive …..Sarah is Maria!

Excellent performance of the Sound Of Music by Roco, Roundhay, Leeds. Very impressive for an amateur production, excellent cast, producer, costumes, music, set and everything!

December 1st, 2013

Skies over Kettlesnout!

Quite busy – just glad they’re at high altitude but made for an interesting sky.

 

December 1st, 2013

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