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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

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Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

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All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Re: torn placenta/retained

Hello Billy,

I'm sorry to hear abaout your friend's foal. This could have been what's called, a "red bag" delivery where the placenta separates prior to foaling, severely diminishing the nutrient and oxygen supply to the foal. A retained placenta is more of a danger to the mare, resulting in infection and laminitis. It generally isn't expelled until approximately 3 hours after foaling.

In either case, it is important that the mare's immune system is in good condition (to prevent infections that can lead to these problems). A comprehensive vitamin/mineral supplement throughout the entire pregnancy, along with the proper vaccinations, are critical for a successful delivery.

Fescus pastures have been indicated with a retained placenta.

Proper vitamin E and selenium levels are also important nutrients during pregnancy to maintain good circulation, and reduce inflammation.

Copper, alone, should not be added since it interacts with other minerals, creating imbalances. Instead, a pregnant mare should have extra copper, along with manganese, zinc, and iron, to allow her growing foal to be born with enough in storage within his body -- this is to allow for proper bone and joint development.

And finally, this was likely an isolated incident. Be sure to feed a pregnant mare properly (discussed at length in my book), and she should go into a pregnancy in fleshy condition to maintain her status throughout lactation.

All the best,

Dr. Getty
Author of Feed Your Horse Like A Horse

Billy Blackman

A friend recently lost a foal because it wouldn't suckle. The mare had retained placenta following birth so a vet intervened. The mare is okay.

The vet said that sometimes the placenta will tear during birth, and can wrap around a foal and shut off its air. not enough to kill the foal but enough to cause brain damage to the point where the newborn can't suckle. She said this is more likely during first pregnancies, which this was. The vet said there is no way to prevent it.

But I wonder.....

My question is: can a nutritional/mineral deficiency cause a weakness in the placenta wall causing it to possibly tear. I have read of copper deficiency causing weakness in artery wall of humans, thus resulting in possible aneurisms/heart problems.

I this is possible, which minerals play a role in a strong placenta? Thank you.

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO