Mare Milking Early

Q:I have a Paso Fino mare whose due date is three months away and her milk bag is full, hot, and dripping very white milk. She has been waxed over for about a week now, but thankfully she seems to be in no distress. I can find no one with this experience so I am asking for any advice I can get. I am concerned about many things. Will she go full-term? Will she have lost all her colostrum? Help!


A: This mare is likely in trouble--premature udder development and lactation almost always mean some sort of placental problem. The interaction between the uterus and the placenta is most likely involved, and early separation is likely. There are a number of possible causes, but first on the list is an inflammation of the placental membrane that lies in direct apposition to (in contact with) the uterus. A general term for this condition is placentitis--infections with bacteria or fungi are common.

The time frame of this occurring three months before her due date gives this foal a pretty grim outlook. Any treatment in this situation would be symptomatic, such as giving her antibiotics (guessing at the causative agent) or supplementing her with progestins (such as altrenogest), and it would be quite expensive for that length of time. If by any chance this mare carries for over 300 days, the foal might have a chance.

About the Author

A.C. Asbury, DVM

A. C. (Woody) Asbury received his DVM from Michigan State University in 1956, then spent 21 years in California in breeding farm practice and at UC Davis. He joined the faculty at the University of Florida in 1977 and was involved in teaching, research, and administration until 1996. An Emeritus Professor at Florida, he lives in Kentucky, where he and his wife are developing a small farm.

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