Too Sore to Nurse

Q. I have an 8-year-old mare which delivered a filly recently and since the second feeding, she is protective of her teat area. She is constantly nipping when the baby tries to nurse from her. Is there anything I can do to make this a little less painful for my mare? I am afraid the foal might end up discouraged and stop trying to nurse.


A. Once the foal nurses the mare out a few times, the discomfort will be greatly reduced. You need to restrain the mare enough that she will let the foal nurse, even to the point of using a twitch early on. Hot packs (soft towels soaked in warm water) will help soften the udder and make it easier for the foal to suckle. Don't put anything on the udder that would discourage the foal, like camphorated oil, bag balm, etc. Stay with it. It is much better to put a little time in now than to raise a foal on a bottle!

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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