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Failure of Passive Transfer

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There is no doubt that foaling is an exciting time, but one that is wrought with potential problems. One of the most important complications in neonatal foals is failure of passive transfer: the inadequate absorption of antibodies from the mare’s colostrum. Approximately 10-25 percent of newborn foals are diagnosed with FPT and are at risk for developing serious medical conditions.

Newborn foals have virtually no antibodies in their blood to fight infections. While foals are able to start producing antibodies at birth, they will not have significant levels of antibodies until they are about 2 months old. Instead, foals obtain life-saving antibodies from their dam’s colostrum. How mares pass antibodies to their foals via colostrum is referred to as passive transfer of immunity.