What are Nurse Mare Foals?
A nurse mare foal is a foal of any breed who was born so that its mother might come into milk. The milk that its mother is producing is used to nourish the foal of another mare, a more “expensive” foal. Primarily the foals that are usitizing a nurse mare are thoroughbred foals, though the practice is certainly are not limited to the thoroughbred industry. WHile nurse mares can be used for emergency medical reasons and rejections, the sad FACT is that many nurse mares are employed only for man's convenience. The situation that is all too common is as follows:
A thoroughbred broodmare's purpose is to produce more racehorses.
A mare can give birth to one foal each year provided she is re-bred immediately after delivering a foal.
Because the Jockey Club requires that mares be bred only by live cover, and not artificially inseminated, the mare must travel to the stallion for breeding and may be shipped as soon as 7 days after giving birth to a foal, but a period of 3-4 weeks is generally allowed.
In general there are a number of reasons why a nurse mare may be called upon. Traveling is very risky for these newborn racing foals, and insurance costs are prohibitive for the foal to accompany the mother to the stallion farm. Many farms do not want their high dollar foals at a strange farm, and many stud owners do not welcome a foal to come along with the mare. Separating the TB mother and foal is necessary to get her rebred as soon as possible.
At this point a nurse mare (of any breed) is hired to raise the Thoroughbred foal while the mother goes and gets re-bred. In order to have milk, the nurse mare had to give birth to her own baby. When she is sent to the thoroughbred breeding farm, her own foal is left behind. Historically, these nurse mare foals were simply killed. Orphaned foals are difficult to rise and no one had tried to raise large numbers of them. These foals do have "value", however, their hides can be used as “pony skin” in the fashion and textile industries, and the meat is considered a delicacy in some foreign markets. Unless rescued, the vast majority end up starving to death or they "bump their heads" with a hammer.
This is where Last Chance Corral comes in. We rescue these foals by purchasing as many as we can. We bring them home, tend to their needs, and find them loving, secure homes. Please help us help them.
Some say "I've worked on a Thoroughbred breeding farm for YEARS and have been in the industry all my life and have NEVER seen this happen! It simply doesn't exist!" Our reply: Just because your limited experience has not allowed you to see this first hand, does not mean that it does not happen. You cannot see the wind, yet it IS there and the effects can be damaging. We have FIRST HAND experience with the TB farms and the nurse mare farms that are involved with this practice year after year after year. While some of these mares are leased out because their mother dies or falls ill, the MAJORITY are called to service to support man's greed and the desire for another TB foal as soon as possible. You don't have to believe us... do your homework and ask around. Denial of the uncomfortable truth is a luxury of the weak and guilty. PLEASE help us spread the word. You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, you cannot have both. Courage makes a change, and we would LOVE to see a change!
What Is Involved in Rescue?
The needs of orphan foals can be overwhelming. Even at their healthy best, they need lots of milk, nutritional support, and daily hands-on care until they are adopted into their new homes, when their new families take on these responsibilities.
Some healthy foals are quickly taken into their new homes, but many stay with us for longer periods of time, struggling to survive. For these, we have finally managed to build an Intensive Care Barn, where the foals can have much closer, warmer, constant supervision and care.
Foals in severely compromised health have advanced needs that can exceed $75 to $100 a day per foal in veterinary and intensive care. Once a foal is in in stable health, these costs decrease dramatically, and are readily manageable by their new surrogate families (caring for one or two is a breeze compared to eight or twelve!).
During most of foal season, we have 4 to 10 foals in residence. Typically, LCC's daily foal related expenses average well over $200 a day, inclusive of milk, staff assistance (We need to have clean stalls, bleached buckets, and clean baby behinds!), as well as other nutritional and veterinary support.
Needless to say, it can be extremely hard to stay afloat. There have been times we have had to decline foals for a few days until we have the space or finances to purchase, transport and care for them. All of us hope and pray that this problem can become a thing of the past, if we all work together. We can't do it without you! Open your heart, open your wallet or open your barn doors and welcome in a bundle of joy.