What are Nurse Mare Foals?
A nurse mare foal is a foal who was born so that its mother might come into milk. The milk that the nurse mare is producing is used to nourish the foal of another mare, a more “expensive” foal. Primarily these are thoroughbred foals, though certainly not limited to the thoroughbred industry. The foals are essentially byproducts of the mare's milk industry. A thoroughbred mare'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 7-10 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, among these are: loss of maternal mare, mare has no milk, mare rejects foal, and countless other malandy's.
As far as the Thoroughbred breeding industry goes there are also numerous reasons a nurse mare might be needed, these include: travelling and insurance costs which prohibit the foal from accompaning the Thoroughbred mare to the stallion station, and this is just to name a couple out of many other concerns.
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. At this point a nurse mare is hired to raise the thoroughbred foal. 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 foals were simply killed. Orphaned foals are difficult to rise and no one had tried to raise large numbers of them. Now, these foals do have value ... 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.
This is where Last Chance Corral comes in. We rescue these foals by purchasing as many as we can, tend to their needs, and find them loving, secure homes. Please help us help them.
Please note that we have to purchase our Nurse Mare Foals. Each foal costs us between $200 and $400. The adoption fee of each foal is based on what we pay for each individual foal. We add an extra $50 to the price we pay to try, and I emphasize the word try, to help cover the expenses of transportation, milk, and medications.
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 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.