Since a mare has no real due date, only a range of normal gestation, the waiting can be endless. To lessen the sleepless nights there are several methods of testing the calcium levels in your mare's "milk." The closer she gets to delivery, the higher the calcium level gets and the lower the pH level goes.
Things You'll Need
- Gallon jug of distilled water
- Spa test strips that test for Calcium and pH or
The first step is to prepare your sample for testing. With the spa test strips the ratio is always 6:1 meaning 1cc of milk to 6ccs of distilled water mixed together in a test tube or other suitable container. If you can't get one full cc of milk from your mare early on, you can use 1/2cc to 3ccs distilled water. Swirl gently to mix. Chemetrics requires 1 and 1/2ccs of milk and 9ccs of distilled water in the beaker they provide in the kit. Add one drop of their indicator solution and swirl gently to mix.
Dip the end of the spa strip into your milk sample, swirl it around a little to make sure its completely covered then remove it. Do not shake any of the fluid off unless you are directed to by the directions on that particular brand. For Chemetrics, snap the end off the titret then immerse the titret tip in the sample. Draw a small amount of sample into the ampoule. Its contents will turn bright orange. Gently rock the ampoule back and forth. Repeat until a color change from orange to blue occurs. Then invert the ampoule and read the results in ppm directly from the scale on the ampoule
Interpret the spa strips one minute after removing it from the sample. If the calcium level reads less that 100ppm you can wait two days before retesting unless she is showing other signs of foaling readiness. Above 100ppm, but less than 200 ppm, check daily, in the evening. Once you hit 200 ppm, you've got colostrum. 90 percent will foal within 24 to 48 hours. Over 500 ppm, do not leave her unattended. Chemetrics is similiar. Test once per day until calcium levels reach 125. After 124 test twice per day, preferably morning and evening. When the calcium level first reaches 200 ppm, about 50 percent of mares will foal within 24 hours. Birth usually is very near when the mare's calcium concentration reaches 300 to 500 ppm.
The pH is another good indicator of foaling readiness. It will be relatively unchanged at 7.0 or higher the whole time, then drop below 7.0 within hours of birth. Do not leave her unattended from this point on. Chemetrics does not measure pH, so it is a good idea to use both methods to really narrow down the timing of partruition.
Tips & Warnings
- Tap water and well water contain calcium and minerals that can throw off the readings. Make sure you clean everything used for the sampling and then rinse it with distilled water so its not contaminated the next time you test.
- Milk testing can be an invaluable tool to determine how close your mare is to foaling. It is not foolproof however. You have to take the physical signs like relaxed tail head, swollen vulva, sweating and dripping milk into consideration as well.
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