Last breeding season, I had the chance to tour around with Dr. Bonnie Thwaits, DVM of Tucson, AZ, and learn a few things about preparing for the happiest season of the year (in my opinion) – foaling season! With numerous mares to be responsible for in any given breeding year, Dr. Thwaits utilizes Foalert, a foaling monitoring system that can essentially, allow her to be in two places at once.
On this ride along, I was allowed to photograph the attachment of an actual foaling device into a mare that was expected to deliver within a short period of time. * So on that note, if you have a queasy stomach for sutures and things of this nature, perhaps it’s best for you to stop reading today’s blog now. My Stable Life will return with less graphic veterinary images, I promise!
The Foalert System allows vets and owners a great amount of flexibility by alerting them to a foaling – no more regular foaling barn checks every hour throughout the night – making it also very beneficial in the circumstances of maiden mares or dystocias. It allows vets and owners to sleep until the mare and foal actually need intervention and has been proven to prevent foaling losses, especially in early mares. It provides 24 hour, round the clock supervision of a mare due to foal, making foaling season much less stressful and gives owners peace of mind.
So how does it work? Basically, a transmitter is sutured with 3 simple sutures, by someone who is experienced with such procedures (most often, veterinarians) just outside of the mare’s vulva, approximately 1-2 weeks prior to the expected due date. The physical separation of the vulva lips pulls the actuating magnet from the transmitter. When this occurs, a silent radio signal is sent to the receiver which then sounds an audible alarm and activates any accessories attached to the receiver. Foalerts allow owners or vets to monitor multiple births simultaneously, provided each expectant mother is wearing a transmitter and is within the tested range of the receiver.
Interestingly enough, the Automatic Dialer that can come with the system can be programmed to call up to 4 telephone and/or pager numbers when activated by the receiver. The dialer will call each number and deliver either a voice or numeric message, allowing for the utmost freedom of movement for the attendant as there are no distant restraints via the telephone line.
It’s important to note that the alarm sounds when the vulva lips physically open and the system is designed to be effective in cases of dystocia. This is because the system has also been proven in some cases of a full breach, that the straining of a mare will cause the magnet to become dislodged and activate the transmitter.