Foals obtain their first, critical antibodies from their dam’s first milk (colostrum). Failure to ingest and absorb these antibodies results in the so called “failure of passive transfer”, a potentially lethal condition if not promptly remedied.
Veterinarians routinely test newborn foals for adequate antibody levels using a blood test.
Blood is usually taken from foals at the post-foaling exam. It may take 6-8 hours after nursing before the antibodies rise to their maximal level. We usually perform this test at 12-24 hours after foaling. Testing of neonatal foals for antibody is considered good standard of practice and likely reduces risk for failure of passive transfer.
There are several different “stall-side” test kits that are available for this test.
Reasons to UseRelated Observations
Testing allows verification that a foal has absorbed adequate amounts of antibody. It is a simple, and relatively inexpensive test.
Early detection of failure of passive transfer allows for prompt administration of life-saving treatments.
Some of the test kits are less reliable than others.
Enough time must be allowed for antibody levels to rise to their maximal level after foaling, usually 12-24 hours.
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