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Milk is Yellow or Chunky when Stripped out of Teat

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    This observation usually pertains to a mare with a suckling foal.

    A mare’s first milk (colostrum) has a thick sticky consistency and is tan to pale yellow in color. The foal usually ingests all of this colostrum in the first hours of life. After that, a mare’s milk is white.

    It is abnormal for a mare’s milk to appear yellow or chunky after about 24 hours, when all of the colostrum should have been ingested by the foal. This appearance of the milk may be a sign of infection.

    Although infection is rare in nursing mares with a healthy foal and constant flow of milk, mares with ill foals that are not nursing are at risk for infection of the udder (mastitis).

    WHAT TO DO

    Evaluate your mare’s general heath with the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to rectal temperature, general attitude and appetite, and whether the foal is nursing both teats and whether they appear swollen or full.

    Carefully compare the appearance of the teats. Strip a small amount of the milk into your palm and note color and consistency. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

    WHAT YOUR VET DOES

    Your vet analyzes the mare’s general health, that of the foal, the appearance of the udder and of the milk. Laboratory analysis may be necessary to determine whether or not there is infection (mastitis).

    Once those things are done, a diagnosis can usually be made and appropriate treatment chosen.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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