What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Milk Dripping from Teats of Nursing Mare


Generally, a healthy foal should be able to keep up with their mother's milk production. Soon after foaling, a very heavily milking mare may produce more milk than even the vigorous foal can take and milk will drip or stream from the teats.

That said, ill foals will stop nursing, and the mare's udder will become engorged with milk. Ill foals may also have dried milk glazed on their faces. Mares that have lost their foals will also often stream milk.

It is important to determine whether the foal is not adequately nursing or the mare is simply producing too much milk for the foal.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

your role


What To Do

Evaluate the mare's udder. Do the teats appear nursed? They should be soft and flat, and are often wet after being suckled. If they are tight and hard, or milk is leaking onto the ground, it is a sign the foal has not nursed and you should be concerned.

Assess the foal's general health paying particular attention to its ability to stand and nurse the mare. Since this situation may be serious in very young foals (possibly a bit less urgent in older foals), immediately contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

What Not To Do

Do not assume this is normal just because the mare is a "heavy milker." At minimum, contact your vet to discuss the situation.

your vet's role

Your vet assesses the foal's health to determine whether it is ill and has reduced its milk intake. At minimum, this assessment includes a careful history and physical exam, but may require other diagnostics. They will also likely evaluate the mare's health, the udder and the milk.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How old is the foal?
  • Did the foal stand and nurse normally after foaling?
  • Do you think that the foal is nursing?
  • Does the foal appear bright, alert and responsive?
  • Is the foal showing any signs of abdominal pain (colic)?
  • Is the foal straining to defecate now or was it earlier?
  • What are the results of the newborn foal exam?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP