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My wife's mare is between nine and ten months pregnant. She is already waxed up and dripping milk. Is this normal? Also, how long are they usually pregnant for? If you can help with any info it would be greatly appreciated.

- T. H.


Depending on the breed, pregnancy in horses normally lasts about 11 months - give or take a week. Also, colts generally are carried a little longer than fillies. As in all species (including humans), the little one may sometimes decide to arrive earlier or later than normal.

Nursing foal
The waxy milk that starts to appear before birth is called colostrum, and is rich in the nutrients and antibodies the foal will need to get off to a good start in life. As a rule, the mare will start to let down the colostrum a few hours, days, or in rare cases, a week or more before the foal is born. Unfortunately, waxing a month or more early is generally a sign that the foal is about to be aborted, and may even have already died. (I sincerely hope that you mis-judged the start of your mare's pregnancy and are about to witness a successful delivery.)

You definitely should get your veterinarian involved as soon as possible. At the least, he can sample the calcium content of the milk to give you a better prediction of when to expect the birth. He or she can also help you get that little one through the hazardous weeks that follow birth.

Happy Foaling!

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