Some think of this as an old wives tale, others swear by it… You can use in it in addition to other signs that indicate your mare’s foaling time is near. So far this test has been extremely accurate in our barn, however it may not work on all mares. We have not found a mare it did not work with yet, but there are never any guarantees with mares and foaling. With that said, it has saved us a lot of sleepless nights and false alarms.
I like to start testing the milk as soon as I can extract some from the udder. I do this at least once every other day or every couple of days until I start to notice a change in the pH and calcium, and then I start testing everyday morning and night. BE CAREFUL!!! Not all mares will allow you to touch their udder, if your mare has trouble with this you can slowly try to work her into it by gently rubbing her belly and working your way closer to the udder. Stand at her side to do this, and reward her with a nice scratch each time you get close. If she acts like she will kick, be firm and say “NO” or “QUITE”, sometimes a light tug on the lead rope to correct her is needed. There are some mares that just will not allow this, and you will need to rely on other signs the mare is showing. Hope the test works for you as good as it does for us.
You don’t need any special test, or any fancy gadgets, everything we use can be purchased at your local Walmart/Pool Supply.
1. Distilled Water
2. Two Syringes’ at least 6ml or more
3. Total Water Hardness test strips
(These can be purchased at Walmart in the aquarium section, or at your local pool supply company. Be sure they also test for pH levels.)
How to do the test:
Simply milk your mare, you will not need a lot, just enough for the test, about 1ml. After you have collected your sample draw up 1ml of the mares milk in one of the syringes’ and put it in a small cup (thin shot glasses work really well for this), then with your other syringe draw up 6ml of the distilled water and mix that in with the mares milk, mix the samples together well by gently swiveling the glass around, (careful not to spill any). Then take your water test strips (it helps to cut off the extra squares at the top since they will be of no use to you) dip the strip into the sample for TWO SECONDS! Remove and immediately read the results.
What do the results mean?
When the mare’s milk is testing over 300 calcium you should be having a foal in the next 24-48 hours and when the pH drops below 7.2 you should expect a foal very soon. The higher the calcium levels are and the lower the pH is the sooner she will foal!
Remember, however, Maiden mares can be very different, and while some will peak the calcium reading just before foaling, others might not peak until after foaling. And some maiden mares do not even develop an udder until the foal has been born.
It is normal for a mare to test at over 8.2 pH and lower than 50 calcium when you first start testing. This put together with the signs the mare is showing should result in higher attendance at foalings.