Miniature Ventures
Breeders of beautiful Miniature Horses with Action!
Quality Breeding  ~  Quality Transport

Larry, Maryann & Brianna Cerullo
5643 SW Minson Rd.
Powell Butte, OR 97753
Phone: 541-410-6222 

E-mail: miniv@coinet.com

The Septic Foal  (Septicemia)

As soon as a foal is born it is exposed to bacteria and the horse is one of the few mammals not born with protective antibodies.  Two of the most vulnerable areas for bacteria to enter a newborn's system is through it's umbilicus (open navel area) and through its mouth.  This is why it is vital for (hopefully) two things to occur shortly after birth:

  •  The navel is disinfected with a gentle iodine or Nolvasan solution.
  •  The newborn receives the mare's "first milk" (colostrum).  This is something we usually begin introducing to the foal ourselves by milking the mom and hand feeding with a syringe even before it finds her nipple. (See our "Normal Foaling" or "Basic Foaling" Pages.)

It is from the mare's colostrum that the newborn receives vital protection from the bacteria that it's been born into as that first milk contains all the same antibodies that its mother holds.

Unfortunately, even with precautions, those sneaky germs can occasionally find their way in through the two moist entries into a foal.  The result is what is termed: SEPTICEMIA.  A brief and thoroughly inadequate definition of septicemia is that toxins or bacteria  are in the blood of the newborn. 


It is extremely important  to observe our newborn foal during the first 24 hours of its life, as this is when symptoms of Septicemia will most often show up.  You spent eleven months waiting for this foal to be born, another day of watching isn't too much price to pay.   We like to keep the mare and new baby under camera in a stall (This also is good for the mare and foal bonding.).  We constantly check on the mare and foal to be sure the foal is vigorous and  and doing what it is supposed to  do -- eating, sleeping, peeing, pooping, and exploring.  A newborn foal WILL sleep a fair amount.  It takes a lot of energy to be born but it will wake up to feed and generally drive its mother crazy. 

 A Septic Foal (or an unhealthy one in general) will go downhill very quickly and either way, it means responding immediately with a veterinarian's care. 


A Septic Foal will lose interest in nursing and not be as vital as one would expect. They may act much like a "Sleepy Foal"  (one which has had a slow start because of lack of oxygen during birth.)  Another health problem this is similar to is a "RH Factor" Foal -- Both will be covered on a separate page.

A healthy foal will be exploring its surroundings, not be shy about trying out its legs around the foaling stall, take a nap, but be up and alert again after that.  The Septic Foal will just slowly decline and want to sleep, become less responsive to outside stimulation.  The foal may also pass a light yellow to cream colored pastey poop after it's first meconium.

We urge people to be aggressive in reacting to any questionable behavior they observe with a newborn.  Without a veterinarian's care, the foal can die in a matter of hours.