While a mare and two foals make a gorgeous picture, the reality is only 1 in 100 twin pregnancies have a successful outcome. In this article, we explain the risks and the steps that can be taken for a live, healthy foal at the end of pregnancy.
It has been shown that Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods are more likely to double ovulate, whereby two eggs are released from two different follicles and fertilised. However, double ovulation is possible in other horse breeds and remains the most common reason for twin pregnancy.
Risks of Twin Pregnancy
Twin pregnancies put the lives of your mare and both foals at risk. The mare’s uterus is simply not designed to support two pregnancies simultaneously. Even if your mare successfully carries both foals to term, delivery can be life-threatening to all three horses as both foals enter the birth canal.
Mares that foal twins often retain the placenta, which can cause a chain reaction of other health problems, including laminitis and metritis. A retained placenta also compromises your mare’s future reproductive capability and can put her life in danger if not treated immediately.
Steps to a Successful Outcome
Double embryos can be difficult to detect, so a pregnancy examination and ovary evaluation at 13-16 days post-insemination or live cover are the first steps in identifying a twin pregnancy. The earlier double embryos are found, the sooner action can be taken to reduce two to one.
If your mare is carrying twins, the most successful technique is to manually reduce the embryonic vesicles by squeezing one, which has a very high success rate when done by an experienced reproductive veterinarian.
If your mare’s pregnancy progresses beyond 25 days, the options available tend to decrease in terms of success rate, so early detection and intervention are key. At 110 to 150 days, these procedures also become more dangerous for your mare.
Are you putting your mare into foal this breeding season? Call us today on 1300 641 007 to arrange a consultation with one of our qualified veterinarians. To find out more about the breeding services we offer, click here.