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Why Do Brood Mares Develop Colic?

Any mother knows that giving birth is a painful process, but imagine if shortly afterwards, your bowel twisted, causing you excruciating pain?

That’s exactly what happens in up to 10 percent of mares after they give birth. With Morris Animal Foundation funding, veterinary scientists hoped to find out why this painful and sometimes fatal condition—known as colic—occurs and how it can be prevented.

They suspected that an imbalance of fatty acids and calcium was to blame, so they compared blood and stool samples from healthy broodmares with those that developed colic.

Sure enough, Dr. Susan Holcombe and her colleagues from Michigan State University discovered that high blood levels of fatty acid and low levels of calcium may increase a mare’s risk of developing colic after foaling. The team also learned that a mare’s gut bacteria changes just before she develops colic. 

These findings indicate that monitoring these factors could help veterinarians identify at-risk mares and implement prevention strategies.

Preventing colic would be one less thing for these new mommas to worry about.

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Categories: Animal studies
June 30, 2014