Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Well, his momma sure didn't.
It was late May 1996 and I was admiring my two colts born that spring when I realized that one of them was not looking too good. He seemed thinner then he should be for about 12 days old. I watched him nurse, or rather, try to nurse. He kept bumping mom's udder but very little milk was forthcoming and she was getting very crabby. I put in a call to my vet to ask "Can a mare who had good milk be drying up at short of two weeks?" The answer was "Yes". So I was off to the feed store to get Foal Lac, a milk replacer. The vet had told me how to mix it not quite to instructions so as to avoid giving the foal scours. He had me using slightly less water and replacing some water with Gatorade. Gatorade comes in many flavors and color but I just could not bring myself to give pink or green or blue milk. There was one flavor that was clear, so that is what I used.
Every two hours, around the clock, I was mixing Foal Lac and water and Gatorade in a bowl and taking it out to the colt. For night feedings, since I did not want to blow my night vision, I would pre-measure all ingredients so I could mix in the dark. Then out by starlight and moonlight to feed.
After the initial shock wore off, it all worked out grandly. The colt gave up on nursing mom, which improved her attitude greatly so that I was able to leave him with her. When I would show up with his bowl of milk, he would nicker and come running. I made him a creep area with hay and Foal Lac pellets. As time passed, I was able to increase the length between feedings and cut out most of the night feedings.
There was something special about taking him his milk and his greeting when he saw me coming. This relationship continued after the milk was done and he became a very special horse to me. He no longer lives with me, having moved on to be special friend for a disabled lady in Arizona, but SSM Fire Singer, better known as Big Red, still holds a special place in my heart.