Breeding

How to Take a Foal’s Temperature

Now that your foal is up and at ’em, your horse-breeding adventures continue. Learn some handy tips to keep tabs on foal health.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

A foal’s temperature can tell you a lot about his health, so it’s crucial to know how to take his temperature. Photo via: Wyatt Paxton.

It’s no fun to take a foal’s temperature, but you have to do it. The blog post ,A Horse-Breeding Hiccup: Your Newborn Foal’s Health, discusses the following three common problems that occur in foals 30 to 60 days old:

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No matter what problems may occur with your new foal, it’s important to be able to take his temperature. Knowing your foal’s temperature will help you explain his health status to your veterinarian in the event of an emergency. To take your foal’s temperature, you’ll need these four items:

  • Thermometer - either digital or mercury
  • String to attach to the end of the thermometer
  • Petroleum jelly

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Now, you’re ready to tackle this procedure with the following eight steps:

  • Plastic, digital thermometers are easiest to use, but be sure to purchase one with a string attached to the end - or secure your own string - to avoid “losing” the thermometer while it is reading thehorse’s temperature.
  • If you’re using a mercury thermometer, don’t forget to shake the mercury down before inserting it.
  • Get help from at least one other person to help you secure the foal.
  • Lubricate the tip of the thermometer with petroleum jelly.
  • Move the foal’s tail to the side and insert the thermometer into the rectum, angled slightly toward the ground.
  • For the most accurate reading, leave the thermometer in position for at least three minutes. Many digital thermometers work in less than one minute.
  • Always clean the thermometer thoroughly after use (especially if you suspect your foal is ill) to prevent spreading an illness.
  • If any horse’s temperature exceeds 102.5 F, contact your veterinarian immediately. Normal foal temperatures are 99.5 F-101.5 F. Temperatures higher than 103 F indicate a serious disorder. Normal neonatal foal temperature is 100 F – 102 F.