WHAT IS A “DUMMY” FOAL?
A dummy foal is a foal that did not get the stupor inducing chemical squeezed out of it during the birthing process. All foals are in essence, “drugged” as they enter the birth canal. This keeps them from struggling and doing real damage to their mother on their way out. At some point, (probably when the chest/stomach are sliding out) they get squeezed in a certain way that reverses this chemical.
Madigan hypothesized that a possible reason neurosteroids might persist and prompt NMS-like signs in some foals is that normal signaling events during the birthing process don’t take place properly. For instance, he said, if a foal passes rapidly through the birth canal or is delivered via cesarean section, normal transition signals that prompt a reduction in fetal pregnane levels might not take place, leaving the foal with elevated neurosteroid levels.”
(In this little palomino’s case, his mother did not lie down at all to foal and so he fell out of the birth canal very rapidly) Here is the link to our post about the Madigan Procedure (which our KY volunteers actually used to save the dummy foal pictured here after failing at their first attempt trying it)….
So in a “dummy” this did not occur. The foal remains in a stupor, with a very weak suck reflex and really no idea that it has a mother or should be looking for milk. They may stumble around the stall in a dull manner or try to sleep a lot. 80% of the time, these dummies can be saved, but it means hand milking the mare every hour and a 1/2 and feeding the foal every two hours for about 10 days. It is exhaustive labor and at the end of 10 days (when it wears off), very difficult to get the foal to then learn how to nurse. Many people do not realize they have a dummy; not even being familiar with what dummy foal syndrome is, and assume all is well in nature. These unidentified babies will die in less than 48 hours.
. Dummy foal syndrome is officially called Noenatal Maladjustment Syndrome. Most people who have heard of it do not know it by that name so we chose to refer to the common one.