If you are confident in your husbandry knowledge, you may wish to foal down your mare at home, or you may choose to send your mare to a commercial broodmare farm.
Harness Breeders Victoria take a very firm position on foaling down, and that is unless you have experience in foaling and husbandry, or have ready access to a vet or other experienced person, we strongly advise the use of a commercial service. The rate of loss from mare services to live foals is substantial and ever-increasing, and many indicators point to inexperience and ill-preparedness as a reason for this.
Breeders make a significant investment in stallion fees, veterinary services, transport expenses, and ongoing mare care - we want to see these investments capitalised on with viable pregnancies and healthy live foals. This can often be best achieved through engaging a professional to ensure your mare receives the correct care and nutrition through her late pregnancy and any complications with foaling can be dealt with using the appropriate methods and experts.
In choosing to foal down at home, you should be very well prepared, including a considered nutrition program and a properly stocked foaling kit.
Your preferred feed company will be happy to discuss broodmare feeding regimes with you (our supporters, Pryde's EasiFeeds [Sammy Kilgour] and Olympus Horse Feeds [Chelsea Munro], may be a good place to start).
You can read more about broodmare health considerations and the stages of foaling HERE, or use these resources produced by Harness Racing Victoria in consultation with EquiVets to help with home foaling:
After your foal has arrived, you have 21 days to complete the bottom sections of the Certificate of Service that you will have received from the stud that served your mare (click to see what the certificate will look like) and return to Harness Racing Victoria's Registrar. A notification fee for this period of $210 applies for Vicbred foals; this fee increases in increments after 21 days. There are three sections that you may need to return:
1. Non-producer: The first section will only need to be completed if your mare was served but did not produce a live foal (missed, slipped, foal dead on delivery).
2. Live foal: The second section will need to be completed if your mare foals successfully, and will need to include a physical description of the foal, the date of foaling and the location of the foal for the freezebrander to attend.
3. Vicbred Coupon: If your foal is by a Victoria, South Australian or Tasmanian sire but is being registered with a Registrar other than Harness Racing Victoria, you will need to return this coupon to ensure your foal is Vicbred eligible. There is a $211 fee attached and is important if you wish to take part in the Vicbred races series, and the various first win and breeder bonuses. If your foal is in Victoria, South Australia or Tasmania but is by an interstate or international sire, other fees will apply for Vicbred eligibility. You can read more about the Vicbred program here.
Once your paperwork has been processed by the Registrar there are several steps to follow:
1. Freezebranding & DNA Sampling - An experienced HRV-appointed freezebrander will be in touch to make an appointment to apply an alpha-angle brand to your foal's neck. You will need to ensure that both the mare and foal are yarded prior to arrival. The brander will also collect a hair sample from the foal for DNA testing and typing - all horses must have a DNA sample recorded for them to be listed in the Trotting Stud Book.
2. Issue of First Identification Papers - A white paper with your foal's physical description, breeding and brand details will be issued to the owner of the foal (click here to see what this certificate will look like). These will be required as identification until the horse is named and may be needed when nominating the horse for Yearling Sales.
3. Naming - If you wish to name your foal, you will need to complete a HRV Naming Form. You will be asked for six alternate names, in order of preference, as well as other information about the horse. When the name has been approved, you will receive an Assessment Cart which is used to identify the horse at the races and at stud. A horse does not need to be named to be sold, but does need a name if it is to race, or breed.