‘Reborn’ Friesian filly

Dierenarts Tineke de Haan brengt met een touw druk aan op de borstkas van een 'dummy' veulen


With the help of a rope veterinarian Tineke de Haan puts pressure on the chest of a ‘dummy’ foal.

Last week vet Tineke de Haan had a pretty special experience with a newly-born Friesian filly: ‘This foal was what we call a ‘dummy’ foal, probably something not many people have ever heard of’.

Absent look

The foal made a somewhat silly impression, hardly looked at the mare, kept walking along the walls of the stable and tried to suckle it. Tineke explains: ‘I happen to know that during the birthing process some sort of button must be switched on in the foal’s brain to say it has just been born. When the foal is still in the uterus it has to stay relatively calm, but once it has been born it must start to behave like a normal foal. In very rare cases, especially when the birth happened really fast, that button doesn’t get switched on. Foals then sort of think they are still in the uterus and behave like this ‘dummy’ foal did.

Pressure on the chest

By inserting a tube into the stomach the foal was first given half a litre of the beestings so that at least the foal could start to ingest antibodies. After that Tineke de Haan carried out some special treatment: ‘With the help of a long rope we applied some pressure to the foal’s chest. It involves feeding the rope around the chest a couple of times and then pulling it quite a bit tight. The foal then responds to a body reflex that makes it sink through its legs. Because when it is still in the birth canal it also has to lie still and not move until it has actually been born. The foal was still able to breathe but instantly fell into a deep sleep’.

Switching on the button

After a little while the vet could relieve the pressure and the foal started to come round again. ‘Even though she had already learned to get to her feet quickly in the first hours after her birth, she now made it look as if this was her first time. A bit wobbly and awkward, but in the end she was standing. It was very special to see that as soon as she was on her feet she whinnied to the mare and almost immediately started to nuzzle the udder with her nose. She didn’t start drinking all at once but pretty soon after that. This button in the brain, which is in fact a changeover of hormones, was now switched on,’ a very elated Tineke de Haan said.
Read the full real-life story by veterinarian Tineke de Haan in the May issue of Phryso

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