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Slim Chance of Horse Twins Surviving
 By Winniefield Park   •   12th Nov 2016   •   1,283 views   •   1 comments


If you want a kitten, you might as well get two, because two is more fun and no more trouble. In fact, if youíre adopting a kitten, it may be better for them socially if you literally double down and get a second. Thatís not so with horses. More than one foal sounds fun. You might think that hearing your mare is carrying twins is good news. Unfortunately, it isnít. And the reason a mare carrying two healthy foals to full term is often newsworthy is that itís rare for twin fetuses to survive past the eighth month of pregnancy. For twins to be born without complication is very unusual.

In mammals, there are two types of twins. There are fraternal twins or dizygotic and identical or monozygotic twins. Fraternal twins occur when two eggs are fertilized. These two eggs grow into separate foals, each with their own specific chromosome makeup. So these foals can be of different gender, color or any other characteristic, just as if they had developed in different pregnancies. They share a place to grow, but thatís about it. Identical twins, however, will carry nearly the same chromosomes. Usually, the foals are of the same gender, and will look very much alike. While twin horses are rare, identical twins are even rarer. Are triplets possible? Theoretically yes. But the chances of the foals being born are nil.

If youíve ever compared the the size of a foal to the size of its dam, youíll understand why most foals are singletons. When born, foals weigh about a 10th of their motherís body weight. The foal is not all that is in there. Placenta and fluid take up space too. There really isnít room for any more than one foal. The fetuses will compete for nutrition and oxygen. So, to protect the mare and ensure that only healthy and well-grown foals are born, nature spontaneously aborts or absorbs twin pregnancies, usually within the first several weeks of gestation. In fact, the earlier this happens, the better it is for the mare. Losing foals later on can affect the mareís health and jeopardize future pregnancies.

If twin foals survive, they are usually smaller and less vigorous than a single foal. A breeder may be able to nurse them along. But in a natural setting, foals that are smaller and weaker would be a more likely target for predators than a full-term, well developed single foal.

Ideally, to protect the health of both mare and her offspring, breeders have an ultrasound done approximately two weeks after the mare is bred and veterinary care throughout her gestation. Very early on, itís possible to see the beginnings of the developing embryos. If the mare is carrying twins, one can be Ďpinchedí or crushed, so that it is reabsorbed and one foal is left to develop. It sounds cruel, but it is a better alternative than jeopardizing the health of both the mare and her future foals. Itís important to do this early, as later in the pregnancy, pinching an embryo makes it more likely for the mare to lose the one left. Fortunately this is a simple procedure and usually successful.

The chances of twins surviving and thriving are about 1 in 10,000. Those are fairly slim odds. But, twins are born. Twins are often born premature, and that makes life more of a struggle. They may take longer to get to their feet, and may have problems nursing. They may have deformities. And, itís likely that one twin will be stronger than the other, and the weaker may not survive. Twin birth is also harder on the mare.

Some mares seem to be more likely to have twin embryos. Usually, they are older, and will consistently have twin pregnancies. Thoroughbreds and draft horses are more likely to have twins, but there are many other horse or pony breeds that have given birth to twins. Itís more likely that twin foals will be born to backyard breeders who may leave the breeding process to chance and nature, than to those who manage their mareís reproductive careers responsibly. But, even the most managed broodmare can surprise her owner with a two for one deal.

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http://www.equine-reproduction.com/articles/Twins.shtml
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
Valkyrie   MOD 
We pinch twin embryos when we scan them (too risky to both mare and foal to have them produce twins). We always joke to the vet "don't pinch the Derby winner" XD
  Nov 13, 2016  •  1,252 views
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