Frequently Asked Questions Page
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IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR USE OF KIT
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Directions For Use
Mix 1/2 ml. of mare's milk to 3 ml. of testing solution (distilled water).
Gently shake back and forth to mix thoroughly. Dip test strip into mixture for 10 seconds,
and remove. Gently shake off excess water, and wait one minute.
Compare the color of the strip to the chart on the bottle. The scale is right to
left, from the non-foaling range to the foaling range.
If your test strip matches the test strip colors on the far left on the bottle (foaling range),
foaling is probable within 12-24 hours. It is important to test your mare
prior to her foaling date so that you can get a feel for how she is
progressing once you start getting color change from right to left
on the test bottle.
The mare should be in the foaling range AND have the color of 95% to mean
that she is most likely to foal in the next 12 hours.
Having BOTH colors at the far left means foaling is most likely.
1. How do I know when to begin testing my mare? As your mare approaches her foaling date, she will begin have inward and outward changes. One of the most reliable is udder development which will start approximately one month prior to foaling. Maiden mares will start even sooner, sometimes, so be watchful.
2. What are the stages of milk development and what stage do I begin testing? The stages of milk development are as follows:
1. clear and watery, to
2. thin but cloudy, to
3. yellow-tinged and increasing in viscosity, like floor wax, to
4. definately amber colored and syrupy thick, to
5. skim milk, to
6. opaque white milk
When your mare reaches the third stage, you should be testing her twice a day, in the morning and again in the evening. If you get either of the colors at the end of your color chart, you should pay very close attention. If you get the last color, you will almost definately have a foal within twelve hours. I have tested this in the field for several years, and it has NEVER failed to be right when the last color appeared.
Also your mare's milk can rapidly change once it reaches stage 4, so you may need to check more often. I have had one of my mares in stage 4, and move to stage 6 within two hours. Each mare is different so pay close attention.
3. Is it okay to use the same test tube, and syringe for each test? Yes, but be sure and rinse out with your distilled water and completely air dry on a paper towel. No water droplets should remain inside the tube when you run the test or it could make the results of the test come out wrong.
4. Can I use tap water for the test? No. Because of the mineral content of water, this will effect your test results and give you false readings. You must use distilled water, only.
5. Can I touch the colored part of the tip of the testing strip? No. The tip of the strips must be kept dry and not come in contact with water or human hands.
6. What is the testing ratio? Just milk a very small amount of your mare's milk into the collection cup. Draw 1/2 cc out with your syringe, and place in the test tube. Then draw 3 ccs total of your distilled water, and place in the tube. For large horses, you may prefer to use 1 cc to 6 ccs of testing solution. Put the cap on the test tube, and gently mix the solution three or four times. Dip one test strip down into the solution, and gently shake any excess water off of the strip. Wait 1 minute, and compare to the color chart on the bottle with the large end of the strip, down.
7. Why do you like these strips better than the others on the market?
I feel that these strips are more sensitive to the changes in your mare's milk. Not one time have they been wrong, here on our ranch. I have always witnessed the birth of these foals when the mare went through the normal stages of foaling and "shaping up" in the udder development. There are a small percentage of mares that do not follow the "normal" stages of foaling. This can sometimes mean a problem, so if you are not sure, always consult your vet. They are the best source of information if you are concerned about your horse. These are the only equine specific testing strips on the market; not a water strip like most!!
8. Can I reorder test strips when I run out? If your kit is still in good shape, you can order just the refill strips for $18 including shipping. You get 25 strips.
9. Can I get a breeders kit with more testing materials and strips? Yes, we have kits available with 100 test strips and testing supplies to accomodate 100 test strips. You get 12 of each of the testing equipment supplies and 100 test strips for $85.00 plus for USPS Priority Shipping. Let us know if this kit would accomodate your ranch better. It is basically like buying three, getting one free with extra testing supplies!
10. When do the strips expire, and how do I store them? The strips need to be stored in a cool, dry place.
The expiration date is on each bottle.
11. How do I express the milk from my mare? This can be a delicate situation with a maiden mare, so always use caution, and cross tie your horse to ensure your safety. If it is the first time you have tried to express milk from your mare, then go slowly, and reassure the mare. Start by massaging her side, and then work your way to the udder. Grasp the nipple between your forefinger and thumb. Push up just a bit (nudging the udder like a foal would), and then pull down from the top. Be gentle. If she is ready to give milk, (has a full udder) it should not be too hard to express the milk. If it is, you are probably trying too early, and should wait a few days before trying again. Just because the udder is hard and swollen, it does not necessarily mean that the "milk factory" is working. If your mare's udder is even larger the next day, you may try again, but if not, you can wait a few days. Maiden mares may resist this process, but if you are gentle and patient, she will comply. Sometimes even using warm compress on the udder will relax her. ALWAYS put your safety first. Do not get in the "line of fire" so to speak when you are trying to express milk for the first time.
Another good way to learn how to "milk" your mare, is to take a latex glove, fill it with water, and poke a small hole in the end of one of the fingers. You can practice on this until you get the hang of it, and then use your technique on your mare.
12. Will I cause all of the milk to leak out if I start expressing milk from my mare? No....this is an old wive's tale. Some oldtimers believe that if you disturb the wax or milk plugs from the end of the teats, that all the milk will leak out and that this "plugs" somehow keep the milk in. This is simply not true. The plugs will form, fall away, and reform. You are only taking a small amount of milk (approx. 1/2 teaspoon) to take the test, so you are in no danger of taking the much needed colostrum from the new foal.
13. Are "MLs" the same thing as "CCs" on the syringe for measuring purposes? Yes....your syringes say ML which is the same measurement for CCs.
15. Does the amount of time that it takes for the color to change on the strip mean anything? Yes. After dipping the test strip in the solution, look at your watch. You should give the test strip a full minute to develop and then read the color, but also keep in mind the time that it takes for the color to change. A slow color change taking a full minute to reach orange, may mean that you are farther away from foaling time, than if it only took 15-25 seconds. The faster the color changes, the closer you are, also. Keep this in mind when testing the milk solution.
I highly recommend that everyone get the book, "Blessed Are The Broodmares". You can but this book on our website, along with two others that we feel really compliment our kit. "Blessed Are The Broodmares", in my opinion, is the "bible" on foaling, and will be so useful, along with my kit to help you know when your mare is close to foaling. Just click on the link "Foaling Books Available For Purchase" on the left side of this page to check prices, and order.
16. Do these kits work on miniature horses AND big horses?
Yes! They work on all breeds of horses, large or small.
17. What is the testing solution, and what happens if I run out? Your testing solution that comes with the kit
is distilled water, so you can refill as needed with the distilled water you buy to clean your supplies.