Learn how we detected and treated one filly’s meconium impaction. 

When foals are born, they must pass their first manure — called meconium — within 12 hours to avoid a painful and serious impaction. 

We recently performed routine new foal bloodwork on a filly just 20 hours old that showed a mild increase in serum amyloid A (SAA) levels, a marker for infection and inflammation. Her IgG test — which measures a foal’s immunity levels — was normal, but we were concerned enough to ask her caregivers to watch her closely and schedule a recheck of her bloodwork the next day.  

The following day, the filly’s SAA levels had increased dramatically, and she had started acting slightly uncomfortable and nursing less frequently than she should have been.  

Ultrasound of her abdomen revealed a large meconium impaction, which we treated and resolved with intravenous (IV) fluids, repeated enemas, and supportive care with antibiotics and plasma to prevent secondary sepsis (blood infection) that is common in compromised foals. At 4 days old, the filly was feeling much better! 

We are so grateful for proactive and observant owners that we can partner with to catch problems like this early, when they have a good prognosis and improved outcomes. Every minute counts when it comes to these precious little foals.