What are Nurse Mare Foals?

Many of you have asked, “Why are these foals not with their mothers?”I wondered

The following info is from The Last Chance Corral website;

“What are Nurse Mare Foals?

A nurse mare foal is a foal who was born so that its mother might come into milk. The milk that its mother is producing is used to nourish the foal of another mare, a more “expensive” foal. Primarily these are thoroughbred foals, though certainly are not limited to the thoroughbred industry. The foals are essentially by-products of the mare’s milk industry. A thoroughbred mare’s purpose is to produce more racehorses. A mare can give birth to one foal each year provided she is re-bred immediately after delivering a foal. Because the Jockey Club requires that mares be bred only by live cover, and not artificially inseminated, the mare must travel to the stallion for breeding and may be shipped as soon as 7-10 days after giving birth to a foal, but a period of 3-4 weeks is generally allowed.

In general there are a number of reasons why a nurse mare may be called upon.  Traveling is very risky for these newborn racing foals, and insurance costs are prohibitive for the foal to accompany the mother to the stallion farm. At this point a nurse mare is hired to raise the thoroughbred foal while the mother goes and gets re-bred. In order to have milk, the nurse mare had to give birth to her own baby. When she is sent to the thoroughbred breeding farm, her own foal is left behind. Historically, these foals were simply killed. Orphaned foals are difficult to rise and no one had tried to raise large numbers of them. These foals do have value, however, their hides can be used as “pony skin” in the fashion and textile industries, and the meat is considered a delicacy in some foreign markets.

This is where Last Chance Corral comes in. We rescue these foals by purchasing as many as we can.  We bring them home, tend to their needs, and find them loving, secure homes. Please help us help them.

Please note that we have to purchase our Nurse Mare Foals.  Each foal costs us between $200 and $400.  The adoption fee of each foal is based on what we pay for each individual foal.  We add an extra $50 to the price we pay to try, and I emphasize the word try, to help cover the expenses of transportation, milk, and medications.”

My first reaction was how can this be stoppedand from reading comments I can see that many of you are with me on this. The idea of putting pressure on the industry is a natural first reaction but then I had to think deeper and more broad. Think about human problems such as human trafficking and modern day slavery…and the idea of people, as well as animals, struggling takes on a more broad, historical, almost un-ending feel. There are good farms that do good and bad farms that do bad. Last Chance deals with the bad farms. Saying you would fix the bad farms is like saying you would make drugs and other illegal things unavailable in jails…yet it still happens.

But I can help one foal. That doesn’t feel too big.

The whole practice is wrong… but it struck me as ultra-wrong that Last Chance has to BUY the foals from these farms. So, in a very real since, donations do directly save these lives.

Between now and April 10th, Last Chance Corral is looking for donations of used saddles or tack that they can resell and use the money to BUY and care for foals.

The Last Chance Corral is a Federally designated 501(c)3 non-profit organization and a member of the The American Horse Protection Association and American Humane Society.  They are one of the oldest, large animal rescue organizations in the country.

Thank you from a foal

A foal at Last Chance Corral says, “Thank you” for donating saddles and tack to help save more foals.

Donations can be sent directly to;


Victoria Goss, President

5350 US 33 South

Athens, Ohio 45701

(740) 594-4336


URL: www.lastchancecorral.org

The foals thank you.

Below is a video for those of you who would like to learn more about the nurse mare foals and Last Chance corral. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, I suggest watching them teaching the foals to drink from a bucket around 4 minutes and then visit the Last Chance Facebook page to see the two foals after they have mastered drinking.


  1. Nicole Bean on February 3, 2017 at 12:53 am

    Thanks for confirming you are aware of farms in Kentucky that do use this method. I am attempting to convince some people here in Ontario Canada that this occurs but they are unable to accept that the racing industry does this and are hostile about LCC. Some are suggesting that LCC has foals bred for her. Unreal.

    • Stacy Westfall on February 3, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Nichole, Did you see that Western Horseman did an article on nurse mare foals in the January 2017 issue? Being addressed by mainstream media…makes it more real:)

      • Nicole on February 3, 2017 at 1:27 pm

        Wow, no I did not. Thanks!!! These women are still INSISTING it does not happen.

  2. Gloria English on May 21, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Thank you Stacy for enlightening us!

  3. Carol on April 19, 2016 at 5:42 pm


    I almost forgot to THANK YOU for the attention and work you do for the Last Chance Corral. You have helped the rescue alot and it is most appreciated. Thanks!!

  4. Carol on April 19, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    This is a great article. I have personally have met Victoria. She is a genuine gal with a mission. She has a love for these foals like no other. We help support her and her foals. I have gathered a group of ladies together and we donate our can and bottle return deposit. We have the redemption center send Last Chance Corral a check directly. He also donates when he sends the check for the foals. In this ecomony, you can always find a way to help if you want. Keep up the good work Victoria!!!

  5. Dee Dee Wheless on May 9, 2015 at 10:57 am

    I would love to help this precious foals. I live in NC. Is there any organizations in the area close to Raleigh,NC? I have purchased 10 acres for the sole purpose of helping animals, especially horses/foals. I just incured a large expense for my home and land now I have to figure out away to get the proper fencing and a barn. Please know I am big supporters of your compassion for these precious babies. Please let me know if you know of a way I can help.
    Thank you,
    Dee Dee Wheless

  6. Ashley G on April 11, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    ^ Thank you, Melanie Rowley, for sharing that! ^

    Last Chance Corral is just one of the non-profits that slanders the horse racing industry for Donation$ by pulling on the heartstrings of people who don’t know any better and aren’t going to sit down and research what they’re hearing. It’s great that they save some foals, but not by spreading lies.


    Take a look at, for example, Zenyatta! If there was ever a valuable mare to “be separated from her foal and taken off to make more racehorse babies” it’s her! The photo evidence of her and her foal is right on her Facebook page. NO NURSE MARE.

    Don’t believe everything you read.

    • Stacy on April 11, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      I must have missed something but I haven’t heard Last Chance say that ALL broodmares have their foals removed or that ALL farms use nurse mares. I have spoken to TB farms that keep nurse mares buy using hormonally induced mares (no foal is born but the mare produces milk). Sadly I was also in Kentucky in the last few weeks and there are farms that have nurse mares and kill the unwanted foal.
      There are great TB farms that do things well and there are those that do things cheap. The first nurse mare I saw used was at a QH barn. I’m not saying all farms do it but enough do to produce lots of these foals.

  7. Melanie Rowley on January 7, 2015 at 3:21 am

    I don’t buy this. In the first place, a Thoroughbred foal has to be foaled out, in the state in which the mare was bred, so they are eligible for that state’s futurities. And since that means the breeder of the foal, even if foal is no longer owned by the breeder, gets 10% of any races that foal places in, in that state. Which can add up to thousands of dollars. No one is going to give that up.

    The mare is shipped well in advance of her foaling date and is kept at layover farms, waiting to foal. Those people are responsible for taking the mare over to the stallion to be bred back, and the foal travels with the mare. And when mare is either bred, or is past date for a spring foal, the mare and her baby will travel back home. They are well experienced in this, and know what they are doing.

    I worked at a Thoroughbred breeding farm for 8 years in AL and made the trip many times to FL to the layover farms, for the mares to foal out, in the state in which they were bred. I never heard of this, ever, and no one else has heard of it within the industry that I have asked. JC wrote me in response and said they hadn’t heard of it either.

    As well as the logistics of most mares will not willingly take a foal that isn’t theirs, does anyone really think that they are going to put valuable foals in a position to be savaged? Or that there are enough people to watch the reported 20,000 foals annually said to be “nurse mare foals” to make sure they aren’t getting their heads kicked off? I’ve seen that number and higher bandied about.

    As well as the claim that “the Thoroughbred mare goes back to showing or racing”? Oh please.

    Don’t know where these foals are coming from, but I don’t think it is the shame of the racing industry.

    And in hand live cover, keeps the number of foals born each year way down too. AI ensures that more foals are born than is possible with in hand live cover, as does embryo transfer. Foals that may well end up in trouble, due to the market being over-saturated.

  8. Patricia K on April 23, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Very sad indeed. The race horse industry should be ashamed.
    For even more interesting information read about Premarin (female hormone replacement)
    Premarin comes from Pregnant Mare Urine and they keep the mare pregnant and confined with a urinary catheter in her to harvest hormones. Reality is there are other forms of estrogen that work just fine. So don’t let your doctor prescribe Premarin or Prempro, many docs don’t even realize what they’re writing for.

  9. Peggy Lamb-Everett on March 19, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Thank you Stacy for spreading the word, for I would not have known of this wonderful rescue. I Admire, Respect, and Appreciate what YOU and Last Chance Corral are doing. Since I have read about it on your blog, I have to admit that I am just alittle obsessed with it. I will be traveling to Last Chance Corral to take 5(+?) saddles, and miscellaneous tack, Boot Jacks that my son as made, and Horse Hair Jewelry that I have made for my donation for them. As happy as I am about helping, it seems small. I plan on making it a day of Volunteering if they allow, and I will one day have me a foal or two. Thank You again,

    • Sherri VanTassel on March 20, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Peggy, as a long time supporter of Last Chance Corral I can tell you that your visit will change your life forever…sounds like a clique’ but when you see what this dedicated group does on so little, you can’t help but be changed. Please spread the word and enjoy your visit!

  10. Jersey Jennifer on March 17, 2014 at 11:11 am

    My name is Jennifer and I recently read what exactly a nurse mare is. I was raised on a horse farm and my mother has 5 of her own, 3 Paso Finos, an American Saddle Bred paint and a thoroughbred. I’ve never heard of this but I would like to get involved and help as much as I can. I see you are located in Ohio, however I am in New Jersey. I am limited on donations but will do what I can, when I can. However, I have a beautiful Australian Saddle I was going to sell because it is too big for my small stature and I could really use the money. After reading what a Nurse Mare is, I believe you need the money more than I do. I t would be for a cause that is dear to me. How would I go about shipping such an item? Please email me and I will discuss the issue further with you by providing a contact number. Please provide in the subject line Nurse Mare Info. or I won’t open it. Thank you. I am looking forward to helping you as much as I can. My email is in the space provided at the bottom.

  11. Donna shaver on March 17, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I am so touched and impressed with your heartwarming endeavor. I live in Parkersburg and would like to donate some tack. Probably be June as we are snowbirds. I will save your info and get in contact with you when we come north. Thank you for what you do. I was so pleased and proud that you were located just 40 some miles from our home! Good job!! Donna

  12. Janette on March 17, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Just wondering how you all get your milk in America? The same thing happens on dairy farms. Where do you draw the line?

  13. Samantha Pollock on March 17, 2014 at 7:08 am

    I was on Premarin for 7 years. Then I discovered how it was made and simply refused to support such a practice. I have now been Premarin free for 15 years. If I had the place required to raise a foal, I would adopt every one of them that I could. Sadly, because of the economy in recent years, we no longer have access to a horse facility. I so miss having a foal around. I miss having my horses around period!

  14. LEE GALEN on March 17, 2014 at 5:41 am

    Thank you Terri for bring up the Premarin foal problem. In my opinion, it’s just a big a problem as the nurse mare foal disaster.

  15. Terri Anderson on March 17, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Then there is the whole industry of the Premarin horses that are used to make hormones, the bigger the horses, the more urine they make…I believe there is an adoption set up for those horses too…they are in Canada I believe. I have a friend that has a couple of those horses he adopted….

  16. Cheryl Daniel Bailey on March 17, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Just don’t adopt 2 foals and have some lowlife kill one while trying to steal it. And the other foal about grieves itself to death and finally just when it starts to eat and is better they come and tell lies about you and raise all kind of money to treat your MISTREATED foal even though ANIMAL CONTROL was there and couldn’t fault my care of the foal BUT where they make you sign a contract ANIMAL CONTROL couldn’t stop them. ALSO this great animal rescuer when I lost my husband in Dec. and had nothing to feed my dogs & I begged for help never even replied. Guess they couldn’t make thousands of dollars lying about why I couldn’t feed my dogs. But some lovely people came from CANADA and rescued 5 of them and another rescue came from Va. and took 16 of our babies. AND guess what they have raised around $12,000.00 so far for the dogs care. I will never forgive or forget the lies told about me and also my Vet Clinic was slightly pissed about the lies told on them also. Oh yeah I also found good loving homes for 7 of the horses too without their help either. Also I have pictures taken the night before they came and stole my foal and the hernia was the size of a dime but later after they had her it was HUGE and that was their main reason for taking her. THAT LIFE THREATENING HERNIA. I will never forget or forgive those LIARS. They are a money making racket and nobody can tell me any different. They even sold me outdated Milk for the foals as I can prove by the date on the containers and my canceled check.

  17. Wendy on March 16, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Heartbreaking to know this even exists. It would be a great thing to have rules set in place to allow a mare to only give birth every other year. (In a perfect world). It would help the value of a foal I would think. But then again a two year old horse shouldn’t be racing either. It’s all about the money for the most part. I’m so glad that the wonderful people at LCC can help these poor babies survive and have a wonderful life.

  18. Rachel Bendler on March 16, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    For those of you asking about bottle vs. bucket feeding, hopefully this helps clarify. Last Chance Corral chooses to bucket feed for a variety of reasons.
    1.) You do not want the foals to associate human hands with food. This prevents them from becoming nippy, which makes for easier training later on.
    2.) A young foal nurses from his mother every 15 minutes or so. Their digestive systems require lots of tiny meals. LCC has so many foals, it just isn’t realistic to try to bottle feed all of them. With bucket feeding, they can wander over to a bucket 24/7 and drink as much or as little as they like, whenever they like.
    3.) The people that adopt these foals can’t always be available for bottle feedings around the clock. To ensure that our foals can find homes with people that don’t live at home, they are bucket fed. This way, adoptive parents can mix a bucket of milk and go to work, and the babies won’t be hungry while they are gone.
    4.) LCC does not use nipples on buckets for cleanliness reasons. Each bucket is washed with soap and hot water multiple times a day, and nipples on the bottom of a bucket would complicate things. Also, buckets are the easiest, cleanest, and healthiest way to feed the foals, and most pick it up within 24 hours. The foals that do not pick it up immediately receive “drinking lessons” around the clock, and if there is no suck/swallow reflex at all, they are tube fed until they learn.

    Hope this helps explain!! :-)

  19. dj on March 16, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    We have a nurse mare foal. We bought her when she was a month old. She is a coming 2yo. She has excellent QH breeding and is a sweet filly. When looking for a horse, I encourage people to look at buying these foals.

  20. Fran Kerik on March 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Perhaps the jockey club needs to get with the 21 century and allow AI. Then the farms won’t be having to make the decision to use a nurse mare.

  21. katzarr on March 16, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Disgusting;; live in Texas; would like to adopt a couple of foals,; too far to drive.; can’t help money wise,; have 14 head of my own to feed…. feel bad about these foals; people are sick, just for the money. sad…

  22. CJ on March 16, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Allowing the AI also leads to problems. Some that AI use host mares to breed other mare/stallion crosses via embryo transfer. Having 20 full brothers and sisters in a year leads to an overabundance of horses, too. Quarter Horse owners have over bred to a point they’ve devalued their breed, too. It’s not the Jockey Club’s fault people are sick enough to do this to their animals.

  23. audrey Kortz on March 16, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Whatever happened to the mare going to the stallions home to foal, be bred, then sent back to her own barn after check-back? Eliminates the need to transport a newborn.

  24. Sherri VanTassel on March 16, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Stacy, thanks for highlighting Victoria and Last Chance Corral’s work. I have worked with her for almost 6 years and they are AMAZING! It is so tempting to talk about “solutions” to the nurse mare foal problem, and I’m not saying that we should not work on it long term, but each of us CAN do something now and that is to support Victoria’s work by DONATING, DONATING, DONATING. Believe me when I say to those of you who have never visited Last Chance or met Victoria and her band of volunteers – you feel as though you are in the presence of God’s work.

    • Stacy on March 16, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      Sherri-Thanks for writing in. Until I went to visit Victoria I didn’t really understand. I agree completely. Keep posting to let people know it is worth helping. She, and the team, are really saving lives.

      • Sherri VanTassel on March 16, 2014 at 8:36 pm

        Stacy, having you speak up really helps because we all respect you. I keep educating people about Last Chance, taking people to the big Christmas fundraiser, sending people to their booth at Equine Affaire. We all need to educate and support. Thanks for your help!

  25. Flo Browne on March 16, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Standardbred racing allows artificial insemination, and has for a long time. What’s the problem, Jockey Club?

  26. Jo on March 16, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Damn the racing industry! When are their heinous money making schemes going to be outlawed!!!

    • Stacy on March 16, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      All industries have their problems. I know lots of people who love gaited horses…and don’t ‘sore’ them, yet everyone has heard over and over about ‘sore-ing’ gaited horses. It is a problem but it is not the whole industry. The TB industry has this issue…but it isn’t the whole industry.

      • Donkey on April 16, 2015 at 9:23 pm

        I’m three generations in the horse racing industry from both parental lines. I can tell you that the PETA assessment is absolutely correct. Yes, the thoroughbred industry is extremely abusive as a whole. I got out couldn’t take watching these animals suffer anymore.

  27. Heather miller on March 16, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I am a little upset that you did not once mention that sometimes these nurse mares are brought in to save a foal who’s mother died during birth. I work at a vet clinic and see this a lot. Please at least put a line in the article that whole most mares may got to TB farms there are many that go to help out orphaned foals.

    • Stacy on March 16, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      Heather- I failed to link to my other blog which told that whole story. You can find it by clicking here. The first nurse mare I heard of used was by a QH breeder who had a mare die.

    • Angela on May 1, 2014 at 2:31 am

      Heather, you would like to bring attention to the fact that some of these nurse mares are brought to save foals who have lost their mother??? Well then what about the foal this nurse mare just gave birth to??? Apparently you don’t get that these nurse mares just gave birth themselves and then are taken from their own to ‘save’ another…..leaving an ORPHANED FOAL!!! Ya that makes sense….

    • Donkey on April 16, 2015 at 9:19 pm

      Seperating a foal from her dam and then shipping her to Mexico to be skinned alive is justified, because her dam may save the life, of a foal , orphaned through natural causes. A foal that is valuable enough that he would get the needed medical attention and orphan care while the dam’s own foal is being butchered in Mexico for her pelt. You vets are heartless.

  28. Lorena on March 16, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Great work you are doing! Do you have volunteers that help out?

    • Stacy on March 16, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Last Chance Corral does take volunteers.

  29. jillstrachan on March 16, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Ok, the situation is somewhat different in Australia. These foals are hand reared by farms and in my case I was able to “borrow” a foal for a period of time as I had a very sick foal and the mother rejected her. The breeding farm had a number of clydie mares that are much sought after when the natural mother has died and their foals are taken off the mums and hand fed. I had the joy of hand raising a clydie x TB and my TB! She took 3 times the amount of food though LOL! I have also provided my mare who had just lost her foal to a breeding farm to be a nurse mare for another youngster whose mother died giving birth.

    These Clydie crosses are very much in demand here in Australia as riding horses and I know that there are waiting times to access them…. NOW there is a positive process that may be implemented in other countries, create a demand for them as performance horses.

    Cheers Jill

  30. MELISSA on March 16, 2014 at 4:37 pm


    • Stacy on March 16, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      Melissa-they train them to drink from buckets because it is easier for them to adopt them out, bottle feeding is not as practical. I like that the video shows that the foals don’t just understand how to drink from a bucket. This is a rescue place that has rescued them after someone else took them from their mothers.

  31. Christine on March 16, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    This industry even disposes of their “expensive” foals–big contributor to “unwanted”horses–so sickening

  32. Carol Haley on March 16, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    I wonder if they have ever tried the Igloo cooler method with a nipple. Especially on the youngest ones this might be a little easier.

    • Stacy on March 16, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Carol- I’m not familiar with what you are talking about but you could email the farm.

  33. […] via What are Nurse Mare Foals? | Stacy Westfall Horseblog. […]

  34. Penelope L. Penderhausen on March 16, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    When the Jockey Club finally moves in to the 21st Century and allows AI this will put a big hole in this horrible practice.

    • Tracy on March 16, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      When they do that this will still happen it’s not breeding part.. It’s the mommy/mare has to go back and make money problem..

  35. Lynn Turner on March 16, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Just another thing in the horse industry that makes a person sick to their stomach….OM gosh…..

  36. Kerry Morgan on March 16, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Now that DNA testing is available, there is no longer a need to require TB mares to be physically bred to stallions, AI needs to be allowed. It would HUGELY reduce transport costs and associated risks, and greatly reduce the need for nurse mares. Time to put pressure on racing industry to allow artificial breeding.

    • Stacy on March 16, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      Kerry- I thought about this too and I agree. I would bet that the issue becomes, like it did in the AQHA, that people sued the AQHA for not allowing multiple foals…and they won. Judges forced the AQHA to allow multiple foals from mare…interesting to think about.

    • Donkey on April 16, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      The thoroughbred farms make lots of many by enforcing live cover. In transport cost, housing , feeding, management, and shipping. Just to name a few.

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