Twitter and hot chocolate help save newborn foal at County Limerick farm

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

TWITTER is taking over the world and one tweet helped save the life of a newborn foal in County Limerick.

TWITTER is taking over the world and one tweet helped save the life of a newborn foal in County Limerick.

Ger Whelan’s draught mare foaled on his farm in Bruff on Friday morning, April 21. Everything went fine until Ger noticed the colt wasn’t suckling from his mother.

The farmer found that only one of her two teats was working. However, there was very little milk being produced from the one teat and the foal’s life was in danger.

In years gone bye farmers would ring their neighbours to see if they had any beestings or colostrum for calves or foals. Instead, to get a world wide audience Ger thought of Twitter.

Not being a tweeter himself, he got in touch with the Irish Horse Welfare Trust and they sent out a tweet: “FOSTER MARE REQ URG 4 large Draught colt foal. Mare alive but no milk. LIMERICK distance no object: Ger Whelan 086...”

It was retweeted over 50 times including by animal lovers in England. While no foster mare was forthcoming Ger said he got lots of phone calls with advice. And one of those calls with some unusual advice helped to save the day.

“There are different things you can do to help bring the milk down in the mare for the foal.

“One of them is to put cocoa powder, the same as drinking chocolate, in to the mare’s feed.

“A grain of that in to the mare’s feed and that helps her to bring on milk,” said Ger, who in his early forties.

Once the milk increased in the one teat the foal started suckling and now is thriving, says Ger.

“The cocoa powder helped bring the milk down. Whatever it does to the hormones in the mare it changes the hormones and produces more milk. The two of them are flying it now,” said Ger.

“It was through the help of Twitter that I got tips and advice from different people.

“A lot of people rang me and helped me out. I got a big response and it certainly helped,” he added.

After the success Ger is considering joining Twitter but says naming the colt after the social media site might be a step too far!

Once seen on every farm in Ireland, now a draught horse would make you look twice as tractors made them redundant.

But it was the latest advances in modern technology and communication that helped save one’s life.