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Neo-Natal Foal Unit Thriving

This is a busy time of year for the neo-natal foal unit at Massey University's Veterinary Clinical Sciences Department. Spring sees the birth of many foals on the stud farms in the Manawatu region. Premature foals, fighting for their lives, are rushed to the intensive care unit where they receive attention around the clock.

The unit has been running for three years now, taking around 17 foals a season. Specialised equipment and trained staff are on hand to provide oxygen therapy, intravenous medication and constant monitoring. Veterinary students provide the bulk of the care, working day and night shifts to tend the foals.

"We've got a lot of reward out of it, though it's been taxing in terms of effort and time," says the unit's Brian Anderson. The unit has improved the department's knowledge of equine medicine and provides valuable back-up for vets.

At $150 a day for a week's stay, the unit's services may sound expensive. For a champion foal potentially worth millions, it's a small investment that Manawatu studs find well worthwhile.