California Riding Magazine • January, 2009

Be There!
Foalert enables caregivers
to be on site when the time is right

Delivery day is an exciting time for everybody involved. The well-established birth detection system, Foalert, ensures that the excitement surrounding a foal’s arrival is the joyous kind, not the chaotic kind.

Marketed first in 1980s and used extensively and throughout the world since then, Foalert starts with a sensor that detects when the lips of the mare’s vulva separate. That indicator of the baby’s arrival is transmitted to a receiver. Depending on the owner’s preference for their situation, the receiver issues an alarm and can be programmed to call one or more phone numbers.

The alarm ensures that human assistance is on hand during those key moments of the mare and foal’s life. In use at breeding farms of various sizes and in 29 veterinary schools, the product has earned a reputation for reliability and usefulness. In many cases, veterinarians have made their Foalert systems available for rent to smaller breeders with just a few deliveries at their farm each year.

Foalert recommends that the transmitter be sutured just outside the vulva approximately one to two weeks prior to the expected due date. The physical separation of the vulva lips pulls the actuating magnet from the transmitter. When this occurs, a silent radio signal is sent to the receiver, which then sounds an audible alarm and activates any accessories attached to the receiver.

There are two kinds of transmitters, the Multi-Use and the Single Use. The Multi-Use transmitter can be used up to 10 times, depending on the length of time that the magnet is out of the transmitter shelf. The Single-Use transmitter can only be used once. Both transmitters work with either the Standard Range or Long Range receiver. Multiple births may be monitored simultaneously if each expectant mother is wearing a transmitter and is within the tested range of the receiver.
Foalert offers both a Long Range and a Standard Range Receiver. Both come equipped with back-up batteries in case of a power failure.

The Long Range Receiver has dual antenna ports, allowing for monitoring both stall and paddock areas simultaneously. The practical range is 1,000 to 1,200 feet. (Its unobstructed range will be greater) With a practical range of 150 to 200 feet, the Standard Range Receiver is typically used to monitor stall births. It is recommended that the receiver be placed as close to the birthing area, with as few barriers between the receiver and transmitter, as possible. Barriers, particularly metal, may cause interference, thus reducing the transmission range. In cases where an attendant is not nearby at all times, it is suggested that an accessory be used with the system.

An optional automatic dialer requires a telephone line in close proximity to the receiver. The dialer can be programmed to call up to four telephone and/or pager numbers when activated by the receiver. The dialer will call each number and deliver either a voice or numeric message. This accessory allows for the most freedom of movement for the attendant because there are no distance restraints via the telephone line.

Foalert was developed by Steve Lee, DVM, a veterinarian in Georgia who first began working on the idea in the early 1980s. At the time, the existing alert systems were prone to false alarms and Dr. Lee wanted to devise a more reliable product. Sadly, he passed away of a brain tumor before getting the chance to see how successful and popular his product became.

For more information on Foalert, visit www.foalert.com or call 800-237-8861.