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Madigan's squeeze technique: a review for equine veterinary nurses

02 March 2024
8 mins read
Volume 8 · Issue 2
Figure 2. Stage 2 of applying the technique.
Figure 2. Stage 2 of applying the technique.


Foals that are affected with neonatal maladjustment syndrome make up 3–5% of the foaling population. A very rapid, assisted vaginal birth or delivery via caesarean section are risk factors for neonatal maladjustment syndrome. This article examines the therapeutic application of Madigan's squeeze technique for neonatal foals diagnosed with neonatal maladjustment syndrome. It discusses the appropriate methods and timing for practitioners to use Madigan's squeeze technique in treating affected foals under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Foals with neonatal maladjustment syndrome, or dummy foals, appear healthy when they are born, but shortly after, often within the first few hours to days of life, start to show abnormal neurological health: they appear confused, disoriented and unresponsive. They are likely to be detached, aimlessly wander around, and be disinterested in their dam or in nursing. Affected foals exhibit unusual behaviours and neurological signs, like stumbling towards humans (flight animals should be wary of humans) and moving in a disorientated fashion. Unaffected foals will normally be on their feet and feeding, with a strong mother/foal bond within 1–2 hours.

Foals with neonatal maladjustment syndrome are also likely to display metabolic abnormalities, such as reduced ventilation, difficulty with thermoregulation and reduced motility of the gastrointestinal tract. If left untreated, the syndrome can even result in the death of the foal. Neonatal maladjustment syndrome encompasses a range of conditions, from mildly affected foals showing a slight lack of connection with the mare to more severely affected foals that may struggle to stand or nurse, experiencing additional complications. The level of intervention required will vary depending on the severity of the condition in individual foals.

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