New Bolton Center Seeks Volunteer Foal Sitters in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for 2016 Season

Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center is recruiting volunteers for the 2016 foaling season to assist veterinarians and staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Registration to be a volunteer “foal sitter” takes place in December, with an orientation to follow in January. Foal-sitting volunteer shifts start in February and go through June. For more information and to register, email

A tradition for 30 years, New Bolton Center enlists more than 100 foal sitters each spring, about half of them returning volunteers. Foal sitters include local horse owners and enthusiasts, university and high school students, and even registered nurses. Foal sitters must be at least 16 years old. Second-year Penn Vet students foal sit for five shifts of six hours each as part of an elective course

“The foal sitters are essential,” said Dr. Jon Palmer, Chief of New Bolton Center’s NICU and Director of Perinatal/Neonatal Programs. “For us to deliver the level of intensive care that we do, we need help around the clock.”

Two foal sitters are assigned to each of three daily shifts: 7 am to 3 pm, 3 pm to 11 pm, and 11 pm to 7 am. Most mares foal between 10 pm and 6 am, Palmer said.

Possible duties for foal sitters include: holding foals upright when they are lying down, assisting staff as they stand and turn foals, milking mares and storing the milk, monitoring equipment for alarms, changing bedding, restocking treatment areas, and cleaning equipment and hospital areas.

More than 120 farm animal neonates are treated each year in New Bolton Center’s NICU. Although the patients are primarily foals, experts in the NICU also care for calves, kids, lambs, piglets and crias (baby alpacas). The NICU also caters to the special needs of late term “high-risk” pregnancies, giving these expectant moms special attention they need and beginning treatment of their babies even before birth.

For more information about Dr. Palmer and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, click here.

Penn Vet is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the only veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health Initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health. Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling more than 30,000 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles more than 4,000 patient visits a year, while the Field Service treats nearly 37,000 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry. For more information, visit






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