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Winter Cattle Management

Monday, December 9th, 2019

winter cattle management

Good winter cattle management practices help cattle tolerate the wind and cold temperatures. During the cold winter months, close attention should be paid to herd nutrition. Taking shortcuts on your cattle nutrition during the winter months could risk next year’s calf crop, this year’s weaning weights and the long-term viability of your herd. According to information from university of Minnesota extension beef experts, winter feeding programs vary for each cattle enterprise.

Feeding programs are dependent on variables such as:

• Forage quality.
• Cost and availability of winter supplements.
• Animal type (mature cows, replacement heifers or back-grounded calves).
• Body condition of your cattle.
• Calving date, if applicable.

The Minnesota beef experts explain that generally, winter feeding can be accomplished with harvested forages such as hay and silage. Grazing crop residues can also be utilized, but may not always be feasible in areas that receive significant amounts of snowfall during early winter months.

Cows can graze through up to 9 inches of snow to get high quality forages, but reduced forage intake will occur with as little as ¼ inch of ice covering the snow. Plus, cold temperatures and precipitation can decrease the feed’s nutritional value.

Regardless of whether you feed stored forages or graze crop residues, the cow’s diet must be sufficient to uphold a body condition score (BCS) of 5 at weaning, a 6 at calving, and no less than a 5.5 score at breeding. At this level of condition, a cow is able to maintain its body weight and support production functions such as lactation and fetal growth. Maintaining adequate body condition in pregnant cattle is crucial in the two to three months prior to calving.

Feeding Supplements
Depending on the quality of forage, supplementation may be needed by cows when nutrient demands are not met by the basic diet the cow is offered, say the Minnesota experts. Typically, diets of late gestating beef cows will meet nutrient needs if they contain a minimum of 55 percent total digestible nutrients (TDN ) and 8 percent crude protein (CP). However, lactating cow minimum requirements during the winter increase to 62 percent tDn and 11 percent CP, such as with fall calving cows.

When feeding pregnant first- and second-calf heifers due to calve in the spring, maintaining a diet with tDn at 60 percent and CP at 11 percent from the beginning of winter through early lactation should be sufficient.

It is important to compare nutrient intake of the diet with nutrient requirements of the cow based on animal type and pregnancy status, and to determine what additional nutrient(s) are needed for supplementation.

Evaluate Cow Performance
Throughout the winter,it’s important to evaluate cow performance by observing body weight and condition Herd Health Program changes resulting from your feeding program. This will tell you if you are correctly supplementing your cattle through the winter and preparing those spring calving herds for the calving season.

Purina has made it easy for you to maintain your production level by designing supplemental feed products to help economically manage your herd’s nutrition needs in all life stages. these products include Sup-R-Lix®, Sup-R-Block® and Accuration®/Cattle Limiter, all controlled intake products featuring IM Intake Modifying technology®.

Purina also offers Wind and Rain® mineral supplements that have been specifically designed to meet mineral deficiencies based on forage quality and cattle nutritional requirements. These minerals are weather resistant and are proven to enhance consistent consumption.

Contact J&N Feed and Seed at 940-549-4631 with questions and how we can help you get started with this program.

 

 

Fall is Prime Time to Begin a Supplemental Feeding Program for Deer

Friday, September 6th, 2019

A buck can have the best genetics in the world, but without the proper nutrition, he’ll never achieve his potential. One way to stack the deck in his favor is to supplement his nutrition. Fall is an excellent time to begin this.
But before we talk about how to initiate a supplemental feeding program, let’s evaluate the big picture.
The goal: Produce larger bucks with massive antlers. Some big obstacles to that goal:

  • Lack of high quality forage in fall and winter.
  • Stresses due to inclement weather.
  • In fall, deer are heading into a natural period of low metabolism and poor appetite. During the rut, a buck may spend only 20 to 30 minutes per day eating.
  • Burned calories during the rut will greatly deplete any existing stockpiles of nutrients.
  • Antler growth is low on the priority list of functions required to sustain life, so next spring, antlers will receive “what’s left” of nutrients after life-sustaining needs have been met. Deer will not begin growing antlers until they’ve regained body condition.
  • Nutritional deficiencies early in life can stunt a buck’s growth and antler size for the rest of his life, even if he is well fed as an adult.

The opportunity: Fall is one of the best times to initiate a supplemental feeding program because…

  • Fall forage is less available and of poorer quality, so deer are already instinctively searching for new food sources and may be more accepting of an unfamiliar feed form.
  • Getting deer to fully accept a feed form such as pellets can take weeks or months. By beginning the transition in the fall, deer can be fully acclimated by the time severe weather arrives.
  • Antlers are high in protein content (which is why feeding corn won’t produce bigger antlers). Now is the prime time for the body to start stockpiling protein before spring antler-growing season.
  • When a deer goes into winter in optimal body condition, it is less likely to deplete all of its nutrition stores by spring.

The plan: Now that we’ve established the need for a supplemental nutrition program, how do we do it? Here are a few basic steps:

  • Provide the essentials. Deer need three basic things to survive and thrive—food, water and cover. If any one of these three critical factors is insufficient, deer will go elsewhere.
  • Place your feeders along frequently used runways or trails.
  • Be sure to place enough feeders so that deer do not have to travel more than one-half to three-quarters of a mile to a feeder. A good rule of thumb is one feeder per 300-400 acres.
  • Make sure your feeding area has good visibility, access to fresh, clean water and an easy escape route to nearby cover.
  • Place your feeders near the center of your land to keep deer on your property. Do not place feeders along fence lines, roads, power lines or in a large opening.
  • Choose the right diet. With 16 percent protein, AntlerMax® Rut & Conditioning Deer
  • Chow® 16 product is the ideal fall and winter body conditioning diet to set the stage for big antler growth next spring. It has a highly palatable, strong flavor to attract deer and AntlerMax® Deer & Elk Mineral supplement for strong, dense antler growth.
  • One free-choice feeder can comfortably feed 25 free-ranging deer, each consuming 1 to 2 pounds of AntlerMax® Rut & Conditioning Deer Chow® 16 product per day.
  • Deer do not recognize protein pellets as food, but they are accustomed to seeing corn as a food source in the wild. Entice them to the protein pellets by initially mixing corn with the pellets (start with 75 percent corn, 25 percent pellets).
  • Deer do not like abrupt changes in feed, so make them gradually. Once deer are accustomed to eating protein pellets from a feeder, gradually phase out the corn. (NOTE: Although corn provides digestible energy, corn inherently lacks the nutrients needed for strong antler growth. Corn may help deer survive, but it won’t help them thrive. In fact, gorging on too much corn too fast can actually cause a deer to founder and die.)
  • Remember, pellets should be a supplement to, not a replacement for forage.
  • Make sure deer have access to a constant supply of fresh, clean water near your feeder. A deer requires about 3 pounds of water for every pound of dry matter consumed.
  • Plan on feeding year ‘round so that bucks never slip into below-average body condition.
  • Otherwise, next spring, nutrients will be allocated to “playing catch up” instead of to antler growth.
  • Be sure to wear gloves when handling the feeder and feed. Human scent can repel deer.
  • Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Once you’ve spent all this effort to attract deer to a feeding area, NEVER hunt near the feeding area.

Don’t get discouraged. It won’t happen overnight. In fact, the better the forage conditions, the tougher it is to get deer to start eating pellets. But fall is a prime opportunity.
There are many, many more tips and strategies for establishing a successful supplemental nutrition program than we can include here.

Stop by J&N Feed and Seed in Graham, Texas and talk to us about your supplemental feeding needs. We’re here to help.

6-8 Week Old Chicks

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

chickdaysgraphicpurinaKeeping 6-8 Week Old Chicks

Between 6 and 8 weeks of age, your chicks will be much larger and will need twice the amount of floor space they started with. It’s also time to start thinking about moving your chicks from the brooder to more permanent living quarters outside. If the temperature is mild and the chicks are fully feathered, they can be allowed outside during the day. If you purchased straight-run chicks (50/50 males and females) you may be able to distinguish the males from the females around 5 to 7 weeks of age. The combs and wattles of the males usually develop earlier and are usually (but not always) larger than in the females. Females are typically smaller in size than males. If you are still uncertain of their sex by appearance, you’ll be sure who the males in the flock are when you hear them attempting to crow.

Things to do with your chickens at this stage

Your chicks are able to regulate their body temperature by this time and should not need a heat source any longer unless the outside temperatures are still very cold. Keep temperature at 65°F if this is the case.

Prepare your chicken house or coop. Housing should provide approximately three to four square feet of space per mature bird and should contain sufficient feeders and waterers to accommodate your flock size so that all birds can eat and drink at the same time. Two to three inches of litter should be put down to minimize dampness and odor. A nest box for every four hens should be made available for laying pullets. Roosts can be considered for laying pullets but not recommended for meat birds because of the potential for developing breast blisters.

If possible, prepare an area outside the coop for your birds. Outside runs or fenced in areas will allow chickens to scratch and peck to their hearts desire, returning to the roost at dusk to sleep. The house needs to have a secure latch that is fastened each night if they are allowed outside during the day. An outside run attached to the coop with screening on the top and sides for protection will allow chickens unlimited access to the yard and save you time and worry.

Tips to grow on

Once you move your birds to their permanent residence, make sure they are protected from predators, especially at night. Even a latched door may not be secure enough to keep raccoons out.

  • Your birds are still growing so keep feeding Purina® Start & Grow® Recipe to help them reach their maximum potential. Chicks should remain on this feed until at least 18 weeks of age.
  • If your flock is a mix of chicks, ducks and geese, continue feeding Purina® Flock Raiser Recipe.
  • Turkeys can start on Flock Raiser Sunresh® Recipe at 8 to 10 weeks of age. Keep feeding this until market weight or laying age.
  •  If chicks were purchased for meat production, the normal weight for processing is 3 to 4 pounds for broilers and 6 to 8 pounds for roasters.
Looking ahead for layers

Laying pullets will need to receive a constant amount of light exposure once they reach 16 weeks of age to promote good egg production. For optimum egg production, a maximum of 17-18 hours of light (natural and/or artificial) per day is recommended. Gradually change your layer flock over to Purina® Layena® Sunfresh® Recipe at 18 to 20 weeks of age to support egg production.

Pullets will usually begin laying between 18 and 22 weeks of age. Increasing day length in the spring stimulates normal egg production, and egg production is naturally decreased in the fall when the days get shorter. Artificial light can be used in addition to natural daylight in the fall and winter months to maintain egg production all year long. If artificial light is not used, hens will stop laying when daylight hours decrease. It is very important that the supplemental light be consistent, as even one day without supplemental lighting can cause a decrease in egg production.

After 10-14 months of egg production, hens will molt and stop laying eggs. During molting, old feathers are lost and replaced by new feathers. It usually lasts between eight and twelve weeks (though it can be shorter or longer, depending on the individual hen and her environment) and it gives the hen’s reproductive system some much needed rest. Hens will return to production after the molt. Eggs laid in the next cycle are usually larger with improved shell quality but production typically drops about 10 percent.

Source: Purina Poultry

4-5 Week Old Chicks

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Keeping 4-5 Week Old Chicksbaby chicks 2

Your babies are growing up! By weeks four and five, you begin noticing that your chicks’ fluffy appearance slowly disappears and their fuzzy down is replaced with feathers of a mature bird. Chicks will usually be fully feathered by 5 to 6 weeks of age. You also observe their wattles and combs growing larger and taking on a deeper red color.

As they mature, chicks naturally establish a “pecking order” which determines each chick’s social position in the flock. Their place in the order will determine who eats and drinks first and ultimately who “rules the roost”. Although establishment of a pecking order is normal behavior, you should be watchful for excessive pecking in chicks as it may indicate a more serious problem, cannibalism. This is when birds peck the feathers and other body parts of other birds and if allowed to get out of hand, can lead to bleeding, open sores and even death.

Cannibalism can occur at any age and needs to be controlled as soon as it rears its ugly head. It is costly and can spread through a flock rapidly if left unchecked. Cannibalism is usually the result of stress, which can be caused by poor management. Some of these stressors may include crowding, excessive heat, bright lighting, noise, hunger, thirst, the presence of sick or injured chicks, parasites, or other stress factors. Providing the correct living environment in terms of these factors will help reduce the potential for cannibalism from occurring in your flock.

Things to do for your chicks this week
Your chicks require less heat as time goes by and they grow larger and more able to regulate their body temperature. Continue reducing the temperature each week to keep them comfortable to a minimum of 65°F. Continue providing clean fresh water each day and providing unlimited Sunfresh® Recipe Start & Grow® feed in their feeders.As your chicks grow, adjust the height of the feeders and waterers. A good rule of thumb is to keep them adjusted to the birds’ back height while standing. This will help to keep litter out of feeders and waterers, as well as curious chicks. Around 4 weeks of age, ducklings and goslings will thoroughly enjoy the addition of a swimming area. Be sure if you provide this to keep any resulting wet litter cleaned up. Because of their water-loving, messy nature, it is best to separate ducklings and goslings from chicks.Tips to grow on
Maintain good sanitation practices to reduce the chance of disease. Bigger chicks make bigger messes, so be sure to keep up. As the chicks grow, make sure they have sufficient space to prevent crowding. Additional feeders and waterers may need to be added now to allow adequate space for all chicks to eat and drink at the same time. Keep a close eye on your chicks for signs of possible health issues. Chicks that are sick may appear droopy or listless, have diarrhea or be unwilling to eat.
Looking ahead
Your chicks will soon be mature enough to leave the brooder and move into more permanent living quarters, the chicken coop. If you don’t have one ready, now is a good time to start looking into getting one and preparing it for new occupants. You’ll be surprised at how fast your chicks will grow and how quickly moving day will arrive. Many types of poultry housing are available for purchase or you can venture to build your own. Whatever you decide, make sure that the house you choose is ventilated, predator proof and provides protection from extreme temperatures, wind and rain.

 

Source: Purina Poultry

Raising 2-3 Week Old Chicks

Friday, February 8th, 2019
2-3 Week Old ChicksRaising 2-3 Week Old Chicks

With a clean brooder, fresh feed and clean water, your chicks are settled in and off to a good start by weeks two and three. It’s time to enjoy them. Chicks are very social and will provide hours of entertainment. You will see their unique personalities emerge as each day goes by and they will grow into mature chickens before you know it.

Now, listen to them.  Chicks will emit a soft cheeping sound when everything is right in their world. This sound can be used as a means of determining their comfort status. A chick that is stressed due to conditions being too hot or cold, wet litter, or one that is hungry or thirsty will have a shrill or higher pitched cheep or may cheep very rapidly. Translate this as a call for help and look for the problem.

Things to do for your chicks this week
  • The brooder temperature should be reduced to 85°F (lower 5° each week to a minimum of 65°F).
  • Chicks should be exposed to at least 10 hours of light per day after the first week.
  • Brooder guard can be removed now if it hasn’t been already. Chicks should be able to find the heat source by this time.
  • After the brooder guard is taken out, the feeders and waterers can be moved further away from the source of heat. As the chicks become more active and continue to grow, this will give them more space for exercise and will help keep the feeders and waterers cleaner and keep them from being heated by the heat lamp.
  • Any paper or pans used to feed should be taken out if you are sure chicks are eating from the feeders. The level of feed in the feeders can be decreased a little each week until they are half full at all times. This will help reduce the amount of feed waste.
Tips to grow on
  • Keep checking on chicks to make sure they are comfortable. Again, chick behavior is the best measure of the ideal brooder temperature.
  • Continue to provide unlimited feed and water at all times.
  • Clean and refill waterers daily.
  • Remember, good sanitation is critical to avoid health problems when caring for young chicks. Keep litter dry by removing wet and soiled litter and replacing it with clean, dry litter.
  • Always store feed in a well-ventilated, dry area that is insect and rodent free.
Looking ahead

A complete and balanced feed will provide all the nutrition your chicks need to grow into healthy, productive birds. Feeding extra grains or scraps to your chicks can reduce the amount of complete feed they eat and may prevent them from getting all the nutrients they need to grow and develop properly.

One of the most common and deadly diseases in chicks is coccidiosis. Caused by a parasite, it is spread through the droppings of infected birds. Coccidia love damp, warm environments so wet litter and unsanitary brooder conditions are a prime breeding ground for this parasite. Most birds will come into contact with coccidia at some time but appear to be most susceptible to the disease between 3 to 5 weeks of age. If chicks are healthy and live in a dry, clean, well-managed environment, they are often able to fight it off or may only get a mild case, which can even go undetected. Symptoms of coccidiosis can include diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, weight loss, no desire to eat, ruffled feathers and an overall sickly appearance. If you suspect coccidiosis, seek treatment immediately. Commercial vaccines and medicated feeds are available to prevent coccidiosis. However, the ideal prevention for this disease is maintaining a dry, sanitary, stress free environment through good management.

If you suspect disease or some other serious health problem in your flock, contact your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment options.

Source: Purina Poultry

 

Keeping 3 – 7 Month Chickens

Sunday, May 20th, 2018
3 - 7 Month ChickensKeeping chickens, 3 months 

Chickens become sexually mature between 4 and 6 months of age. With proper care and excellent nutrition the first egg is laid soon. You should still be feeding Purina® Start & Grow® Recipe to your birds. A layer diet should not be fed until 18 weeks of age because of the high calcium levels which are inappropriate for younger birds. Be sure to gradually transition the birds from the starter feed to the layer feed over 7 to 10 days.

Remember to always provide fresh water. Water is essential for healthy chickens, not to mention future egg production. As the weather gets warmer, they will drink more water so make sure they have access to a never-ending supply. Purina® Scratch Grainscan be introduced to your flock after 12 weeks of age. This natural, all grain supplement should be fed along with a complete and balanced diet and should not make up more than 5 to 10 percent of the total daily intake. If you feed Purina® Scratch Grains, your birds should also have access to “grit.” Grit is made up of small insoluble granite particles, which assist in digestion of feed by helping to grind it up in the gizzard. Feed 1 pound per 100 birds, twice per week either mixed with other feed or free choice. Remember to provide your pullets with 17 to 18 hours of light per day starting at 16 weeks of age.

Keeping chickens, 4 1/2 months
At about four and a half months, you’re probably anxiously awaiting the fruits of your labor wholesome eggs. Now is the time to introduce your laying pullets to Purina® Layena® Sunfresh® Recipe or Purina® Layena® Recipe Plus Omega-3 to insure that they receive the best nutrition to support egg production. Purina® Layena® Recipe Plus Omega-3 has added flaxseed, which helps your chickens to produce with enhanced levels of Omega-3. Each egg will contain 300 percent more Omega-3, an essential fatty acid.

Gradually transition your laying pullets over to Purina® Layena® Recipe or Purina® Layena® Recipe Plus Omega-3 over a 7- to 10-day period. Continue to provide birds with a maximum of 17 to 18 hours of light per day to ensure optimum egg production. Purina® Layena® Recipe Plus Omega-3 can be purchased as a pellet; Purina® Layena® Sunfresh® Recipe can be purchased as a pellet or crumble. Both forms contain high-quality grains with added vitamins and minerals for a complete and balanced diet. In pelleted form, it is just that, a pellet. Crumbles are simply pellets that are broken apart into smaller bits, which make it easier to eat.

Optimum egg production is achieved when layers are maintained in temperatures between 65°F and 85°F. As temperatures increase above this, egg size and production may decrease. Keep your birds cool and comfortable so you will get the best return on your investment.

Keeping chickens, 6 months
At this point, you’ve probably already been enjoying eggs for a while now. If you find that those first eggs are small, misshapen or have weak shells, don’t worry, practice makes perfect and as time goes by the eggs will become more consistent.

Pullets usually start laying around 20 weeks of age with peak production occurring around 27 to 30 weeks of age. Peak production means that it is the highest rate of lay in your flock. Excellent peak production during this time would be between 80 to 90 percent. This means that on a given day, 80-90 percent of your birds will lay an egg. Nutrition, housing conditions, weather, breed and lighting, as well as management will all play a part in how many eggs each pullet will lay.

You should gather eggs frequently, at least three times per day. This is particularly important during hot weather. Eggs that will be used for eating should be refrigerated. Frequent collection and refrigeration keeps the eggs fresher, cleaner and decreases the chance for broken eggs. Eggs intended to be used for hatching should be stored at 55°F and 70 to 75 percent humidity. When maintained at the correct temperature hatching eggs can be stored for up to 6 days with no effect on hatchability.

After peak production occurs, the rate of lay will decrease by about 1 to 1.5 percent each week. Following 10 to 14 months of laying eggs, the pullet’s rate of lay will be very low and molting may occur. Continue feeding Purina® Layena® Sunfresh® Recipe free-choice and be sure there is always fresh water available.

Keeping chickens, 7 months

At seven months, egg production in your flock should be well established and you may be experiencing peak production at this time. Maintain good management practices to ensure the health of your birds throughout the laying cycle. Don’t be surprised if you notice your pullets start to lose their feathers. Molting is a normal process when feathers are lost and replaced by new ones. When pullets lose all their feathers, it is called a full molt. Others may only lose some of their feathers, usually around their neck, which is a partial molt. During molting, a bird will go out of production. This period gives the reproductive tract time to rest after the stress of many months of producing eggs.

After molting, egg production resumes about 8 to 12 weeks later. Once they return to production, the rate of lay is about 10 percent less than the first cycle. However, the eggs are usually larger with stronger shells. Although molting occurs naturally after 10 to 14 months of egg production, it can also be caused accidentally as the result of stress due to disease, extreme temperatures, decrease in light exposure, and a lack of feed and/or water.

Source: Purina Poultry

Preparing a Space for Your Backyard Chicks

Saturday, January 20th, 2018

Backyard ChicksRaising chickens is a great experience for the whole family. One of the primary requirements is providing housing that is comfortable for your backyard flock. Young chicks can be raised in a variety of structures, but the area should be warm, dry and ventilated, but not drafty. Also make sure it is easy to clean.

Warming:
Small numbers of chicks can be warmed adequately with heat lamps placed about 20 inches above the litter surface.
  • Bigger groups of birds in a large room, such as a shed or a garage, should have a supplemental heat source such as a brooder stove.
Before you bring them home:
Several days in advance, thoroughly clean and disinfect the brooder house and any equipment the chicks will use. Doing this in advance will allow everything to dry completely. Dampness is a mortal enemy to chicks, resulting in chilling and encouraging disease such as coccidiosis (parasite infection).
  • When the premises are dry, place 4 to 6 inches of dry litter material (wood shavings or a commercial litter) on the floor.

Feeders and Waterers
It’s important to ensure your chicks have access to fresh feed and water. Positioning the feeders and waterers along the edges of the comfort zone will:

  • Keep the water and feed from being overheated
  • Help keep water and feed cleaner (chicks milling and sleeping under the warmth source often scatter bedding and feces)
  • Encourage the chicks to move around and get exercise

Be sure to have plenty of fresh feed and water when the chicks arrive:

  • At least two 1-quart or one 1-gallon waterer for every 25 to 50 chicks
  • Dip the beaks of several chicks into the water to help them locate it. These chicks will teach the rest.
Feeders:
  • Day 1: Use clean egg flats, shallow pans or simple squares of paper with small piles of feed on them.
  • Day 2: Add proper feeders to the pens.
  • A few days later: Remove the messy papers, pans or egg flats once chicks have learned to eat from the feeders.
Waterers:
  • Should be emptied, scrubbed, rinsed and refilled daily
  • Wet litter around waterers should be removed as often as possible. Dampness encourages disease and parasite transmission. The drier the premises, the healthier and happier the chicks.
  • At about 4 weeks of age, ducks and geese will appreciate a swimming area, but you will need to keep the wet litter cleaned up.
  • In winter months, you may need to purchase a water heater to prevent water from freezing.
  As chicks grow:
  • Feeders and waterers can be moved outward from the heat source, expanding their area of activity and helping keep the feeders and waterers clean.
  • As the birds grow, the feeders and waterers should be adjusted to the height of the back of a standing bird. This will help decrease contamination and minimize wastage

Feeding your chicks
It is important to select a complete feed that gives your chicks all the nutrition they need to grow into healthy hens. Once they’ve reached maturity,a high-quality complete layer feed will help to maximize egg production and quality. If they are broiler chicks, choose a feed designed to support their more rapid growth. Layer chicks will reach egg-laying age at about 18 to 20 weeks; broiler chicks will reach market weight at 8 to 10 weeks.

You may also consider occasional supplements to their diet, such as table scraps, scratch grains, oyster shell and grit. However, supplemental feeds should make up no more than 10 percent of a hen’s diet.

Purina offers a complete line of poultry feeds appropriate for each bird in your flock. A list of Purina products can be found here.

Lighting and heating for your chicks
A thermometer should be placed at the chicks’ level to accurately gauge temperature.

  • Adjust the brooder stove and/or heat lamps 24 hours in advance so that upon the chicks’ arrival, you’ve created a comfort zone that is 90º F at “chick level.”
  • For turkey chicks, the comfort zone should be 100º F.
  • Use a brooder guard (a plastic, cardboard or wire barrier) for a few days to encircle the brooding area so that the chicks don’t wander too far from the warmth.
  • Once chicks have learned where the heat is, remove or expand the guard. This will allow the chicks to escape the heat if necessary. Getting overheated can be as dangerous as getting chilled.
  • Chicks that huddle under the lamp are too cold. Chicks that sprawl along the brooder guard are too hot. Chicks happily milling around all portions of the brooder area are comfortable.
  • The temperature can be gradually reduced by 5º F per week to a minimum of 55º F.

Even after your chicks have grown into hens, keep a standard old-fashioned 40-watt incandescent light bulb handy; or, if you’re using the new energy-efficient bulbs, a 28-watt halogen, 10-watt compact fluorescent, or 8-watt LED bulb, to maintain the artificial light necessary for egg laying to continue through the winter months.

Source: Purina Poultry

Feed AntlerMax Deer 20 During Antler Growth Season

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

AntlerMaxFeed AntlerMax Deer 20 with Climate Guard during antler growth season. So much of what we do in the care and feeding of deer pass relatively unnoticed in the short term. But antler growth season is when “instant gratification” seekers can practically see results occur right before their eyes.

Growing at a rate of half an inch per day, antlers are some of the fastest growing tissues in the animal kingdom. That’s why it’s essential that deer consume the most nutritious diet of the year during antler growth season. Unfortunately, this is also the time when forage quality is typically low. However, there are things you can do to compensate.

Good Health

As winter comes to an end, breeding season is officially over, testosterone levels drop and bucks begin shedding their antlers. Usually, within a month, they’ll start growing their next set.

If the required nutrients are in short supply during the antler growth period, several things can happen—none of them good:

  • Antler growth rate can slow down. There’s only a small window of opportunity for antler growth (about 120 days a year), and an antler growing at the rate of 15 grams per day is obviously going to be smaller than one growing by 25 grams per day
  • Less dense antlers are more subject to breakage in rut fights
  • Desirable characteristics that affect Boone & Crockett Score, such as antler mass (volume and weight), number of points and beam circumference are negatively impacted by poor nutrition.

Growing a new set of antlers places huge demands on a buck’s body. Since a buck cannot eat enough in a day to mineralize his antlers, his body is forced to extract minerals from his ribs, sternum, and skull and deposit them in the antlers. As a result, his bone density may actually be diminished by as much as 30 percent. So not only does a buck have to grow antlers, he has to replenish the minerals in his bones in order to be able to do the same thing again next year. (This is why mineral nutrition is so critical even after antlers are finished growing.)

Hardened antlers are high in minerals, mostly calcium (about 20 percent) and phosphorus (about 10 percent), in addition to a lot of trace minerals such as zinc, copper, and manganese. Phosphorus, which is commonly deficient in many soils and plants throughout the US, is particularly critical. And what many people do not realize is that, even after they harden, antlers are still over 35% protein.

purina antler max-https://www.jandnfeedandseed.comGood Nutrition

Because antler growth is low on the priority list of functions required to sustain life, antlers only receive “what’s left” of nutrients after life-sustaining needs have been met. In other words, deer will not even begin to grow antlers until they’ve regained body condition (This is why a year-round feeding program gives you such a distinct advantage.)

So what can you do to ensure the best possible outcome during the antler growth period? From now through August, try feeding a diet that is formulated especially for optimal growth, density, and strength. A good option is Purina Mills® AntlerMax® Deer 20 product. This pelleted ration is 20-percent protein, highly palatable and should be fed free-choice to wild deer with access to good habitat or quality hay. Formulated with patented AntlerMax® Technology, it’s one of the most critical steps you can take right now to help deer attain their full potential—and satisfy your need for “instant gratification.”

Find out more about AntlerMax products here.

Snake Bite Cautions for Horse Owners

Monday, April 4th, 2016

Snake Bite Cautions for Horse Owners

Spring and summer months bring an increase in horse activities and the end of hibernation for rattlesnakes. As they begin to emerge and leave their dens, until their return during cooler fall weather, this movement and activity increases the incidence of horses bitten by rattlesnakes. Of the 27 species of rattlesnakes in the United States, 11 are found in Texas. The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake and the Prairie Rattlesnake are the most common rattlesnakes found in the western part of Texas where veterinarians treat an average of about 6 – 10 cases per year. Over 90% of these bites occur on the face, primarily the nose, in pastures or fields while the horse is grazing. They can also receive some nose bites when the horse gets curious to the sound, site and smell of the rattlesnake. The second most common bite site occurs on the lower limbs. Rarely, horses may be bitten on the chest, abdomen, upper legs or other locations while the horse is lying down.

Rattlesnake venom contains many myotoxins and hemotoxins.  Localized signs of rattlesnake bites include significant to severe swelling, pain, and bleeding at the bite site, with significant tissue damage. Horses become lethargic and usually have difficulty breathing. Occasionally, systemic signs such as dehydration, fever and irregularities in heart rate and rhythm can be present. Shock rarely occurs. Severity of reactions may depend on the amount and concentration of the venom injected by the snake. Size, species, health, age of snake and condition of its fangs also can affect the outcome of the bite.

When a horse receives a rattlesnake bite, keeping the horse from moving or becoming excited prevents further absorption and circulation of the venom. This also limits further increases in respiratory rate through a horse’s restricted air passages. Most facial bites usually resolve with early treatment but an average of 20% of leg bites can result in chronic problems such as lameness or infection.

Rare long term complications include cardiac disease. Medical treatment is aimed at ensuring that the horse has adequate breathing capabilities. Cut off garden hoses or syringe cases can be placed a distance up the horse’s nostrils to open up the airways. Although this technique can be a useful tool, some horses won’t tolerate it because their nose is too painful and/or they are frightened by the procedure. Medications used by veterinarians include steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease swelling around the bite site. Tetanus prophylaxis also is indicated. Antibiotics are used as well as local wound therapy on leg bites. Wetting hay and feed for horses with facial bites can help them eat.

By Ginger Elliot, DVM, Guthrie, Texas

It’s Time To Winterize Your Horse

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

winterize horseNow that winter is approaching and the temperature is dropping, it’s time to consider how to winterize your horse. During the cold season, horse owners must make sure that their animals receive proper feed, water and shelter to stay healthy and comfortable. Further, since riders usually put a lot of time and effort into getting their horses ready for shows, trail rides, or other events during the warm months, if they maintain their horses over the winter, all that effort won’t go to waste and have to be started over in the spring.

Feeding

Many horse owners believe that when the weather is cold, horses need to be fed rations containing more corn, because they think of corn as a heating feed. However, corn and other cereal grains do not cause the horse to become warmer, they simply provide more energy (calories) to the horse. Hay, which contains more fiber than grain, provides more of a warming effect internally, as more heat is released during the digestion of fiber than of starch from grain. Therefore, horses are more able to maintain body heat if adequate hay is provided in the diet. Further, good quality hay is important during cool weather and winter months when pasture grasses are short or are not growing. Horses need at least 1% of their body weight per day in roughages to maintain a healthy GI tract, but 2% or even more may be appropriate during cold weather, especially when the horse lives outdoors.

Although grain does not provide as much of an internal warming effect as hay, it is often necessary to supplement a horse’s winter ration with additional grain to boost calorie supplies. Cold temperatures increase the amount of calories a horse needs to maintain body weight, as well as support activity or production. Because a horse may digest feed less efficiently as the temperature drops below the horse’s comfort zone, additional feed may be required to maintain body weight and condition. It is important to maintain the horse in a body condition score of 5-6 (moderate to moderately fleshy) because a layer of fat under the skin provides insulation against the cold. Further, horses in moderately fleshy condition require less dietary energy for maintenance in cold weather than thin horses. In general, feeding an additional 1/4 lb of grain per 100 lb body weight to nonworking horses will provide adequate calories during cold, windy and wet weather. Working horses may require up to an additional 1/2 lb per 100 lb body weight, depending on workload, to maintain body weight during cold weather. Feeds such as Purina Ultium, Strategy, Race Ready or Omolene 200 may be especially helpful in these situations, since the added fat provides more calories than grain alone.

Senior horses, which are unable to chew hay completely due to poor teeth and suffer from less efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients in the GI tract, need a feed specifically designed for them such as Equine Senior especially during winter months. Equine Senior contains enough roughage and added fat to ensure that the older horse can meet its fiber and calorie requirements without depending on long-stemmed hay or grass.

Water

Water should always be readily available to the horse. Snow is not a sufficient substitute for water, as the horse cannot physically eat enough snow to meet its water requirement. Ideally, the temperature of the available water should be between 45 degrees and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water is too cold, the horse may drink less, thereby decreasing water and lubrication in the gut and increasing the chance of impaction-induced colic. Further, if the horse drinks less water, it may also eat less feed, resulting in loss of body weight and condition. Finally, if a horse is forced to drink very cold water, its energy requirement will increase, because more calories are required to warm the water to body temperature inside the digestive tract.

Shelter

Another consideration in cold weather horse care is housing or shelter. In general, even in cold climates, horses are happier and possibly healthier outdoors. Closed and heated barns are often inadequately ventilated. Horses living in poorly ventilated stables tend to develop respiratory diseases more often than horses maintained in pastures, even during cold weather.

If given the opportunity, horses adjust to cold temperatures with little difficulty. A horse’s comfort zone is very different from that of a person. In the absence of wind or moisture, horses tolerate temperatures down to near 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and even colder if shelter is available. Horses living outside should have access to adequate shelter from wind, sleet and storms. Trees, brush, or an open-sided shed or stable can provide adequate shelter. In severe cold, horses will group together to share body heat. They may all take a brisk run to increase heat production, and then come back together to share the increased warmth. A long thick coat of hair is an excellent insulator and is the horse’s first line of defense against cold temperatures. Horses that live outdoors during the winter should be allowed to grow a natural, full winter coat. Horses that live indoors will need adequate blankets in the cold weather to ensure that they do not get too cold. With sufficient thought and care by the horse owner, even horses that live outside in very cold climates will survive quite well during the cold winter months.

Exercise

Many horses are given the winter off from work due to the cold weather, the rider’s lack of time, or because they are given a break after a heavy show season. However, if horses are let off for too long, they may forget some of what they have been taught and lose the fitness level that they gained over the year of work. So, to prevent the winter slump, here are a few suggestions:

1. Longe the horse once or twice a week. This not only gets the horse exercising, but it gives you an opportunity to brush, clean feet, check for injury, and evaluate the overall condition of the horse.

2. If longeing is not possible and you have more than one horse, you can ride one and pony the second. This can be a good time saver and gets both horses working.

3. If time is available and weather permits, ride your horse or horses whenever possible. Keep in mind, your horse is not in the same shape and does not have the stamina as when you were riding more in the warmer seasons, so you cannot work as hard nor expect as much from the horse. Be sure to cool the horse down completely after work to reduce the risk of pneumonia, cold, or colic.

4. Another option is to check with local stables to see if their facilities are available to non-boarders. Often, stables allow outside horses and riders to use indoor and/or outdoor arenas for a fee.

Winter may not be the easiest time of year for enjoying our horses, but with proper feed, water and shelter, and some exercise and conditioning, our horses will make it through comfortably and be ready to go again as soon as the weather allows.

By Dr. Katie Young, Equine Nutritionist, Purina Mills, LLC

 

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