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Estimating Horse Weight

Group of Horses with Saddles on

Knowing your horse’s weight can be very useful for many purposes including calculating feed rations and knowing how much of a de-wormer to administer.

It is not always easy to find a scale that will accommodate the weight of a horse therefore the next best option is to estimate the horse’s weight using one of the following methods.

The most common method used to calculate the weight of a horse is a height/weight tape. When wrapped around the horse’s girth, this special tape will display an approximate estimate of the horse’s weight. This tool has been around for many years and is considered to be quite reliable.

Another method is to calculate the horse’s weight using your own measurements. Simply measure the horse’s girth and length (in inches) and calculate his or her weight using the following formula:

In order to measure girth (heart girth):

Measure (in inches) from the base of the withers down to a couple of inches behind the horse’s front legs, then under his or her belly and up the opposite side to where you started.

Note: your tape measure should run at an angle.

In order to measure body length:

Measure (in inches) from the point of the horse’s shoulder to the point of his or her rump.

Note: your tape measure should be running at an angle.

A calibrated weight scale will always give the most accurate weight however these suggested methods can be utilized in order to obtain a reasonable estimated value.

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Why Are Barns Red?

Farmlands across North America are dotted with red barns. For many years red has been the cliché color for a barn. But why? What created this tradition of the red barn?

Red has been adopted as the color of choice for barns for centuries not due to its aesthetic appeal but, rather, due to its useful effects and the early adoption of home-made sealants.

Before a time when paint, sealants and other building materials were readily available from the local hardware store, farmers were forced to create their own paint that would seal and protect the wood on their barns.

One of the first substances used as a sealant consisted of a mixture of linseed oil, an orange-colored oil derived from the seeds of the flax plant, milk, lime and ferrous oxide (or rust). Rust was abundant on farms and was very effective as a sealant due to the fact that it would kill any fungi and moss that might grow on the structure. The combination acted as a long-lasting paint that would dry and harden quickly. It was due to the added rust that the mixture was red in color.

In the 1800’s, red paint was inexpensive and continued to be used on barns, as it was discovered that the red helped to absorb sun rays in the winter, keeping the barn warmer.

It has also been suggested that animal blood was combined with milk to act as a staining agent.

Although many viable color and sealant options exist today, red continues to be used as a common barn color due to this age-old tradition.

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Bees: The Effects of Chemical Insecticides

Declining bee populations have recently been linked to the use of chemical insecticides.

In fact, studies have shown that insecticides such as imidacloprid and thiamethoxam negatively effect a bee colony’s ability to reproduce as well as the bees’ homing instincts.

A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health dusted sixteen hives with imidacloprid, a common neonicotinoid insecticide. It was found that, after six months, fifteen of the sixteen hives died, with those hives that were exposed to the highest levels of the insecticide dying first. The study concluded that a direct link exists between the use of insecticides and the loss of bee colonies. In response to these claims the producer of imidacloprid suggests that the study is incorrect and that these losses are caused by many factors including varroa mites, disease inadequate nutrition and loss of genetic diversity.

However, independent studies published in Britain and France have also found similar results.

In Britain bumblebee colonies treated with imidacloprid saw an 85% decline in queen bee production, limiting the hive’s ability to reproduce.

In France a seed treatment insecticide known as thiamethoxam was found to interfere with the bees homing instincts. In fact, bees from colonies that were treated with the insecticide were two to three times more likely to die away from their hive.

In response to these convincing results, talks of banning certain insecticides have begun in both France and Britain.

In an effort to limit the use of chemical insecticides, individuals continue to search for alternative methods of pest control. One method that has become increasingly popular among organic growers is the use of food grade diatomaceous earth. Farmers and gardeners find the product to be a very effective natural solution for protecting their crops against crawling insects.

For more information on Diatomaceous Earth and natural insecticides, please visit: natural diatomaceous earth insecticides

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Horse Camping: Tips for Camping with Horses

Horseback riding

It’s camping season and what’s more fun than camping and riding! Get planning with these helpful hints!

Where to find a campsite

When looking for a campsite, check with Federal and state agencies, as they have millions of acres available for horse camping and trail riding. These agencies include the National Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, State Parks and even the Army Corps of Engineers. For a list of trails and campgrounds visit Horse & Mule Trail Guide USA.


It is important to be aware of water availability at your campsite and to prepare for the situation. Even if your campground has readily available water, a backup plan should also be in place. Be sure to bring enough water for at least two days for each person and each horse. Some horses do not like the taste of different water sources and may not drink what is available. In this case, it is a good idea to have some apple juice, grated carrots or even to dunk the horse’s hay into water.

Try to camp at least 100 feet from water and, in the case that you are camping in the back country, be sure to include a means of purifying the water. For example, pack a water filter or iodine tablets. As well, when watering your horse in the back country, use established watering sites (ex. sites that wildlife has used for watering).


As you don’t want your horse wandering off in the night, be sure to employ a method of containment. This method should be one that your horse responds well to and is used to. Possible methods include portable corrals (if allowed in the area you are camping), hobbles, picketing, highlines, etc.

Food Storage

Make sure to store all food items in a sturdy container and out of reach of animals. Even while out riding, it is important to safely store your food items in order to help keep animals away from your camp.

Additional Items

Other important items for you and your horse(s) include a first aid kit, a sharp knife, sunscreen, insect repellent and coats and blankets.

Take an emergency kit with you on all rides and keep a good, sharp knife on you (i.e. to cut a lead line in an emergency). Sunscreen for you and your horse(s) is important to protect from sun damage and painful sunburns. If your horse has pink skin you may want to apply sunscreen to the area, as it is especially prone to burning. Insect repellent is also a good idea to protect from insect bites. Coats and blankets are important for cold nights and can also be used to help protect you and your horse(s) from insects. As well, a good flashlight and/or lantern are also a good idea, as it can be very dark out in the woods at night! For a full list of camping essentials check out this Trailer, Horse Camping Packing List

Finally, as the National Forest Service is working towards eliminating ‘noxious and invasive weeds’, be sure to ask if CWFF (Certified Weed Free Feeds) are required at your campsite. As well, it is important that when camping with your horse(s) you do not allow them to graze open, natural, green fields, as not all green grasses and plants are safe for horses to consume.

With a little planning and preparation your horse camping trip can be safe and fun!


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Snake Bites in Horses: What You Need to Know

When your horse is bitten by a snake it is important to know what to do in order to be able to act quickly. Here is some important information that you need to know.

Snake bites most often occur on a horse’s:

  • Nose
  • Neck
  • Legs

Symptoms of a snake bite include:

  • Breathing difficulties or very fast breathing
  • Swelling
  • Fang marks at the center of the swollen area
  • Lameness
  • Pain
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle spasms
  • Excessive sweating
  • Excessive salivating
  • Paralysis
  • Tissue damage

What to DO if your horse gets bit:

  • Immediately contact your vet and seek medical help
  • Try to identify the snake so that you can provide your vet with this valuable information
  • Look for swelling and fangs marks that signify your horse has, in fact, been bit
  • Keep your horse calm to help slow the spread of the poison through his or her body
  • Slowly walk your horse back to its stable or trailer

What NOT to do if your horse gets bit:

  • Do not waste any time, even if you suspect your horse was bitten
  • Do not remount your horse and ride him or her back to the stable or trailer as this will only spread the poison more quickly through the body
  • Do not cut open the bite wound to suck out the poison, as this can make matters worse if it is not done properly
  • Do not apply ice or touch the affected area

While many snake bites are from non-venomous snakes, it is still important to contact your veterinarian immediately, as you do not want to waste valuable time.

Overall, it is important that you stay calm, have a plan and keep your vet’s number close at hand in the case your horse should ever experience a snake bite.

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Facts About Animals: Goats

Who knew that goats were such interesting animals? Check out these interesting facts about goats.

Did you know…

  • Goats were the first animals to be tamed by humans.
  • Humans began herding goats approximately 9000 years ago.
  • Goats are members of the cattle family. They are closely related to sheep, deer and bison. Distant relatives include giraffes, ibex, and antelopes.
  • There are over 210 breeds of goats.
  • The world population of goats is estimated to be 450 million.
  • Approximately 6 to 8 % of the world’s goat population can be found in North America. The majority of the world goat population however can be found in the Mideast and Asia.
  • Goats have no upper front teeth but instead a hard “gum pad”. A goat’s age can be determined by the configuration of and wear on their teeth.
  • A goat with parasites and worms that is left untreated will most likely suffer many negative health effects that may decrease production and even result in death.
  • Female goats can weigh between 22 to 220 pounds and male goats can weigh between 27 to 275 pounds.
  • Both male and female goats can have horns and beards.
  • A goat’s pupils are rectangular in shape.
  • Generally a goat lives 10 to 12 years however there have been cases of goats living up to the age of 15.
  • Goats are very intelligent and social creatures. They prefer to surround themselves with other goats of their same breed. Goats are able to recognize their mothers even if they have been separated for years.
  • Some breeds of goats are able to jump over 5 feet.
  • A male goat is known as a buck or billy and a female is known as a doe or nanny. Young goats are called kids and a castrated male is called a wether. Male goats under the age of 1 are referred to as bucklings and white female goats less than a year old are called doelings.
  • A group of goats may be called a herd, trip or tribe. Herds are generally led by a female called the “herd queen”.
  • Male goats can breed as young as 4 months old and females once they have reached the age of 7 months.
  • Pregnancy for a goat lasts approximately 150 days or 5 months.
  • A goat may have 1-6 kids per litter. Twins are most common.
  • The United States in the largest importer of goats, while Australia is the largest exporter.
  • It is estimated that more people eat goat meat and drink goat milk than that from any other animal. In fact, approximately 72% of the world’s milk consumption is goat milk.
  • Goat meat is referred to as Chevon or Cabrito. It is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef, pork and even chicken.
  • Goats are often kept with racehorses as a companions to help keep the horse calm.
  • A goat has 4 stomachs.
  • Goats are often recognized as the founders of coffee. Ancient goat herders noticed that goats became much more energetic after consuming beans that later turned out to be those from a coffee plant, leading to the discovery of coffee.
  • Cashmere comes from the Cashmere goat. A Cashmere goat can produce about one pound of fleece per year.

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Llamas and Alpacas: What Is the Difference?


There are many differences between llamas and alpacas, with their physical appearances being the most obvious.

Here are some of the main differences that exist between llamas and alpacas.

  • A llama is approximately twice the size of an alpaca. Most llamas weigh approximately 200 to 350 lbs while alpacas usually weigh between 100 and 175 pounds when they are fully grown.
  • A llama has long banana-shaped ears while alpacas have short spear-shaped ones.
  • A llama’s back is long and straight with a high-set tail on the other hand, an alpaca has a shorter back that tends to round at the rump with a low-set tail.
  • Llamas have a coarse outer coat and a soft inner coat while alpacas have a very fine single
  • Alpacas produce much more fiber per animal than llamas (despite their smaller size). This is due to the fact that the alpaca has been bred specifically as a luxury fiber-producing animal while the llama has been bred as a pack-carrying animal.

When it comes to similarities, both animals are friendly, curious and easily trained and handled. They are both herd animals who prefer the company of their own species. They can be interbred to produce fertile offspring however these offspring will not be as strong as a llama nor have the beautiful fleece of an alpaca therefore most breeders do not see a point in interbreeding.

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What Is Citric Acid?

Citric Acid is an organic acid naturally derived from organic plant matter.

Citric Acid is a common active ingredient found in pesticides, disinfectants, sanitizers and fungicides. It is also a safe and effective impediment to the formation of ammonia. Absorbent Products has, therefore, developed products that use Citric Acid to provide ammonia control for barns, stalls, poultry houses and chicken coops.

The Citric Acid in Absorbent Products’ Activated Barn Fresh (ABF) and Fresh Coop™ products does not contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and is classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the EPA.

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What Is Ammonia?

What is ammonia?

Ammonia is a gas that is a by-product of animal waste, produced from nitrogen in urine and animal feces. Some of the nitrogen in an animal’s diet is metabolized into animal protein, for example, milk, meat or eggs. However, excess nitrogen is excreted through urine and feces and during manure decomposition ammonia is produced and released into the air.

What factors can cause high ammonia levels?

Litter conditions and ventilation are two of the biggest factors affecting ammonia concentrations. Ammonia production is significantly impacted by moisture, pH and the temperature of the litter in your barn, poultry house and stables. Wet litter is particularly bad for ammonia production. Poor ventilation, a build-up of animal waste and faulty water distribution means can contribute to wet litter.

Is ammonia dangerous to my animals?

Ammonia gas often accumulates inside animal shelters, particularly those with reduced ventilation. This can result in an air quality hazard, as high levels of ammonia can negatively impact animal health and productivity. Concerns in chickens exposed to high levels of ammonia include reduced body weight and productivity, increased likelihood of respiratory disease, a weakened immune system and decreased welfare and overall comfort.

At high concentrations, ammonia can irritate an animal’s respiratory tract and can damage the corneas of the eyes. Damage to the respiratory system of a bird can lead to an increased susceptibility to bacterial respiratory infections, especially infections from E. coli.

Is ammonia dangerous to me?

Ammonia can also have a negative impact on human health. When exposed to even low levels of ammonia you may experience an irritation of the lungs and eyes.

The effect of ammonia on the environment

It is estimated that animal agriculture accounts for 50 – 85% of all man-made ammonia in the atmosphere in the US and, in recent years, ammonia emissions from animal agriculture have drastically increased.

Airborne ammonia can be very detrimental, as it can travel hundreds of miles from where it originated and may negatively impact water, plant, and soil systems. In fact, scientists in Europe have found that ammonia emissions in Northern Europe have made their way to the Mediterranean Sea, causing nitrogen pollution. The negative effects of ammonia have also impacted the Gulf of Mexico by way of ammonia emissions from the Midwest.

Ammonia emissions also contribute to the development of haze. Sources suggest that “In the United States, haze has reduced natural visibility from 90 miles to between 15 and 25 miles in the East and from 140 miles to between 35 and 90 miles in the West”.

How to control ammonia

Products with the ability to acidify poultry litter can help in reducing ammonia emissions from birds. This processes of acidifying the litter reduces ammonia emissions by minimizing the conversion of ammonium to ammonia.

Ammonia levels can also be decreased by improving ventilation within the enclosure and employing good litter management practices. By improving ventilation, and with the help of agricultural absorbents and deodorizers, litter and bedding will dry more quickly, decreasing ammonia levels.

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Does Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth Have an Expiration Date?

Expired meter

Red Lake Earth (RLE) is a food chemical codex grade diatomaceous earth product that is registered for use in livestock feed as an anti-caking and flow agent (not to exceed 2% of total diet).

This product does not have an expiration date. As long as it is stored in a cool, dry area, it is good for an indefinite period of time. In fact, Red Lake Earth can even become wet and be used after it is left to dry! Once dry, the product will return to its natural state and continue to work as it did before it became wet.

A date stamp can be found on RLE packaging however this stamp is not an expiration date but rather the day that the product was packaged.

Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth is an all natural product. The age of the product does not affect its ability to function therefore a new bag of RLE will be just as effective as an older bag.

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