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WINTER ESSENTIALS

COZY HORSE BLANKET

To ensure a horse will be comfortable outside in cold climates, they should be healthy and have a thick, dry and clean hair coat. Healthy horses develop natural winter coat as the days become shorter and temperatures become colder.

Blanketing a horse may be  necessary when no shelter is available and temperatures or wind chill drops below 5 F (-15 C). 

If a horse is blanketed, it is critical that you have a properly fitted blanket for your horse. When the blanket does not fit properly it can lead to sores and rub marks, especially along the straps. When your horses are wearing a blanket, it is important to remove the blanket daily, and inspect your horse for rub marks, and sores. Adjust the blanket accordingly to reduce any rub marks. Ensure that your horse is dry before putting a blanket on.

Another time when it may become necessary for a horse to wear a winter blanket is when the horse has had its winter coat clipped, when the horse is young or older, and when the horse hasn’t had the opportunity to acclimatize to the cold weather.

You will also need to consider the health and body condition of your horse. It is a good idea to blanket your horse during the cold weather if the body condition score of your horse is 3 or less.COZY

FRESH WATER

A horse can easily become dehydrated in the cold weather when it does not have access to fresh or unfrozen water. Horses that do not have access to water can quickly start to lose body weight and show symptoms of dehydration. Symptoms may include dry mucous membranes, sunken eyes, slow capillary refill, tucked up appearance and loss of elasticity in skin. The horse will also start reducing feed intake and may ultimately refuse to eat.

A heated water bucket, heater in water troughs, and a heated automatic watered are options to provide unfrozen water. Without heaters, make sure the ice is broken on the horse’s water supply. When you are using a submergible electric water heater in a water trough, you will need to check daily to ensure the heating element is on and there is no stray voltage.

You may find that some horses do not like the water heaters and prefer to have a fresh bucket of water offered to them.

SHELTER

Horses can withstand significant drops in temperature provided they have some protection from the wind and wet (rain/sleet) conditions.  Snow is tolerated much better than rain and sleet with the insulation of a healthy winter coat.  Unfortunately not much helps with keeping your horse comfortable during rainy weather or sleet.  When rain and sleet wets the hair down the insulating capacity of the coat is less effective.  Wind chills coupled with a wet coat can lead to the potential of hypothermia.  

Sheltering a horse during times of rain or sleet is the best option to keep your horse safe.  A full barn is not required to shelter your horse.  You can use for a tree line wind break, a three sided shed or an enclosed barn and stalls that may or may not be heated. 

For enclosed barns, it must be adequately ventilated to prevent respiratory issues.  Proper ventilation will help to prevent the accumulation of ammonia and mold levels.  as well as help  to reduce humidity and moisture levels.  

Considerations when using a  three sided shed with a group of horses:

  • adequate size – 12×20 feet with horses that get along
  • each additional horse needs an additiona 6×10 feet
  • the size of the horse may require less or more space
  • regular cleaning routine

Establishing a regular routine, while using the proper tools when cleaning the stalls will make winter stall maintenance an easier task. Each type of bedding has advantages and disadvantages.  The primary purpose of bedding is to absorb urine and moisture.  Other  considerations include:

  •  space available to shelter your horse
  • dust and allergies
  • waste disposal
  • availability
  • cost and effectivness
 

BEDDING OPTIONS

Cleaning

The best time to muck out a stall is when it is empty. Use a pitchfork to remove any large piles of manure. Gently shake the pitchfork or toss it to allow the clean shavings to drop back onto the stall floor.  This will help to reduce losing too many shavings that are still good to use. Rake up and push the wet shavings into a pile, making sure that you rake down to the down to the stall floor.  Take extra care to rake the shavings from the sides and corners.   Leaving wet shavings behind can lead to an accumulation of ammonia levels from the urine left behind. Leave the wet floor area uncovered.  Sprinkle with Stall DRY to absorb moisture and odors. .The remaining shavings that are starting to become darker in color can be moved to where the horse’s urine area of choice is so that these shavings can absorb the urine instead of the newer, fresher shavings. Take care to replace any shavings that show signs of mold or are showing significant signs of dust.

Level out the shavings and add a fresh layer on top as is required. Sprinkle an additional layer of the stall absorbent and deodorizer over your layer of fresh bedding.

A sprinkle of Stall DRY will help to reduce the ammonia levels in your bedding waste collection area, which also leads to reducing the accumulation of flies, and nasty odors.

Pros

  • pleasing smell of pine or fir
  • kiln-dried better then chip-like shavings
  • purchase in bulk

Cons

  • not very absorbent
  • dusty
  • potential fire hazard
  • extra care in keeping dust and cobwebs to a minimum
  • takes more time to clean then shavings or wood pellets

Cleaning

Stalls bedded with wood pellets do not need to be cleaned the same way as with traditional shavings.  Cleaning works best in stalls that use rubber mats.  The best time to muck out a stall is when it is empty. The horses will naturally break down the wood pellets into sawdust.  Use a slotted fork to remove the manure, but take out as little of the bedding as possible. For urine remove the saturated areas and sprinkle the damp area with Stall DRY to absorb moisture and odors. .Remix the damp bedding with dry bedding until it appears dry.   

An sprinkle of Stall DRY will help to reduce the ammonia levels in your collection area, which also leads to reducing the accumulation of flies, and nasty odors..

Pros

  • made of kiln-dried wood
  • available in fir, alder or pine, sawdust
  • low in dust
  • highly absorbent
  • composts well
  • easy to clean up manure and urine 
  • cost effective

Cons

  • may not absorb moisture as well in cold weather

Cleaning

The best time to muck out a stall is when it is empty. Pick out manure and soiled straw with a metal pitchfork and place it in a pile. Check for additional manure or soiled straw by moving the clean straw to the corners of the stall with a pitchfork or rake.  Allow the ground to dry.  Sprinkle the exposed stall floor with Stall DRY on the wet areas to absorb moisture and odors.  Spread the remaining clean straw over the stall floor and add additional bedding as required.  

For spot cleaning, pick out manure and soiled straw with a metal pitchfork.  Sprinkle wet bedding with an absorbent deodorizer.

The soiled straw and manure can be placed in a collection area that can be later collected and used by mushroom farmers.  

A sprinkle of Stall DRY will help to reduce the ammonia levels in your collection area, which also leads to reducing the accumulation of .flies, and nasty odors.

Pros

  • Manure and urine settles to bottom creating a type of barrier
  • low cost option depending on availability
  • composts well

Cons

  • requires ample room for storage
  • require around 5 bales per horse per week
  • potential for accumulation mold and ammonia due to low absorbency
  • dusty

Pros

  • provides a cushioning effect
  • level surface
  • easily scoop manure and soiled bedding
  • reduce amount of bedding required
  • reduced stall waste
  • less storage space needed for bedding
  • can use in combination with wood pellets or shavings
  • makes stall cleanup easier when using other bedding
Cons
  • inital investment is pricey
 
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Protecting the Harvest

Protecting the Havrvest

GRAIN STORAGE AND DIATOMACEOUS EARTH

Fall is upon us once again. 
For millennia, this season of harvest means it’s time to store the
summer’s abundance for a long dark winter ahead.  People have used granaries for over eleven
thousand years; archaeological excavations in the Jordan Valley near the Dead
Sea have revealed storage structures at least that old.  In today’s world, grain storage can vary
between a few pounds and several thousand tonnes, depending on the facility.  Large or small, grain storage can pose
problems that are minimized by careful planning and preparation.

Structural hygiene is an important first step in good grain
management.  Buildings, structures and
grain bins should be well-maintained and inspected regularly for signs of pest
intrusion and excess moisture problems. Eliminating weeds and shrubbery from
the outside of granaries will reduce pest harborages. Sealing any cracks and
crevices in and around grain bins is crucial to prevent intruders. 

One of the biggest threats to successful grain storage is
excess moisture, according to the University of Kentucky – College of
Agriculture.  Wet or damp grain will rot,
and spoilage can spread quickly throughout a bin. The Grains Research and
Development Corporation of Australia recommends treating stored grains with
diatomaceous earth (DE) as a protective measure. 

Using DE has the dual advantage of controlling both moisture
and insects.   The microscopic porous
structure of DE is sponge-like, absorbing moisture from grains. This absorbent
property is also effective as an insecticide. 
The mode of action is mechanical, not chemical; DE kills the insects by
desiccation, after abrading their waxy exoskeletons.

The use of diatomaceous earth can reduce or eliminate the
need for strong chemical fumigants. 
These insecticidal gases are very useful for grain protection.  However, they are toxic, must be applied by
trained professionals, and can only be used after an infestation has occurred.
DE treatments can help prevent insects, and in turn the need for
fumigation.  In cases like this, an ounce
of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!

Interestingly, our long tradition of grain storage has had a
profound side effect for human-animal relationships.  It is widely theorized that wild cats first
became accustomed to humans via rodent-hunting around grain bins. Both species
soon realized the advantages of cooperation: cats provide the pest control and
in return are rewarded with shelter, protection and affection.  The human-feline love affair has continued since.

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The Dangers of Hydrated Lime

Ammonia can be very dangerous to the health of both animals and people. Studies have concluded that even low levels of ammonia can cause stress to an animal’s respiratory system. It is therefore extremely important to control ammonia within confined spaces.

For many years people have used and continue to use hydrated lime to help rid their barns and stables of ammonia and the smell that accompanies it. However, studies have found that hydrated lime may be doing more harm than good. In fact, specialists at North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University concluded that hydrated lime increases the alkalinity of litter and, in fact, creates more ammonia by converting ammonium into ammonia gas!

Not only is hydrated lime a very short-term solution (that only works to cover up the smell of ammonia) but it can also be a very dangerous product to use. If high concentrations of hydrated lime dust are inhaled, irritation to the respiratory tract will occur. Dermatitis can result from prolonged exposure and repeated skin contact and a risk of severe and permanent eye damage exists if hydrated lime comes in contact with the eyes. The product can cause burns in the presence of moisture and will cause irritation of the gastrointestinal tract when ingested. Personal protective equipment should be worn at all times when using hydrated lime.

Alternatives to hydrated lime, such as Barn Fresh, are all natural and safe solutions that will work to absorb liquids and ammonia. Barn Fresh, for example, contains diatomaceous earth and calcium bentonite, making it safe to use with all types of animals, even if ingested.

Natural products like Barn Fresh are much more effective and safer to use than hydrated lime.

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Could You and Your Animals Be At Risk: The Hazardous Effects of Ammonia in Barns, Stalls and Coops

Ammonia emissions are a common by-product of animal waste. These emissions can negatively impact your animal’s health and production. As well, you yourself can be harmed by high levels of ammonia and even low levels can irritate the eyes and lungs. The environment is another concern, as ammonia emissions affect air quality.

Ammonia is one of the most dangerous gases that is present in the air in barns and stables. It is produced from the decomposition of manure. The protein in an animal’s diet contains nitrogen that is metabolized by their bodies into animal protein such as milk, meat or eggs however any nitrogen that is not metabolized is excreted in the animal’s urine or feces. It is the process of decomposition of the manure that emits ammonia into the air.

Ammonia has a very strong odor and often accumulates inside barns and stables. The ammonia emitted into the air by agricultural operations can have a very harmful effect on air quality and the environment. It has been estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection that animal agriculture can be held accountable for fifty to eight-five percent of all man-made ammonia emissions in the US.

It is important to control ammonia in order to protect your animals, yourself and the environment. Manure management and proper ventilation are two steps that you can take to control these emissions. You can also use stall deodorizers to neutralize ammonia and absorb odors and moisture. This will keep your barn dry and protect you, your animals and the environment from the negative effects of ammonia emissions.

For more information on how to reduce ammonia in your barn and stalls, check out:
Providing a Clean and Safe Environment for Your Animals: The Stall DRY Method

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Parasites in Goats

Parasites continue to be an important concern for goat farmers and producers. These parasites can cause economic and production losses and even serious illness and death in goats. In fact, internal parasites are recognized as a common disease among goats.

An infected goat may show symptoms and become lethargic, have diarrhea, lose weight or barely be able to maintain their weight. However these signs can easily go unnoticed, posing a serious threat to the health and safety of your animal.

Internal parasites infect the gastrointestinal tract, liver, lungs, blood system, lymphatic system, and skin of a goat.

Parasites are present in almost every herd in the United States. The most common parasites that infect these herds are barber pole worms, round worms, stomach worms, Cooper’s worms, wire worms, hookworms, threadworms, whipworms, and nodular worms, lung worms and meningeal or brain worm.

An adult worm lives in the stomach of a goat where it lays a large number of eggs. These eggs are passed in manure. The eggs develop and hatch within 5 days to several months. Warm and wet conditions are most favorable for the development of the eggs.

A goat becomes infected when it consumes these parasites while out on pasture or in a barn. Larvae that hatch out in the pasture are splashed onto blades of grass by the rain where they are then consumed by goats. It is necessary for a goat to ingest the larvae in order for it to complete its life cycle.

Once they have been consumed, the larvae take approximately 2 to 3 weeks to mature and begin to lay eggs in the goat’s stomach. Some larvae may also become dormant after they have been eaten. These larvae wait to develop and are often immune to de-wormers.

Sufficient damage is caused to a goat by these parasites. Larvae in the stomach damage gland cells and parasites such as barber pole worms live on blood, removing considerable amounts from the animal. The parasite may remove blood faster than the animal can replace it, resulting is death.

Brain worms are transferred to goats by deer. The brain worms live in the lining of a deer’s brain and are passed in their feces. While these worms are not dangerous to the deer, they can have very harmful effects on goats. The larvae in the deer’s manure are eaten by snail and slugs which in turn are consumed by goats out on pasture.

Goats are most at risk out in the pasture when the weather has been damp and warm. However, larvae can survive winter conditions, if they are not too harsh, and therefore may be found in pastures in the early spring.

It is important to have a veterinarian check stool samples in order to determine what type of parasites are infecting your goats, the extent of the infection and what you can do to treat them.

A simple check that you can perform yourself involves looking for signs of anemia. This can be done by checking your goats’ gums as well as underneath their eyelids. These areas should be bright pink or red in color. If they are pale pink or grey your goat is showing signs of anemia and this is an indication that they should be de-wormed. Dirty rear ends from diarrhea can also be a sign that your goat may be infected with internal parasites.

In order to prevent parasites it is important that you maintain proper grazing management. This means moving goats to a new pasture once it has been grazed down to a certain level. Orchard grass and fescue should be grazed when the plants are between 3 inches and 10 inches tall and Bluegrass and clover should be grazed when the plants are 2 inches to 5 inches tall.

The best way to protect your animals is to de-worm them a few days before sending them out to pasture in the spring and then again several weeks later. In order to protect them through the winter months it is best to de-worm them when the weather becomes cold and frost begins to show up. This will remove any parasites that they have consumed and protect them throughout the winter.

During the summer many farmers de-worm their entire herd while others only treat goats that show sign of infection. A major concern with de-worming goats is that over time the parasites may become immune to certain de-wormers. It is important to use a variety of de-worming methods and preventative techniques.

Whichever method you prefer, it is important to treat your goats in order to protect them from deadly infections of internal parasites. Be sure to monitor the effectiveness of your de-worming applications and consult a veterinarian for professional advice.

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Providing a Clean and Safe Environment for Your Animals: The Stall DRY Method

Like so many others, you’re sure to love Stall DRY!

Stall DRY is a natural stall deodorizer that has the ability to control flies, decrease ammonia levels, absorb odor and moisture and extend the life of your bedding! Stall DRY can be used with all types of animals, large and small.

By applying Stall DRY using the method below, you are sure to get the results you want and to provide your animals with a clean and healthy environment.

The Stall DRY Method

For application in a stall, cage or kennel (can be applied to dirt, concrete, wood, metal or rubber mats):

  • Apply a thin layer (approximately 5 lbs per 10′ x 10′ area) to clean surface.
  • Place bedding over the top (any type of bedding can be used).
  • Continue to use Stall DRY each time you clean the stall, cage or kennel. Simply sprinkle a generous layer of Stall DRY on top of wet bedding. Let sit for approximately 10 minutes, toss the Stall DRY into the bedding in the area which it was applied (this allows the product to come in contact with the urine and wet bedding in order to absorb the wetness and neutralize the ammonia).

As well, be sure to apply a thin layer of Stall DRY on top of manure piles to help control odor and flies. Stall DRY can reduce fly larva and eggs. By killing just one pair of flies, Stall DRY can eliminate up to 3o million flies every 60 days!

If Stall DRY is being used with rubber mats, be sure to apply a small amount of the product along the edges and seams of the mat in order to catch and absorb any urine that runs off the edges. This will also help to keep the urine from getting under the mats and deteriorating them.

When using Stall DRY in rabbit cages or other pens or cages with a pan that sits under the cage to catch droppings and urine:

  • Place 1-11/2 inch(es) of Stall DRY in the pan.
  • Simply remove the waste each day using a scoop (such as a kitty litter scoop).

If you do not wish to clean the waste pan daily, cleanliness can be prolonged by sprinkling a small amount of Stall DRY on the top of the pan in order to control the odor and wetness.

Please Note: The amount of Stall DRY needed to fully dry up wet bedding will depend on the amount of liquid as well as the type of surface that the product has been applied to. For example, a horse will require more Stall DRY than a smaller animal such as a rabbit or hamster. As well, surfaces such as dirt, that become very wet, may require more Stall DRY to fully absorb the liquid however, with continued use the amount needed will be reduced.

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Stall DRY for Foaling Mares

Stall DRY is known for its amazing absorptive qualities as well at its ability to naturally reduce odors and ammonia. Composed of diatomaceous earth and calcium rich montmorillonite, Stall DRY is a natural product that is safe to use around all of your animals, even if it is ingested.

Stall DRY can be used in your barn, stalls and coops at all times including during the birth of a foal.

Simply apply a thin layer of Stall DRY (approximately 5 lbs per 10’x10’ area) under your usual stall bedding or sprinkle the product on top. This will help to absorb liquids, keeping the stall as mess free as possible during the birth of a new foal.

When using Stall DRY for the birth of a foal, be sure to clean up the wet product after use.

For more tips on how to use Stall DRY please see: Providing a Clean and Safe Environment for Your Animals: The Stall DRY Method

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Diatomaceous Earth for Organic Production

Sunflower

The trend towards organic agriculture continues to be important as individuals strive to create a sustainable future.

For many years people have used diatomaceous earth for various purposes including external pest control and as a food filtering aid. However, is this substance a permitted substance for use in organic production?

The answer is “YES”. According to Canadian Organic Growers, Food Grade diatomaceous earth is considered a natural product and is contained on the Permitted Substances List for organic production.

Diatomaceous Earth is contained on the permitted substances lists for livestock production, crop production and processing. Permitted uses include

  • Natural plant protectant (natural insecticide)
  • Anti-caking agent in feed to a maximum of 2% if the total diet
  • External parasite control for livestock (achieved by dusting the animals and the litter or bedding area)
  • Food filtering aid or clarifying agent

Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth falls into the organic production category.

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Monitoring Lice in Livestock

While lice in cattle may seem harmless, a large infestation can in fact cause substantial financial loss due to decreased health and productivity.

Lice are tiny insects that live on an animal’s body. They can cause severe itching and result in many other negative effects including loss of appetite, decreased weight gain, stress and a decreased ability to fight disease.

There are two types of lice – chewing and biting lice and sucking lice.

Chewing and biting lice feed on debris on the surface of the skin such as dead skin, scabs, hair and skin secretions. Sucking lice, on the other hand, feed on blood and serum from the animal’s body, and are the most concerning.

Lice can spread throughout a herd and are passed on through direct contact. Infestations are most common during cold, winter weather when the animals’ thick coats create an ideal environment for the lice.

While it may not always be easy to spot a louse infestation in your cattle, there are several signs to watch for.

Signs of lice in cattle include:

  • Rough hair/shaggy appearance
  • Excessive licking and rubbing
  • Hair loss/bald areas on the face, neck, back, shoulders and the base of the tail
  • Loss of appetite
  • Poor weight gain
  • Pale appearance
  • Lack of energy

The presence of lice and the extent of infestation can be determined using a simple monitoring technique.

To determine the presence of lice on your cattle, examine five areas (each about four inches long) on the animal’s body. These areas should include those where lice most commonly accumulate including the dewlap (or brisket), cheek, muzzle, around the eyes, withers, topline and tailhead. Use a comb to part the animal’s hair and a light to help examine the area for lice on the skin.

Count the lice observed in these five areas to determine the severity of the infestation. If less than ten lice are observed (in total) then only a minimal infestation exists. If the number of lice totals ten to fifty, a moderate infestation is present. Fifty-one or more lice signify a heavy infestation.

There are many treatments available to help treat a lice infestation. Some operations may require a natural alternative in which case producers have found diatomaceous earth (such as DE-cide) and other natural substances to be effective.

For more information on diatomaceous earth and other lice management techniques, please see: Natural Control of Lice in Cattle

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Natural Control of Lice in Cattle

A large infestation of lice in cattle can be very harmful to the animals’ health as well as detrimental to a herd’s productivity. In fact, lice can cause extreme irritation, decreased milk production, appetite and feed conversion as well as blood loss, damage to the cows’ hide and unnecessary stress.

In organic operations, producers require a natural solution however, even in operations that do not require organic management strategies, a natural, chemical-free alternative is often preferred.

Strong prevention management practices focusing on nutrition and environment should always be employed to help decrease the likelihood of a severe infestation. Steps that can be taken to help prevent an infestation include:

  • Keeping animals outdoors as much as possible
  • Avoiding close confinement of the animals
  • Providing the herd with quality feed and essential minerals
  • Creating a stress free environment
  • Providing a clean, dry environment
  • Carefully observing new animals before introducing them into the herd (for example, it is often a good idea to keep the new animal in confinement for the first few weeks so that it can be determined that the animal is not carrying lice)
  • Ensuring that the herd does not come in contact with other herds

According to the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, in the case of an infestation, diatomaceous earth can be an effective natural control for lice.

It has been noted by producers that diatomaceous earth (often in combination with other elements such as sulphur) applied externally to an animal can help to kill parasites such as lice.

For more information on how to identify and evaluate the severity of an infestation, please see: Monitoring Lice in Livestock

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