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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

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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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Ulcers in Horses: Prevention Management Practices

Horse in desert

Ulcers are a very common health issues in horses therefore, it is important that necessary management practices are established in order to reduce the likelihood of the development of ulcers.

For information on common causes of equine ulcers check out Horse Health: What Causes Ulcers

The following are steps that can be taken to address the causes discussed in the article above and to help decrease the likelihood that your animal will develop ulcers.

Diet

Increase the amount of roughage in your horse’s diet by providing free-choice access to grass or hay.

Avoid or decrease the amount of grain in the diet. If possible, putting your horse on pasture is the best alternative.

Feed your horse more frequently or increase the amount of time he or she spends eating.

Provide probiotics to aid in digestion.

Stress

Try to decrease the amount of stress your horse experiences. If your horse must be stalled, arrange for him or her to be able to see the other horses that he or she socializes with. As well, offering a ball or other object that your horse can play with in the stall may also help to reduce stress.

Medication

Certain medications can increase the production of acids in the stomach therefore it may be beneficial to avoid these medications or to try to offset this production by using the practices above.

There are also medications that can help to decrease acid production. However, these are only necessary for horses that exhibit signs of clinical disease or when other factors, such as stress, cannot be removed.

The prevention of ulcers is the most important step that you can take to ensure your horse’s health.

Please note: It is always important to consult and follow the advice of your veterinarian in regards to any health related issues with your horse.

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Horse Health: What Causes Ulcers?

Two horses playing

It is very common for horses and foals to have stomach ulcers. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 50% of foals and 33% of adult horses that are confined in stalls have mild ulcers, with up to 60% of show horses and 90% of racehorses developing moderate to severe ulcers!

Many factors can contribute to the development of ulcers. Below are the most common causes of ulcers in horses:

Diet

In humans, the production of hydrochloric acid is stimulated by eating. In horses, however, hydrochloric acid is constantly produced. Horses have therefore evolved to be grazers, frequently eating small meals in order to help reduce the damaging effects of the acid in their stomachs. If a horse does not eat frequently the acid can accumulate in the stomach and irritate it, causing ulcers.

As well, the consumption of high volumes of concentrates (e.g. sweet feed, pelleted feed) can also lead to the development of ulcers, as concentrates can increase the production of acids. On the other hand, roughage intake can help to decrease damage to the stomach, as it requires more chewing, stimulating the production of saliva. This saliva, when swallowed, helps to neutralize stomach acid.

Exercise

Strenuous exercise can also attribute to the development of ulcers in horses. Exercise can increase the amount of time that it takes for the stomach to empty therefore, if a horse does not eat frequently and engages in strenuous exercise, his or her empty stomach will be exposed to large amounts of acid for long periods of time.

Studies have also shown that training can have an effect on acid levels in the stomach. Research has shown that horses may experience higher acid levels during training. As well, it was discovered that when a horse is galloping, pressure from the abdomen can cause the stomach to contract, pushing acid from the lower stomach up in to the more vulnerable upper stomach, increasing acid exposure.

Stress

Stress, both environmental and physical, can increase the likelihood of ulcers by decreasing the amount of blood flow to the stomach. Decreased blood flow to the area makes the lining of the stomach more vulnerable to damage from stomach acid.

Training, hauling, frequent competitions, unfamiliar surroundings and mixing groups of horses can all be factors that contribute to stress and the development of ulcers.

Medications

Certain medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) (eg. phenylbutazone, also known as Bute, and flunixin meglumine, also known as Banamine) or corticosteroids (eg. prednisolone, dexamethasone) can also contribute to the development of ulcers in horses. For instance, NSAIDS block the production of a chemical called PgE2 which helps to decrease acid production. Without the production of this chemical acid levels can become very high in the stomach.

For more information on management practices that can be employed to help decrease the likelihood of the development of ulcers in your horse please see: Ulcers in Horses: Prevention Management Practices

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Barn Fresh Plus vs. Hydrated Lime & Limestone (Ca)

The results are in…Barn Fresh Plus provides more coverage per bag and absorbs more than three times the amount of liquid than Limestone (Ca). When analyzing remaining airborne ammonia, Barn Fresh Plus outperforms both Limestone (Ca) and Hydrated Lime, leaving zero detected ammonia after twenty four hours.

Barn Fresh Plus absorbs up to 125% of its weight in liquid, suppresses ammonia and odor and contains an antimicrobial and moisture activated scenting agent to help eliminate additional bacterial odors.

In addition to its ability to outperform other odor control, ammonia control and absorbent products, Barn Fresh Plus, unlike Hydrated Lime, is safe to handle, is not toxic or caustic and requires no special equipment or handling.

Barn Fresh Plus is also produced at a specific granulation in order to reduce dust.

Barn Fresh Plus can be used in calf hutches, under bedding, over sand and in any other area that is prone to be exposed to moisture and ammonia. Barn Fresh Plus is also often tilled into top soil in open lots to help absorb and dry out the lot and to reduce ammonia. Please note: Barn Fresh Plus contains a scenting agent and antimicrobial. The product should not be tilled into soil that will be used for growing food.

Barn Fresh Plus, when used in calf hutches, will absorb ammonia and reduce bacterial odors that attract flies and other insects. Barn Fresh Plus will also help create a drier, healthier environment while calves are in their hutches.

Application:

Barn Fresh Plus is best applied after cleaning out the hutches and before the calves are placed back into them for their 6-9 week hutch interval. However, the product is safe, non-caustic and non-corrosive and can be applied with cattle present, if needed.

Recommended application rate in calf hutches is 10 lb per 100 sq. ft.

Test Results:

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