Archive for March, 2022

Spring Garden Hazards

Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

Spring Garden HazardsSpring Garden Hazards: As spring arrives and the first buds appear, gardening can be a relaxing and healthy way to pass the time.  But it can also pose some potential risks to our cat and dog friends. With care and some knowledge, these risks can be avoided.  Here is a list of potential spring garden hazards.

Fertilizers and Pesticides:

Fertilizers containing blood meal, bone meal, feather meal or iron can be tasty for dogs and particularly dangerous. Ingestion of large amounts of meal containing products can form concretions in the stomach resulting in obstruction and severe pancreatitis.  Likewise, those containing iron can lead to iron poisoning causing vomiting, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, abdominal pain, shock, tremors, and potential cardiac and liver effects.  Consider using natural fertilizers available many garden supply stores or local farms.  Ingestion of pesticides or insecticides containing organophosphates can be life threatening even in small amounts.

Mulch:

Cocoa mulch is made from the discarded shells and hulls of the cocoa bean.  Its chocolate like smell can be particularly attractive to dogs. Similarly, like chocolate, this mulch contains theobromine and caffeine.  The amount of toxin present can vary from product to product.  Symptoms of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and in extreme cases, death.  Keep pets safe by closely supervising them or using safer alternatives to cocoa mulch.  They include rubber mulch, cedar mulch, leaves, pine needles or untreated wood chips.  While these are safer alternatives, please remember these can still be ingested and cause an obstruction.

Compost:

Gardeners love compost for its nutrient value and many have their own pile.  Compost can be toxic to pets and wildlife and should always be fenced off.  As organic matter decomposes in the compost pile, molds can grow.  Consequently, these molds can produce tremorgenic mycotoxins.  As a result, when ingested symptoms can occur within 30 minutes and include agitation, panting, drooling, vomiting, tremors, and seizures.  However, with supportive care the prognosis is good.

Snail and Slug Bates:

These are available in pellets, granules, powder or liquid.  Most contain metaldehyde which is very dangerous to dogs and cats.  As a result, symptoms can occur within 1-2 hours of ingestion and include salivation, restlessness, vomiting, tremors, seizures and increase body temperature.  Without veterinary care the symptoms can last for days and be fatal, for instance.  Gopher, mole and other vermin bates contain strychnine and are highly toxic.

Flowers and Plants: 

Many plants can be toxic to pets.  Some can have only mild symptoms of gastrointestinal upset to severe liver or kidney failure and death.  For example, the following is an incomplete list of common plants.

  • Severe toxicity:  Sego palm, Azalea/Rhododendron, Caster bean, Cyclamen, Oleander and Yew.
  • Moderate Toxicity:  Aloe Vera, Amaryllis, Begonia, Chrysanthemum, Daffodil, Hosta, Morning glory and Poinsettia.
  • Mild toxicity:  Baby’s breath, Carnation, Gladiola and Tomato plant.

Citronella candles:

Ingestion of citronella candles, used to deter mosquitos, can cause gastrointestinal inflammation including vomiting and diarrhea.

Above all, if you think your pet has ingested a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian for advice and treatment.  Additionally, you can contact the ASPCA Hotline at 1-888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Hotline at 1-800-213-6680.  Both charge a fee for their service.  Several pet poison apps are available, as well.

In conclusion, contact or visit Kissimmee Valley Feed for natural lawn and garden products.

Article provided by Nutrena.

Prepare Your Rabbits for Changing Seasons

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

Prepare Your Rabbits for Changing SeasonsPrepare Your Rabbits for Changing Seasons: Temperature can have a profound effect on feed intake in rabbits.

If your rabbits live outside or in non-environmentally controlled buildings, there are management steps you can take to keep them comfortable and healthy year-round.

Keeping rabbits cool in summer:

Rabbits are not good at all at dealing with hot weather, especially if it is humid. Hot, humid weather will severely limit the amount of food a rabbit eats. Digestion of fiber in the cecum of the rabbit produces considerable heat which the rabbit cannot adequately dissipate in hot weather, therefore it eats less. Rabbits cannot sweat and must dissipate heat through the millions of capillaries in their ears and if stressed enough via panting.

A rabbit will get accustomed somewhat to the heat and eventually eat more, however it will never eat as much when it is hot as it does when it is in a comfortable temperature zone. This means that it is very important to feed a high-quality feed that will continue to provide adequate nutrition, even when intake is reduced.

Does must eat considerably more when they are producing milk, because milk production takes a lot of energy. Hot weather can therefore affect the growth of the kits by reducing the amount of food the doe eats, thus decreasing the amount of milk she produces. The weaning weight of kits is typically less in the summer months, and this is true regardless of breed. The kits themselves will then gain less per day than when the temperature is cooler, meaning you will feed your rabbits longer to eventually obtain the desired weight.

To maintain adequate production during hot weather, do everything you can to keep your rabbits comfortable. Be sure they always have plenty of cool, fresh water to drink.

How to keep rabbits cool:

  • Provide shade. Rabbits should never be forced to be in the hot sun.
  • Orient hutches to capture breezes or use fans in the rabbitry.
  • Fill freezer bags with ice (or freeze bottles of water) and place in the hutch. Rabbits will lay on these to cool down.
  • Keep water clean, cool, fresh and plentiful.
  • Feed a more nutrient-dense feed to ensure greater nutrient intake in a lesser feed amount.

Unless you have air-conditioned premises for your rabbits, the effects of excessive heat on your rabbits’ feed intake and production capabilities cannot be completely avoided. But if you follow these guidelines, your rabbits will be happier campers when the summer temperatures ratchet up.

Keeping rabbits warm in winter:

Rabbits are fairly well-adapted for dealing with the cold. However, they must eat more to meet the increased energy requirements for keeping warm. Therefore, the amount of feed provided during the winter months will need to be increased – maybe as much as three times. The additional feed is to account for the extra calories spent on maintenance of body temperature.

A little bit of long-stem grass hay will increase heat of fermentation in the cecum. Therefore, helping to keep the rabbit warm. Be sure that your rabbits can get out of cold winds and are protected from rain and snow. Extra bedding can also help to provide warmth. With good protection and adequate feed and fresh water, your rabbits will do very well in the winter months.

In conclusion, visit Kissimmee Valley Feed to shop our Rabbit Selection.

Sources:

Purina Mills

Springtime Weight Gain in Horses

Friday, March 11th, 2022

Horses in SpringtimeSpringtime Weight Gain in Horses: Winter can be hard on horses. When spring arrives, it is not unusual to find that a horse has dropped weight during the coldest months. When the mercury drops, a horse requires more energy to maintain body temperature. Winter is especially challenging for senior horses and young horses, who have a harder time maintaining body temperature. A sound nutrition program and suitable exercise can help remedy loss of condition as winter turns to spring.

Cold increases energy needs:

Horses have an estimated lower critical temperature (LCT) between 30-50○ F (-17-10○ C), depending on general body condition and thickness of haircoat. If the temperature falls below the LCT, a horse needs to burn energy to keep warm. For every 10○ F (5.5○ C) the temperature drops below LCT, a horse needs an estimated additional 2,000 kilocalories (kcal) to maintain body temperature. Often, this can be achieved with an extra 3 lb (1.4 kg) of hay.

“Hay is the best option for helping a horse create its own warmth,” said Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research. “Hay is fermented in a part of the hindgut called the cecum. Because internal heat is a byproduct of fermentation, consuming and processing hay keeps a horse warm.”

However, when rain and wind become factors, increases in energy needs can quickly escalate beyond what can be satisfied by hay alone, Crandell explained. In this case, concentrates and fat supplements are valuable in supplying calories. In regard to fat supplements, for example, one-half cup (4 oz or 120 ml) of vegetable oil provides approximately 2,000 kcal.

Body condition as a tool for weight management:

Assessing body condition year-round is the best management tool to identify changes in weight. The most familiar body condition scoring system features a scale from 1 to 9 that gauges fat cover and distribution. A score of 1 or 2 denotes an emaciated horse (veterinary intervention may be necessary), 3 or 4 is thin, 5 or 6 is ideal, and 7, 8, or 9 is overweight or obese.

Keeping track of weight, as well as body condition, is also important. A weight tape, placed around the horse’s barrel, directly behind the shoulders as the horse stands square, is an excellent tool for estimating weight and monitoring change. Measuring is important, as horse owners often notice changes in a measurement before noticing weight fluctuations visually. Weigh at a regular time every four to six weeks. For example, the first day of every month or each time the horse is visited by the farrier. Keep a log to track weight, pinpoint fluctuations, and adjust the diet accordingly.

If a horse is thin after winter, it is important to ask why. Is it related to a health problem (teeth, soundness, pain)? Is the horse stressed in some way (evolving herd dynamics, limited feeding stations)? Have your veterinarian conduct a wellness exam at least once per year. Take stock of the horse’s environment and behavior. What changed, if anything?

Concocting diets for weight gain:

Simply put, to gain weight a horse needs to consume more calories than it burns. Weight gain should be slow and controlled. Avoid rapid weight gain. Forage alone may not have enough calories for significant weight gain. Concentrates and fat supplements can help in these situations. To achieve an increase of one body condition score (e.g., from a 3 to 4), the average 1,100-lb (500-kg) adult horse needs to gain 44-50 lb (20-23 kg). That gain can take 30-60 days. Be patient. The amount of increased feed in the diet will depend on the individual horse, overall health, and activity level. Slowly make changes and increases in feed intake. Offering several small meals of grain is preferable to one or two larger meals.

Do not underestimate the caloric value of pasture. “Horses on pasture may benefit from the increase in calories with the improved quality of the spring grasses,” noted Crandell. “Fresh spring grass is high in digestible fiber, from which the horse can derive lots of energy.”

Forage should make up no less than 50% of the horse’s diet and ideally more (70-100%, depending on the horse’s needs). For horses with dental concerns that may not be able to chew hay properly, forage substitutes like soaked hay cubes, chopped forage, and soaked beet pulp often work well.

A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet is recommended for horses with metabolic concerns. For example, horses with Cushing’s syndrome or metabolic syndrome, that also need to gain weight. Limit pasture grazing with a grazing muzzle or drylot turnout. Hay can be soaked to reduce dietary carbohydrates as well. “A combination of soaked hay, a high-fat, low-carbohydrate concentrate, and a fat supplement, if added calories are needed, often suits these horses well,” Crandell recommended.

Resources:

In conclusion, do you have questions about Springtime Weight Gain in Horses? Visit us at Kissimmee Valley Feed and check out our horse feeds!

Article Sources: Kentucky Equine Research

Cattle Mineral Tips for Spring

Friday, March 11th, 2022

Cattle Mineral Tips for SpringCattle Mineral Tips for Spring: As winter shifts to spring, it’s time to take a look at cattle management. Specifically, your cattle mineral program. Make sure cattle management, and cattle mineral, reflect the season to help keep cattle performing year-round.

Quick, timely considerations for your Purina cattle mineral program:

  • It can be tough getting cattle to eat mineral when grass is green and lush. Have one cattle mineral feeder for every 20 to 30 head. You can also use a complete cattle mineral or mineral tub to encourage consumption.
  • Ensure cattle receive enough magnesium to prevent grass tetany. Consider using Wind and Rain® Storm® Hi Mag Cattle Mineral.
  • Spring grass typically has the highest phosphorus level of the growing season. Mineral sources of phosphorus and magnesium are bitter and can reduce palatability. Consider using a high-magnesium cattle mineral with a lower phosphorus level to improve intake.
  • Global vitamin A production issues have caused prices to rise considerably over the past few months. However, vitamin A is very important for reproduction, so it’s critical to avoid a deficiency. Green, leafy forages tend to be a good source of vitamin A. Wind and Rain® Storm® Hi Mag Cattle Mineral contains a low level of vitamin A to complement lush grass.
  • Get a jump start on fly control. Start using Wind and Rain® Storm® Fly Control Cattle Mineral 30 days before the last frost and continue through fly season.

Check out Kissimmee Valley Feed’s full Cattle Feed and Supplies Selection. In addition, Try Purina® minerals today through the Feed Greatness Challenge.

Article Source: Kent Tjardes, Ph.D., Field Cattle Consultant for Purina Mills

Everything you Need to Know about Raising Baby Chicks

Monday, March 7th, 2022

Bringing home your baby chicks is an exciting milestone in raising backyard chickens. The three key essentials for raising baby chicks: Warm, water and feed. Start chicks strong by providing a complete chick starter feed from day 1 through week 18. raising baby chicks

For those of us welcoming new chicks how can we give them a solid start?

To best transition chicks into a flock, provide comfort, care and complete nutrition from day one. A chick never gets over a bad start. The actions we take before chicks arrive and the care we provide in the first few days can help set-up our chicks to be happy and healthy long-term.

First things first, check out our Backyard Flock Products!

Before baby chicks arrive: Set up the brooder

Set up your brooder about 48 hours before your chicks arrive. This allows time for bedding and equipment to dry and the temperature to set.

Equipment for day one includes:

  • Brooder: The brooder is the first home of new chicks. Be sure it is comfortable, warm and draft-free with at least 3 to 4 square feet per chick. The area should be circular and expandable.
  • Heat lamp: Assemble a heat lamp in the center of the brooder for bird warmth. Hang the heat lamp about 20 inches above the litter, with 2.5 to 3 feet between the lamp and the guard walls. The temperature under the heat lamp, or comfort zone, should be 95 degrees Fahrenheit and adequate room in the brooder should be available for the chicks to get out from under the heater if they get too hot. After week one, gradually reduce heat by 5 degrees Fahrenheit each week until reaching a minimum of 55 degrees.
  • Bedding: Add an absorbant wood shavings bedding to the floor of the brooder. Place bedding 3 to 4 inches deep to keep the area dry and odor free. Remove wet bedding daily, especially around waterers. Do not use cedar shavings or other types of shavings that have a strong odor because the odor could affect the long term health of the bird.
  • Lights: Provide 18 – 22 hours of light for the first week. Then reduce light to 16 hours through the growing period or to the amount of light they will receive when they are 20 weeks of age.  The amount of light intensity required would be provided by a 40 watt bulb for each 100 square feet (10’ x 10’) of floor space.
  • Feeders: Offer 4 linear inches of feeder space for each bird. Clean egg cartons filled with feed make excellent and easily accessible feeders for young chicks. Provide low-lying feeders, or trough feeders, for after the transition.
  • Waterers: For every 25 chicks, fill two 1-quart waterers with room temperature water and place them in the brooder. To help water stay at room temperature, place the waterers in the brooder, outside the comfort zone (do not position underneath the heat lamp), 24 hours prior to the chicks’ arrival.

Introduce baby chicks to water

Once chicks arrive, introduce them to the brooding area. Water, at room temperature, should be available, but wait a couple hours to introduce feed.

This gives chicks a couple hours to drink and rehydrate before they start eating, fresh, quality water is essential for healthy chicks. Dip the beaks of several chicks into the water to help them locate it. These chicks will then teach the rest of the group to drink. Monitor the group to ensure all chicks are drinking within the first couple hours.

Teach baby chicks to eat

After chicks have had a chance to rehydrate, provide the nutrients they need through a complete chick starter feed. Provide a chick starter feed with at least 18 percent protein to help support the extra energy needed for early growth. The feed should also include amino acids for chick development; prebiotics, probiotics and yeast for immune health; and vitamins and minerals to support bone health.

First, teach the chicks to eat by placing feed on clean egg flats, shallow pans or simple squares of paper. On day 2, add proper feeders to the pens. Once chicks have learned to eat from the feeders, remove the papers, pans or egg flats.

Adjust feed as baby chicks develop

To keep feed fresh: Empty, clean and refill waterers and feeders daily. Also, raise the height of feeders and waterers so they are level with the birds’ backs as chicks grow. As chicks mature, their nutritional needs change. At age 18 weeks, adjust the feed provided to meet the birds’ evolving nutrition needs.

Transition layer chicks onto a higher-calcium complete feed, like Purina Layena Crumbles or Pellets, when they begin laying eggs at age 18 to 20 weeks. For meat birds and mixed flocks, choose a complete feed with 20 percent protein, like Purina Flock Raiser Crumbles and feed this diet from day one through adulthood.

This post on raising baby chicks has been adapted from purinamills.com.

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