Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Transitioning Chickens to Layer Feed

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

Wondering when it’s time to begin transitioning chickens to layer feed? For backyard chickens, most egg-laying breeds reach adulthood at 18 weeks and lay their first egg— perfect timing when you can start your chickens on layer feed.

This feed switch is an essential step in the road to farm fresh eggs because hens require different nutrients to produce eggs as compared to when they are growing.

To produce an egg each day, hens need high levels of calcium, vitamins and minerals. Hens transfer many of these nutrients directly into their eggs, so the chicken feed ingredients in the layer feed play an essential role in the eggs that hens produce.

Consider the following steps when transitioning to a complete chicken layer feed:

1. Choose a chicken feed formula that matches your goals.

Select a complete layer feed before the transition begins. Ideally, by week 16 the layer feed decision should be made. That way, the transition can be planned.

First, look for a complete layer feed. This means the feed should be formulated to provide everything hens require without a need to supplement.

There are many complete layer feed options available, Kissimmee Valley Feed offers Purina® Organic layer feed, Purina® Layena®Plus Omega-3 and Purina® Layena® pellets and crumbles.

Each of these chicken feed formulas is designed to meet specific flock goals. No matter the goals you have. be sure the layer feed is made with simple, wholesome ingredients. The feed should include 16 percent protein and at least 3.25 percent calcium as well as key vitamins and minerals.

These are just the essentials, though. Look for additional ingredients in the layer feed to bring hen health and egg quality to the next level.

A few next level ingredients to look for include:

Rich, yellow yolks: Marigold extract
Strong shells: Oyster Strong™ System
Immune and digestive health: Prebiotics and probiotics
Vibrant feathering: Essential amino acids such as lysine and methionine
Omega-rich eggs: Added omega-3 fatty acids

2. Transition over one week.

When birds reach 18 weeks old or when the first egg arrives, slowly switch your chickens to a layer feed. It is important to make the transition over time to prevent digestive upset.

For our backyard birds on our farm in Missouri, we have found it’s best to make the transition over time rather than all at once. We mix the starter and layer feed evenly for four or five days. Birds used to crumbles? Start with a crumble layer feed. The same goes with pellets. The more similar the two feeds are, the more smoothly the transition will go.

Many hens will eat the mixed feed without noticing a difference. When hens are eating both feeds, flock owners can stop feeding the starter feed and make the complete switch to all layer feed. It is important to give your birds enough time to adjust to the new diet. Most birds will adjust within a couple of weeks but some can take a month or longer to fully transition to their new diet.

3. Keep it consistent.

Once the transition to layer feed is complete, it’s best to maintain a routine.

We recommend providing free choice layer feed to hens and switching out the feed each morning and evening. If birds are free-ranging, offer the complete feed to hens before they go out in the morning. This will help them consume the nutrients they require before filling up on less nutritious insects and plants.

It’s important for the complete feed to make up at least 90 percent of the hen’s diet. We feed complete layer feeds on our farm. They are formulated to provide all the nutrients hens require at the correct levels. It’s reassuring to know that each bite of feed is balanced to keep our hens healthy and producing quality eggs.

Source: Purina Mills

Avoid the Summer Pasture Slump

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Avoid the summer pasture slump! The sight of fresh, green pastures as the summer months approach can be a welcome sight for many cattle producers. Especially after feeding costly forages throughout the winter.

However, just as quickly as that green grass comes, the pasture quality can diminish.  Subsequently, leaving both pasture and cows’ nutrient deficient.

These potential nutrient deficiencies come at a critical time frame when the cow likely has a calf at side. Most likely, the cow is either on target for re-breeding or is already re-bred and trying to grow her developing calf. Cattle nutrient requirements are high during this period. There are a few ways to prepare for a decline in pasture quality.

Forages mature as the summer goes on, losing nutrients, specifically protein, and allowing cows to lose body condition.

If forages are running under 7 percent protein, then you likely don’t have enough protein to support the cow and her calf. The majority of producers across the United States, unless they have some high-quality forages stockpiled, are not above that level and will need to find additional nutrient sources.

Additional nutrient sources:

Protein supplements can be used to help avoid this slip in condition. Especially late summer and into fall when cattle pasture grasses can be at their lowest nutrition value.

Adding protein tubs or blocks are two ways a producer can supplement their cow herd during this time of high nutrient requirements. Protein supplements can be fed from mid to late summer through mid-fall. During the winter months cubes can be added. This helps to meet energy requirements.

Protein supplements should be added before cattle start losing body condition. It pays to plan ahead for pastures that may become nutrient deficient. In most cases, pastures see a significant decline in nutrients in the August to September timeframe. Evaluating your pasture at various times throughout the summer, specifically mid- to late-summer, and adding a supplement before the pasture quality is too far diminished will help avoid a slip in body condition.

Protein deficiency may become a herd health challenge if pastures are not adequately managed. Symptoms include reduced intake and forage digestibility, reduced growth rate (both fetus and calf), loss of weight, inadequate intake of other nutrients, delayed estrus, irregular estrus, poor conception rate and reduced milk production.

It all narrows down to making sure your cows have what they need, when they need it. If they’re not getting the complete nutrition they need when the pasture is at its worst quality, you will likely see challenges develop.

These challenges may be easily avoided. Implementing a protein supplement program is the best way. Does your nutrition program stack up? Avoid the summer pasture slump by calling or visiting the Kissimmee Valley Feed Store #1 location. We are stocked with nutrients for your cattle.

DIY Frozen Dog Treats

Friday, July 9th, 2021

DIY Frozen Dog TreatsBeat the heat with these DIY frozen dog treats!  Ice cream can be hard for dogs to digest because milk and cream are the base of most ice cream recipes. And for some dogs, the lactose in dairy can cause stomach upset and other digestive issues like gas or diarrhea. Not to mention that too many sweet treats can lead to weight gain.

But, that doesn’t mean your dog has to be left out of your icy, sweet treat. (Kissimmee Valley Feed also offers plenty of other sorts of dogs treats: check out our pet selection here.)

Instead of leaving your dog out of the frozen fun here are some recipes for ice cream alternatives. Feed these treats in moderation, adjust your dog’s everyday food calories accordingly, and feel free to modify the recipes with other dog-safe foods.

Hide and Seek Ice Cubes:

Any dog-safe tasty liquid can be turned into a frozen treat. Simply pour into an ice cube tray and freeze so your dog can have a cube or two whenever you like. Consider your dog’s taste buds and try something meat-flavored like no-salt-added beef or chicken broth. For an extra-special indulgence, create hide and seek treats.

First, only fill the trays halfway before freezing the liquid. Once frozen, place a small treat like a blueberry or piece of freeze-dried liver in the middle of the cube.

Second, fill the rest of the tray with the remaining liquid. Once the entire cube is frozen, there will be a tasty surprise waiting inside when your dog licks or chomps the ice.

For a longer-lasting treat, consider filling your dog’s hollow rubber toy. (Just be sure to block all the openings but one before pouring in the liquid. You can use a hard treat like a cookie as a cork or plug holes with peanut butter.) After filling, stand the toy upright in the freezer until the liquid is ice.  The chilly toy will cool down your dog on a hot day. Subsequently, the work it takes to get every last drop of broth will keep your dog occupied for longer than other types of treats. Plus provide welcome mental stimulation.

Soft Serve Treats:

For an ice cream alternative with the same texture and consistency as the real thing, try blending frozen fruit with plain, unsweetened yogurt. Watermelon is safe for dogs and most love it, so it makes a perfect choice for this recipe. Cantaloupe chunks are another excellent option. Be sure to remove the rind from either melon, and always feed sweet fruit treats in moderation, taking the calories they provide into account with your dog’s regular diet.

First, cut the fruit into bite-size chunks, removing any seeds as you go.

Second, place the fruit in the freezer for at least four hours until frozen. If you spread out the chunks on a cookie sheet or in a freezer bag it will prevent them from freezing into a single clump.

Once the fruit is frozen, place it in a food processor or blender with about ¼ cup of plain, unsweetened yogurt for every 2 cups of fruit.

Third, blend until smooth, tweaking the amount of fruit and yogurt until you have the thickness you would like. Place in a bowl, on top of your dog’s dinner, or stuff in a hollow rubber toy and serve right away. (For more of a challenge, stuff this mixture inside a hollow rubber toy, then pop it back in the freezer to solidify.)

Feeding frozen yogurt may seem no different than feeding your dog ice cream. However, unless they suffer from lactose intolerance, plain yogurt is safe to eat for most dogs. It’s usually better tolerated than ice cream, plus the bacterial cultures in yogurt are great for intestinal health. Just be sure to choose plain yogurt without any added flavors, fruit, sugars, natural sweeteners, or artificial sweeteners. Read the label carefully to be sure the product does not contain toxic Xylitol.

If your dog doesn’t handle yogurt well, consider other options. This includes lactose-free, dairy-based yogurt or dairy-free yogurt made from plant products. Coconut milk can also be used if liquid is needed to thin out a recipe. Always read the label to avoid any unsafe additives or ingredients.

Frozen Pupsicles on a Stick:

For a frozen fruit smoothie on a stick, make bananas the foundation of your dog’s treat.

First, slice a few bananas then freeze the pieces for several hours.

Next, mix the fruit with a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt in a food processor until you have a smooth base with the thickness of a milkshake. Now you can blend in whatever mix-ins your dog would love. Consider bacon bits for a meaty treat, frozen strawberries and blueberries for a red, white, and blue celebration.

Third, when all the ingredients are blended together, pour into ice pop molds or paper cups, insert a “stick” in the middle and freeze.

To release the pupsicles from the molds, let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes or run warm water over the mold for a few seconds. If you use paper cups, simply peel the paper off before serving. If you have a toy breed, try mini water cups instead of full-size drinking cups.

For the pupsicle sticks, you have many options. You can use bone-shaped dog biscuits, salmon skin rolls, bully sticks, or any other stick-shaped, edible chew. For a safe yet non-edible stick, consider nylon chew bones. The stick will give your dog something to hold on to while licking and chewing the pupsicle. Plus, chewing the stick will provide even more fun for your dog when the smoothie is gone.

Cold and Sticky:

Peanut butter is safe for dogs and unsalted, no-sugar-added varieties are a great addition to frozen dog treats. So long as you read the label to confirm there’s no Xylitol listed. The stickiness of the peanut butter gives recipes a thick, ice-cream-like texture.

First, mix a small amount with plain yogurt and fruit, or blend it with mashed bananas to add extra flavor and density to the final treat. If the peanut butter is too thick for the blender, warm it first or add some liquid such as meat broth to the mix.

You can also make peanut butter the star ingredient. Simply layer peanut butter in the bottom half of ice cube trays, ice pop molds, or paper cups.

Next, top off with a layer of yogurt or meat broth and freeze. Pop the layered frozen treat out of the tray or mold or peel off the paper cup before serving. For fun icy treats, consider using silicone baking molds in exciting shapes like dog bones or dinosaurs. The peanut butter should slide right out of the mold once it’s frozen, and your dog will love cooling down with a cold and sticky treat.

Enjoy these DIY Frozen Dog Treats!

Source: American Kennel Club

 

Summer Feed Storage – What You Need to Know for Your Flock

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021

We think about summer feed storage and keeping feed the right way and serving it to your flock in the most efficient way. This can save you time and money. We all know summer brings heat! As well as important considerations when storing poultry and any other pet or livestock feed.

I have likely made all the mistakes that can be made in my poultry keeping days. Hopefully my experience can help some of you be the best livestock keepers you can be.

When I buy a bag of feed and bring it home, I pour it slowly into a metal storage container in my feed room. I use this same storage method all year long, to ensure consistency and quality in what I am feeding. Kissimmee Valley Feed has a hanging metal storage container in stock.

My feed room maintains a nice, cool temperature. A large magnolia tree shades it. It protects my barn from the sun and elements. I only buy one bag at a time, maybe two if it’s on sale, because my bin perfectly fits two 50 lb. bags. Once my feed is in the bin, I use a basic 4 quart feed scoop to fill my feeders.

I keep two 5 lb. feeders for 15 birds. I keep them full most of the time since my schedule doesn’t allow me to monitor them at all times. If you choose to fill up your feeders to free feed, I would recommend putting them up in the evenings (in a metal storage container) and putting them back out in the morning.

This will keep pests away. I also always check the age of the feed I buy to make sure it’s not out of date and free of pests. I let my birds empty their feeders before I refill them, no room for pickiness here!

Keep in mind my birds also get treats and free range during the day so they get plenty to eat. Shop local with us and check out Kissimmee Valley Feed’s poultry selection here!

There are three main points to address when considering feed storage and containers.

1. Environment

Feed kept in the hot sun and dry conditions will get overly dry and lose palatability. Feed stored in hot, humid conditions can mold and be prone to insects. Keep feed in a container that stays out of the elements and is in a dry, cool location.

If the feed that’s already in the feeder gets wet or starts to age, dump it out and start fresh (maybe with a little less this time). Allow the birds to completely empty the feeder before you refill it so it’s always free of build-up and mold.

Mold can make your birds sick in large amounts. Once in a while its best to check and wash out your feeders. Yes, even if they haven’t been exposed to extreme elements.

2. Pests

Pests can be attracted any time feed is old, has gotten hot, moist or been left exposed. These can include various types of bugs that will get into and feed on the product.

It also includes rodents and other small animals that would enjoy a free snack. Storing feed in a rodent safe container is my personal recommendation. Preferably a metal bin that has a tight fitting lid. The metal will keep small rodents like mice and rats from chewing through and getting into your feed bin.

A tight fitting lid will also keep larger pests like raccoons and opossum from pulling the lid open and helping themselves to an easy meal. If you keep feed in a feeder all the time it’s always best practice to put your feed containers up in a bin at night and pull them back out in the morning.

If moving the feeder is not an option, then you may look into getting a feeder that opens when the chickens step on a pedal and closes back when they step away. Typically mice are going to be too light to open up these types of feeders.

3. Age of feed/rotation

When buying from a feed store or even when you keep multiple bags of feed on hand, it’s always best to check and make sure you are buying/using the oldest feed first.

Somewhere on the feed tag there should be dates (typically a manufacture date) letting you know when it was made.

Using the oldest feed first ensures that you always have the freshest feed on hand.

With these considerations, you are sure to keep you and your feathered friends happy and healthy!

Source: https://www.scoopfromthecoop.com/

Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips

Friday, June 11th, 2021

Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips

For many people, nothing beats lounging in the backyard on the Fourth of July with good friends and family—including furry friends.

While it may seem like a great idea to reward your pet with scraps from the grill and bring him along to watch fireworks, in reality, some festive foods and activities can be potentially hazardous to him.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers the following tips:

Fourth of July Pet Safety Tips

Never leave alcoholic drinks unattended where pets can reach them. Alcoholic beverages have the potential to poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become very intoxicated and weak, severely depressed or could go into a coma as a result. Consequently, death from respiratory failure is also a possibility in severe cases.

Do not apply any sunscreen or insect repellent product to your pet that is not labeled specifically for use on animals. Ingestion of sunscreen products can result in drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. The misuse of insect repellent that contains DEET can lead to neurological problems.

Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets’ reach. Certain types of matches contain chlorates. Chlorates could potentially damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing—or even kidney disease in severe cases.

Lighter fluid can be irritating to the skin, and if ingested can produce gastrointestinal irritation and central nervous system depression. If lighter fluid is inhaled, aspiration pneumonia and breathing problems could develop.

Keep your pets on their normal diet. Any change, even for one meal, can give your pet severe indigestion and diarrhea. This is particularly true for older animals who have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements.

Keep in mind that foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt, and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.

Do not put glow jewelry on your pets, or allow them to play with it. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation could still result from ingestions. Intestinal blockage could also occur from swallowing large pieces of the plastic containers.

Keep citronella candles, insect coils, and tiki torch oil products out of reach. Ingestion can produce stomach irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression. If inhaled, the oils could cause aspiration pneumonia in pets.

Never use fireworks around pets! Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets. Even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic, and other heavy metals.

Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for pets, who can become frightened or disoriented by the sound. Please resist the urge to take them to Independence Day festivities, and opt instead to keep them safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area at home.

Be prepared in the event that your pet does escape by keeping your pets’ IDs up to date! It’s a good idea for all your animal companions—even indoor-only pets—to always wear a collar with an ID tag that includes your name, current phone number, and any relevant contact information.

In conclusion, July 1 is National ID Your Pet Day, which serves as an annual check-in to make sure your pets’ identification tags and microchip information is up to date.

Content by ASPCA

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