Archive for the ‘News & Updates’ Category

Planning Spring Pasture Management

Tuesday, February 20th, 2024

Spring Pasture ManagementThe arrival of spring presents a prime opportunity for farmers and livestock owners to improve the health of their pastures through proper pasture management. Not only does this help to regenerate growth, but it also ensures that the animals are well-fed and healthy. There are a few steps you can take to improve your pasture management including planning rotations, avoiding overgrazing, and looking out for poisonous plants.

Plan Your Rotation
Rotational grazing is one of the most effective ways to maintain healthy pastures. This practice involves splitting a pasture into smaller paddocks and allowing the animals to graze on each paddock for a set period of time before moving onto the next. Giving the grass time to recover before it’s grazed again is crucial for its health. In addition, rotational grazing provides an opportunity for livestock to graze on nutrient-rich grass as it regenerates. This practice encourages animal movement and even distribution of fertilizer, ultimately resulting in a better-quality pasture.

Avoid Overgrazing
It’s important to resist the temptation to leave all the animals in one area for an extended period. This can lead to overgrazing, a process where livestock consume too much grass, and it is unable to recover. This can harm the overall health of your pasture and reduce its productivity. Overgrazing can increase the presence of weeds, soil compaction, and decreased water infiltration. The best way to prevent overgrazing is to manage your grazing schedule correctly. It’s important not to leave your livestock in any one area for too long.

Beware of Poisonous Plants
It’s essential to be aware of the different poisonous plants that can be present in your pastures. These plants can adversely affect the health of your livestock if ingested, and some can even be fatal. Such plants include poison ivy and poison oak. Be sure to remove these plants from your pastures, and observe closely whether they are growing back. Consider fencing off any areas in which these plants are known to grow, or uprooting and replanting any areas where they may be present.

Spring pasture management is crucial when it comes to keeping pastures healthy and robust. Proper rotational grazing, grazing management, and attention to poisonous plants will ensure your pasture remains healthy, providing sufficient and nutritious feed for your livestock. Whether it’s your private collection of animals, or livestock that provides for your livelihood, it’s important to prioritize their health and well-being by maintaining healthy pastures. Take these three factors into account to ensure the health and longevity of your pasture and in turn your livestock.

Everything you Need to Know about Raising Baby Chicks

Tuesday, January 30th, 2024

Everything you Need to Know about Raising Baby ChicksEverything you Need to Know about Raising Baby Chicks: Bringing home your baby chicks is an exciting milestone in raising backyard chickens. The three key essentials for raising baby chicks: Warmth, 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, visit us for all your Chicken Supplies!!

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.

Weed Control for Hay and Pasture Weeds

Sunday, January 28th, 2024

weed controlWeed Control for Hay and Pasture Weeds: Here are some helpful tips for weed management in forages are presented in a simple/straight-forward fashion for your convenience.

Established hay and pasture

The flowering stage is an excellent time to attempt some control of poisonous perennial plants. A number of common plants can be poisonous when eaten in sufficient quantity by livestock, so monitor those pasture and hay fields closely. Remember that perennial weeds are most sensitive to control with a systemic herbicide when they are in the bud to bloom stage and in late summer. Biennials including musk and plumless thistle, burdock, wild carrot, etc. should be treated before they begin to bolt (they are bolting now or very soon) and the smaller the better. Late fall or early spring is even a better time to treat them. And finally, control summer annual weeds as soon after they emerge as possible when they are most sensitive to chemical control. Below are some guidelines to provide a quick management summary for some common weeds of pasture.

Management guidelines for some problem weeds of pastures:

Annuals

Winter annuals (Mustard species, common chickweed, etc.)

  • Mow after bolting to prevent seed production.
  • Apply an effective herbicide in fall or spring prior to bolting.
  • Most winter annuals emerge by late fall – a smaller percentage will emerge in early spring.
  • Prevent seed production to prevent spread.

Summer annuals (Pigweed species, common lambsquarters, common ragweed, etc.

  • Keep pasture full and competitive.
  • Mow after bolting to prevent seed production.
  • Apply an effective herbicide in early summer.
  • Prevent seed production to prevent spread.

Biennials

Biennials (common burdock, bull and musk thistle, poison hemlock, etc.

  • Mow after plants have bolted but before seed set to prevent seed production.
  • Remove or dig individual plants by hand.
  • Apply an effective herbicide to rosettes in the spring or fall.
  • Prevent seed production to prevent spread.
  • Several insect biocontrol tools may help with thistles in the future.

Perennials

Creeping perennials (Canada thistle, horsenettle, etc.)

  • Mow to suppress vegetative growth and prevent seed production.
  • Spray with an effective systemic herbicide at bud to bloom stage or in early fall prior to frost.
  • Most perennials spread by both seed and vegetative structures.

Woody perennials (multiflora rose, autumn olive, etc.)

  • Mow to suppress and prevent seed production – remove roots by hand or with heavy equipment.
  • Spray with an effective systemic herbicide at bud to bloom stage or in early fall.

In conclusion, Kissimme Valley Feed offers a variety of garden supplies, fertilizers, plants, and preventative care for your lawn. Keeping your pasture, lawn, or garden free from bugs and weeds is important.  Our selection of herbicides, insecticides and pest traps will have you in control of these pesky weeds. See our lawn and garden section here.

Article Source: Penn State Extension

Vaccinate Your Cattle This January

Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

As we start a new year, it’s important for cattle farmers to start thinking about vaccinating their herds. Vaccinating your cattle is one of the most important things you can do to protect their health, and ultimately, your livelihood. Let’s explore why January is a good time to start thinking about vaccinating your cattle, what vaccines are available, and how to determine which vaccines are right for your herd.

The winter months may seem like an odd time to think about vaccinating, but it’s actually the perfect time to start. Many diseases, such as bovine respiratory disease (BRD), can have a significant impact on cattle health and productivity. By vaccinating your herd in January, you’ll help protect them from these diseases before they become a problem in the spring and summer months.

But which vaccines should you choose? This may seem overwhelming, but your local feed store can help. They can provide you with information on which vaccines are recommended for your area and what may be necessary for your particular herd. For example, a cow-calf operation will have different vaccine needs than a feedlot.

One vaccine that is highly recommended for all cattle is the clostridial vaccine. This vaccine protects against a range of diseases caused by the Clostridium bacteria, including blackleg, tetanus, and red water. Another vaccine to consider is one that protects against respiratory diseases, which can be particularly common in winter months. Bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) is another disease that can have serious financial implications. Vaccinating against BVD can help prevent its spread and reduce the risk of future outbreaks in your herd.

It’s not just about choosing the right vaccine, but also administering it correctly and at the right time. Make sure you’re following the manufacturer’s recommendations for dosage and timing. Some vaccines require booster shots to provide adequate protection. It’s essential to get your timing and dosage correct to prevent complications and increase the effectiveness of the vaccine. Don’t forget to keep accurate records of vaccinations given, so that you can keep track of when boosters are due, and which cattle may need vaccines again in the future.

Vaccinating your cattle is an essential part of herd management, and January is a perfect time to start planning. By working with your local feed store and understanding the needs of your herd, you can choose the right vaccines to protect your cattle against potential threats and ensure their long-term health and productivity. As with all aspects of herd management, it’s important to stay up-to-date and informed, so don’t forget to research and stay on top of vaccination recommendations. Stay ahead of the curve and protect your herd by vaccinating your cattle this January!

Planning Your Garden

Thursday, January 4th, 2024

If you’re looking to grow your own food and enjoy the rewards of a flourishing garden, you’re in the right place. January marks the perfect time of year to start planning and getting everything ready. Whether it’s your first time starting a garden or you’re a seasoned green thumb, there are a few steps you need to take in order to achieve a thriving garden. In this guide, we’ll help you through the essential steps that need to be taken so you can have a successful garden come spring.

Step 1: Decide What to Plant

When it comes to planning your garden, you must first decide on what type of vegetables you would like to grow. Start by deciding what your family enjoys eating and make a list of the produce they love. Next, check which crops are best suited for the climate you live in and what will grow best in your soil type. Consider planting perennial crops that come back year after year, or focus on annual plants that produce food more quickly. Keep in mind that you should space out your plantings to ensure you get fresh vegetables throughout the entire growing season.

Step 2: Choose Your Site

Choosing the right site for your garden is crucial to its success. Look for a location that receives plenty of sunlight and has well-draining soil. Avoid areas that tend to flood or are too rocky, as this can stunt plant growth. Also, pay attention to nearby trees that may cast shade over your garden bed and rob your plants of sunlight. If you are planting a container garden, make sure it has proper drainage holes to avoid over watering.

Step 3: Prepare the Soil

Soil preparation is essential to having a bountiful harvest. Start by removing any weeds or debris from the site that you have chosen. Next, consider tilling the soil to make it easier for your plants’ roots to grow. Adding organic matter to the soil can also provide necessary nutrients for your plants to thrive. Compost is a natural option for enriching your soil and can be added in the fall or early winter before planting.

Step 4: Planting and Care

It’s now time to get your soil ready and begin planting. Make sure to check the seed packet for the ideal planting time and depth, as well as how far apart the seeds should be spaced. Once planted, regular watering is essential for plants to grow healthy and strong. Consider drip irrigation or a hose with a low-pressure nozzle that can help water the plants at the root level. Regularly fertilizing with organic fertilizers will also keep nutrients flowing to your plants.

Step 5: Pest and Weed Control

Pests and weeds can be a common issue when planting a garden. To avoid problems, consider using organic means to control and keep weeds at bay rather than using toxic herbicides, which can harm beneficial insects and pollinators. Consider using natural pest control methods such as companion planting and crop rotation to help control pests and insects. Also, try using natural pest deterrents like plant oils, insecticidal soaps, and beer and yeast traps.

Now that we’ve walked through the various steps involved in planning your garden, you’ll be well-equipped to get started. Sure, there might be a little hard work involved in the process, but the rewards of a flourishing garden that provides fresh, organic produce are more than worth the effort. Remember, planning is paramount to a successful garden, so take the time to choose your site and plant accordingly, and you’ll be on your way come springtime.

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