Monthly Archives: June 2013

  • How to Teach a New Rider the Basics of Riding

    Written By Randi Thompson, founder of the Horse and Rider Awareness Educational Programs

    We all love sharing the joy of horses with those around us. But, what should you be do, when guests arrive, who may never have ridden a horse before, but would like to try?    In this article, we will explore how to introduce new riders to the fundamental concept of having fun safely, as they learn how to control a horse.

    Preparing for the Ride.
    Start by choosing a safe horse that you know. A new rider needs a horse that is safe in any situation and one that will allow them to make a lot of mistakes. We call this horse an “Equine Saint.”   Absolutely avoid horses new to training, those that move quickly, tend to be nervous, spooky or very sensitive to what a rider is doing.

    Introducing the Rider to the Horse
    By the time you get your new rider close to the horse they will be jumping out of their boots with excitement.  It is your job to protect them, as they do not know the risks associated with horses.  Keep the rider close to you, and out of harm’s way, as you saddle and bridle the horse.

    Now You are Ready to Show the Rider How to Mount and Dismount
    • Start by showing the rider how you mount and dismount that so they can see what they will be doing.  A mounting block will make everything easier.
    •  Begin by putting your hand on the pommel or saddle horn.   Tell the rider that this will help them get into the saddle easier.
    • Next, you step into the iron/stirrup.  Tell them it is important to press their leg against the saddle so that they can balance better.  Let the see how you can use your other hand on the back or middle of the saddle to also help them mount.
    • Show the rider how to gently swing their right leg over the back of the saddle without kicking the horse’s rump.
    • Finally, you will show them how to gently sink into the saddle and find their other stirrup/iron.

    When you dismount, repeat the process in reverse. For older riders, show them the “step down dismount” where they get off the horse without stepping into the stirrup/iron. Show them how to push away from the saddle and how to land on the ground with both knees bent.

    It’s Time to Put the Rider on the Horse
    • First, make sure you have control of the horse.
    • Let your rider know that you are going to keep your hand on their legs or body to help them balance as they get on and off the horse.   Show them how you are going to place a hand on the top of their leg to give them the support they may need.
    • Slowly guide them through the steps you showed them. If you feel that your rider is afraid at any level, slow down the mounting to as many steps as you can until they feel confident.

    When it is time for the dismount, put your hand on the rider’s leg to help stabilize them as they get off.  Most of them will not have the control of their body that you do and need that help.   If it is a very young rider you will simply lift them off the horse.  Practice mounting and dismounting the rider several times to make sure they are comfortable. This may seem boring to you, but they are having fun!

    Showing Your Rider How to Stop, Start and Steer the Horse.
    Now you are ready to show your rider how to stop the horse, start the horse, and turn it in both directions at the walk. By now they are even more excited and will not be thinking clearly.  With this in mind it is up to you to make sure that the rider practices how to control your horse.  They need to show you that they can control the horse.  First with the horse on a leadline, and later, if they have control, without it.

    Stopping.  Putting the brakes on.
    Stopping a horse is very important.  This lets the rider know that they have control.  With new riders, we show them how to use the reins to stop the horse.   Make sure you have a leadline on the horse so that you have control before you begin.  During this time you can let them know that they can balance their body any time they need to be resting their hands on the horse’s neck while they are riding.  This will help prevent them from pulling on the reins to balance.
    • Tell your rider that you are going to practice how to stop the horse first at the halt, than at the walk.
    • Show the rider how you stop the horse by shortening the length of the reins at the horse’s neck until the horse stops.
    • Next, show them how to do it with their hands.
    •  Then, show them how to let the reins go looser so they understand the difference between stopping a horse with the reins and releasing the reins to initiate movement.  Have them shorten and lengthen the reins several times.  Have fun with this and praise them when they begin to understand what you are asking them to do.
    • Once the rider is able to adjust their reins, you are ready to ask them to stop the horse from the walk.   To do this you will position yourself near the horse’s shoulder, where you can easily reach the rider at any time, and lead the horse forward.
    • Ask the rider to show you how they can stop the horse by shortening the reins until it stops.  It might take them a few attempts before they are able to really do it, so take your time and make sure that they can really do it on their own.  To do this, make it a game of sorts, ask the rider to count the horse’s steps and walk 5 steps and stop.  Give the rider lots of praise as they do this.  Think of this as a way to teach them with a game.  Next, walk 10 steps and stop.  Practice halting at least 10 times.

    Start your engines!
    Now we are ready to show the rider how to get the horse to move forward.  Once again, you will be leading the horse near the rider.
    • Explain that a horse moves from their leg much like a bike does when we use the pedals.  Show the rider how much leg is needed to get the horse to move by putting your hand on their leg and pressing or tapping the horse’s side until the horse responds.  Take your time and make sure the rider knows that the horse is moving forward because of them.
    • Combine the Start with the Stops and practice both together 10 times.

    Which way do you want to go?  Steering.
    Place cones or any type of safe objects on the ground in a pattern that will require that the rider turn in both directions.
    • Tell the rider that riding a horse is a like riding a bike. Instead of using the bike handles to turn the front wheel, they will be using the reins to point the horse’s nose in the direction they want to go.  Practice this first at the halt.
    • Find an object for them to look at and ask them to point the horse’s nose at it.  Show them how to bring the horse’s nose over by putting your hand on their hand.  Once they can turn the horses head, you are ready to ask them to do this at the walk. Again, you will want to be walking near the horses shoulder with the horse on a lead line.
    • Check that the rider can go in both directions while starting and stopping. As their steering improves you can choose other points of focus and ask them to ride the horse to that spot and stop them.

    Bringing it all together.
    Test the riders control by asking them to stop, start and steer the horse on their own while you step further away, maybe only 6 feet at first, while still keeping control of the horse with the loose lead line.  Check to see if the horse is really listening to them or following you.  When you are sure the rider is in control, and not before, you can remove the lead line and repeat the process.  Stay close to the horse until you are certain that control has been established, and finally, step away
    Some people also think it is fun for a new rider to trot or canter. Usually it is because they are getting bored.  The new rider is not.  This is where most accidents happen. These gaits are not comfortable to new riders and they will also not be able to control the horse.
    By following these steps, you will be able to share your love of horses with new riders, while keeping them safe.  Have fun!

    Now you can experience Randi's simple, yet amazing Horse and Rider Awareness techniques that have been tested and proven to work on 1000s of riding instructors, horse trainers, students and horses.  Go to Horse and Rider Awareness.

    Randi Thompson © 2013 Horse and Rider Awareness

  • Coming Home

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    For most of my adult life, I’ve come home at the end of a long work day to a house with energetic dogs. Their need to get out and play has kept me from becoming a couch potato. When I say that I have to get home to let the dogs out, it’s not a complaint. I look forward to it, because there’s not much that I enjoy more than getting out with the dogs. Knowing that they’ve been confined all day and need to get outside to run and play and take in all the smells of nature makes me think the couch can wait. I’m grateful for the gentle breezes, the smell of freshly mown grass, beautiful fields of daisies, majestic bald eagles, spectacular fireflies, amazing northern lights, and crisp clear stars that I have discovered once the dogs lured me outside.
    In June I was fortunate to return to Bimini to swim with wild dolphins. You may recall that last year I wrote about the spirit dogs of Bimini (http://www.8statekate.net/wordpress/?p=2632). These three dogs joined me on a walk down the road, reminding me of my three dogs back home. They were even the same colors as my guys, and walking with them felt very much like being on a walk with my three at home, just when I was missing them the most.

    When I walked back to Wild Quest, where I was staying, I left the dogs outside the gate, complying with the rules. But somehow one dog got inside and followed me. When I entered the second floor classroom, all eyes were looking behind me. I turned to see that the blond dog had circumvented the security and was right on my tail. I think the rule about not letting stray dogs in was not because the people there don’t love animals; they most certainly do. The joy of playing with wild dolphins is not so different than the joy of playing with dogs. But there were so many stray dogs in Bimini that they just could not allow them all to come in. So the blond dog was escorted out.

    But I was excited this year to learn that Wild Quest had “adopted” a stray dog, “Buddha Buddy”, a black and white dog who looks like a border collie-terrier mix. He showed up earlier this spring and a visitor from the States decided to adopt him and take him home to Colorado. The staff at Wild Quest are taking care of him while his journey is arranged. It was fun to see that Buddy has taken to Amlas, who was so adamant last year about keeping stray dogs outside the fence. He follows her everywhere and she appears to be quite fond of him too!

    While nothing seemed to be missing from Wild Quest last year, coming “home” to Buddy this year made it easier to leave a day on the water with the dolphins. As the boat approached the dock, we saw Buddy waiting for us. We all looked for him and called out to him, excited to see him. His tail subtly flipped up and thumped back down, once. Then, with some encouragement, he began to howl, making us laugh and then howl back. There were people waiting on the dock for us too, but something about seeing Buddy the dog there lightened our spirits. Coming “home” was like coming home at home!
    When I was meditating outside early one morning, Buddy approached and placed his head under my hand. Since my eyes were closed, I didn’t see him coming and was delighted to feel his head there and tell him good morning. Later in the week, when two of us took out a kayak for an early morning paddle, Buddy swam out and tried to climb in. We had to escort him back to shore, but again I was happy to see him. He will make someone a fine, true companion.

    Buddy’s life must have changed a lot since he appeared at Wild Quest, from the life of a stray with nobody, to having eight regular caretakers and meeting several new friends every week. I hope he’ll have a bright future in Colorado. I was excited to learn from Wild Quest about a program to help the stray dogs of Bimini. Learn more about it on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Stray-Dogs-of-Bimini/128258473969736?fref=ts.
    At the end of the trip, coming home was as exciting as ever. Although I was very tired, I was still overjoyed to be greeted by my three dogs and my cat. Several of my friends have lost their pets to old age recently and I know my guys will not be here forever. So I cherish every moment and miss them a lot when I’m gone. There is nothing more precious than coming home… coming home to their love and excitement!

    I feed my dogs Omega Fields Canine Shine and Omega Nuggets to build healthy and strong immune systems, good endurance, and beautiful, soft coats. Enter discount code JPavlovic to receive a 20% discount on your first online Omega Fields order.

  • Equine Research: Protein

    Written By Dr. Kristina Hiney

    This month I will begin a new series which tries to summarize some of the new information which has been gathered in equine nutrition.  I will be grouping similar topics together and trying to summarize how this information might be relevant to you and your horse.  We will discuss if this new information means you should change what you have been doing, or you can feel reassured that you are right on track!  And remember not all information may be relevant for your horse.  There is no need to feed your mature gelding who is trail ridden on the weekend like an endurance horse preparing for a 100 mile ride!

    This month we will focus on some new information on protein nutrition in the horse.  Certainly this is the time of year when many of us are busy procuring our hay supplies for the upcoming year.  Often we want the very best for our horses, and typically look for high quality alfalfa hays.  But is that necessary, especially in a year where the weather does not cooperate and hay selection may be more limited?  In a study using mature idle geldings, the digestibility and usefulness of protein from a variety of hays was tested.   Horses were fed diets of either  mixed grass hay alone, the mixed hay with increasing amounts of oats, or alfalfa hay that was either early bloom, mid bloom or late bloom.  As the maturity of alfalfa hay increases, typically its protein content decreases.   Therefore, many horsemen prefer earlier bloom alfalfa.  But is this necessary? In this particular study the horses were also fed at just 1.6% of their body weight as fed, which is typically a little lower than most people feed.  Thus these horses might have been fed at a lower rate than the average horseman would feed.    As expected, the protein intake of the horses increased as they were fed the alfalfa hay, with increased protein intake the earlier the stage of maturity. The digestibility of the protein in the diet also increased when fed straight alfalfa compared with the mixed hay, and digestibility was greater with less mature alfalfa.  That does reconfirm our knowledge that forages of later maturity are indeed less digestible.  However, the nitrogen retention between the groups of horses was not different.  Nitrogen retention refers to how much nitrogen remains in the horse’s body.  So if the horse’s nitrogen intake (which is reflective of protein intake) was higher, but the nitrogen did not remain in the horse’s body, where did it go?  The extra nitrogen was actually excreted in the urine.  You may remember from our earlier series on protein nutrition that excess protein consumed cannot be stored in the horse’s body. Instead, the nitrogen is removed from the amino acid, and the remainder of it can be used for energy or stored as fat.  Overall, for mature idle horses, there is no need to feed these higher “octane” hays, as it all that extra protein just ended up back on the ground!  There was no value to the horse in these high protein hays.

    However, what if you are not feeding a mature, idle horse, but instead are feeding mares and foals?  Their protein requirements are undoubtedly quite higher.  But it is not just protein quantity we must consider, but also the amino acid profile of the diet.  You may remember from previous articles that equine nutritionists have only described the requirements for lysine in the horse.  This is in stark contrast to other species in which the complete amino acid requirements have been well defined for  both growth and lactation. In other species, lysine is also known to be the first limiting amino acid, followed by threonine and methionine.   It is presumed that this may be true in horses as well.   In a study looking at pregnant mares, their subsequent foals and the mare’s themselves during lactation, researchers posed the question if plasma amino acid concentrations would differ after eating.   Theoretically, plasma amino acids which increase the least after eating immediately following a fast indicates the limiting amino acids.  In the weanlings, the amino acids which increased the least were methionine and lysine, for lactating mares it was methionine and for pregnant mares on this particular diet the amino acid which increased the least was leucine, one of the branched chain amino acids.  This study supports the idea that methionine may be the second limiting amino acid for nursing mares and weanlings, but leucine may also need to be considered.  However, this study did not provide information on how much of these amino acids may actually be needed in the diet, but stresses the need for additional studies.

    The final study we will look at did try and examine the question of methionine needs in growing horses.   In a study which looked at the growth rate and plasma metabolites of weanling horses fed differing amounts of methionine, growth rate did not change with addition of methionine. However, weanlings were only fed the diet for 56 d which way not have been long enough to observe differences.    Addition of methionine did result in a decrease in plasma urea nitrogen.  But what exactly does that mean?   Remember that any extra amino acids must be catabolized and the amine group is removed as urea. The urea is synthesized in the liver, but excreted by the kidney.  Urea circulates though the blood prior to its removal.  An increase in plasma urea N indicates an increase in amino acid catabolism, which takes place if protein synthesis is limited by the availability of amino acids.  If we assume that an increase in methionine in the diet allowed more protein synthesis to occur, this would result in more N retention, and less amino acid catabolism.  In this study, the authors did not observe a linear decrease in plasma urea nitrogen as  methionine was increased beyond 0 .2% of the concentrate. In this example, the weanlings were fed at a rate of 1.25% of their body weight in concentrate, or about 8.4 g of methionine.  You may have noticed that many feed companies now include the levels of methionine in their product.  Using this study as an indicator of methionine requirements, at least for weanling horses would indicate that methionine should at least be at the level of .2% of the concentrate if fed in comparable amounts. If less concentrate is fed, than the concentration of methionine should be higher.

    To summarize what we can take from these three studies, we have reaffirmed that mature idle horses don’t really need high protein hays. While their protein may be more digestible, those amino acids remain largely wasted.  For horses with higher protein needs, it may be time for us to turn our attention to more than just protein quantity, but quality as well.  Hopefully soon we will have better knowledge on exact amino acid requirements, but at least we are now somewhat closer to knowing about methionine!

  • 10 Tips for Healthier Chickens

    Written By Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®

    All backyard chicken-keepers have an interest in keeping their pet chickens healthy and happy and making minor adjustments to various aspects of their care can have a significant impact on their health and longevity. There are a number of small steps that can be taken to promote the health of backyard chickens.

    1. Provide the correct feed: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/11/feeding-chickens-at-different-ages.html
    As basic as it sounds, chickens must be fed properly to perform optimally and to be healthy. Even though our great grandparents may have fed their flocks cracked corn or scratch, advances in science and the work of poultry nutritionists reveals that backyard chickens require much more nutritionally to live long, healthy lives, while producing maximally nutritious eggs. Chickens at different stages of development require different feed formulations. While the feed manufacturer's recommendations for their products should always be followed, generally speaking, day old chicks through eight weeks old should be provided with starter feed. Adolescent chickens up to 18 weeks of age should be fed a grower or a flock-raiser type ration and laying hens http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/01/how-hen-makes-egg-egg-oddities.html
    should be fed layer ration no earlier than 18 weeks of age or the the appearance of their first egg. Layer feed contains calcium that laying hens need for eggshell production but can be detrimental to younger birds.

    While layer feed contains added calcium, an additional source of calcium, such as oyster shells or crushed eggshells, should be made available in a separate dish, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/05/my-pvc-chicken-feeder-diy-instructions.html
    apart from the feed.

    2. Limit Treats: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/chicken-treats-guide-dont-love-your.html
    The ingredients in commercially prepared chicken feed are carefully calculated by poultry nutritionists to ensure that a chicken’s daily vitamin, mineral and protein requirements are met. Supplemental foods (treats/snacks) http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/chicken-treats-guide-dont-love-your.html
    replace a portion of those essential dietary elements to some degree. Excessive treats, even healthy ones, can cause any of the following: obesity, malformed eggs, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/01/how-hen-makes-egg-egg-oddities.html
    habitual laying of multiple-yolked eggs, vent prolapse, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/prolapse-vent-causes-treatment-graphic.html
    protein deficiencies, feather-picking, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/03/chicken-feather-loss-cannibalism-causes.html
    fatty liver syndrome, egg binding, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/chicken-egg-binding-causes-symptoms.html
    reduced egg production, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/12/decrease-in-egg-production-causes.html
    increased risk of heat stroke http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/beat-heat-how-to-help-chickens-survive.html
    and heart problems. No more than ten percent of a flock's daily dietary intake should consist of treats.

    Common sense should be the guide in treat selection. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/chicken-treats-guide-dont-love-your.html
    The types of foods we require to maximize our own health are the foods we should consider when spoiling our chickens: high protein, whole grains, low salt, low sugar, fruits and vegetables. Dairy products are an exception to this general rule because birds are not equipped with the enzymes necessary to properly digest milk sugars. Some yogurt on occasion is fine and does contain beneficial bacterial cultures, but too much dairy can cause digestive upset and diarrhea. Opt for probiotics specially formulated for poultry http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/02/probiotics-natural-choice-for-healthy.html
    in lieu of yogurt for good gut health. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/02/whats-scoop-on-chicken-poop-digestive.html

    Healthy Treats for Chickens
    Scrambled Eggs- it may seem ironic to feed chickens eggs, but eggs are an outstanding source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin E and beta carotene.2  Chickens will not develop a raw, egg-eating habit http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/egg-eating-chickens-how-to-break-habit.html
    as a result of eating scrambled eggs.  During a molt, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/12/molting-what-is-it-and-how-to-manage-it.html
    eggs are one of the best sources of protein to feed a chicken.

    Pumpkins are packed with antioxidants, vitamins A, C and E, minerals including copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus, dietary fiber and protein in the seeds. Pumpkin seeds contain 30 grams of protein per 100 grams of seeds.1  When  pumpkins are in season, I make my flock "Peeps' Pumpkin Pie," http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/chickens-pumpkin-seeds-and-worm
    for a nutritionally power-packed treat. Unsupported claims propose feeding pumpkin seeds to chickens as a “natural dewormer," however, there is no scientific evidence anywhere to suggest that pumpkin seeds are capable of deworming or reducing worm loads in chickens. As such, I do not rely on pumpkin seeds as a preventative measure or as a treatment option in my flock. I give my chickens pumpkins and pumpkin seeds simply because they're nutritious and they enjoy them.

     

    Meal worms are a good source of protein, reportedly containing 49% http://www.exoticnutrition.com/limein.html
    to 51%. http://www.happyhentreats.com/Products.html
    They can be purchased live or dried and can also be farmed very easily at home. During a molt, http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/12/molting-what-is-it-and-how-to-manage-it.html
    meal worms are an especially smart snack choice.

    Homemade Flock Block Substitute- http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/flock-block-substitute-recipe-healthy.html
    Flock Block is a commercially available treat for chickens that is intended to entertain them and fulfill their natural pecking instincts.They can be purchased at feed stores for approximately $13. I have purchased the product once or twice, but have always thought I could make a similar treat myself. I made my own treat block recently and am much happier knowing that my homemade Flock Block Substitute http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/flock-block-substitute-recipe-healthy.html
    is a healthy, fresh, nutritious treat for my flock. The recipe includes Omega Ultra Egg, which increases Omega-3 levels in eggs, improves laying rates and chickens' health and lends naturally occurring amino acids to the recipe, which serve as important building blocks of the protein in feathers and eggs.

    A note about scratch. Scratch is affectionately referred to as ‘chicken crack’ for a reason; chickens love it, can’t get enough of it and it’s not the best choice for them. Scratch typically consists of cracked corn and a mixture of grains, which tends to lack an appreciable amount of protein, vitamins and minerals. Scratch should be thought of as chicken candy and only given in small amounts occasionally. *Scratch should not be mixed into the flock’s feed.*

     

    3. Clean Water: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/the-advantages-of-poultry-nipples.html
    Provide clean, fresh water to chickens at all times. Again, this sounds like common sense, but most backyard chickens drink from waterers harboring fecal matter, bacteria and other organisms that can make them sick. The solution to dirty water is employing poultry nipple waterers. "Nobody who is raising chickens professionally has used cups, bell drinkers or troughs in the past 25 years. ... Nipples have been used successfully on literally billions of chickens. The professional farmers across North America have made nipple drinkers the standard for all chickens. ... The disease reduction is so striking that there is no doubt which [system] is better." http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/the-advantages-of-poultry-nipples.html

    4. Apple Cider Vinegar in drinking water:
    Adding apple cider vinegar http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/make-raw-apple-cider-vinegar-acv-with.html
    with the mother to the drinking water of chickens can improve their gut health by changing the pH of the water, making it inhospitable to many organisms. "Acidifying water alters the gut’s bacteria, slowing the growth of nasty bacteria, and giving a boost to good bacteria. Acid also helps control coccidiosis and Clostridium bacteria, which can cause a fatal disease called necrotic enteritis." http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/make-raw-apple-cider-vinegar-acv-with.html
    One to two tablespoons per gallon of water is the suggested amount of vinegar.

    5. Clean Living Quarters
    A cleaner coop is a healthier coop. Chickens have sensitive respiratory systems which are easily irritated by mold and ammonia from accumulated droppings. Clean coops are less likely to house external parasites such as mites and poultry lice. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/poultry-lice-and-mites-identification.html
    For five ways to keep a cleaner coop with less effort, click here. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/5-tips-for-cleaner-coop-with-less-effort.html

    6. Dry Bedding:
    A wet environment created by accumulated droppings or spilled water, provides a breeding ground for coccidia and other harmful organisms to flourish. Coccidiosis http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/12/coccidiosis-what-backyard-chicken.html
    is an intestinal disease that can rapidly kill chickens if it goes undetected or untreated. Three ways to ensure the driest environment possible are:
    by employing a droppings board http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/droppings-boards-because-poop-happens.html
    and removing droppings from it daily
    by using sand as coop litter/bedding http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/09/chicken-coop-bedding-sand-litter.html
    and as ground cover in the run
    by keeping waterfowl and chickens in different yards (Less moisture results in fewer opportunities for organisms to grow that can make chickens sick.)
    Many diseases and illnesses are easily kept at bay by keeping living conditions dry.

    7. Observe Droppings:
    The first sign of a potential health problem often will be found in a chicken's droppings. Knowing which droppings are normal and which are abnormal http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/02/whats-scoop-on-chicken-poop-digestive.html
    is an extremely useful tool in assessing  chickens' health. Installing a droppings board underneath the roost provides a regular opportunity to observe abnormalities unobscured by shavings or other bedding material. Keeping a well-stocked first aid kit http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/01/chicken-sick-bay-first-aid-kit-be.html
    handy to treat some of the more common illness and disease early is highly recommended.

    8. Break up Broody Hens: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/05/broody-breaker-when-hens-mood-to-hatch.html
    A broody hen is one that is inspired to sit on a collection of eggs until she hatches chicks. Whether she is sitting on a clutch of fertile eggs or an empty nest, she will sit and wait for chicks to hatch indefinitely. In the 21 days normally required to hatch eggs, a broody leaves her nest briefly once or twice daily to eat, drink and relieve herself, neglecting her own health for the good of her anticipated chicks. Her comb will lose color, feathers lose sheen and she will lose a noticeable amount of weight. She can tolerate this drastic change in 21 day stints, but protracted periods of broodiness are unhealthy for her. She becomes vulnerable to external parasites, malnourished and emaciated.  Broody hens that will not be permitted to hatch chicks, either due to the unavailability of fertile eggs or the preference of the chicken-keeper, she should be broken/broken-up http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/05/broody-breaker-when-hens-mood-to-hatch.html
    as soon as possible to return them to their regular routines.

    9. No Supplemental Light for Youngsters: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/09/supplemental-light-in-coop-why-how.html
    Providing supplemental lighting when natural daylight hours decrease to 13 hours or less is a safe and common practice undertaken to keep hens producing eggs in the autumn and winter months. However, adolescent chickens should not be exposed to supplemental lighting as it can cause them to reach sexual maturity too soon, resulting in egg-laying before their bodies are properly equipped. Egg-binding http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/07/chicken-egg-binding-causes-symptoms.html
    and prolapsed uterus http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/04/prolapse-vent-causes-treatment-graphic.html
    are two of the possible consequences of premature egg-laying.

    10. Provide Dust Bathing Areas:
    A dust bath http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/01/chicken-dust-baths-ultimate-spa.html
    is the chicken equivalent of a daily shower. Chickens dig shallow spots in dirt, sand, or even flower pots to work into their skin and feathers to aid in skin and feather maintenance and parasite control. A dust bath can be as simple as a dry patch of dirt in the backyard or a shallow bucket filled with sand. No additives or supplements are necessary to accomplish the objective. According to Gail Damerow http://www.utc.edu/Academic/TennesseeWriters/authors/damerow.gail.html
    in The Chicken Encyclopedia, :    http://bit.ly/10iY4Pt
    adding diatomaceous earth (DE) wood ashes or lime-and-sulfur garden powder to their dust bath is hazardous to their respiratory health http://shagbarkbantams.com/de.htm

    and should be avoided unless they are "seriously infested" with parasites. Even in that case, she writes, "the benefit may outweigh the danger of TEMPORARILY adding such materials" (p. 93, emphasis added).

    For an extensive list of healthy treats for chickens, visit my blog here. http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/chicken-treats-guide-dont-love-your.html

    The treat trail. They will follow me anywhere for treats!
    JOIN ME ON FACEBOOK! http://www.facebook.com/Egg.Carton.Labels.by.ADozenGirlz

    Further reading:
    1 http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/pumpkin.html
    2 http://www.motherearthnews.com/eggs.aspx#ixzz2AcKccLNq
    http://www.poultryhelp.com/toxicplants.html

  • The Little Girl Who Jumps Up and Down

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic (and Chase)

    There is nothing quite like the feeling of seeing a little girl jump up and down when your dog enters the library. Her joyful enthusiasm makes you smile. She read a story to your dog last month and wants to read to him again. She doesn't have a dog at home. Your dog knows just how to be calm while she jumps, then snuggle in next to her on the quilt and give her his undivided attention while she reads a story to him. She’s just learning to read and gets frustrated easily by new words. She’s been teased and bullied on the playground at school. You want so much to build her confidence, to let her know how beautiful and smart and wonderful she is. That when we encounter something unfamiliar, like a new word, we can discover it like a treasure.

    You’re grateful to your dog for everything about him that makes this little girl jump up and down. You knew the library visits would be about helping her learn to read. But now you’d like to think that you and your dog can also be an antidote to bullying, a couple of true friends in a world that sometimes feels very unkind. You hope that fifteen minutes per month of your friendship and undivided attention can not only build her confidence in her reading, but also make a positive difference in her life. And of course, help her learn to love and be kind to dogs.

    You call your mom, a retired teacher who specialized in reading, and ask her how to help the little girl with her stumbling blocks and frustration. You become closer to your mom. You’re amazed at how much she knows, and grateful that she instilled in you a love of reading, a love for books so deep that you not only read them, you write them too. You don’t have children of your own, and you realize that you love to sit and listen to kids read.

    As you watch the little girl’s confidence grow, you hope she will always have the enthusiasm that she shows for your dog, and for reading. Your dog is very intuitive; he knows just what she needs.  He led you into this work, and you realize that he knows just what you need too. You wonder who’s getting the most out of your visits, the little girl, your dog, or you.
    The fifteen minutes go by quickly and the next child is waiting, with book in hand. It’s time to say goodbye, until next time. All three of you, the little girl, your dog, and you, eagerly anticipate your next visit and the story you’ll share. During the month between, you often think of the little girl out there in the big world, and look for books she will like to read. You wonder if your dog thinks about her too.

    ~~~~~~
    Omega Fields Canine Shine and Omega Nuggets keep Chase healthy and give him a soft and shiny pettable coat that the kids like to snuggle up to.

  • B Vitamins

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney

    This month we will conclude our discussion of vitamins with the B vitamins. There are many vitamins that are traditionally referred to as the B vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxal phosphate, panthothenic acid and cobalamin.  You may even associate them with their “numbers” so to speak: B1, B2 etc. These are all water soluble vitamins which can be synthesized by the microbial population of the hindgut of the horse.  In many circumstances this microbial synthesis of vitamins is adequate to support normal physiological functions in the horse.  However, under some conditions, supplementation of these vitamins becomes necessary. Unfortunately relatively little is actually known about the true requirements of the horse for many of these vitamins.  We will primarily focus on the vitamins which have the most information available; thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and biotin.


    We will begin our discussion of the significant B vitamins with thiamin, one of the most commonly supplemented B vitamins.  Thiamin is a vitamin which is required in many reactions which support energy metabolism, or the production of ATP.  Deficiencies of thiamin in the horse can result in muscle fasciculation, ataxia and most frequently in appetence.   However, true thiamin deficiencies in horses are very infrequent.  Nevertheless,   it is often supplemented when horses go off feed to restore their appetite.  There is some evidence that the exercising horse may require more thiamin, which is presumably related to their higher rate of metabolism.  Dietary sources of thiamin are typically found in the concentrate portion of a horse’s diet.  Cereal grains, their by-products, and  brewer’s yeast are especially high in thiamin.   Overall, maintenance horses are currently recommend to consume 3 mg thiamin/kg of DM consumed while exercising horses should consume 5 mg of thiamin/kg of DM.  If we use a standard 500 kg horse as an example, and assume it is consuming 2% of its body weight in dry matter (or 10 kg of feed), this horse should consume between 30-50 mg of thiamin per day.

    Riboflavin, historically referred to a B2, is another vitamin which is required in energy producing pathways, especially in the electron transport chain.  Riboflavin also functions in lipid metabolism and as an anti-oxidant.  Riboflavin, like thiamin, is synthesized in the hindgut of the horse through microbial fermentation.  Interestingly, no documented cases of riboflavin deficiencies have been reported in the equine.  Legumes are relatively high in riboflavin, so horses consuming alfalfas or clovers should have little difficulty in meeting their riboflavin requirements.   Even horses consuming grass sources of forages easily meet their riboflavin requirement.  The current recommendation of horses is to consume 2 mg of riboflavin per kg of DM, but even grasses contain 7-10 mg of riboflavin/kg of DM. Therefore there appears to be little reason to supplement horses with riboflavin.

    Niacin, traditionally referred to as B3, participates heavily in oxidation/reduction reactions in the body which are vital to energy metabolism. Niacin can not only be produced in the hindgut, but it can further be synthesized by the horse through the conversion of tryptophan to niacin within the liver.  Like riboflavin, niacin deficiency has also not been described in the horse.  Currently, there is not even a recommended dietary intake for horses for niacin.

    Biotin is a water soluble vitamin which is a co-factor in many carboxylation reactions (addition of carbon to a compound).  These are important reactions in gluconeogenesis (the synthesis of glucose by the body) and fatty acid synthesis.  Of traditional horse feeds, alfalfa supplies the highest concentration.   Once again, the microbial microflora are also quite capable of synthesizing biotin. While no distinct deficiencies of biotin have been reported, low quality hooves are often associated with low biotin.  Supplementation of biotin in the range of 15-20 mg day has been reported to improve hoof wall integrity, structure and strength.  However, when supplementing biotin, horse owners must realize that significant effects do take quite some time to be realized.  The shortest time period of supplementation which achieved positive effects on hoof growth and hardness was 5 months, with some studies reporting a need to supplement for over a year.

    Finally, there are certainly many other vitamins that may be of interest to the horse owner, such as folate, lipoic acid, cobalamin etc.  We do know that synthesis of cobalamin, or B12 does require the mineral cobalt to be incorporated.  However, horses appear to be quite capable of doing so and do not appear to need any supplementation.  In fact, horses can graze cobalt deficient pastures with no ill effect where ruminants would die from deficiency diseases.  Currently there is a paucity of information available to guide the horse owner in best practices concerning many of these other vitamins. Perhaps someday we will know more about these important vitamins and can make better recommendations for dietary values to enhance the health status of the horse.  Until then, just be thankful your horse has its gut bugs, he couldn’t do it without them!

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