Monthly Archives: October 2014

  • Double-Yolked Eggs

    Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    double yolked eggs

    Only about one in every thousand eggs is double-yolked, meaning that there are two yolks encased in the same shell. Since commercially-sold eggs in the United States are candled prior to packaging and cartoned by weight, any double-yolkers are discarded and never end up on a grocery store shelf, so you could go an entire lifetime eating store bought eggs and never encounter one. But once you start raising your own backyard flock, chances are you'll collect your share. But what causes them?

     

    A double-yolked egg occurs when a hen’s ovary is over stimulated and she releases a second yolk too early. Usually about an hour after an egg is laid, the next yolk is released, but if another yolk is sent down the oviduct too soon, a shell will form around both yolks and result in a single egg. As a result, a double yolk egg is usually much larger than a regular egg.

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    It's far more common to find double-yolked eggs from new layers or older hens near the end of their laying life. It can be genetic, and therefore hereditary, and is more common in the hybrids and heavier breeds. Hens who lay large or double-yolked eggs are more prone to becoming egg bound or suffering vent prolapse, both potentially fatal afflictions.

     

    Double-yolked eggs generally won't hatch if incubated, and if they do, it’s rare for both chicks to survive.

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  • Finding Our Way

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    Fall is here already. Where did the summer go? I had vowed that this summer would be different from last year, when Chase was diagnosed with colon cancer just after the 4th of July. The rest of that summer revolved around his care and cancer treatments. Then we discovered in September that Bandit had multiple myeloma, and life revolved around his care and treatments too. One season blurred into another, until Chase’s CT scan in February showed no evidence of disease, and we lost Bandit to multiple myeloma in March.

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    This summer was different.  Our mellower little pack was still grieving, and finding its way without Bandit. Chase took on the role of pack leader for the dogs. Sometimes Gingersnap the cat seemed to want this role too, but Cay was always content to follow. When Bandit’s health was failing early this year, Chase clearly wanted the pack leader position. Now that he has it, he sometimes seems a bit overwhelmed realizing the responsibility that Bandit had.

    Getting out and about is easier with two dogs than with three dogs, at least when they have to be on leash. We’ve found new places to walk and explore, including a trail by the river near home, and the levy going out to an island in the middle of the river in a nearby town. When out in public walking, Chase had become more protective when other dogs approached. He seemed to have learned this from Bandit and was taking other dogs too seriously for me. Chase loves people and wants to meet everyone, but this thing about other dogs had to change. My herding dogs get upset when a dog on a leash is dragging the person along or lunging out at the end of the leash. Clearly this is out-of-order rude behavior and the person should be in control, so some herding dogs want to fix the situation by correcting the other dog. I’ve told Chase that it’s not his business and I’ll manage the situation. I protect his space and, when necessary, I put my body between Chase and the other dog. I tell Chase to ‘leave it’ and reward him for complying. We’ve been working on this and he’s getting better, even though dogs who look out of control still concern him sometimes.

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    Over the summer we took several trips to Wisconsin to visit my family. Both dogs rode along and enjoyed visiting. Cay hadn’t traveled much before, so this was new for her. She has become more outgoing with people and eagerly solicits petting. She takes up more space than before, when Bandit sometimes herded her into the corner.

    When Cay had the opportunity to play with my niece’s children, she amazed me. While the 5 year old girl threw the ball for Chase, the 2 ½ year old little boy threw the ball for Cay. Cay is seven years old and has never retrieved a ball for me. So I was astounded to see her retrieve the ball over and over and over for the little boy. She took it back to him and set it down on the ground in front of him. Something magical was happening with Cay and this little boy. She was so good with the kids that I think she may have potential to join the R.E.A.D. program at the library. I plan to enroll her in the class this winter to prepare for the test. To this day, she has never retrieved a ball for me. She runs around with the ball and plays keep away!

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    Over the summer, we tended to Bandit’s memorial garden and spread his ashes in many of the places we had enjoyed together. Grief can be a long process, especially grief for a being who taught us so much and was an important part of our daily life. Last week I finished making a digital photo book of my last walk with Bandit and included the story of the bald eagles who visited frequently to lend strength and comfort before and after his passing. The following morning as I drove Chase and Cay to a routine vet appointment, a bald eagle touched down on the grass on my right and then flew across the road in front of my truck. This was in the middle of town, just a block from the vet clinic where Bandit crossed over. I was stunned.

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    I’m still catching up on things that I didn’t get to last year, like staining the deck. I bought the stain before July 4th last year and then… well you know what happened. The time with family and friends this year has been wonderful. And of course the time with the dogs is precious as it always has been. The nightly mouth joust between Cay and Chase is comforting.

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    When I run into people I haven’t seen for a while, I tell them why I ‘dropped out’ of regular activity for a while, and that we’re slowly getting back on track. I think about the decisions I made last year and how sometimes you just have to go for it, not knowing whether your best effort can bridge the gap between where you are (the disease) and where you need to be (the remission or cure). I took my best shot for both Bandit and Chase, knowing that my best shot might swish through the net or might just fall short of the goal.

    I’m working on a new book in memory of Bandit, based on a true story about my three dogs. The story will remind children to appreciate and pay attention to their pets and will highlight the gifts that we bring to each other. This is an important message for adults too.

    As we move into fall, our little pack is still finding our way, knowing that we’re no longer ready for a three dog night*. We are ready for a two dog, one cat night though. For now, that’ll do.

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    * On cold nights, Indigenous Australians slept in a hole in the ground while embracing a dingo, a native species of wild dog. A very cold night was considered to be a "three dog night”.

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    Kids at the local library improve their reading abilities by reading out loud to Chase. When people pet Chase’s soft coat and ask me how it gets to be so soft, I tell them about Omega Fields Canine Shine and Omega Nuggets.>>>

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  • Pasture Management

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney

    Equine Foraging Behavior: Does it matter to you?

    The best environments for horses are those that most closely mimic their natural state. Grazing fresh pasture and continual turn out offer the horse freedom of movement, mental stimulation, and natural feeding behavior. Continuous intake of smaller meals fits with the horse’s digestive physiology, compared to meal feeding witnessed in many confinement systems. Economically, grazing offers a relatively cheaper method to provide nutrients for the horse when compared to buying harvested forages and feeds. When combining adequate acreage with good pasture management, grazing can provide the majority, if not all, of most horse’s nutrient requirements. In fact, many horses can easily consume well over their needed caloric intake and become quite fleshy while grazing good pasture. But what entails “good pasture”? How many acres does it take to meet the nutritional needs of a horse? And what does good pasture management entail? To answer these questions, we first must address the way in which horses make foraging choices.
    forb roughs and lawns sward
    In order to understand pasture management, it is important to get on grasp on the natural behavior and foraging patterns of the horse. Equine foraging patterns are often misunderstood, and can cause mismanagement of pastures, or even worse, a lack of any management technique at all. It is important that the horse owner identifies which foraging patterns and thus management system are most applicable to their scenario. Grazing patterns of free-ranging horses versus pastured or restricted grazing horses differ greatly. For example, information gathered on feeding behavior in feral horses which routinely travel multiple miles per day will differ compared to horses which are confined to either large pastures or small paddocks.

    Horses which are confined to traditional pastures prefer to graze in a pattern that is typically referred to as roughs and lawns, or “patch grazing.” When looking at a typical pasture that is not intensely managed, you will see some areas where the foliage is closely cropped to the ground, “the lawns”, and other areas which appear to be much longer in growth, “the roughs”. To a casual observer, it may appear that the pasture contains adequate forage, yet the horses confined therein may actually be losing body condition due to an inadequate intake of nutrients. This is all too common in pastures with little to no management. Horses will continue to graze these lawn areas, to the point of that the vegetation has lost the ability to recover and to regrow. So while an owner may think a pasture has plenty of grass available, it may not from the horse’s perspective.

    This behavior, while it may not seem rational to a human, does match with the overall physiology of the horse. Shorter grasses are less mature and thus have a higher nutritive value. They have a higher digestibility, more protein and may even be higher in some vitamins and minerals. Despite the fact that more overall feed may be available to the horse in areas with taller, more mature plants, a horse will seek out these shorter, more nutritious plants. This selective grazing pattern may be an evolutionary advantage for this hind gut fermenting species, which need a higher protein quality than do ruminants. Now, this is not all that dissimilar to the foraging patterns of other large herbivores, but horses seem to take it to an extreme. Horses with their incisors, are much more capable of grazing grasses closer to the ground and can intensify this selection pressure on short grasses.

    But do horses actually make foraging choices based on their actual nutrient needs? In a study where horses were given choices between different grass heights which all met protein requirements, the horses selected the grasses which would provide overall greater intake. Essentially one bite of taller grass resulted in more ingested feed and could allow for faster ingestion of energy. However, if the quality of the vegetation differed, horses began to make rather interesting choices. When protein quality lowered, so that it was only at or below their requirements, horses shifted to foraging choices that would supply their protein requirement, but lowered their overall energy intake. As maturity increased in the taller swards, this preference for shorter swards of higher nutrient content, but less overall available forage, increased. It appeared that horses were able to forage selectively to meet specific needs. If we think about this physiologically, it makes sense. Horses can mobilize fat stores to supply energy needs, but need to ingest specific amino acids in order to synthesize body proteins. Thus protein intake may be a higher priority than overall energy intake.

    Not only do horses make grazing choices according to feed selection, but also to avoid grazing near feces. Horses which are confined to pastures typically exhibit what is known as latrine behavior, or repeatedly using the same areas for defecation. The vegetation in these areas grows quite tall as the horse refuses to use these areas for foraging. This behavior may confer the advantage of prevention of parasite infestation, as most infective worm larvae are found within 1 meter of fecal piles. This combined avoidance of both tall grass and grazing near feces is what creates the roughs, which may represent almost 50% of a pasture. Unfortunately, an owner cannot choose a part of the pasture to create a latrine area. The initial selection of a latrine areas does not appear to be due to any difference in vegetative species or palatability, rather, it is simply due to avoidance of grazing near fecal material. In comparison, free ranging horses and ponies simply defecate where they happen to be grazing and then merely continue walking forward. Presumably, this is because there is enough grazing area available to avoid grazing near feces. In the study mentioned above, there was also low animal density, between about 6.5 acres to 19 acres per animal. These animals were also grazing in rather poor nutritive value areas, thus their feeding decisions may have had more to do with nutritive decisions or pressures, than grazing near eliminative areas. Therefore, if you are fortunate enough to have extremely large pastures or ranges, latrine behavior may not be a concern for you. Alternatively, when horses are presented with small paddocks with uniform grass height, they also do not show any specific latrine behavior, but rather defecate throughout the area rather homogenously. This allows a much more uniform distribution of foraging.

    As we continue to learn more about the foraging patterns and the choices horses make while grazing, we can make better choices for pasture management. To maximize production of our pastures we need to understand the choices horses make, and how we can manipulate those choices to our advantage. Next month we will provide specific suggestions for forage types, stocking density, manure management and more, all based on the basic physiology and behavior of the horse.

     

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