Omega Fields

  • The Things We Miss

    Written by Jenny Pavlovic

    Several friends have lost 2-legged and 4-legged loved ones during this past year. The holidays are a busy time when these losses can be especially painful. So I invite you to focus on your loved ones this season, to give them your undivided attention and really see and enjoy them.

    One friend lost her Australian Cattle Dog to cancer. She told me that he used to sit by her chair in the evening. She would drop her arm over the side and pet him, unconsciously much of the time. Now when she drops her arm over the side of the chair, it is painfully obvious that he’s no longer there. So I invite you to be aware of and consciously enjoy those small interactions with your animals.

    When I say “the things we miss” I mean the things we miss once our loved ones are gone. I also mean the things we miss while our loved ones are here and things are happening, but we don’t sense them or understand them, or aren’t paying attention.

    When I watch my dog Chase interact with the kids at the library, I’m amazed at his intuition. Like the time he met a little 5-year old girl for the first time and went into a play bow. She said, “Look Mommy, he’s bowing!” I later learned that the girl was afraid of dogs. After reading to Chase, she told me that he was the first dog she hadn’t been afraid of. I think he went into a bow upon meeting her because having his eyes at her eye level would have been too scary for her. So he bowed to make himself shorter, and of course to invite play.

    I've learned a lot from Gingersnap, our cat. Last winter she often sat by the north wall of the living room, near a heat duct. I wondered if there was a critter in the duct. But during the summer, I found out that mice were getting in under the siding on the outside of the wall by where she'd been sitting. Ginger was like a pointer for mice. While the mice were out, I filled the hole with foil to keep them out and she stopped sitting there.

    ginger the cat

    In September, Ginger hopped up on the stove in the kitchen. She knows she's not supposed to be up there. But she was obsessing about something in the range hood. She took a swipe at the filter/guard above the stove, her toenail got caught and she pulled the whole thing off. The next thing I knew she was presenting me with a little mouse.

    A month or two ago, Ginger sat in the middle of the kitchen floor at night. There was no evidence of mice in the kitchen, and I couldn't figure out what was drawing her there. Then I discovered little bits of insulation on the floor in the basement below and learned that mice were running along the pipes on the basement ceiling, just below where Ginger sat in the kitchen at night. I'm sure animals sense a lot that we don't get, and I'm learning more and more from Ginger. Winter came early here this year, and it seems like a lot of mice found their way in.

    On November 9th, while walking the dogs by the St. Croix River, I spotted a pileated woodpecker drumming on a pole. I was able to take several pictures before it flew off. In the 25 years that I’ve lived here, I’ve often heard pileated woodpeckers, but can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen one. A couple of weeks later, I learned that a friend’s fiancé had passed away in a car accident on November 8th.  Pileated woodpeckers had appeared to his family and his fiancé that weekend, and she had remarked that it would be just like Carl, a logger, to visit as a pileated woodpecker. So was it merely a coincidence that I saw the woodpecker that weekend?

    woodpecker

    Those of you who have been reading along know that we lost our Australian Cattle Dog Bandit to multiple myeloma in March. On the day that he crossed over and countless times since, bald eagles have flown over our yard and the field where we walk every day. Chase usually spots the eagle first and runs along with it, barking up to it. Often I’ve seen a bald eagle crossing over the highway just in front of my truck as I’m driving 50 mph or more. I don’t know how they do it.

    November 13th would have been Bandit’s 11th birthday. There wasn’t much opportunity for me to see an eagle here that day since I had to walk the dogs in the dark that evening. Knowing Bandit’s playful spirit, I figured he’d do something different anyway. When I arrived home from work that day, his stuffed basketball, which had been in the same place on his bed since March, was on the other side of the room, right in my path as I walked through the house. Chase and Cay had been kenneled while I was gone and hadn’t moved that ball since Bandit left us. The ball is too big for Ginger the cat to move. So it felt like a ‘hello’ from Bandit.

    On Bandit’s birthday, Chase brought me the jolly ball like Bandit used to, and Cay brought me Bandit’s rubber chicken. They must have sensed his presence too.

    cay and chase

    A few days later I was walking the dogs up on the hill, thinking that I should tell a friend the story about the stuffed basketball. Suddenly, Chase took off full speed across the field, looking up at the sky, and let out a bark. I looked up and there was the bald eagle, making a pass across the field. He just made that one pass and then was gone. If Chase hadn’t pointed him out, I would have missed him. Chase continued to look for the eagle in the sky, and barked every once in a while. I think Chase and the eagle were communicating. I wonder if Chase felt Bandit’s spirit in the eagle as I did. I don’t completely understand these interactions, but I’m intrigued by them. Most of us miss so much and understand so little about our natural world.

    eagle

    Which brings me back to my original thought. This holiday season, take time to slow down and tune in to the natural world around you. Live in the present moment with your 4-legged friends. Take in and enjoy their essence and the little ways they keep you company. Ponder what you learn from them, or would if you were paying more attention.

    The holiday season can get way too busy. So I invite you to sit still with your loved ones and really notice what you’ve been missing, and what you’ll miss some day when they’re gone.  I promise you won’t regret it. Happy Holidays!
    ~~~
    My new book, There’s a Chicken in My Kitchen: Bandit’s Big Birthday Blizzard, is about a blizzard that ‘unplugs’ us and gives us the chance to really see and appreciate our loved ones. Watch for it next year.
    ~~~
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  • Preparing for Winter

    Written By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

    Horses enjoy cold weather and the relaxation that winter brings, but it takes more than hay to keep them healthy during the colder months. Optimal nutritional planning will help them enjoy the season and emerge in good condition when spring arrives.

    Hay is not enough

    Hay cannot compare in nutritive value to fresh grass. Once grass is cut, dried, and stored, it begins to lose vitamins C, D and E, beta carotene (for vitamin A production), and omega-3 fatty acids. Normally, your horse produces vitamin D when he is exposed to sunlight. But spending more time indoors, combined with shorter daylight hours, can induce a vitamin D deficiency that leaves bones, joints, and muscles unprotected. Therefore, a vitamin supplement, along with ground flaxseed (to provide omega 3s), will fill in the nutritional gaps created by hay-only diets.

    Consider alfalfa

    Contrary to popular opinion, alfalfa it is not higher in sugar than grass hay. It is high in protein, but this is a good thing. At a moderate intake (approximately 10 to 30 percent of the total hay ration), it boosts the overall protein quality of the diet, keeping your horse’s muscles, joints, feet, skin, hair, and bones fed, and protecting his blood and immune function. Alfalfa also serves as a stomach buffer against developing an ulcer, a common occurrence when a horse is stalled during the winter after being used to full-time turnout.

    Offer hay free-choice

    Cold weather increases the metabolic rate, which means that horses need to burn more calories to maintain a normal internal body temperature and a consistent weight. When you provide hay free-choice, you will notice that your horse naturally consumes more to help stay warm and account for his higher energy need. Free-choice is always best (regardless of the season or condition of your horse) because it allows your horse to self-regulate his intake and eat only what his body needs. Consider testing your hay; choose hay with low sugar and starch levels for the insulin resistant, laminitic, or overweight horse.

    For more calories, add concentrates

    For many horses, hay will not provide enough calories to maintain normal body condition.  A high fat commercial feed is fine for healthy horses. For the easy keeper or insulin-resistant horse, avoid sweet feeds and those that contain oats or corn. Beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, or low starch commercial feeds are excellent alternatives. Fatty feeds such as rice bran, ground flaxseed, or chia seeds offer the most concentrated source of calories. Avoid corn or soybean oils, since they promote inflammation due to their high omega-6 fatty acid content.

    Older horses need special attention

    Your older horse may need a joint supplement along with vitamin C to help produce collagen (the protein found in bones and joints), since less vitamin C is produced by the body as horses age.

    For the aged hard keeper (or any hard keeper, for that matter), be sure there is no competition from more aggressive horses for hay. Feed a senior feed, along with added ground flaxseed. And be sure to check your horse’s teeth. Poor dental health is the number one reason for weight loss in older horses.

    Other tips

    • Use a prebiotic (fermentation product, not live microbes) or a potent probiotic (one that contains billions – at least 109 – colony forming units, or C.F.U.s) to keep the hindgut microbial population healthy.

    • When feeding bran mashes, or any added feed, feed it every day. Consistency will prevent colic. Keep in mind, however, that bran (rice or wheat are most common) is very high in phosphorus in relation to calcium. Therefore, use a commercial product with added calcium or feed alfalfa to counteract the elevated phosphorus content.

    • Provide fresh, temperate water. Never rely on snow to meet your horse’s water needs. Water should be kept at a palatable temperature to encourage drinking and prevent dehydration.

    • Remember to provide salt. Salt blocks, free choice granulated salt, or adding two tablespoons of table salt to your horse’s meals per day (divided between meals) will keep his body in proper water balance.

    Permission to reprint this article  is granted, provided by Dr. Getty.

    Dr. Getty provides a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.gettyequinenutrition.com. Sign up for her informative, free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. And for the growing community of horse owners and managers who allow their horses free choice forage feeding, Dr. Getty has set up a special forum as a place for support, celebrations, congratulations, and idea sharing. Share your experiences at jmgetty.blogspot.com. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.

    Learn  more about Omega Horseshine and how this Omega-3 supplement will be a great addition to your horses daily ration >>>https://www.omegafields.com/equine-products/omega-horseshine-26.html

  • Forward Foot Syndrome

    Written By Walt Friedrich

    Forward Foot Syndrome (FFS) is a common hoof condition that can and does strike all breeds, shod or barefoot. It's all too prevalent, it leads to serious problems, and for the sake of our horses' comfort, we should know how to recognize and prevent or fix it.

    Here are photos to illustrate. First, the beautiful forefoot of a deceased feral horse. It shows most of what we like to see on a hoof:

    walt 1
    Circular shape
    Heels well-separated
    Frog large and robust
    Central Sulcus wide and shallow
    Bars vertical and flanking the commissures
    Quarters relief
    Mustang roll
    Toe rocker

    This foot was trimmed only by Mother Nature. It, together with its three companions, allowed its owner to move twenty or more miles, every day, all year long, rarely suffering any damage, and never wearing out. Feet like this allowed this horse to tackle any terrain on which he found himself, in any weather. He was what we’d call a “rock crusher”.

    walt 2

    In the center is the forefoot of a living horse that has been trimmed regularly with just standard trimming tools – hoof pick, hoof knife, rasp, and nipper. Note the striking similarity to the feral hoof. This indicates that with proper care and trimming, our horses’ feet can closely emulate those of a feral’s, and be capable of almost equal functionality.

    walt 3

    In contrast, to the right is the forefoot of a Forward Foot Syndrome hoof. Note its characteristics:
    Foot shape more oval than round
    Toe stretched forward
    Heels contracted
    Breakover at the toe tip
    Frog long and narrow
    Central sulcus greatly contracted, forming just a crack
    Bars spread out, laid over
    No mustang roll
    Severe wall flaring

    The first thing we need to know about FFS is that it is probably the most common and insidious problem for domestics' hooves. It sneaks up on our horses over time – yet not all horses are doomed to develop FFS. So how does a horse, born with feet destined to look and perform like a healthy feral foot, end up with FFS feet, always tender-footed, and always in some pain? Well, the cause is simply his lifestyle. An afflicted horse is typically underexercised, too fat, and not trimmed frequently enough or properly.

    Feral hooves, by contrast, are in almost constant motion, receiving continuous natural trimming from the terrain. The result is the natural foot condition of a horse that lives the life into which he has evolved. Most of us can’t do much about our domestic horse’s home terrain – it is what it is – but we can and should make sure he gets plenty movement, preferably on varied terrain. We can do that by riding him frequently, and we can ensure he gets the most possible movement at home by allowing him maximum turnout. We can’t overstress the simple secret of healthy feet – movement, movement, movement.

    That leaves us with the trim.

    What does a good trim look like? Well, a good model is the feral horse foot. It’s not that our domestics' feet should look just like feral horses' – even the best rarely do -- but feral horses' feet don't suffer from FFS, and there are lessons to be learned from them. Feral horses are well-exercised, certainly not too fat, and they have functionally excellent, natural trims.

    Most of us are diligent about getting our horses' hooves trimmed.
    Unfortunately, diligence alone won't cut it. Consider a foot that starts out
    in good condition but then starts receiving an improper trim. It may take
    months before we notice it's developed FFS; when we finally see it, we scratch our heads and ask ourselves, "How could this have happened? He’s always had such great feet." Well, it's sneaky, it takes time to develop, and we just don't notice it happening. The irony is that we may have been diligent, paid out plenty in farrier fees or sore backs in our efforts to ensure good feet, yet there we see FFS, while all that was needed to prevent it was to observe a few critical aspects of the trim itself.

    Barring unrelated complications, the prevention is as straightforward as the fix. The fixing process involves numerous proper trims over time, but that's OK – the feet will be better at each trim than they were at the previous trim, and we'll get there step-by-step. We've just got to take that first step. You know the Oriental proverb about how the longest journey starts.

    What follows are the general trim steps specifically intended to prevent or correct FFS in a barefoot hoof. It is not intended to be a how-to on barefoot trimming. It is assumed that a knowledgeable and experienced barefoot trimmer will perform the actual trim, or at least will be available for guidance. It is also assumed that, other than FFS, the hooves are healthy and in virtually normal condition.

    First, during the repair phase, trim frequently. A three week cycle is a good compromise between overworking your back or pocketbook and running the danger of letting hoof growth get away from you.

    Second, be observant. At each trim study the feet on the ground before you
    pick one up. Make a mental note about what doesn't look quite right so that
    you're sure to address it when you have hoof in hand. Continue the study
    when you pick up the foot: using your pick, clean off the bottom thoroughly, including the commissures; remove any loose flaky sole that comes off readily, so you can see all foot and no dirt. Now look to determine the cause of any anomalies you saw before picking up, and note the condition of the sole components.

    Finally, go to the trim. Address any specific problems that you spotted during your evaluation phase, then give the fores the 1-2-3 treatment. That is:
    • 1) Trim the walls -- you’ll want wall height to be very close to live sole plane; bring that long toe back -- you can safely take it back as far as the white line, if necessary; rocker the toe and apply quarters relief (not on shod hoof); address any flaring by flat-rasping the outer layer of wall at the flare (using the fine side of your rasp); this will usually require several trim cycles.
    • 2) We need short heels – take the buttresses down to perhaps a quarter-inch above live sole plane in the Seats of Corn; if the bars are making initial ground contact, shave them back a bit using your hoof knife – but don’t remove them.
    • 3) rocker the toe as needed to allow proper breakover, and apply a mustang roll (not on shod hoof).

    And that’s about all there is to it!

    Finally, some pertinent comments:

    - While every step here is important, pay special attention to the quarters relief. When applied, it will mean that the quarters are slightly above ground contact until the foot is fully weight-loaded. This allows the foot to expand and contract laterally as he walks – known as “hoof mechanism”.

    - Hinds don't get a toe rocker, but do get the mustang roll, and may need a
    vertical cutback at the toe if the toe wall has grown too long out front.

    -Don't trim the toe callus on any foot.

    -You may need to trim the bars slightly if they’re in ground contact and you're trimming to correct a case of FFS, but note that when you're trimming to maintain a good foot, the bars should rarely, if ever, need much attention. That’s because they naturally wear well when more upright, as they should be to do their job. If they’re curvy and laid over toward the outside of the hoof, they are pinching the live sole under them, which is painful. Fix it by carefully shaving off thin layers of the flattened bar until you see dirt trapped under it – you’ve reached the sole.

    -Normally, the frogs don't need trimming, but if they're in trouble, this is an excellent time to deal with it. Clean them up well, removing loose material. If thrushy, spray them with colloidal silver – you’ll probably need to repeat the frog treatment several times a week for a week or two or until the signs of thrush are gone.

    - The steps outlined above are part of the trim method known as the LIM Trim – stands for Less Is More. The essence of the LIM trim is that you do no more than the hoof calls for. You bring the heels back to near the frog buttress, put the breakover far enough underneath so that the foot can start relocating it naturally, and balance the foot according to the live sole plane. In so doing, you're readying the hooves for the forces that act upon them while the horse moves. This trim encourages the heels to expand rather than contract, the bars to become straight rather than curved, and the frog to regain health and bulk up to make initial ground contact.

    If your horse is already afflicted with FFS, you can fix it, over time, by
    applying these principles. If your horse does not suffer from FFS, he's
    probably getting a trim similar in principle to the above - lucky horse. Once FFS is a fact with your horse, it may take a little time to bring those hooves back to health, but you can do it. It's not difficult, but you must be diligent – do frequent trims and ALWAYS follow all three steps. Take pictures so you can see your progress - you may even want to frame them, you'll eventually feel so good about it.

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  • 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.

    double yolked eggs 1

     

    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.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    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.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    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!

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    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.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    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.

    ~~~

    * 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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  • 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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  • Crackers

    Flax Seed Crackers

    • ½ cup stabilized ground flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™)
    • 1 ½ cup l all-purpose unbleached flaxseed flour
    • ½ tsp. baking powder
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 4 tsp butter, softened
    • ½ cup skim milk

    1. In bowl of stand-up mixer, add stabilized ground flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™), flour, baking powder, salt and butter. With the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
    2. Stir in milk and mix until mixture forms a soft dough. (You can also mix the dough by hand.)
    3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 10 minutes.
    4. Divide the dough into quarters. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Roll out very thin to a rectangle 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick. Cut into 2 ½ inch squares.
    5. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet.
    6. Repeat with the remainder of the dough.
    7. Preheat oven to 325º F.
    8. Bake 20 minutes until crisp and golden.

    Variations:
    Onion: 1 tbsp powdered onion soup mix.
    Cheese: 1 cup grated cheddar cheese.
    Italian: 1 tbsp oregano and 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese.

    Yield: 24 crackers
    Serving Size: 1 - 2 ½ x 2 ½ inch cracker

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  • Appetizers - Flaxen Hummus

    Flaxen Hummus

    • 2 tablespoons stabilized ground flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™)
    • 1/4 cup warm water
    • 2 cups cooked Garbanzo Beans or 1 each 15 ounce can, drained
    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons Tahini
    • 2 cloves garlic, shopped
    • Pinch black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • Pinch cayenne pepper
    • 1 to 2 tbsp Tamari or Bragg liquid aminos

    1. In a small bowl, combine stabilized ground flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™) and water and let soak 10 minutes.
    2. In a food processor, combine beans, lemon juice, Tahini, garlic, black pepper, cumin, cayenne, Tamari, and soaked flax. Process until smooth.

    *If you don’t have Tamari or Braggs on hand, you may substitute soy sauce or 1/2 teaspoon salt.

    From Veggie Life Magazine

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  • Breakfast

    French Toast

    • 1 cup soymilk
    • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 tablespoon stabilized ground flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™) -- blended with 1/3 cup water
    • 6 slices whole wheat bread or French bread

    1. In a medium mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients except the whole wheat bread.
    2. Dip each slice of bread into the soymilk mixture. Saturate each side, being careful not to let the bread sit in the liquid too long. (No more than one minute each side.)
    3. In a lightly oiled skillet, cook 3 minutes on each side over medium heat.
    4. Serve with maple syrup.


    Oatmeal Flax Porridge

    • 4 cups water
    • 1 1/3 cups quick cooking oats
    • 1/4 cup currants or other chopped dried fruit
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 cup stabilized ground flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™)

    1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Stir in oats, currants, and cinnamon. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    2. Stir in stabilized ground flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™).
    3. Serve with maple syrup and soymilk if desired.


    Oat Nut Pancakes

    Dry Ingredients:

    • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
    • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats or oat flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts or pecans finely chopped
    • 1/3 cup stabilized ground flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™)

    Wet Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 cups soy milk
    • 1 tablespoon canola oil
    • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or sugar

    Tip: Toast 1/2 cup of walnuts or pecans. Finely chop 1/4 cup, and use the remaining in warm syrup.

    1. In a large bowl, sift all dry ingredients except walnuts and oats, and then add the walnuts and oats and stir. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the combined wet. Stir just until combined.
    2. Lightly oil a griddle or skillet and heat to medium high heat. Use about 1/4 cup butter for each pancake. Cook on the heated griddle until bubbles start to form on the top, which should take about one to one and a half minutes. Then flip the pancakes and cook the other side until golden brown, about 1 minute longer.
    3. Serve right away or keep warm in an oven set to the lowest heat.

    Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classic


    Whole Grain Flaxen Waffles

    Mix Together:

    • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • dash nutmeg (optional)
    • 1/2 cup stabilized ground flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™)

    Then Combine:

    • 1 1/2 cups soy milk
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
    • 1 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup
    • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)

    1. Stir wet ingredients into dry ones just until mixed--batter is usually thick and lumpy. If it is too thick to stir, or thickens on standing, add extra soy milk by the tablespoon.
    2. Pour onto waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's instructions.
    3. Serve immediately or keep warm in a oven set to 200ºF while cooking remaining waffles.

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  • Vegetarian Entrees

    Knishes

    Dough:

    • 1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3 tablespoons stabilized ground flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™)
    • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
    • 2 tablespoons canola oil
    • 7 tablespoons cold water

    Filling:

    • 1 3/4 cups finely chopped onions
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 2 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
    • 2 tablespoons stabilized ground flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

    1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3 tablespoons Stabilized Ground Flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™). Add the flours, canola oil, and water.
    2. To make the filling, cook the onions in the olive oil until browned. Combine them in a bowl with the 2 1/2 cups mashed potatoes, 2 tablespoons stabilized ground flaxseed (Mega Omega® or Simply Omega-3™), salt, and pepper.
    3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
    4. Divide the dough in half. Roll out each half on a lightly floured surface until thin. Cut across and down to make 3 1/2 inch x 3-inch rectangles.
    5. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in a long thin line down the middle of each piece of cut dough. Fold up the ends and roll up so you can pinch to seal the edges. Place on a cookie sheet about 1 inch apart, and bake for 20 minutes.

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