Omega Fields

  • Dogs Know

    Written By Barbara O'Brien
    Dogs know more than we think.
    Kylie is a good dog. She is a tri-colored Australian Shepherd and is owned by my good friend Kathy. Kylie is an obedience and breed champion with a room full of ribbons and trophies to show for it. This is a dog that would never dream of being naughty and not doing what is asked of her.
    I have had the honor of hiring her many times for print ads and commercials. Kylie always did a great job for me. She followed my commands and was always cheerful with a joyful expression on her face. She loved to work and she loved being the center of attention. In the show ring and on the set Kylie was a star.
    Then Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember crying with her when she told me and I hoped and prayed for a quick recovery. Kathy is a fighter and underwent aggressive chemo treatments and then surgery to fight her disease.
    Months passed as Kathy went through her treatment, fighting fatigue nausea and tolerating the loss of her hair as her body struggled to beat the cancer that had taken hold. Her friends continue to pray and care for her. Kylie the Aussie never left her side.
    We were all overjoyed when Kathy eventually was declared cancer free. I knew Kathy enjoyed having Kylie perform for the camera so I waited for her to tell me when she was well enough to begin bringing Kylie the Aussie to photo shoots again.
    After I was sure that Kathy felt well enough to give it a try I booked Kylie for a shoot for a major retailer. Kylie was to pose with a human model who would brush her with a special grooming tool to remove fur.
    When Kathy came in with Kylie, I hugged Kathy and asked how she was feeling. Kylie the Aussie had always pulled on her leash when she saw me and wriggled her whole body in anticipation. This time when I greeted her and her owner, Kylie the Aussie was oddly restrained in her manner towards me.
    It is my usual practice to leave the owner in the waiting room and take the dog from the owner to work them on the set myself as most dogs work better when not distracted by their owner. Kylie was no exception to that rule. Although Kathy is an excellent trainer, in the past Kylie seemed to focus better when I worked her on the set without her owner in the room.
    I started to escort Kylie away from her owner and towards the set but she sat down and refused to leave Kathy’s side. “Come on, girl,” I said, slightly surprised. This was not normal behavior for Kylie the Aussie at all. Where was the dog that practically dragged me to the set and was so happy to show off her skills and tricks?
    “Go on,” said Kathy to her dog. “Go with Barbara. You’ll be fine,” she said.
    Kylie the Aussie was obviously reluctant to obey. She slowly got up and went with me, but looked over her shoulder at her owner.
    “Come on, girl,” I said in my cheeriest voice. “I’ve got cheese,” I said. Usually, the word cheese is the magic word to focus Kylie’s razor sharp attention. This time I said the magic word, she glanced my way for a moment, then looked back to the door of the room in which Kathy her owner was waiting.
    Why was Kylie the Aussie acting so strangely? This was not like her at all. This dog loved me and usually pranced and danced on camera happily sitting and cocking her head for the camera.
    The human model came in and I put Kylie the Aussie in position. I stepped back and began to cue her, looking for the sweet expression and happy ears that she always offered me.
    Kylie did her best to be obedient. She is a good dog and knows that Stay means Stay, but there’s a big difference between a dog who is focused on the work and a dog who is just going through the motions. Kylie was just not with me. I told her Stay and she would Stay but only for a moment or two and then she would break her Stay. This is unusual for such a well-trained dog and experienced animal model.
    “Oh, no! What did you do?” I said (my traditional speech when a dog breaks a Stay). I tried again. I gave her the hand signal and said “Kylie, Stay!” She paused for only a moment this time before breaking her Stay again. I was shocked. This is an obedient dog. She always listened to my commands and performed them cheerfully and happily for the cheese reward. What could possibly be wrong? I watched Kylie the Aussie as her gaze continued to go to the door. And then I understood. Kylie the Aussie’s mind was with her owner Kathy in the waiting room. I apologized to the photographer for the delay and took Kylie off the set. “Okay!” I said to Kylie. She bolted out the door and down towards the hall to be with Kathy. I could hear Kathy laughing as I headed towards them. “What is it, girl?” Kathy asked as Kylie stood on her hind legs and washed Kathy’s face with her tongue.
    “She can’t leave your side right now,” I said. She knows that you haven’t been well and that her place is with you.”
    Kathy held Kylie’s head in her hands. “Is that true, Kylie?” She said “Don’t you know that I am okay now?” Kylie looked back at her with the intelligent brown eyes of an Australian Shepherd, one of the smartest of all dog breeds. I think Kylie the Aussie felt the need to protect her owner Kathy and be with her. Kathy had beaten the breast cancer, but perhaps her dog still thought she still needed special care and attention. Although Kylie the Aussie shows every sign of enjoying being an acting dog, perhaps she thought she had a more important job right then: Being with Kathy.
    “Please come to the set with us?” said Kathy to me, and we went back. I said to Kathy: “You work with her. She usually works better with me, but she needs you this time.” Kathy put Kylie in position, thehuman model readied the grooming tool, and the photographer began to shoot. It was like a different dog was there. Kylie posed and perked her ears. She put her paw up and then down on command and she spun around in a circle when asked. She even kissed the model’s face on cue. Here was the Kylie I knew.
    The rest of the shoot went perfectly and the client was happy with the results.
    Another six months went by before I needed to use Kylie on a shoot. I had been in touch with Kathy and knew that she was getting stronger and feeling better every day. This time when she came to the studio Kylie was overjoyed to see me, almost leaping into my arms as I said hello. And when I took her leash to lead her to the set she went with me without a backward glance.
    On set she was once again a pro, offering all of her endearing behaviors like tilting her head and grinning for the camera. When we finished and I returned her to Kathy in the waiting room, I marveled at how different Kylie the Aussie was from the last time I worked her.
    It’s amazing to me how dogs sometimes just know. Apparently, even though Kathy thought she was back to her old self, Kylie the dog did not agree and thought she needed to stay by Kathy’s side. Now that Kathy was fully recovered and cancer free, Kylie the Aussie also was back to her old self and ready to perform.
    ©2011 Barbara O’Brien -White Robin Farm -N616 130th Street -Stockholm WI 54769 -(612) 812-8788

  • Will Work for Chicken Feed

    by Barbara O'Brien

    I work for chicken feed. Or at least my chickens do. That is what I will tell you when you ask how I train chickens to perform. I have trained chickens to jog on a treadmill, push a button, climb stairs, appear to be swimming, enter and exit an elevator, talk into a microphone, jump onto a desk and shake their tail in someone’s face, and many more behaviors for television commercials and print advertisements.

     
    Most people think that chickens are dumb and just run all over squawking and flapping their wings like…well, like dumb clucks. But I know better. Chickens are highly intelligent birds with tremendous survival skills that have allowed them to become one of our earliest domesticated animals.
     
    Chickens are useful barnyard animals. They peck at manure, eat larva and bugs, and aerate the soil with their scratching. They give us beautiful eggs on an almost daily basis. A flock of chickens is an excellent alarm system.
     
    Chickens are surprisingly trainable, too. When I am looking for a chicken to train for a commercial or an ad the first thing I do is find one that is bold and brave and will eat out of my hand. A chicken has to be food motivated or I will never be able to keep it on the set.
     
    If I want the chicken to walk towards me I hold the food just out of reach and reward it when it takes even the smallest step towards me. This training technique is called shaping. I use shaping to train all kinds of animals to perform. If I want a chicken to go to a certain spot I bait the spot with feed and the chicken is rewarded for going to the right spot. Eventually, the feed is removed and the chicken will still go to the spot.
     
    Omega Fields Animal Ambassador, Pretty Peggy, was remarkably easy to train for her many appearances in Perkins Restaurant commercials. In one spot, she had to portray the downtrodden wife of a late rising rooster. We trained her to sit still on a therapist’s office chair and cluck and squawk on cue as if she was talking to the therapist. I trained her to do this by showing her food and rewarding her when she made noise but didn’t move position. Her appearances in Perkins commercials were very successful.
     

    So, the next time you see chickens roaming and pecking in a barn yard, remember that they are a lot smarter than they look.

  • Braveheart Rescue, Inc. One Simple Mission: Where Dogs Come First

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

     

    My experience Braveheart Rescue Robin's adopted dog, Apachewith 8 State Hurricane Kate, a rescued Katrina dog, taught me a lot about rehabilitating dogs and giving them a safe environment to just learn to be dogs. Kate traveled with me from Louisiana to Minnesota, where everything was different. She’d suffered significant physical and emotional trauma during and after Hurricane Katrina. Not knowing her history before I met her in Louisiana, I was challenged to understand her and help her become comfortable in this new environment. When I realized that Kate wasn’t socialized to other dogs, I knew we had a long road ahead of us. After a couple of months though, Kate picked up a ball to play, perhaps for the first time in her life. She kicked up her heels and cavorted with joy. I finally felt like we were on the right path.

    Kate’s story is included not only in her own book, 8 State Hurricane Kate, but also in the new book Dogs & the Women Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing and Inspiration, by Allen and Linda Anderson. This book is a wonderful collection of stories about women and the dogs who have changed their lives. I had the privilege of joining the Andersons to share Kate’s story at book signings in Minnesota. That’s where I first crossed paths with the people from Braveheart Rescue, Inc. in Hastings, Minnesota. When I learned about this rescue organization, I could tell that they truly understand dogs.
    Braveheart Rescue is a unique, non-breed specific 501(c)(3) non-profit dog rescue organization. With one simple mission: “Dogs Come First”, they’re committed to saving dogs’ lives, helping them become physically and psychologically healthy, and finding them homes where the people and dogs fit together well. At Braveheart Rescue, dogs are given needed veterinary care and each have their own kennel space with a raised bed. They go outside a few times every day, and when healthy and ready for socialization, they’re exercised with other dogs in a fenced area.
    Brandi Tracy is truly a dog whisperer who moves among the dogs and keeps order with a simple touch or a word. It’s amazing to watch her interact with the dogs. Robin Romano adopted her dog Apache from Braveheart in 2009. She was so impressed with the organization that she became deeply involved in its continued success, caring for dogs, scooping poop, doing laundry, organizing fundraisers, attending dog adoptions, and pitching in where needed to help Brandi run the rescue smoothly.
    Braveheart Rescue, Inc. was inspired by a dog who changed Brandi’s life, leading her into full-time dog rescue. Brandi ran a boarding kennel for years on acreage outside of Hastings, Minnesota, occasionally helping rescue dogs. One day she learned of Braveheart, a husky mix who had been hit by a car. Enter Brandi, who tried to save Braveheart’s right rear leg. After three surgeries and many rehabilitation sessions, amputation was determined to be the best course. But Braveheart didn't give up, and neither did Brandi.
    In addition to his injured leg, Braveheart was in critical condition. After the accident, he "died" on the table at the vet clinic. Both sides of his pelvis were broken. His ribs were extremely bruised, and he had a severe concussion. The vet pumped fluids into Braveheart until he could absorb no more. People sat with the injured dog for several hours, almost certain he wouldn't make it through the night. Everyone except Brandi thought Braveheart's story had ended. But Brandi waited.
    Suddenly Braveheart raised his head, his eyes partially swollen shut, and sat up looking dazed and confused. Everyone, including the vet, was amazed.
    Brandi made it her mission to give Braveheart a wonderful life. Today, hears after the accident, he’s a happy and healthy dog, and they’re the best of friends. Nothing daunts Braveheart. He runs like the wind on his three legs, to the dismay of squirrels and rabbits. He loves to go for rides, and goes everywhere with Brandi. There is no question about his excellent quality of life.
    Brandi was so inspired by Braveheart’s heart and will to live that she decided to help other dogs who might not otherwise get a second chance. Since formally becoming a rescue organization in 2008, Braveheart Rescue has taken in dogs in need from New Mexico, Louisiana, Alabama, Indiana, and many other states in addition to Minnesota.
    Ralf was rescued from a local humane society. He’d been labeled dangerous because he was food aggressive, usually an automatic death sentence. But Ralf gobbled up anything in his sight because he was starving. Once his hunger was sated and Brandi and Robin worked with him, he ate very gently from their hands with a grateful look in his eyes. He soon learned to sit on command when offered his food, and gave a quick kiss before he started eating. Ralf now lives in Stillwater, Minnesota with a wonderful family. He campaigned door-to-door with his human owner who ran for office.
    Roo, a puppy mill dog who had never enjoyed human interaction or the medical attention he deserved, came to Braveheart from Georgia. He arrived with the worst case of heartworms the vet had ever seen. At seven years old, Roo never complained once as he fought for life with every ounce of his little black Chow-Chow body. Four treatments, two surgeries and eight months later, Roo walked out the door and into his new home. Brandi said, “To watch him waddle out the door with his new family was nothing less than divine”.

    Coy, a smaller than average Siberian Husky, was found chained to a rusted out truck in South Dakota, where she was sometimes locked inside for days. In her short two year life she'd been beaten, verbally abused and had whelped four litters of puppies. Coy was finally rescued by a loving young woman and transported to Braveheart. She was vetted and on the road to recovery from her spay surgery when she was diagnosed with cancer. Coy endured two more surgeries and never looked back. She continued to maintain her sweet, affectionate personality and was adopted by a kind young couple.

    Journey, an Australian Cattle Dog, was running out of time in a Kentucky animal control facility. Her owner had gone to prison and nobody came to claim her. She was middle aged, overweight, and had cloudy eyes. Lost and alone, she was running out of options when Brandi offered to take her in. At Braveheart, Journey has received needed veterinary care, is losing weight and enjoys playing in the snow. She’s starting to feel like she owns the place! Soon she’ll be ready to find a new home.

    Bernie, a sweet blue heeler, was on death row in a kill shelter in Louisiana. His chances of survival became even slimmer when he tested positive for heartworm. Brandi took him in and he has responded well to treatment. Once his series of heartworm treatments are completed, he’ll be socialized with the other dogs and will be evaluated for adoption.

     These are just a few of the dogs who’ve been given love and a second chance at Braveheart Rescue. Brandi founded the organization at great personal risk and depends on the generosity of others to keep the rescue running smoothly. If you would like to provide financial support, volunteer to help care for the dogs on a regular basis, organize a fundraising event in your community, or provide computer, accounting or other support, please contact Brandi through www.BraveheartRescueInc.com.

     

    Learn more about Braveheart Rescue, Inc. at the Twin Cities Pet Expo on March12th-13th at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Meet author Jenny Pavlovic at the Braveheart Rescue booth, pick up free samples of Omega Nuggets and register to win Canine Shine for your dog. A portion of 8 State Hurricane Kate and Not Without My Dog Book sales at the Pet Expo will be donated to Braveheart Rescue, Inc. Find more information at www.BraveheartRescueInc.com, www.8StateKate.net and http://www.twincitiespetexpo.com/about.htm.
    What dog has changed your life?

  • Developmental Orthopedic Diseases: Part 1, What are they and why do they occur?

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney

    Developmental orthopedic diseases are a serious concern for the equine breeder.  All of the hard work and preparation of selecting the right match between mare and stallion, the hours put into proper mare care, culminates hopefully in the arrival of a sound, healthy foal.  All of this excitement and hope can be ruined if your foal ends up having skeletal abnormalities which may jeopardize his future success.  With this article we will explore some of the many causative factors of this spectrum of disorders and what you may be able to do to prevent or reduce the likelihood of their occurrence.

    First of all, developmental orthopedic diseases, or DOD, is actually a generic term for a host of disorders.  Simply put, anything which is an abnormality of the horses’ skeletal system during its formative years can be classified as a DOD. The most commonly occurring maladies are angular limb deformities, flexural limb deformities, osteochondrosis and physitis.

    Angular limb deformities

    Angular limb deformities are very common in all breeds of foals. These can include either an inward deviation of the joints (varus) or outward deviation of the joints (valgus).  Most commonly these deviations are seen in the knee, hock and fetlock joints. The foal can have one or more joints affected, and can also vary quite widely in the severity of the condition.  The causes of this condition vary; with some the manager can address, while others are due to random chance.   Both premature and dismature foals very commonly have angular limb deformities due to the lack of strength in supporting structures, or the failure of complete ossification of the cuboidal bones (small bones of the knee and hock).  The causative factors of these conditions may be an infection or inflammation of the placenta or uterus, twinning, and severe stress in the mare.  Development of angular limb deformities post foaling is due to a difference in the growth rate across the inside and outside of the growth plate.  In essence, the difference in speed in bone development causes the bone to veer to one side or the other.  This can be due to a variety of factors including dietary imbalances or environmental factors, as well as genetics.

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    Premature foals are those born before 320 days of age, while dismature foals may be of a normal gestational age but are weak, small and appear unready to have been born.  These foals are typically thin, are slow to stand, have poor suckle reflex, can chill rapidly and are marked by fine silky hair coats and soft ears and lips.  These foals will require a high level of assistance in their care, but with proper supportive care and a lot of time and effort, can continue on to lead normal lives.

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    If your foal does have angular limb deformities, there are actually many therapeutic management techniques used to help straighten the limb.  They range from quite simple to the complex and expensive, usually depending on the severity of the deviation.  Conservative techniques involve stall rest in order to prevent uneven loading of the foal’s developing legs.  The foal may be bandaged or splinted, or the hoof can be trimmed or glue-on extensions can be used to help straighten the limb.  For example if the foal has a valgus deformity in in its knee (the lower leg will sweep outwards), the outside hoof wall is lowered, or a glue on extension is placed on the inside of the hoof.  Often dramatic improvements are seen with these simple techniques.  If the limb deviation is more severe, and budgets allow, corrective surgery may be required.  These include periosteal stripping, or placing screws, staples or wires across the growth plate.  The goal of periosteal stripping (removing a section of the periosteum, or membrane covering the bone) is to accelerate growth of the side of the bone growing too slowly. Typically this procedure is done in young foals.  Alternatively, transphyseal bridging is used to slow down the rate of growth on the side of the bone with too fast a growth rate.  However, before deciding on which management technique is the correct one for your foal, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.  Mismanagement can acerbate the problem, and it is also possible to overcorrect the foal, and end up with a deviation in the opposite direction!

    Flexural limb deformities

    Flexural limb deformities are more commonly referred to as contracted Glue on shoe extension can correct contracted tendonstendons.  Foals can either be born with flexural limb deformities, or they may develop later in life.  Foals born with flexural limb deformities may be due to poor positioning in the uterus, toxicities, genetics or infections in utero.  If the condition is mild, foals can recover typically with just restricted exercise.  Foals should be allowed some exercise either in a paddock or by hand walking for short periods of time.  Additionally, the veterinarian may choose to use oxytetracycline to help relax tendons in more severely affected foals.  Some foals may require splints or casts to help in straightening the limb.  However, this should only be done with a veterinarian’s  supervision as  it is quite easy for the foal to develop pressure sores and may be painful.  Acquired flexural limb deformities can be due to traumatic injuries which cause the foal to protect the limb and not bear full weight on it.  The reduced stretching of the tendons with normal loading results in tendon contracture.  They can also be due to a discrepancy in the growth rate between the flexural tendons and the long bones.  It can also be completely normal to see young horses having temporary periods of being over at the knees.  If the foal is showing signs of being over at the knees, the rate of growth should be modulated and caloric intake should be reduced.

    Physistis

    Physitis or inflammation of the growth plate is usually seen at the distal end of the radius or tibia, or within the distal end of the cannon bone.  It is seen as puffiness in the affected joint and may be associated with heat and swelling.  Physitis is typically seen in foals on too high of a plane of nutrition, or in foals being fed for rapid growth.  If the foal is still nursing, the mare may actually be contributing to the development of physitis.  Some mares are simply better milkers than others.  Suggested management techniques may be to discontinue any creep feeding of the foal, or do not allow them access to the mare’s feed.  In addition, the foal may be muzzled periodically to decrease his milk intake, or the foal may be weaned and put on a less calorie-rich diet.

    Osteochondrosis

    Osteochondrosis or OC is caused by a failure of the endochondral bone (the bone underlying the cartilage) to properly ossify.  Bone growth occurs first with the growth of cartilage which is then replaced by bone. If this fails to happen, essentially the bone has a weakened area underlying the cartilage.   It can cause further development of bone cysts or osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD). While these terms are often used interchangeably, OCD refers to a flap of cartilage displacing away from the joint surface.  Causes of OC in young horses are quite diverse and include dietary mismanagement, traumatic injuries, inadequate or excessive exercise, genetics, toxicities, body size, and growth rate.

    Osteochondrosis: Is it the end of the world?

    One of the interesting things about this disorder is how frequently it may actually appear in the equine population.  Many figures are given, with some stating that 20-25% of European foals will develop an OC (Barnevald and van Weeren), while others have found an incidence of 32% in Hanoverian Warmbloods.  However, in the latter study, there was no correlation between radiographic findings of OC and lameness. Indeed, in a recent study of Dutch Warmblood horses presented for a pre-purchase exam, 44.3% of clinically sound horses were found to have OC lesions  (Voss).  Therefore, even if your foal has radiographic evidence of lesions, unless accompanied by joint effusion or lameness or presenting as fragmentation within the joint, it may never represent a soundness issue.

    Next month we will look at what we can do to try and prevent our foals from acquiring any of these development orthopedic diseases.


    Voss, N.J. 2008. Incidence of osteochondrosis (dissecans) in Dutch Warmblood horses presented for pre-purchase exams.  Irish Veterinary Journal. 61:1)

     

     

    What is the difference between premature and dismature?

  • The Chorz Fitness System

    Written By Barbara O'Brien

    I’m starting an exercise craze. Forget the Zumba® dance fitness craze. My exercise program is much better. I call it the Chorz Fitness System.

     

    man handling hay baleThe first module in my Chorz program is called Barn Chorz. This module gives you a good solid workout.  Exercise 1 is Feed the Horses. Reach up into the haystack in the barn, pull down several 70-pound bales of hay, and lug them one at time to three separate paddocks. To increase exercise difficulty, use one hand to drag the bale, and repeatedly wave the other hand in an arc to keep the hungry horses away while you heave the bale up and into the feeder.

     

    Now it’s time for exercise 2:  The Feed Bag Lifts. This exercise works the leg and butt muscles, and is beneficial for your arms and back as well. Begin by unloading the 50-pound feed sack from the pick-up bed. Remember to bend your knees before lifting to avoid injury. Now carry that bag over to the feed barrels and fill them. C’mon, lift, lift, lift that bag. You can do it. Feel the burn in the back of your thighs as you work those muscles. Do this exercise regularly and when you walk down the street people will admire your Feed Bag Physique.

     

    Exercise 3 is Clean the Stalls. Here we use two special sticks available exclusively from my web site in four decorator colors. Pick up the Manure Fork with both hands and flex those muscles by fishing out large chucks of horse manure from the stall’s bedding. Switch to the Pitch Fork and vigorously gather the wet heavy straw and dump each forkful into a wheel barrow. Feel your arm muscles ripple with the effort you are putting forth. Then stretch those back muscles of yours by lifting and pushing the wheel barrow out to the manure pile. Lift, lift, lift that wheelbarrow to dump the load. Variation: Use Ice Chipper(available from my web site in your choice of brass- or silver-like finish) to work those upper arm muscles by dislodging frozen chunks of manure. Shovelthe chunks into a flexible round rubber tote and drag the tote to the manure pile.

     

    Exercise 4 is Watering. This exercise is wonderful for developing strong shoulder muscles and slimming the waistline. Haul several five gallon buckets of water around the farm to the sheep, goats, chickens, and ducks. To avoid overdevelopment of your left or right side, carry two buckets at a time. Since hydration is always important during a workout, make the most of the icy cold water that splashes up on you as you walk with your buckets.

     

    Exercise 5 is called Putting Up the Hay. For this exercise you need one Hay Wagon(available from my web site in Farm Red only). To get the maximum benefit of this exercise, choose the hottest, most humid and breeze-less day of the summer. Unload bale after bale of 70-lb. hay bales off your Hay Wagoninto Barn(available from my web site in Red or Peeling Red.) Ooh, feel that sweat pouring off your body. Now that’s what I call a work out!

     

    I know you’re ready for a break, but don’t just flop after Putting Up the Hay. Remember you must always finish a workout by doing Stretches. Cover your hand with a Plastic Bag(available from my web site in many different colors and patterns). Don’t forget green for those St. Patrick’s Day workouts. Once your hand is bagged, bend your knees and reach down to pick up a pile of dog doo-doo. Repeat this maneuver over the three-acre farmyard until you feel the muscles of your entire body are stretched and smooth. This bending, stretching and reaching is so good for the core, you know.

     

    At any time, to increase the difficulty of your Barn Chorz workout, augment your workout clothing with insulated coveralls and Sorel snow boots.

     

    Whew! Wasn’t Barn Chorz a great workout?

     

    But wait, there’s more. The great thing about my Chorz Fitness System is that it’s unlimited. Once you’re breezing through Barn Chorz and you want more, you can add on exercise modules like Fence Building, Gardening, and Keeping Up Old Farmhouse. You’ll have enough exercise for a lifetime of fitness.

  • Contests

    OMEGA FIELDS is proud to announce its newest contest for 2015 -  A MONTHLY PRODUCT GIVEAWAY!
    Each month enter for your chance to win free, stabilized, ground flaxseed supplements for your horses, dogs, chickens, or goats!
    Each contest will run for the extention length of each month.  Two winners will be be randomly chosen at the end of each month and will be contacted via email.  *Product winners will be announced via our monthly Health-E-Newsletter and social media platforms.  Winners will pick between receiving a product for their horses, dogs, chickens, or goats.
    *Permission must be granted by winners to use their names in our contest winner announcements via all social media platforms.
     

     

     
    Contest Terms and Conditions
    1. 
    Entries close Midnight CST at the end of each month of 2013.  24 total winners (2 per month)
    2.
    Winner’s will be notified via email at the beginning of each following month.  Permisssion must be granted by winners to use their names in our contest winner annoucements via all social media platforms.
    3.
    The winner will be selected using an approved, random selection generator and no correspondence will be entered into.
    4.
    The competition is open to all US citizens.
    5.
    Entry into this competition constitutes acceptance of these terms and conditions.
    6.
    If the prize is not claimed within 3 months of the prize-winner being notified, the winner forfeits the prize.
    7. No purchase necessary.
    8. One entry allowed per contest month
  • What Dogs Have Taught Me about Life, Love, and Myself

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    One of the best ways to get to know me is through the dogs in my life, so I decided to introduce myself through my relationships with them.
    Katrina rescue dog Kate taught me that an old, lost, beaten down girl who survived a Louisiana hurricane and flood and was displaced halfway across the country could adapt. It wasn’t easy–everything was different–but she carried on. She taught me that starting over when you’re perhaps past the prime of your life isn’t easy, but you can do it, and you can do it with dignity and heart. She reminded me how important it is to socialize puppies and expose them to all kinds of different experiences when they’re young. A dog who hasn’t had those experiences has a much harder time with new things as an adult.
    KateAfter Hurricane Katrina, I had to ask Kate for help and she led me to many new friends. She showed me that friends from all over the country and even the world will come forward to help when I need them. She also took me to new intuitive and spiritual depths and introduced me to animal communication in a way that I hadn’t known before.
    The only red heeler puppy for miles, Australian Cattle Dog Bandit, found me at the vet clinic, just minutes after my old red heeler mix Rusty had passed on. Bandit taught me that sometimes the best friends will find you when you least expect them to, and that paying attention to them is important. Jump on a good opportunity when you see it because life is too short and you may not get another chance. A 55 pound dog who can move a herd of cattle, Bandit showed me that attitude is everything. He also taught me to be a leader, because (bred to herd cattle) he is a ‘lead or get out of the way’ kind of guy. I had to step up to maintain order in our household!
    As a puppy, Bandit came with his own rubber chicken. I used to think that he waved the rubber chicken at me when I was trying to work because he wanted to play. But then I realized that he did it because he knew that I needed to play. He knows me so well. I call him my recreation director!
    Chase taught me that another man’s trash could be my treasure. My friend Sarah of Lost Fantasy Animal Rescue in Virginia (who I met in Louisiana caring for rescued animals after Hurricane Katrina) rescued Chase from a man who was going to shoot him for chasing sheep. Chase is the sweetest, handsomest, most sensitive dog who is so worried about making a mistake, because he knows that a mistake could have cost him his life. Chase trusts me now and we have learned to work together to herd sheep and ducks so he can express this wonderful talent without fearing for his life. He taught me that you can start over again and you can recover from abuse and violence to be who you were meant to be. Chase is a very loving dog who loves to meet people at book events and would probably like to be a greeter at Wal-Mart!
    Cayenne taught me that a dog who’s afraid of her own

    Jenny, Chase, Cayenne, and Bandit

    shadow can eventually bond to a person. Abandoned in the Tennessee wilderness with her very sick young littermates,Cay lost her mother too soon and struggled to survive puppyhood. She and her littermates were rescued by caring people who nursed them back to health, but she was afraid and had never bonded to a per

    son. With time and patience and love, this dog who once cowered in the back of her travel crate – needing two people to pull her out – learned to smile and be happy and run up to a person to be petted. She’s wiggly and joyful now, and seeks attention from my friends. Cayenne taught me to be patient and that the waiting is worthwhile. She loves me now and fully participates in life. Cayenne’s rehabilitation is one of my greatest accomplishments.

     Jenny, Chase, Cayenne, and Bandit
    (photo by L.S. Originals of Fridley, Minnesota)
    Kate, Bandit, Chase, and Cayenne taught me to live more in the moment and appreciate our time together each day, for our time together is much too short.
    Jenny Pavlovic is the author of 8 State Hurricane Kate: The Journey and Legacy of a Katrina Cattle Dog and the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book, and a contributing author of Dogs & the Women Who Love Them: Extraordinary True Stories of Loyalty, Healing and Inspiration. She founded the 8 State Kate Press, LLC and donates a portion of book proceeds through the 8 State Kate Fund to help animals in need (more info at www.8statekate.net). Jenny is working on her third book, for kids from 1 to 100. It includes cartoon cattle dogs and rubber chickens, and reminds us to tune in to nature and the animals in our lives.

     

  • Kevin Talks to the Animals

    Written By Barbara O'Brien
    For those of you have been following my essays, you know that I am married to a wonderful fellow. For almost 30 years, Kevin has put up with me and all of my crazy ideas. More important, he has put up with my animal related lifestyle.
    Having said all that, I feel compelled to let you in on a little secret: Kevin talks to the animals. Not in a Dr. Doolittle sort of way. He has never mentioned any of the animals talking back. Not in an animal communicator sort of way: “Ginger doesn’t like your new boyfriend and that is why she chewed up his iPhone.” No, it’s more like Kevin talks to the animals and they agree to listen.
    I learned about this early on. We had only been dating a week Kevin talking to a cator so when his parents, Bud and Dee, invited me over for dinner. I had met his parents briefly but this was the first time we had all been together at their house. Kevin comes from a long line of animal lovers. His parents seemed normal enough as far as pets were concerned. They had a black and white cat named Pretty Cat and a German Shepherd/Golden Retriever dog named Elsa.
    We were at the dinner table when I noticed Elsa the dog watching Bud’s hand, which was holding his fork, with great interest. Elsa stared intently as the fork moved from the plate to Bud’s mouth and back down again. Nothing strange about that, I thought; a lot of people feed their dogs scraps from the table. Then Bud, talking to us all the while, speared a piece of pork chop with his fork, and pointed it towards Elsa. The dog gently took the piece of pork chop into her mouth, gulped it down, and resumed her fork-watching vigil. Okay, I thought, maybe Bud didn’t want the rest of his pork chop and this is his quick way of giving it to the dog. But then Bud speared another piece of pork chop and ate it with the very same fork he had just used to feed the dog. “Guess dogs are really part of Kevin’s family,” I concluded all those years ago. This casual approach to people and dogs living together that Kevin grew up with has proven to be a very good thing for me because I make my living with animals, have a house brimming with them, and cannot imagine a life without them.
    Fast forward nearly 30 years to the house I share with Kevin, our sons, and our animals. We have a naughty cat, Louisa. She thinks she should be fed at 4:30 am on the dot and does her best to wake us up to meet her demands. I ignore her or in a semi-awakened state, I grab her and banish her from the room and stumble back to bed again. But if I have slept through her announcements, I wake to hear Kevin saying softly to her, “Oh, what a pretty cat you are…such a good girl. We are trying to sleep and I can’t feed you right now because then I would have to feed all of the other cats and we can’t be doing that, now can we? There you are…such a good girl.” All the while he’s petting her velvety blue coat. I roll over in bed to look at them both in sleepy astonishment, and I swear I can see her grinning at me as if to say, “See, I told you he likes me best!”
    And it doesn’t stop there. When Kevin goes out to do chores he shouts out with a ringing cheerful voice, “Hello everybody! Good morning! How are my kids today?!” The horses perk up, the sheep start to baa, and the chickens respond with clucks and crows. The cats meow and rub against his legs as he makes his way down to the barn.

    “Hello, Churchill. Good morning, Bullet. And how is Helen today?” Kevin will say to the assembled cats as he distributes their food and makes sure each one has enough to eat. “Hello, Cleveland. Hello, Teddy. Don’t worry, it’s coming. HEY! NO FIGHT! Oh, there you are, Franklin. Where’s Charlie?” He speaks to each cat one by one and makes sure they’re all accounted for.
    The sheep spot him and beseech him to let them out to graze. As a rule the sheep and goats are not allowed to free graze unless we are there to supervise them closely. The sheep are notorious for getting into the farm fields and the goats get into all kinds of trouble jumping on and chewing on everything you don’t want them to jump or chew on.
    Every day, Kevin’s conversation with the sheep goes something like this:
    Sheep: “Baaaa! Please, Mr. Farmer Man, please let us out.”
    Kevin: “What? Do you guys want to go out?”
    Sheep: “Oh yes, please open the gate.” They say this politely, thinking they can fool him once again.
    Kevin: “Do you promise to be good?” He asks them this in all sincerity and with all the sincerity sheep can muster they say, “Yes, yes. Of course we will be good.”
    Kevin: “No, I don’t think so. Last time you broke the garden fence and ate the heads off all of the tulips.”
    Sheep protesting loudly: “Baaaa! It was the goats! The goats did it! Baaaa! You know those goats can’t be trusted.”
    Goats: “Hey! Did not!”
    Kevin considers their argument for a moment and then smiles broadly. “All right,” he says “But you better not get into trouble.” Like rude children at a birthday party they don’t even bother to thank him as they barrel out the gate into the green pasture ahead. “Be careful,” he admonishes them. “Don’t wander too far.”
    Kevin with Shetland horse and cats in penTwo of our young horses, Johnny and Cierzo, hang their heads over the fence with hopeful expressions as he sneaks them each a handful of grain. “Don’t tell her,” he whispers as he strokes their necks, knowing full well we don’t grain them until evening chores.
    I have often spotted Kevin talking to the horses as if they were respected friends whose opinions mattered. “So what do you think of those kids that came last week to ride you, Louis?” he will ask our elderly Morgan gelding. “Did you have fun? Was it nice being brushed and ridden by those kids? They were nice kids, weren’t they?”
    When he cleans the sheep and chicken barn I can hear him telling the chickens just what he is doing and how much they are going to enjoy the clean shavings and fresh straw in their laying boxes. He thanks the hens for their eggs and tells the roosters how handsome they are.
    He talks to other people’s animals, too. When I need Kevin to hold an owner’s second dog while we work with the first dog on the set, I can hear him talking as we walk away. He draws the anxious dog close and says in a quiet reassuring voice, “Don’t worry, they are just taking Buster’s picture. You will get your turn. You mom will be back for you soon.” While he waits with the dog, he caresses it’s head, strokes it’s fur and tells the dog, “There now. That’s a good dog.” When the owner and I come back to Kevin with the first dog, Kevin says to the dog he’s been comforting, “See, I told you,” as he hands the leash over. “She came back. It’s all right now…such a good dog.”
    I suspect that Kevin has always talked to animals. Since we moved to the farm nine years ago he seems to do it more and more. Maybe it is just part of getting older or maybe our four sons are tired of listening to us. Or maybe there is something else going on. An old Swedish farmer, Wilfred Larson, owned this farm before us and lived here with his wife, Ruth, for almost all of his long life. I’ve been told Wilfred was known for how much he loved his animals. Back in the day animals were considered more of a utilitarian commodity than they are now. His neighbors found it odd that he would talk to his cowsjust like they were people. They were even more amazed that the cows seemed to understand him. As Kevin walks through the same barn that Wilfred did and tends to the animals the way that Wilfred did, perhaps good old Wilfred Larson is smiling down from heaven knowing that his farm is being run by someone who talks to the animals, too.
    I don’t mind. Kevin can talk to the animals all he wants. I don’t mind at all – as long as he remembers to talk to me, too.

  • Protein Nutrition VI: The Growing Horse

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney

    Previously we have discussed important concepts in protein nutrition concerning amino acids, digestibility, site of digestion as well as the requirements for several classes of horses. However, we have not yet looked at the young growing horse. This month we will discuss the protein needs of horses from weaning to two years of age, and examine some typical equine diets to determine if they fulfill a young horse’s protein requirements.

    The protein source used to meet our horse’s amino acid requirement is especially important in the growing animal. Young horses are usually the model used to test protein sources, as researcher’s can monitor the average daily gain of the horses. Ideally, the amount of calories and protein does not different between the horses, only the protein source. These diets are referred to as iso-nitrogenous and iso-caloric. The horses which are able to achieve greater rates of growth are doing so presumably because the amino acid profile of a particular protein source more closely matches the needs of the young horse’s body for protein synthesis. In fact, in 4 month old horses, milk protein supported greater rates of growth than did other sources including linseed meal, soybean meal or barley. This would certainly make sense, as one would expect that the amino acid profile in milk designed to support foal growth would do so better than plant proteins!
    With young horses, it is especially important that we try to eliminate deficiencies of amino acids which limit growth. Again, those amino acids which are deficient in the diet are refereed to as the liming amino acids. For horses (along with many domestic livestock species) the most important limiting amino acid is lysine. For young horses, it is recommended that lysine make up 4.3% of the total protein consumed in the diet, or alternatively, that the young horse between 4-10 mo of age receive 33-42 g of lysine per day. The young horse may even need to consume less total protein, if key amino acids are supplemented in the diet. Threonine has also been shown to limit young horse growth, and supplementation of this amino acids as improved growth rates, as well as lowering serum urea nitrogen. A decrease in serum urea nitrogen indicates that the animal is undergoing less catabolism or breakdown of amino acids, and using them instead for protein synthesis. If an animal is fed a poor quality protein, with a bad amino acid composition, the horse will still be able to use those amino acids, but only for energy or storage as fat. As part of this process, the nitrogen of the amino acid is removed and incorporated into other amino acids, or into urea for later excretion. Thus when an animal has a higher blood urea nitrogen, it indicates poor protein utilization.
     
    In Table 1, the amount of crude protein needed per day is given for horses up until 18 months of age. For simplicity's sake, ages of horses are grouped, rather than each month’s requirements listed. As such the higher value for grams of crude protein is listed for the age range. This was preferred rather than taking an average value, and underfeeding protein. However, you can see that the young growing horses’ protein requirements begins to decrease as it reaches its yearling year. If we relate that to the increase in size of the young horse, the concentration of protein needed in the diet decreases as well. It is the early rapid growth that requires the greatest amount of protein that the horse will ever need through its lifetime. Table 2 illustrates the amount of crude protein necessary in the total diet in order to reach the young horse’s requirements. As the horse matures, the amount of crude protein needed in the diet declines. It is also easy to see that allowing the foal to ingest greater amounts of feed, requires a lower concentration of protein needed in the diet, and a more conservative approach to protein intake.
    Expected mature weight (lbs)
    4-6 mo.
    7-8 mo
    9-10
    11-12 mo.
    13-15 mo
    16-18 mo
    900
    553
    587
    620
    692
    684
    664
    1000
    614
    651
    688
    768
    759
    738
    1100
    676
    717
    758
    846
    836
    820
    1200
    737
    782
    726
    922
    912
    885
    1300
    798
    846
    894
    998
    987
    959
    Table 1. Protein requirements (g/d) for young horses based on their expected mature body weight.
    % of Bwt consumed
    4-6 mo.
    7-8 mo.
    9-10 mo
    11-12 mo
    13-15 mo
    16-18 mo.
    2.0
    20
    15.1
    13.8
    13.8
    12.5
    11
    2.25
    17.8
    13.4
    12.3
    12.3
    11.1
    9.8
    2.5
    16.0
    12.1
    11.0
    11.0
    10
    8.8
    Table 2. The total percent crude protein needed in the diet for a growing horse.
    These values are based from the total intake on a dry matter basis. The change in body weight of the foal is taken into account. For each age grouping, the smaller weight of the foal (i.e., a 4 mo old foal would weigh less than a 6 mo. old foal) is used in order to ensure adequate protein intake.
    When feeding your young horses, it is always important to start with a good quality hay. Ideally you are using a legume hay or at least a legume grass mix. If the young horse has access to good quality, growing pasture, this also supplies an excellent source of protein. However, this does entail pasture maintenance. When a plant is in a younger stage of maturity, or actively growing, its protein content will be higher. If the foal is forced to graze mature stands of grasses, or even weeds, the protein content will be lower. Let’s work through a few examples in order to demonstrate the type of diet the foal will need.
    Let’s begin with a foal that we expect to mature out to 1100 lbs. He is currently 6 months of age, so we know that he should be receiving 676 g of protein per day. At this age, the foal should weigh 473 lbs. We have a grass legume hay mix which supplies 16% crude protein. If we look at table 2, we can see that our foal should receive enough protein if he is fed at 2.5% of his body weight per day, or 11.8 lbs of hay per day. If he eats more, he will definitely meet his protein requirements. But let’s make this a little more complicated. We decide to only feed him 2% of his body weight in hay per day. He now receives 9.5 lbs of hay per day.
    Doing the math, our hay provides: 9.5 lbs /2.2lbs/kg = 4.3 kg
    4.3 kg x 16% = 688 g of crude protein.
    That meets his requirements as listed in the table above. Why is that? Again, for simplicity's sake, the table uses the lowest weight possible for each group of horses. Therefore, the actual total protein needed in the diet is slightly less than for the 4 month of foal. Essentially, if receiving a good quality legume hay, your foal will be adequate in protein. However, what if the hay has a greater proportion of grass, or the hay was cut at a later stage of maturity? To explore this possibility, we will feed a hay that only contains 13.5% crude protein.
    Following the same procedure as above:
    4.3 kg x 13%= 559 g of crude protein.
    We are now deficient in protein. We also might need to be concerned that our amino acid profile may be poor for a young growing horse. So let’s look at two different alternatives.
    We can use a commercial feed that supplies 15% crude protein to our horse on an as-fed basis. Previously we were calculating our feed values on an as-fed basis. We will continue with the concentrate by staying as-fed, as is seen on the feed tag. How much grain will we need to supply the foal as we are only deficient by 120 g of crude protein?
     If we divide the amount of protein needed by the percent protein in the feed :  120g /16% ; we need 750 g of the feed. Converting that to pounds, and our horse needs to eat 1.7 lbs of grain per day. That certainly does not seem like an excessive amount of grain for our young horse per day. In fact, he is still below the total 2.5% of his body weight. So what does this mean overall? Choosing higher protein hays will ensure your foal has the adequate amounts of protein for higher growth. If your hay offers less protein, a commercial feed designed for young horses will typically easily meet the deficiency in that hay. Additionally, when examining these feed tags, you will often see that some of the key amino acids are supplemented in that feed. This ensures that your foal will grow optimally, provided nothing else is going wrong!

     

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