Cow Tips Pt. 2: Maintaining your Cattle

Last week, we talked about some general tips for raising your cattle and making sure that you have the infrastructure in place to make sure they stay healthy. This week, we’ll be expanding on that with some more tips on maintaining your herd and what to do to get your beef cows ready for market.

Black Angus Cows
Feeding your Cattle

Hay - Good legume hay will produce great beef and usually help turn a profit. When feeding your cattle hay, you’ll usually go through about half to three-quarter of a ton of hay when fattening them for slaughter or sale. For types of hay, alfalfa is kings when it comes to beef cattle. It’s usually the standard when comparing other  hay, but, it is also the most expensive hay to purchase if you’re buying. Under most conditions, it produces a greater yield than other hay types as well as produces more per acre than most common crops. Additionally, alfalfa produces more than twice as much digestible protein as mixed clover-timothy hay, a common hay mix used by farmers, and more than three times as much protein as corn as well as it’s richer in vitamins and minerals. A good rule of thumb if you plan on using alfalfa hay is to mix in some timothy or other grasses with the alfalfa. This will help reduce bloating and allow the meadow to last longer.

While alfalfa is the best hay, there are other good legume and legume-grass hays that make very close seconds to the king of hay. A few examples are red clover, sweet clover, and soybeans. Interestingly enough, soybeans are a great hay to use when we have a late, wet spring and the seeds get into the ground late.

Ground Feed - When doing ground feed, corn is king. If you plan on supplementing your hay feeding with ground you might want to consider mixing your corn feed formula. Whatever you do, make sure that salt is included in your feed formula. All cattle require salt to stay healthy.

Keeping your Cattle Healthy

Finally, you’re going to want to keep your cattle healthy. Providing your cattle medical care when they’re sick or hurt is great, but being proactive and preventing the sickness or injury is even better. Here are some general tips to make sure that your herd stays healthy.

Make sure to provide a stress-free environment for your cattle. Stress makes us run ragged and makes us more susceptible to sickness, and cattle are no different when dealing with stress. So, when interacting with your herd make sure to stay calm and don’t rush, this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Additionally, make sure to create a vaccination schedule and keep to it. This will help make sure that all of your cattle stay healthy and you don’t have to worry about any respiratory or other illnesses spreading through your herd.

Raising and maintaining cattle is a lot of hard work, and cattle don’t take a vacation. If a calf is coming on Christmas you’re going to need to deliver it on Christmas. However, for all the hard work that you put in you get it reciprocated in spades. Even if you don’t have a desire to raise cattle for sale, you can still raise the best beef you’ll have ever tasted, and you’ll know exactly what went into it, and more importantly, what didn’t.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Cow Tips: Raising Cattle

American_farmMost people who live in the countryside, at some point, learn how to raise cattle, especially when spring comes. Greener pastures and warmer temperatures make it ideal to raise cattle for dairy or for meat. However, raising cattle is only half the battle, once you raise them you also have to maintain them, and that’s learning what you need to do all year round to make sure that your investment, stays alive and healthy. So here are some tips for raising and maintaining cattle.

Raising CattleRaising Cattle

BuyingThe first thing that you want to do once you decide you want to raise a few head of cattle is you need to find a good source for the cows. The best thing to do is to buy a few weaned calves or feeders that are a little bit older depending on your experience and comfort. You can usually scan through local newspapers for ads selling cattle or calves or you can place an ad yourself offering to buy. Also, it would pay to visit the local co-op as this can sometimes lead to some good leads to farmers who have some stock for sale. Auction houses can be another good source for calves, but buyer beware, auctions are notorious for getting rid of sick or ailing animals. If you are unsure what to look for, bring someone who has some expertise with you so you’re not sold a false bill of goods.

ShelterOnce you have your calves you’re going to need someplace to put them. A lot of beginning farmers waste a good sum of money in building expensive barns or sheds to place their cows. Honestly, a windbreak can provide sufficient shelter for calves and older cattle. A lot of beef cows spend most of their life in the open and mainly use what they can find in nature for shelter. While calves should have some protection from wind and rain, even the older feeders are pretty hardy as long as they have access to mom’s udder. One thing you absolutely need to consider when providing shelter for cattle is to make it draft free, but not air tight. Cattle expel a large amount of moisture in breathing and voiding waste. Structures that don’t allow that moisture to escape can cause serious health problems in your cattle.

Also you’re going to make sure you have some sturdy fences when raising cattle. Cows are big and heavy creatures and will tear through things like tissue paper if they’re not built to withstand them. While fences are expensive to build and maintain, one “hot” wire (a wire hooked up into an electric fence charger) will make sure that the cows keep off the fence and will help preserve it.

PastureSeasoned farmers have told us that a mixture of alfalfa, brome, and timothy is considered the best pasture for cattle as it encourages grazing. However, don’t overestimate the carrying capacity of your pastures. While you might see some great lush growth in the spring, that growth will easily turn into much drier and shorter come July and August and you can easily end up with too many cattle and not enough pasture. Plan ahead so you have more grass than cattle and not the opposite.

WaterFinally, make sure you have a good supply of water. Just to give you an idea, cows, on average, drink about 12 gallons of water per day. This average is a good rule of thumb to remember when setting up troughs or tubs as a water source. For the winter time, tank heaters are a great way to save your back from doing too much ice chopping as the weather drops.

Well thanks for coming by for some tips on how to raise cattle, come back next week to see some more tips on how to maintain your cattle and as always, for all your tag needs make sure to check out our range of cattle tags.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Quick Tips for Calving Season

Introduction to Raising CattleBack at the end of October we put together some pre-season tips for lambing, and while we know that the calving season is pretty far away, it’s definitely time to start dusting off some of the old practices to get ready. Some of these tips should help lighten the load once calving season gets into full swing, so with no further ado, here are some quick tips to remember for calving.

Be Prepared!

Make sure you have a calving kit prepared. There are some problems that producers themselves can handle if they’re properly prepared. But, there are limitations to what you can do by yourself and some issues will need professional help (i.e. your farm vet). You should make sure your calving kit includes lubricant, palpation sleeves, colostrum supplement, towels, esophageal feeder, calving chains, bucket, water, a flashlight, rope halter, catch rope, two vets phone numbers (in case you can’t reach your primary vet), and, a heat source.

Set A Schedule

Make sure you have a very defined breeding season. This allows a great advantage at calving because it gives you a definable beginning and end. Best practices state that a shorter period is better (avg. 60 to 90 days). Additionally, make sure to note breeding dates on the animals if possible. Collecting these dates will shorten the amount of time spent during calving season to find out when they’re due. Also, you should find out what the birth weight indicators are for the sire, this way, any potential problems can be observed and any possible mishaps avoided. The extra effort and expenses to find these factors is well worth it when the value of that weaned feeder calf is $725!

Know the Signs

Producers should familiarize themselves with the signs of the normal calving process. The whole process from the water breaking to the after birth will take between 11 and 15 hours total, but this can be longer depending on complications and the weight of the calf. Producers that are comfortable or knowledgeable about the birthing process should be prepared to assist (see point number 1) or call for assistance when needed. Just remember, whatever you do that you do it cleanly and carefully to minimize your risk and the risk of complications with the mother.

Feeding is Key!

Finally, make sure that the calf nurses soon after birth. The ingestion of colostrum within the first 12 hours is key to the calf’s immune system and in turn, its survival. It is also a good idea to collect colostrum from a nearby dairy, preferably from older cows and freeze it for later use. When thawing the frozen colostrum make sure to immerse it in warm water. Never thaw it by direct heat or microwave because you will kill all the necessary nutrients and antibodies the calf needs if done this way.

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Some Pre-Spring Tips for Lambing

two lambsWhile we know that Fall is here, and that winter is right around the corner, it’s still a good idea to get some of your ducks in a row before the spring comes. Even though the winter might feel like it lasts forever, it will eventually come to an end, and lambing season will be upon us sooner than we expect. So, here are a few tips to remember when it comes to lambing this Spring.

Is your space ready?

First thing to remember is your lambing barn ready? No two barns are going to be alike, and there isn’t one correct way of going about this. It all depends on what your needs are and what resources you have available to you. However, there are a few things that you need to make sure of. Firstly, that you have a warm, clean area for the ewes and their babies. However, there is a fine line between a warm barn and one that isn’t getting good airflow and has high humidity, you have to find a balance between getting fresh air into the barn but not creating a draft through it. Secondly, you need to make sure you have the lambing pens ready at the same time, these should be a large enough space so that the lambs have room to move around, and are equipped with a heat lamp.

Attentiveness is key!

I cannot stress this enough, when lambing you need to make sure that the lambs are getting colostrum right away. Producers should always be prepared to deal with weak or cold lambs as this can happen, especially when lambing gets into full swing. The longer these lambs go without an colostrum adequate intake and/or are still cold the most likely they won’t recover.

Nursing

In an ideal situation the lamb should nurse from the ewe around an hour after birth so that the lamb can get the full nutritional benefit of the colostrum. If the lamb is too weak to nurse, it might be necessary to tube feed the lamb. This should be done by someone who is skilled at this due to the potential health risks on the lamb from tube-feeding. Additionally, you should have some frozen colostrum and milk replacer handy in case of weak lambs. When defrosting the colostrum make sure to bring it up to temperature via warming in hot water, never in the microwave as this will destroy any nutritional value of the colostrum for the lamb.

Finally, you should have an immunization schedule in place prior to the start of lambing, by doing this you’ll be prepped for lambing and will have all the necessary equipment in place.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Taking Care of your German Shepherd

German Shepherd Male

From their imposing size to the dark, intelligent eyes, German Shepherds are one of the most recognizable dog breeds for the last century. A versatile, athletic, and fearless dog, the Shepherd is the work dog’s work dog. It takes some dedication raising a German Shepherd, but if you have the time and energy, you will have a loving companion who will be there for you and your family (including the cat) for life.

Brief History of the German Shepherd

The German Shepherd’s roots trace back to 19th century Germany, where a member of the police force wanted to develop a dog that could be used for both military and police work. The result was the German Shepherd. During WWI the breed fell out of favor in the US due to them being used by the enemy, but these dogs braved artillery fire, land mines, and tanks to supply German troops in the trenches with food and other necessity. Today, the German Shepherd is quickly becoming one of the popular dogs again, right behind the Labrador Retriever.

Shepherding the Shepherd – How to care for your GSD

The German Shepherd is a very active dog, they will not be satisfied with being a couch potato. This dog requires multiple walks a day and training to keep their active minds sated. Whether this is through learning different tricks or giving them a job, make sure your GSD (German Shepherd) has something to do. If you ignore them, those constructive impulses can quickly turn to destructive impulses.

German Shepherds are smart, active dogs who do best with active owners who are able to give them attention, exercise, and training. In other words, lots of one-on-one time as these dogs are extremely intelligent and trainable. However, make sure that you can show that you are the dominant male in the house to the dog, GSDs do not suffer fools lightly, and will take advantage of their owner to a fault if they know they can get away with it.

How to keep your Shepherd Healthy

While all dogs have the potential for genetic health problems, German Shepherds are not only known for their beauty and intelligence, sadly, they are also known for their possible health problems, specifically hip dysplasia. When a dog has hip dysplasia, the head of the thigh bone does not sit properly in the hip socket and over time, will wear down the bone, which will eventually cause arthritis in the dog. Another unfortunate disease that can affect German Shepherds is degenerative myelopathy. Similar to MS in humans, DM is a slow, terrible paralysis of the dogs hindquarters, and will eventually prevent the dog from being able to move on their own. However, you can minimize the chances that your GSD can get these diseases. Regular exercise and vitamins, along with a healthy diet can help to minimize the chances of your Shepherd from getting Hip Dysplasia and can lower the chance that they develop DM later in their life.

German Shepherd and a Baby

Finally, don’t forget to love your dog. This breed is extremely loving and needs it back. Cuddle and play with your dog daily. In the end, you’ll have a warm, loving, and loyal companion for you and your family.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Taking Care of your Maine Coon

Maine Coon Cat Upside-downMaine Coons are one of the largest cat breeds and is considered an American original breed. Also known as the American Longhair, the Maine Coon can become over 36” in length and the males can reach an average weight of 14 pounds. That’s one big kitty! However, these cats are gentle giants, they love people and being able to socialize, and because of their curious nature they will often “help” you when doing housework or chores. But, with great size comes great responsibility. These cats need maintenance in their diet as well as exercise or they will become chunky monkeys given the chance. Here are some quick easy tips to remember when you have a Maine Coon or any other house cat really.

Brushing

When dealing with a Maine Coon, or any sort of longhair domestic breed of cat, you should brush them daily at most, weekly at least. This way you cut down on hairballs, and keep them from getting matted or knotted fur. Additionally, it helps to maintain their skin health. You normally don’t need to give a Maine Coon a bath due to having very good hygiene skills and will often clean themselves via a tounge bath.

Feeding

When deciding what to feed your Maine Coon, you are going to have to spend a little extra at the pet food store. Common cat foods like Iams, Purina, and others, contain wheat and corn. Domestic cats don’t actually have the enzymes to properly digest wheat and corn like humans do. These grains that are digested simply turn to fat and are like any high fatty foods for humans. Make sure to read the ingredients before you buy, anything that has wheat or corn by-product is something you want to stay away from. Again, while I do mention that this post is about Maine Coons, this advice can be used for any sort of domestic cat breed, not just Maine Coons.

Exercise

Maine Coons love to play! They often will invent games for themselves and are always excited to see their humans. Males are often more goofy than the females, but both are very active and will always be playful throughout their life. Some, even enjoy playing “fetch.” Maine Coons love attention but are not pushy so they won’t be hounding you all the time for you to play with them.

Maine Coon kitten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One final note, these gentle giants are a great big furball of love. They are great with children and other animals, especially dogs. Be careful before you introduce your kitten/cat to another cat, especially if they are another breed! While Maine Coons get along with their own, you’ll have to gauge your other pets reactions before you fully introduce your new pet.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Pink Ribbon Tags for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

History of our Pink Ribbon Tags

Breast Cancer Awareness Cattle TagLast year, I asked Gary to engrave a ribbon on one of our pink cattle neck tags to show our support for the men and women currently battling breast cancer. The tag turned out great and we featured it on Facebook. Then, one of our customers who wanted an order of 20 tags asked us how they could get a pink ribbon tag. This lead us to start selling the tags and what helped us raise $200 for the Cancer Services Program of Saratoga County.

We’re offering them again

Ring of Pink Ribbon Cattle TagsWell, that time of year has come again, and we are proudly offering Pink ribbon tags once again. Like last year we will be donating $2.50 for each tag sold to the Cancer Services Program of Saratoga County. While there are many worthy organizations out there who are working very diligently to find a cure for breast cancer, we want to keep our support local.

Our goal for this year

breast-cancer-awarenessWhile we did fall short of our 100 tags goal last year, we did start late in the month and it was a spur of the moment idea. This year, our goal is to sell 200 tags. If you’re interested in purchasing one of our Pink ribbon tags, you can find them here or by clicking on the image.

breast-cancer-infographic-2014

 

Finally, in support of those who are looking to lower their risk and who have someone in the family who has had breast cancer in the past, here is an infographic on some facts about and how you can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Why Tattoo your Pets

Most pet owners know that a good secondary line of ID after a collar and tags, is to keep your pets safe when they are lost is to have a vet implant a permanent RFID chip so that if they are lost and then found, the vet or shelter can scan them and track down the pet’s owner. However, another method to keep your animal safe is by having them tattooed. It’s safe and has been routinely done since the sixties.

Tattoo vs. Microchip

Tattooing your pet is a great and permanent way to protect your companion if they ever get lost. This relatively painless procedure uses inks or pastes that won’t react with the animal’s blood or tissue. Also, unlike a RFID chip which needs to be scanned, the tattoo is visible to the naked eye. Additionally, implanted microchips can migrate within the animal, so when they are scanned, there is the possibility that no information will be found. Finally, tattooing your animal will protect them if they are accidentally donated to a research lab, as labs are prohibited by law to use tattooed animals in experiments.


Interested? Here’s a video detailing the procedure.

Where can I get my pet Tattooed?

While Ketchum doesn’t offer pet tattoo supplies, we do carry tattoo equipment and ink for identifying your cattle and live stock. For pets, tattoos can be done by veterinarians and then are registered. Different animal organizations (humane societies, breed clubs, etc.,) have registry procedures, ask your local vet on what the procedures are to get your pet’s tattoo ID registered. The largest organization that does pet tattooing is tattoo-a-pet.com, who has been providing a pet tattoo registry since the early 1970′s.

One Final Word

No single method can keep your pet safe. While tattooing is a great alternative to microchipping your animal, it does not guarantee their safety. You should always have multiple methods of identifying your animals. Collars and tags should always be your first line of defense when ID’ing your pets, these other methods should always be a back-up method. We have a full line of different pet collar ID tags and vaccination tags available on our website.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

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The Introductory Guide to Raising Cattle

Introduction to Raising CattleBack in August we wrote about the benefits of raising chickens (and tips for starting). One of the reasons the activity is becoming so popular is that you can do it in such a small space for such a small amount of money.

Raising cattle isn’t exactly the same. Yes, the benefits are outstanding. But you need more time, more money, and more space. Let’s go into it a little further.

Know Your Space

Sure, raising beef cattle is going to take up some space. But you certainly don’t need an enormous property. If you’re planning on grazing the cows on pasture you will need roughly 2 acres of space per animal. Also, cattle can be raised in a feedlot situation where you provide all the roughage and feed for them in a smaller enclosed space. Make sure you have a strong perimeter fence made of either six-strand high-tensile or four-foot high woven wire, a strong pen or corral, a shelter, and clean loafing and eating areas.

Choose Your Cattle

Many farmers might tell you that before you buy a cow take a look at their cattle. This couldn’t be more true. When purchasing your cattle make sure they are healthy. The cows should be alert, but not wild. Their eyes should be clear and free of discharge. Their breathing should be smooth without any irregularities. Their body should be full and rounded, and they should be able to move with a free and easy stride. Absolutely avoid buying any cattle with mucus coming out of their nose or if you notice any swollen legs or joints as this can be a sign of illness or infection which can possibly infect your other cattle.

Feeding Your Cattle

One of the main things that you can do to make sure your cattle stay healthy is to take care of their nutritional needs. Water is the most important nutrient to provide for your cattle, and make sure that you have a lot of it. The average full grown cow will consume somewhere between twelve to twenty gallons of water each day. Also be prepared for big appetites, as a cow can consume up to 3 percent of its body weight in dry feed per day.

Keeping Your Cattle Healthy

While nutrition is a big part of keeping your cows healthy, preventing disease and injury is just as important. Make sure to provide a stress-free environment for your cattle. Stress can make them more prone to diseases, so when handling your cattle make sure to do so in a calm and patient fashion. Also, make sure to monitor how much they eat. A decreased appetite can be an early sign of sickness in cattle. Finally, make sure to develop a strong working relationship with your veterinarian. Your vet can be a fantastic advisor to make sure that your cattle stays healthy and disease-free.

I hope this short article helps you get an idea on how to get started with raising cattle!

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

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