Why You Should ID Your Sheep

Identification is a very important tool when managing livestock. Every successful business operation must have accurate records, and the livestock industry is no different. Where sheep are concerned there are several differentiations in identification. There are permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary. Curious what each is used for? Read on.

lamb[1]

Ear Tags

Ear tags are some of the most commonly used form of livestock identification. They come in many forms and colors and are usually made from plastic or soft metal, such as brass. The metal ear tags are usually the same size and take along the same shape, the plastic ones come in different colors and a few different shapes. Brass tags are ideal for using on small and newborn lambs because they’re light and won’t pull down on the ear. Each style of ear tag, metal and brass, can be numbered or be left blank in case you use your own numbering and ID system. These tags are applied to the animal’s ear using an ear tagger which acts similarly to a piercing gun used for human ear piercings.

Scrapie Identification

While not used primarily on the farm, these tags are used when shipping sheep and lambs out of state. The U.S. Dept. Of Agriculture requires almost all sheep and lambs to have premise identification ear tags before leaving their farm of origin. This is done to help eradicate scrapie disease, and identifies where every sheep came from when shipped. These tags are applied like a normal ear tag using a tagger.

Tattoos

Tattoos are one of the best forms of permanent livestock identification. They don’t harm the animal’s appearance nor reduce its value. This is usually done by tattoo gun or by press, with the numbers and letters made of needles that place very small holes in their shape and then ink is applied to the holes so that the number is readable. The downside is that the tattoos are very hard to read at a distance and will require catching the animal to read the tattoo.

Ear Notching

Ear notching is done by placing a V-shaped notch placed somewhere in the ear. While swine producers use this system as a way to identify their livestock. Sheep producers mainly use it for simple differentiation. For example, a farmer may use ear notching to denote birth type or when the lamb/sheep was born. Additionally, it can be used to mark ewes for culling.

Neck Chains

Finally, there’s neck chains. This form of identification is most commonly used for dairy animals such as cows or goats. The chain needs to be placed around the animal’s neck tight enough that it doesn’t fall off but loose enough so it doesn’t choke them or cause growth problems, which means constant inspection. Additionally, chains can be caught on objects causing the animal to choke. I would not consider this a permanent form of identification as the chains can be easily removed.

What do you use as a form of livestock identification? Let us know in the comments below. Also, if you’re in need of some livestock ID tags or tattooing supplies check out our full line of supplies.

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

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Is A Great Pyrenees The Peer For You?

Once known as the royal dog of France with their stunning white coat and imposing presence, the Great Pyrenees is considered one of the most beautiful breeds today. The Pyr is a member of the working dog family, and has a rich heritage as a flock guarding dog used in the Pyrenees mountain range that spawned its name. Today, the Great Pyrenees is a family companion and is a great dog to have around kids and other animals. However, they do require a good deal of attention and training, so the question is; Is a Great Pyrenees the peer for you?

Great Pyrenees being a goof ball

Temperament and Personality

At their best, the Great Pyrenees is confident, gentle, and very affectionate toward their family, especially with children. However, their heritage as a guard dog makes them territorial and protective. Early socialization is essential to prevent this dog from becoming overly mistrustful or fearful of change. So if you do decide on a Pyr puppy, make sure you are bringing them with you on runs and other social outings where animals are appropriate. Great Pyrenees are also extremely smart and will pick up on nuances very quickly. When training, make sure to use positive reinforcement techniques and don’t make them repeat the same actions over and over, they will get bored very quickly if you do. Don’t get frustrated though, these dogs like to push the limits and then take a few steps past them. Just be patient and firm, these dogs might be stubborn but they will listen to their humans.

Pyrs generally get along well with other household pets. They’ll ignore the harassment from smaller dogs, and will only fight as a last resort. Additionally, two mature Great Pyrenees of the same sex will not get along together as house pets.

Grooming

The Pyr has a beautiful double coat that is usually white or white with markings. They also shed year round, so prepare to have to brush them weekly for about a half hour. Outside of that, standard care as needed (clean the ears, trim the nails, and bathe when necessary).

Feeding

This might come as a surprise, but Great Pyrenees don’t need a lot of food. Because of their temperament and low metabolism, they eat as much as a Border Collie or a Sheltie would. However, you’re going to have to get the big breed food for them.

Well, we hope that this helps you out with what you’re going to have to keep in mind before deciding on these giant balls of white fur. For any ID tag or Rabies tag needs, feel free to drop by our site, we’ll be happy to help!

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Tips to Keep Your Cat Healthy and Active This Winter

A couple weeks back, we featured Tim from Saratoga Dog Walker who was kind enough to give us a great post on how to keep your dogs happy and healthy this winter. Well, as a sequel to our canine friendly post here are our top tips for keeping your feline companions happy and healthy this winter season.

siberian

Give Your Cat Some Company

While it’s true that some cats prefer to be the only fur love of your life, many do enjoy having a companion (read: minion) to play with. This should be done slowly and carefully, to make the experience the most pleasant for all residents, humans included. While most cats are aloof and seem less emotional than humans, it doesn’t mean that they don’t get lonely.

Make Mealtime Fun For Your Cat

If your cat’s routine is eat a lot and then sleep, and proceeds to repeat that cycle all day, that is a quick path to having a Garfield level roly-poly. To avoid this, you can try hiding food around the house/apartment or in feeding toys. This will help increase your cat’s activity and help hone their hunting instincts. Additionally, the game will make them more interactive with you, and studies show that animals enjoy their food more when they have to work for it.

Don’t Forget Treat Time Also!

Try playing a game of hide and seek with a catnip or treat toy. Start off by showing them where it is and placing it somewhere the cat can see. When they get to the toy, give them a treat (or let them get the treat out of the toy), and then start the game again, as they begin to understand the game more, you can proceed to make it more difficult for them to find.

Schedule Some Playtime!

One thing that should come intuitively is playing with your cat. While tossing the catnip toy can get them going for a little bit, if you devote some time to some serious play, you’re sure to give your cat (and maybe yourself) a good workout! Try taking 10 minutes out from your evening and get on the floor with some of your cat’s favorite toys and have some fun!

 Try Teaching Them Some Tricks

Just like dogs, cats can learn some tricks as well. Simple tricks such as come, sit, fetch and stay (contrary to the cat’s opinion and personality)! Start with a treat that your cat loves and practice for around fifteen minutes a day. You may need to break up the treat into small pieces, just to limit the cat’s treat intake. Once your cat performs the desired action reward them as soon as the action is done so that they associate the reward with the command.

It’s A Jungle In There!

Another great way to keep your cat active is to pick up a cat tree for them. Cats love climbing so that they can survey their kingdom (read: your home) better. Cat trees give cats new nooks to explore and places to relax in.

Cat in cat tree

Walking Your Cat, Yes You Can Do That

As crazy as it sounds, you can actually leash train your cat. Cats love exploring and can learn to walk comfortably with a harness and leash on. It can be a long and arduous process, and you’ll have to be more stubborn than the cat to teach them, but, if your cat is curious about the outdoors, this could be a great way to introduce them to it. Just remember, if you’re cold, then they certainly are. Make sure the strolls are simple and enjoyable for the both of you. However, be prepared to get them back into warmth quickly if need be.

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

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Local Spotlight: Lake Luzerne-Hadley Fire Dept.

I know that we’ve posted in the past about our furry friends and how to take care of them along with some interesting things on personal farming and gardening. But, this week we wanted to take a moment to highlight friends of ours that put there lives on the line to save ours and our homes. So, this post is going to be dedicated to the brave firefighters of the Luzerne-Hadley Fire Department.

History of the Luzerne-Hadley Fire Department

The history of the LHFD starts back in the early 20th century. in 1926, the Rockwell Falls Presbyterian Church was completely destroyed along with two other buildings. This fire caused over $50,000 in damages that day. Just to give you an idea, that would be equivalent to a fire costing a community in almost a million dollars in damages today. This fire brought the community together to vote to create the beginnings of the Van R. Rhodes Fire Company.

In January of 1927, three hundred men gathered together in the Gem Theater on Main Street in lake Luzerne and organized the Rockwell Falls volunteer fire company, which is the foundation of what would become the LHFD. However, according to town records and historical documents, these brave men fought fires with little to no equipment until the summer of 1927 where the town approved the use of $25,000 for purchasing equipment along with the erection of the firehouse on School Street in Luzerne.

The Rockwell Falls VFD would last for one year until it was re-formed as the Van R. Rhodes Fire Company, the name that this company still carries today. Van R. Rhodes is a local figure who not only helped to organize fire protection within the district, but also helped develop the area, bringing more business and homes for people of the area. Additionally, he was a charter member of the board of directors of the Luzerne-Hadley Bank.

The Van R. Rhodes Fire Company has been involved in many different philanthropic endeavors within the community over the years. First, with its annual Fireman’s Ball which it held every year until the start of World War II. Later, they would sponsor a regatta which became a popular event for many years. They were also the sponsor for the local Boy Scout troop for many years.

So thank you LHFD, for everything that you do. It’s not an easy job, but we’re glad there are strong selfless people like you in the world.

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

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Some Pre-Spring Tips for Lambing

two lambs

I know we posted this back in the end of Fall, but with lambing season beginning soon, we felt that we should bump this post back to our front page. This will help make sure that you’re prepped for lambing this Spring (which is only two months away, by the way). Also, if you’re new to raising sheep or are researching the possibility of adding sheep to your farm, we have a short tip sheet as well as put together a more in-depth guide that you should take a look at!

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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The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Urban Gardening

So, we know that farming can be a very rewarding experience. Hard work, but rewarding. The food is always fresh and you know what goes into what you’re eating. But, what if you don’t live in an area that you can have livestock and garden veggies galore? Urban living gives us access to a lot, but also limits us to the supermarket or your local farmer’s market. So, whether you have an apartment, a studio, or even maybe a little land outside your house, here’s our quick guide to getting started with some urban gardening.

Finding a spot

Before you start planning out and mapping the (possibly) limited space you have for growing, you need to find a spot that is going to be able to get six to eight hours of sun per day and has easy access to water. Some great spots could be your patio, balcony, roof eaves (for hanging plants, more on that later). Additionally, as long as it’s not against fire code and not preventing your use, you could even use your fire escape if your building has one.

What to use

Now that you have a spot picked out, the next step is to figure out how you’re going to plant your garden. There are different ways to go about this. However, you want to make sure of a few things before you buy pots. Make sure your container has draining holes (these are easy to make if you want to save money, just poke some holes in the bottom of the container that you’re planning on using), isn’t transparent since sunlight will fry exposed roots, will be big enough to support the plant, and to use good draining soil.

What plants to buy

While you can grow any sort of veggies in pots as long as they have room to grow. IF you don’t have a lot of space certain types of plants fit better with certain types of pots. If you’re using hanging pots, ‘tumbler’ vine tomatoes are great because the vines will just bush out over the sides of the hanging pot. If you have more room you can use a trellis planted into a larger planter for vine plants like squash, beans, or peas. Spices have shallow roots so smaller planters can be great for them and they end up not taking up a lot of room.

If you’re really looking to dig your hands into the dirt, and see how much of a green thumb you really have, try finding out if your community has a community garden. These spaces are great to come together and share the work to maintain a great garden for your friends and neighbors.

Well I hope this quick guide helps, and even though it’s the dead of winter, now is a great time to start seedlings and figure out what space will work perfect come spring and summer.

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

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Featured Post: 10 Tips to Keep Your Dog Healthy This Winter

Today we had a special guest write us a post for our Blog. Tim Pink is the owner of Saratoga Dog Walker and was kind enough to write us a few tips on how to keep your canine friends healthy and active in the very sedentary time of winter.

dog-on-walkLife in the Northeast presents many challenges in the winter when it comes to the health and wellbeing of your beloved dog. Here are 10 tips to help keep your dog safe and healthy this winter.

#1 – Make sure your dog isn’t left outside (or in a car) for too long and keep an eye on his body temperate. Remember, the wind chill will make it even colder and dogs can also get frostbite. Keep a close eye on their ears and paws as they are most susceptible. If your dog starts walking funny, lifting his paws, or hunching over than it’s time to get him inside!

#2 – Use jackets. Depending on your dog’s coat and the amount of time you plan to spend outside he may need an additional jacket. They make jackets for all occasions but the best jackets will cover the chest, be water resistant and tight fitting, easy to put on and off, and have a reflective material.

#3 – Mushers Secret. This stuff is great for paws! It’s a wax based product that helps shield their paws from harmful salt and extreme cold. Always a good idea to wipe and clean off your dog’s paws after a walk so he doesn’t lick any salt that might be stuck on them.

#4 – Keep your dog well groomed. Your dog’s coat will perform its best when it’s well groomed. Extra fur and matting will not help its insulating properties. Also, be sure to trim the fur on his paws so snow doesn’t build up on them as this can be painful and debilitating to dogs.

winter dog walk

#5 – Salmon Oil and water. The lack of moisture in the air may leave your dog’s skin dry and flaky. To help your dog have healthier skin in the winter give him salmon oil. It’s healthy and he will love it! Don’t mix it in his dinner though, or he may start to demand it all the time. Also, just because it’s cold doesn’t mean your dog can’t get dehydrated. As always, make sure he always has fresh water available.

#6 – Be careful playing with your dog near ice. When playing on ice your dog could easily slip and injure himself (ACL etc.), cut his pad, or fall through the ice into a lake etc. Stick to areas that you know and steer clear of ice!

#7 – Holiday dangers. The holidays present a slew of new dangers for your dog. Take a moment to think of all the new things around your house that your dog could get into. Things like the tree (needles, tinsel, ornaments, lights), extension cords, gifts (for people or your dog), holiday nick knacks, as well asholly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants which are pet poisons. As a rule of thumb if your dog can get to it, assume he will and take the necessary steps to avoid tragedy. Oh, and don’t forget to keep the alcohol and chocolates out of reach!

#8 – Antifreeze. Dogs tend to be attracted to the smell and taste of antifreeze but it is highly toxic! Be sure not to leave any around and promptly clean up any puddles.

#9 – Extra food. If your dog spends much time outside in the winter he will probably need more food in order to keep his body temperature up. It takes more calories to keep warm, and the last thing you want is for your dog to lose weight in the winter.

#10 – Exercise! Keep your dog healthy physically and mentally by maintaining his exercise schedule through the winter. Tis the season for dog’s to start “acting up”. This is because they tend to get much less exercise in the winter which leads to excess energy and boredom. If you’re unable or unwilling to walk your dog in the winter call a professional dog walking service.

Well we hope that helps, if you’re curious about Tim and Saratoga Dog Walker, make sure to check him out at the link above, or if you’re in the Saratoga area, you can reach him at 518-390-8613.

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

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Tips for Raising Sheep

sheep

A couple of weeks ago we released some tips on lambing that will help you make it a smoother process. There are many reasons to raise sheep and it’s important to first find out your reasons for wanting to raise sheep in the first place. They can be great for improving your agricultural landscape as livestock grazing helps to to control vegetation and preserve open lands. Also, they can be great to raise for profit, and it isn’t as hard as some think it is. But, whatever your reason, here are some tips to help you get started if you want to start raising sheep.

Tip #1 – Housing

Traditional barns are, by far, the most standard choice for housing when raising sheep for profit. While they might be expensive, they give the best protection for sheep, the feeds, and the equipment. If you’re looking for something less expensive, a hoop house can be a good alternative. Additionally, you’re going to want to make sure where you put the barn is on elevated ground, has good drainage, wind protection, electricity, and easy access for deliveries and trash collection.

Tip #2 – Feeding

Whatever you plan on doing with your sheep herd, I would recommend that you invest in some feeders, not only will it make feeding easier, it will also reduce the risk of your sheep contracting diseases. Feeding sheep on the ground can increase this risk because your sheep are likely to use the same area that you feed them in as their bathroom, which means that the feed can get contaminated.

Tip # 3 – Handling

Sheep are very tame and sociable creatures, like goats, they strive for an environment that follows a routine and is peaceful. Also, make sure to keep your sheep together, this will help foster a sense of home and helps them stay comfortable. The more comfortable your herd is, the healthier they will be.

two lambs

Tip #4 – Management

The style in which you manage your herd’s breeding schedule is also extremely important. There are three different styles of lambing. Early lambing takes place from January to February, and then selling the lambs in early summer. Late lambing, which occurs between April and May, which will reduce production costs but the lambs will also be sold for less. Finally, there is also accelerated lambing, which increases production, but also puts additional strain on the sheep and needs extremely close attention to your herd.

We hope that these tips will help you with your research into raising sheep. For any identification needs, we carry a wide variety of animal ID tags, and Tambra Brass Tags!

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

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7 Tips for Raising Goats

Out of all the animals that you can raise on a farm, the most fun animal to work with are goats. Goats are extremely sociable, have unique personalities, and are easy to raise on a small farm. You need very little capital to start, and require very little maintenance. So without further ado, here are our top 10 tips for raising goats.

Goat Kid on Bench

Tip #1 – Goats are social creatures

Goats are a very social creature, they belong in a herd, and are used to that environment. When starting out, make sure to purchase more than one goat, to keep them healthy and playful. Make sure to never just keep one goat.

Tip #2 – Stubborn as a goat isn’t just a saying

When you hear the phrase, “stubborn as a goat” you usually think of someone who is hard-headed and has a one-track mind. Well, goats are the same way. To be able to get around this, you have to learn how to think like a goat, if something is blocking their way from getting food or water and they don’t know how to solve it, they need the one with the higher mental power to solve this puzzle for them.

Tip #3 – Make sure you have a strong fence

The grass is greener on the other side isn’t just an old adage for goats, it’s their primary thought. Since goats are foragers, they will go wherever there is more food, and in some cases that can be in fields that you don’t want them to be in. The best way to deal with this is to make sure that you have a good fence to keep them in, and make sure you keep up the maintenance on it, because they will find the flaw or weakness if there is one.

Tip #4 – He’s not fat he’s just got a big rumen

Goats are not supposed to be skinny little things, they’re foragers, so if you see one that is starting to get a pot-belly, leave them alone. They are supposed to have a little bit of pudge to them, since they like to forage for extra food.

Tip #5 – Not a living garbage can

You know when you went to the petting zoo you saw the sign, “don’t feed the animals human food” they put that up for a reason. Just because goats will eat anything, doesn’t mean they should. They’re not like their looney tunes version, eating metal just because it’s there. Make sure that you work with your vet or an animal nutritionist to make sure you’re giving your goats the best diet possible.

Tip #6 – What’s your goal?

This one is pretty self-explanatory, what’s your goal with your goats? Are you raising them for meat? For milk? Or are you planning on raising show goats? Make sure you have this planned out before hand, because not all goats are raised the same way. You don’t want to take nutrition advice from a farmer who is raising show goats when you’re raising them for meat. If you do plan on doing more than one, make sure to Identify them properly and that they are segregated. We do carry farm animal ID tags if you do plan on trying to take on more than one goal.

Tip #7 – Goats are farm animals, not pets

As the title says, they are farm animals. They cannot be domesticated, and you should not treat the goat as the family pet. They have a social pecking order and will stick to it. Treat them like farm animals and you and your goats will get along fine.

Well, I hope that this helps. If you’re looking for some more tips, there is a great texas goat rancher who has some thoughts on it. But this should be good to help you get started.

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

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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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