Cow Tips: Raising Cattle

American_farmWith calving season once again around the corner, I wanted to revisit an old post of ours that gave out some quick tips on how to raise your cattle. So, without further ado, here is part one of our cow tips!

Most 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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Rainy Day Fun With Your Cat

Kitten-indoor-playtimeWith Fall now in full swing, the rainy days have once again come to Upstate New York. However, just because you want to curl up with your favorite blanket and binge the latest season of your favorite show on Netflix, doesn’t mean that your feline friend wants to as well. So, here are some great ways to entertain yourself and your cat at the same time. Plus, you get to add to the multitudes of cat videos on social media.

The Treasure Hunt

Cats are hunters by nature, so an excellent way to stimulate your cat is to set up a treasure hunt for your indoor cat. You can hide special treats for your cat inside puzzle feeders for your cat to discover. Also, spread a few around the house so that they never know when they’re going to find a treat. This is a great option to break up boredom for the cats when left home while their humans are at work.

The Agility Course

Creating a homemade agility course for your cat sounds complicated but actually isn’t at all. Start by making a paper bag tunnel and then give them a treat when your cat goes through it. Then add a second obstacle, then a third, and so on. Cats love being active and love the exercise. More important though, is to make it fun and stress-free, for yourself and for the cat. One of the nice things about a homemade agility course is that you can customize it as you see fit and build it to match your cat’s physical abilities.

The Paper Bag

One of the great things about cats is that it doesn’t take much to entertain them. Sometimes, all you need is a paper bag and they’ll be entertained for hours on end. One thing you can do is take 3 or 4 and put them around the room and sprinkle a little catnip inside the bag and watch your cat dive, pounce and generally act silly.

iPad Playtime

If you’re feeling particularly tired from the day, you can also set up an app (yes, they have apps for cats) that lets them hunt after bugs and fish. Some of the apps, even interact when the cat catches a fish or bug.

Whatever indoor games you decide to set up with your cat, keep in mind that your furry feline friend was born to move, and they have highly tuned senses. While it’s important to keep them safe indoors, it is also very important to provide them with adequate stimulation and environmental enrichment. After all, indoor games and activities may go a long way in preventing behavior problems down the road due to boredom or separation anxiety.

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Preparing Your Pet for the Cooler Weather

We originally posted this during the rainy end of last summer as it gave way to fall. While the weather is a little warmer this time around, the information that it brings is perfect for making sure that your pets are ready for the Fall because like it or not, cooler weather is right around the corner.

dog-fallIt’s not even the end of August, yet people are walking around with jackets and sweatpants. Let’s be real — it’s been a bit nippy outside lately. It’s not just rainy, it’s now rainy and cool. What gives, Mother Nature?

As much as I’d like summer to stick around another couple of months, Ketchum Mfg. is located in upstate NY. And of course, upstate NY is definitely not the warmest spot in the U.S. We can basically kiss summer goodbye at this point.

And of course, as the cooler weather starts to creep in, it means you need to follow different pet care protocol. Here are 5 tips for preparing your pet for the cooler weather.

Go to The Vet

It seems like this is something you get told at the start of every season, right? Well that’s because it’s the truth! Pets need a routine check up. You know how when the temperatures start to dip, humans tend to get sick? The same thing can happen to your pet. If your pet was fine without a checkup last year, it doesn’t mean that’s okay for this year.

Stay Extra Alert

For many American workers, the summer is a symbol of an easier work routine (a.k.a. “summer hours”). This usually means you’re around for your pet much more often. So when you get back to the normal routine in the fall, your pet may experience separation anxiety. They may start acting abnormally (chewing on household items is usually an issue). When you are around, look for changes in your pet’s personality.

Fall is also the time that decorations and holiday goodies start to come out. Keep your pets away from Halloween candy, Christmas lights & tinsel, etc.


Noticing the start of a lot of shedding? At the end of the summer, pets tend to shed so that they’re winter coat will come in. Brush your pet regularly, as this will help to stop hair from being everywhere. If your pet is shedding heavily, you should get in touch with your vet. It can be a sign of deeper health problems.


As humans, we often associate the cooler weather with hardier meals. Big holiday feasts, hot chocolate, and big bowls of soup sound familiar?

Pets aren’t the same way. Since most pets aren’t as active in the winter, they don’t need more food. In fact, they usually need less. This brings me to my next point…exercise.


Summer is a time that pet owners can get lazy because it’s too hot to walk. Fall should be the opposite. It’s a great time to walk your pets – you won’t be dripping with sweat immediately upon walking outside. So get out there! Also remember –hydration is still important for your pet (and you as well!)

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

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Tips For Choosing A First Family Pet







Introducing a new pet to your household can provide your household with a loving companion that can teach your kids about responsibility and compassion as they and you help care for the animal. However parents, it’s important to remember that not all pets are created equal when it comes to compatibility with kids. Here are some tips that can help you select a first pet that’s suited to living with kids and won’t outgrow your home.

1. Consider Your Family’s Lifestyle

One of the most important things to first take into consideration is your family’s lifestyle as a whole when you’re choosing a pet. Is the house empty most of the day or is there someone at home throughout? If it’s empty most of the day, a puppy that needs to be taken outside multiple times might not be the most ideal choice.

2. Financial Responsibility

Any pet, big or small, requires a financial commitment from the family. Food isn’t free, and neither is healthcare for pets. That being said, some pets are much more expensive to care for and feed than others. Adopting a rescue might be a noble choice, but one that comes with preexisting health issues will also bring a slew of medical bills that might break the bank. Think about how much room there is in the family budget, and keep that in mind when you consider upkeep costs for the pet.

3. Allergies

Some pets are more aggravating to allergies than others, and living with an animal that triggers those allergies can be miserable. For example, no matter how much your child begs for a puppy or kitten, if someone in the home is allergic to pet dander, it’s just not a good idea to bring one home. However, there is a little caveat to this, there are cats and dogs that are hypoallergenic, it just takes a little research into which breeds (and how expensive they are) fall into this category.

4. Space Constraints

A small, cuddly, baby fluffball might be cute and extremely tempting to bring home, but sometimes, those cute little babies can grow up into large, unwieldy pets. An iguana might be small when you bring it home, but some can grow up to 6 feet in length! Similarly, a Great Dane might not be the best choice of canine companion for a small apartment.

Great Pyrenees being a goof ball

5. Animal Care Requirements

Every pet has certain care requirements that are non-negotiable and must be taken care of. Litter boxes need to be cleaned, dogs need to be walked, fish fed, and gerbil cages cleared. If the primary goal of owning a pet is to help introduce a level of responsibility for your kids, make sure that the animal care requirements aren’t beyond their ability to manage.

6. Be Realistic About Responsibilities

This next tip fits in with #5 above. You may have these grand ideas that your child is going to be a major participator in pet chores, however, be prepared to shoulder that burden yourself if the kids don’t hold up their end of the bargain.

7. Do Your Homework

The best way to choose a pet that will mesh well with your family is to simply do research about any type of pets that you may be considering. Don’t be swayed by the cuteness of certain baby animals, and make sure you don’t simply buy on impulse. Create a list of pet types that would be suitable for your home, and narrow down the options to find the one that will be a good fit for your family.

Also, make sure that if you get a four legged furry companion, that you have them properly identified. This will not only save you from heartache later, by making sure that they are always easily identified in case they get lost.

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10 common myths about farming

Farming and agriculture are the backbone of our country, without farms we’d starve. However, many myths and urban legends swirl around this hard-working bedrock industry. In honor of the farmers in New York, and around the US we’re helping to set the record straight by disproving ten of the most popular myths about farming.

#10 – All farms are large corporate industrial farms

Completely untrue! 97 percent of all farms are family owned and run, and some have even been passed down from older generations. Don’t let the names of some fool you. Just because a farm has an “inc.” on the end of their name doesn’t mean they’re a corporate farm.

#9 – Farmers don’t care about their animals

When someone claims that farmers do not care about their animals they couldn’t be further from the truth. Farmers do what the animal needs, when they need it to make sure that the animal is taken care of. From staying up all night birthing calves on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day (yes, this happens), to going out in sub-zero temperatures in the middle of the night to make sure their water isn’t frozen and they can get to their food, farmers do it all. For farmers, their animals are just another extended part of their family.

#8 – Farmers don’t care about their damage to the environment

Honestly, farming is one of the greenest professions out there these days. With advancements in technology growing exponentially daily, farmers are able to use less fertilizers and chemicals, while producing more product. Additionally, the land that the farmer uses is their greatest resource, it feeds their animals, and nurtures the plants they grow, why would they want to sully that?

#7 – Small farms don’t matter, and are eaten up by larger farms

You know how earlier I said that 97% of farms are family owned? Well, a good portion of that percentage is small farms. Small farms are what allow people to get locally produced food and able to know the farmer that helped raise their meal.

#6 – Farmers are uneducated

This myth is a doozy, and I can’t stand it! The truth of the matter, not only does the farmer have to know how to farm, they must also be mechanics, weathermen, vets, and a business owner. The days of using old farm wisdom passed down by family members is long gone. Times have changed and so have the duties and knowledge necessary to be a farmer.

#5 – Farmers are rich

Farmers don’t farm for the money, they do it for the love of the job. I’m not saying that there aren’t rich farmers out there, but a few does not make up the whole. Farmers farm because they love the lifestyle, they know it’s one of the backbone industries of our country, or they do it for the love of farming. Whatever their reason is, be sure it isn’t for the money.

#4 – There’s no future in agriculture

Completely untrue. One of the highest growing industries is actually farming. Not only are the numbers growing in agriculture related degrees, the number of young farmers is growing consistently.

#3 – Farmers line their pockets from the cost of food

Many people believe that food prices are driven by what the farmer wants to charge the stores so that they make as much money possible. However, only 15 cents goes to the farmer. The rest goes to paying things such as transportation, labor, processing, and other business costs. Unfortunately, many of the direct and indirect costs that farmers face, such as insurance and feed for the animals, are not as easily covered. Additionally, these costs are even harder to deal with when there’s a drought, hail, hurricane, flooding or any other sort of natural disaster that wipes out the crop, the farmer can lose most of their year’s income but still have to deal with the costs.

#2 – Food costs too much

In some parts of the world, this is absolutely true. It not only costs too much but is unavailable to many people. But in the United States, we have one of the most abundant and affordable food supplies in the world. In a recent study, food costs were shown to make up about 7% of our income. In Japan, it’s 14%; China, 21%; and India was 51%.

#1 – Our food is unsafe

Sometimes we get overwhelmed by the headlines that a commodity or a producer is having problems. Thus, the reason these stories are called news, because it is outside the realm of normal. The truth is, the food industries has some of the strictest standards and regulations of any industry. For example, before a cow can be cleared for slaughter, the slaughterhouse must test to make sure that any antibiotics or hormones have completely passed through their system. In fact, many other foods contain higher levels of hormones that are astronomically higher than that found in dairy and meat products.

So I hope this helps dispelled some myths about farming for you. So, next time, you want to pick up some great produce at a local store, remember to thank your farmers!


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7 Important Pet Safety Tips for Spring

Even though spring technically starts on March 20th, the month of April is when it really begins. It’s that time of the year for warm weather, fresh gardens, and enjoying the outdoors with your pet. You can finally take your pet outside and not put on 5 layers for the freezing cold! But as with any change of season, there are always some important safety tips to consider. Let’s take a look at some of the most important ones:

Vet Visit

Spring is a great time to schedule a veterinary visit, especially if it’s been awhile. You can ask your veterinarian about topics like tick & flea prevention, spray/neutering, and more. Your vet will also observe/test your pet for any problems that may have come up during the winter. It’s been a tough winter in the northeast – things can happen!

Watch the Lawn & Garden

Fertilizers, herbicides – all that stuff that helps your lawn stay healthy certainly won’t do the same to your pet. Take special care in keeping your pet away from a freshly sprayed lawn. If your pet starts eating the grass, the results could be fatal. On the same token, certain plants can cause problems for pets. Some plants are poisonous, some will cause allergies, and others will cause choking hazards. Don’t let your pet roam around in an area you’re not familiar with.

Home Cleaning Supplies

Not only is spring the time to get your lawn in shape, but your house as well. Be mindful of all the cleaners you’ll be using to scrub the floor, dust the fans, and more. Make sure your pet doesn’t get into the cleaning supplies, as it could prove fatal.

Insect Bites

You know how insect bites are a big pain for humans – especially the ones that make you concerned? That same concern should be taken if your pet is bitten, too. Make sure serious insect bites are treated.


A lot of people wait until its summer to open up the pool. Some like to get it done with in the spring. Remember, pets should never swim unattended.

Open Windows

When you keep the windows open, make sure there’s a screen so your pet isn’t tempted to hop out. Now is the time to fix those broken screens!

Pet Tags

Pets are ready to get out and run around by the time spring rolls around. You’ll want to take them to a lot of new places – the dog park, a mountain, a nice walk on a new street, etc. And that’s all perfectly fine, as long as you keep an eye on them and they’re tagged. You certainly don’t want your pet to get lost!

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Some Tips For Raising Ducks

In the past we’ve talked about raising chickens, goats, sheep, and even cows. However, there is one fowl that we haven’t talked about yet, but is a common occurrence on many farms. Of course I’m talking about ducks. Now, raising ducks is not necessarily a simple task, however, they tent to be easier to care for than other fowl and can be enjoyable to watch and tend to. So read on for our collection of tips and to-do’s when raising ducks.


Safety First!

One thing that is important to remember is health safety when it comes to raising ducks. Like chickens, ducks may have Salmonella germs in their dropping and on their bodies, even if they appear healthy and clean. These germs can also get on anything the duck interacts with within their habitat. Of course, this can pass on to the caretakers if they’re not careful. Always make sure that you wash your hands immediately after handling the ducks or anything in the area that they live in.

Feeding Baby Ducks

When taking care of baby ducks make sure to never feed them without water. Water helps get the food down and clean their beak vents. Always give baby ducks access to water for at least an hour before feeding and an hour after. Also, when providing them with water make sure to use a chick fountain or shallow bowl, and be prepared to clean the area often. Ducklings love to splash around in the water, which can be adorable, but also a pain in the rear once they’re done. Also when providing water make sure that it is no deeper than a quarter inch so that the ducks don’t drown.

Providing Shelter

When you have ducklings, you can’t put them into a normal shelter to protect them from predators and weather. There is a special cage you will need called a brooder. These help keep the ducklings safe and warm and can be made in the home or out of easy to get materials. For the base you can use a spare bathtub, plastic tote, dog crate, or even a sturdy cardboard box lined with plastic. Additionally, until they reach 7 to 9 weeks, you’re going to want to keep a heat lamp on the brooder to keep the ducklings warm. The reason being, before they reach that 7 to 9 week point, ducklings can’t regulate their internal temperature and need outside sources of heat to keep them alive. For the first week that the ducklings are in the brooder the temperature should be 90 degrees Fahrenheit. After that first week you will want to lower the temperature by a degree a day until the temperature is equal with the temperature outside the brooder.

What Came First? The Duck Or The Egg?

Once the ducks are old enough, and the females begin producing eggs, they can actually be used as a good replacement for chicken eggs. They’re the same as chicken eggs but are much larger and contain higher levels of protein, calcium, iron and potassium. Additionally, they’re can be useful when baking cakes, as the extra protein helps the cake to rise, and the fat content can add more richness and flavor to the bakery treat.

What are some of your tips and tricks when it comes to raising ducks? Let us know in the comments below!


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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.


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 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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