Eminent Ungulates

Cows

Most people, when they think of cows, picture them in numbers grazing contentedly on rolling green hills. That is, the average person does not see them as individuals but in the plural as cattle, as part of a herd: nameless, indistinguishable one from another, a little un-fantastical, never to be acclaimed, and certainly not destined for “great things.” Once you’ve seen one cow, you’ve seen them all, right?

Yet, don’t be fooled by their seeming docility. As any cow-owner will tell you, each has in fact a distinct personality. And while most have remained anonymous throughout the long history of human-domesticated livestock, there are those that have made their name and achieved fame, if not notoriety—from Pauline Wayne, President Taft’s prized Holstein, who once grazed the grounds of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; to fearsome Ratón, the Spanish fighting bull responsible for the death and maiming of dozens of toreadors foolish enough to face him (hence the bull’s nickname, el toro asesino, “the killer bull”).

Here are five more brilliant bovines that have made their mark on history. Continue reading

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A Brief History of Animal Tags

Greek Vase

Attic red-figure cup in the shape of a cow’s hoof and depicting a herdsman along the rim
(Source)

A family-run business for four generations, Ketchum Mfg. Co., Inc. has been manufacturing high-quality livestock and pet tagging products since 1928. But did you know that the history of our industry can be measured not just in years—but in millennia? Continue reading

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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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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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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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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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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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Purpose of Cattle Tags

Catttle Tags

What are Cattle Tags?

What could be seen as an added accessory — you know, bling, or earrings — cattle tags actually serve a far greater purpose. Farms can be a confusing place. Typically farms sit on a good chunk of acreage. And with that, the livestock is left to play and explore their land. Between chickens, cows and pigs, you can just imagine the chaos. Having a structured organizational system in place is important so that you can keep track of your inventory. Ear tags are an easy-to-use and simple solution for any farmer to implement.

What is the Purpose of Ear Tags?

When farm animals are born, they all look very similar. As they get older, they continue to mirror the image of their peers. Ear tags are a way for the farmers to identify who is who in their land of livestock. Think of it this with. Ear tags are similar to birth certificates. They let you know who your parents are, when you were born, what your gender is, and what vaccinations you have been given.

The Numbering System

Everyone has his or her own unique method of identification, but the most common system is the numbering system. With this system, it’s common to introduce both letters and numbers. The letter would represent the year of birth. For example, if the calf was born in 2012, it would be given the letter A, for calves born in 2013, B, and so on and so forth. The numbers following the letter could determine the litter, number born on farm, or gender. Each system is unique. Once an animal is given an identification tag, they are to rep that tag for their entire lifetime.

Other Uses for Ear Tags:

While cattle tags are the most popular, they are not the only animal to use this system. Any animal that is raised for profit is typically marked with an ear tag. Pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, and rabbits are common examples.

Animals can also be tagged for research purposes. Flocks of geese or endangered species may be tagged in order to determine migration patterns.

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

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The Basics of Raising Cattle

Cattle
The cattle business can be stressful, but getting into it can be worth it.  Owning cattle has many benefits, and learning to raise them is a way of life for many farmers. Learning everything about how to raise cattle will take a lot of time and experience, so here’s a brief rundown on what you need to know before getting into the cattle business!

Planning

There are a few different reasons for raising cattle, so you have to decide what your purpose is. Are you raising them for show? For beef or for dairy? For personal use or for selling in mass? You also need to consider how devoted you will be to your business. What’s going to set you apart from the others? Is it the right time to start this business? Once you’ve thought this through, you need to develop a business plan. Then, you need to find the proper grounds. A lot goes into this – the right vegetation, proper fencing, proper shelter, etc. And be advised that cows don’t always need a top of the line barn. You can usually get away with a lot less – i.e., a very basic shelter. After that, you’ll have to purchase machinery (example: a feeding machine). You’re probably thinking that you need to shell out a lot of money before you even buy the cattle. Unfortunately, if you don’t already own a farm, this is true!

Buying

Cattle at Klågerup
As we discussed before, cattle are raised for different reasons. Thus, there are different kinds of cattle, and there are always things you want to be aware of – like mothering ability and good conformation. When you study a cow’s conformation, you’re basically studying it’s structure. You want cattle with good depth of hearth girth, a fairly broad and wide forehead, and many other things. When just starting out, it’s not smart to buy a bunch of cattle at once. You’ll be in over your head. Choose a nice number of good, quality cows. Always go with a reputable breeder, and ask a lot of questions. Take a lot of photos of the cattle you’re looking to purchase, and study them in comparison to pictures of ideal cattle. Once you make a purchase, there’s an entire transferring process. You’ll need a trailer that is slip-free, and you’ll need to make the process from start to finish as quiet as possible. Disturbing the cattle is a big no-no.

Raising

A long time ago there was a computer game called The Oregon Trail, and you had to maintain cattle in order to keep them alive. And it was kind of a tedious process – you did one thing wrong and the cattle were done for. Aspects of that game ring true in real life. Raising the cattle can be difficult, but it can be very rewarding and fun! You’ll have to learn a lot on the technical side, but there are just a few basics you’ll need to know now. Keeping records should be a very high priority — everything from cattle health and vaccination records to purchases. You’ll need to keep up with cattle maintenance regularly – feeding, watering, and health checkups are the three main components. You’ll need to learn a lot about the large amount of water the cattle will drink, the types of food they will eat, etc. And during the whole process, you’ll need to know when it’s a good time to sell your cattle. If you’re raising cattle for personal use, you may not need to worry about that as much.

Sound like a lot of work? It is! But if you have the passion, it won’t even feel like work.

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

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The Benefits of Raising Farm Animals

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O! We’ve all heard the nursery rhyme and recited it a time or two. However, old MacDonald had the right idea, raising animals on his farm. Just imagine feeding your family wholesome eggs, milk and meat produced in your own backyard. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? Agriculture truly is the foundation of our society. If it weren’t for farmers, we wouldn’t have the nutritious food we eat day in and day out. Here are the benefits of raising farm animals:

Chemical free eggs

farm fresh eggs in basketNothing compares to fresh, great-tasting eggs for breakfast, seriously! Raising your own chickens will ensure you have chemical free, exceptionally clean and healthy eggs each morning. Whether it’s over easy or scrambled, you can make breakfast with the healthiest eggs on the market.

Fresh raw milk

There are many benefits to collecting fresh, raw milk. Because raw milk contains certain proteins and compounds, it has been known to cure allergies and even eczema. Milk is also extremely important for developing brains and nervous systems of infants and young children. Raising milk cows is a great way to give your kids the best milk available.

No artificial cheese

Many commercial cheeses contain GMOs (genetically modified organism). You will be happy to know that homemade cheese contains no artificial ingredients. Don’t even worry about the cooking process either. Some of the best cheeses were made entirely by mistake. You can raise goats or cows, either way your cheese will be absolutely delicious!

Grass-feed meat

A cow [15/365]Loaded with minerals and vitamins, grass-fed beef is naturally leaner than grain-fed beef. It’s also a great source of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which is a fat that can reduce the risk of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and a number of immune disorders. Whether you want to run a small backyard hobby farm or a large commercial ranch, your family can have grass-feed meat all year round.

In addition to fresh meat and dairy products, farming has many environmental benefits too. For example, farmers have an innate sense of loyalty and responsibility to the land on which they farm. Through sustainable agriculture, or the practice of farming ecologically, farmers can retain and protect their valuable farmland. They can also turn crop waste and animal manure into fertilizers. As a result, they can enrich the soil and reroute rainwater to fuel the irrigation system. Not only does sustainable agriculture save money, but it also conserves natural resources.

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

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