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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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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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
Hannah Mae
Photo Credit: Cindy Holden

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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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 Most Common Behavioral Problems in Dogs

dog-bitingOwning dogs is a joyful experience – most of the time. When they start behaving poorly… let’s just say things aren’t so easy. It usually doesn’t matter if you’re a brand new dog owner, or you’ve owned dogs for 20 years. Behavioral problems will happen. It’s when you accept and start to understand more about the problems, that you can better combat them. We’ll go through them, below.

Barking

A small bark once in a while? Not a problem – that’s just what dogs do. There’s no other way they can communicate. So when a stranger is approaching the house, or the dog hears something out of the ordinary, you’ll more than likely hear a bark.

But, constant barking? Certainly a problem. In order to prevent barking:
Don’t shout at your dog to stop. It sounds counterproductive, but shouting will just make the problem worse. Develop the use of a certain word, that when said at a normal volume, will trigger the barking to stop (similar to “Sit”, “Play”, etc.)
Change what they’re currently doing. Perhaps your dog is really bored, and just needs to play. Perhaps you’re waiting too long in between daily walks. Or maybe you just need to have your dog lie down. In situations where you notice excessive barking, simply switching up the situation could work wonders, and you could see a change in their barking behavior.
Patience is a virtue. Your dog won’t change its barking habits overnight.

Aggressive Behavior

Sure, barking could be a large part of aggressive behavior, but I’d like to break this into a category entirely of its own. Aggressive behavior could mean biting, lunging, teeth showing, etc. And if it’s serious, it’s usually not very easy to change.
•One of the best things I can recommend is working with a trainer. They’ll offer advice and plan development. It could entail creating distance between strangers, teaching different behaviors, etc.
•If that doesn’t work, you may want to talk to a veterinarian. Your dog may need a certain treatment for a condition that isn’t visible (or you don’t know about).

Leash Tugging

I noted in a recent blog that I often see dogs walking their owners, not owners walking their dog. Do you constantly find your dog pulling you along for the walk? Read about how you can change that, here.

Jumping on People

Maybe you (or your guests) get annoyed with the dog jumping up to you whenever you walk in the door. Often times, people attempt to combat this by pushing the dog down. It will get the dog off, but it won’t stop them from continuing to do it.
•The easiest way to stop this behavior is to ignore it. While it might not seem to work at first, it should over time. Dogs jump up for attention. When you don’t show them attention, they’ll learn that jumping won’t give them any benefit.

Chewing

A lot of times chewing is ok. But when your dog is chewing up your sneakers, or quite literally eating your kid’s homework, then you need to make a change.
•The most important things to have on hand are chewable dog toys. You’ll need them to show your dog what they can chew.
•Keep an eye on your dog, and confine them to certain areas until they know what they can and can’t chew.
•As with most other things, punishment will rarely help.
Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

Ketchum Mfg provides dog id tags & pet id tags in case you misplace your pet.

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