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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Pink Ribbon Tags for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

History of our Pink Ribbon Tags

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

We’re offering them again

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

Our goal for this year

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

breast-cancer-infographic-2014

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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