Horses Hoof & Skin Health

As an equine owner, it is important to maintain your horse’s hoof and skin health. Given that we live in the Maritimes, we sometimes see a lot of precipitation and moisture. Keeping our barns and equine companions as clean and dry as possible is essential. Anything we can do to minimize mud, puddles and manure around the barns and paddocks will help reduce precipitation and moisture. If left unattended, it can cause health issues with horses’ hooves and skin and create a nesting ground for flies. Issues such as mud fever, white line disease, thrush and rain rot can become a serious concern as a horse owner.

To prevent severe concerns for your horses, ensure that you manage your property to the best of your ability. Here are some tips to help you minimize precipitation and moisture:

  • Proper drainage around the property is critical to ensuring dryer ground, which will lessen stagnant water.
  • Weekly paddock maintenance helps remove old manure and excess hay. This should include run-ins as well, not just pastures and paddocks.
  • Ensuring that your horse gets to dry off at least once per day will significantly reduce the risk of health issues.
  • Routine grooming gets your hands on your equine companion to ensure you are not missing any signs of skin issues or irritations. Remove any thick mud from their legs or body and ensure proper attention is given where needed.

By providing your horse with the best maintenance, you’re not just ensuring their health, but also their soundness and ability to perform their job for years to come. This reassurance should give you the confidence to tackle any challenges that come your way in maintaining your horse’s hoof and skin health.

For more advice on maintaining your horses’ health, check out our related blogs or ask the Experts at your local Feeds’n Needs!
Deworming Your Horse
Maintaining Your Horses Health

How to Introduce New Chickens to Your Flock 

Chick days at Feeds’n Needs are in full swing, and for many of our local poultry lovers, this means adding new birds to an existing flock! Growing your flock is exciting, but introducing new hens can be challenging. Ensuring you’re well prepared is key to guaranteeing a smooth transition, so let’s discuss how to introduce new chickens to your flock safely.

Why it’s Important to Take All the Steps
Chickens instinctively establish a social structure within the flock called a “pecking order.” Each flock member knows their place within this pecking order, which allows everyone to coexist peacefully without fighting over resources.
When new chickens are introduced to an existing flock, it interferes with the pecking order established by the older birds, and bullying is bound to happen until a new pecking order that includes the new members is established.
If the new birds are not slowly integrated into the existing flock, it leaves everyone vulnerable to serious bullying, injuries, and stress, none of which are good for laying productivity and overall flock health.

When to Introduce New Chickens to the Flock
If you’ve decided it’s time to grow your flock, consider choosing breeds that will be similar in size or at least compatible with the current members.
New chickens should be fully feathered, weaned off of supplementary heat, and approximately 8-12 weeks old before being integrated into the flock. Waiting until the new birds have reached a similar size as your older chickens allows you to feed them the proper diet required for growth until they have reached mature, reproductive age, and it gives them more confidence to interact with the older flock members when introduced.
Try to introduce three or more chickens to an existing flock if possible; this way, any bullying from the older hens won’t be directed at one bird. Additionally, introducing a group of new birds that are familiar with each other and have established their own little pecking order will help them feel more secure and confident when being integrated into the rest of the flock.

The Introduction Process
The process of flock integration can be broken down into four steps and accomplished over several weeks.

  1. Isolate: Before your new birds come in contact with your older ones, they should be quarantined for at least two weeks to monitor the new birds for any signs of disease, injuries, or parasites. A good precaution to take is to treat everyone for external parasites like lice or mites with Doktor Doom lice killer for poultry and deworm with a piperazine powder for poultry. Find these products and more at your local Feeds’n Needs. Once you’re positive that all your new members are healthy, you may begin the next phase of integration.
  2. Segregate: House your new chickens in a temporary cage or fenced area near where the existing flock stays. For example, this temporary pen could be a large dog kennel or crate placed inside the coop or in the run where the two groups of birds can see, hear, and smell each other but not intermingle. This allows everyone to become familiar with each other without the risk of bullying or harassment. The temporary pen should be furnished with a feeder and waterer and large enough to comfortably house your new members during the day. Allow the new birds to get familiar with the flock through the safety of their temporary corral for 1-2 weeks or until the older flock members start to ignore the newbies.
  3. Acclimate: Now that the chickens have been introduced in a non-contact way, you may start allowing short periods of “together time,” where everyone can be together in the coop or run without any barriers. If everything is going well and the birds are getting along, you can start increasing the amount of supervised time your birds spend together over the course of a week or two. Allowing both groups to free range together is another great way to start “together time”, and it will give the new birds a chance to get familiar with the coop while the older gals are out. Offering distractions for the older birds may keep them occupied and reduce bullying during the transition period – try hanging a head of cabbage or putting down some premium chopped straw from Feeds’n Needs for the chickens to peck and scratch at to keep them busy! Return the new birds to their own coop after each of these sessions and take this time to check for any injuries that may need attention.
  4. Integrate: Once you feel that the flock has accepted the new birds, it’s time for everyone to be together full-time. As the new pecking order is being established, there is still bound to be some bullying, so keep a close eye on the situation and continue to check for injuries. If bullying continues or worsens, you may have to separate the birds again and return to supervised together time for a while longer.

So, are you ready to add to your flock? Stop by your local Feeds’n Needs or visit our website to get all the details about upcoming Chick Days. Remember to stock up on all the poultry essentials at Feeds’n Needs! Our experts are here to help, so don’t hesitate to ask questions!

Learn more about raising and caring for chickens by checking out the poultry section of our blog!
Prep Your Coop for Chicks
Hens Health Throughout the Seasons
Predator Proofing Your Chicken Coop

Why We Need Bees

Over the last 15 years, bee populations in North America have been declining at an alarming rate. Since then, many “Save the Bees” campaigns and organizations have been formed to protect these special creatures. But why are bees so important? Let’s find out!

Where Have the Bees Gone?
There are 5 primary threats to native bee species that have caused their populations to dwindle quickly:

  • Habitat Loss: Human development and the expansion of industrial agriculture have destroyed the habitats of many wildlife species, including bees.
  • Climate Change: Dramatic shifts in temperature over the years have resulted in flowering plants growing further north, leaving populations of pollinators who relied on them behind. These changes in weather patterns and ecosystems have made it difficult for native species to find food and shelter that was once abundant.
  • Chemical Pesticides: Chemical pesticides are being used more and more every year to prevent and kill unwanted pests and weeds. However, these harmful pesticides are also an enormous threat to non-target species like bees and other pollinators and are considered a leading cause of bee mortality rates.
  • Invasive Plant Species: New plants that are introduced to an environment in which they are not native to may overtake many of the area’s native plant species that local pollinators rely on for survival. Many native bee species diets have evolved to feed from local plants, so when these plants are overthrown by non-native species, these bees lose their food source.
  • Diseases & Parasites: With the introduction of non-native plants come non-native diseases and parasites that pose a serious threat to bee populations.

Why are Bees Important?
The importance of bees to sustaining human and animal life cannot be understated. Bees’ contributions to our world can be broken down into 5 main categories:

  • Pollination & Agriculture: Did you know that bees are responsible for an estimated 1 of every 3 bites of food eaten? That’s right! Most of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators in order to reproduce; this includes most fruits, vegetables, trees, and shrubs! Pollination occurs when pollinators like bees, birds, and butterflies travel from one plant to the next. Pollen collected from one plant is distributed to the next, resulting in cross-pollination and fertilization of the plant! Without bees providing us with food through pollination, humans would lose the ability to have a healthy, diverse diet.
  • The Food Chain: It’s not only us humans who rely on pollinators for food – Wildlife does too! Plants and trees are a main source of food and shelter for many wildlife species, and without pollinators to keep plants reproducing, the wildlife who rely on them may not survive. Even domesticated animals rely on pollination; for example, cows eat alfalfa, which is pollinated by bees, and we humans rely on cows for dairy and beef. So, you see, bees are responsible for entire food chains, and without them, humans wouldn’t be the only species to suffer the consequences.
  • Economy: Because bees are responsible for so much of the food we eat, they contribute greatly to our economy. It is estimated that bees contribute upwards of 15 billion dollars to the value of crop production each year in the United States as a result of the crops that they pollinate. Additionally, the beekeeping industry serves as an income for many families by selling products made from bee wax, honey, etc., as well as the sale of beekeeping equipment.
  • Biodiversity & Ecosystems: By pollinating many of the trees, shrubs, and plants in our environment, bees help ensure the biodiversity of ecosystems! Additionally, the trees pollinated by bees release oxygen for us to breathe and help prevent erosion by stabilizing the soil with their deep roots!
  • Nutrition & Crop Quality: Bees and other pollinators are invaluable to the growth of crops, ensuring higher yields, and potentially improving the nutrient value of the foods produced as a result! Without bees, human’s nutritional needs would be difficult to meet!

Needless to say, bees are essential to sustaining life and maintaining a healthy, diverse environment. Without these incredible creatures and all the work they do for us, every living thing would feel the impact. At Feeds’ n Needs, we understand the importance of saving the bees! Be sure to check out our selection of beekeeping products (only available at select Feeds’n Needs locations). Our stores carry a large selection of Vesey’s flower seeds; ask one of our experts to help you find varieties that your local pollinators will love!

Disclaimer: Product availability and selection may vary by store. Please check your local store for availability.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Pet Parents

It’s that time of year again—time for spring cleaning! As pet parents, we can’t forget about spring cleaning to help with all the fur, dander, and mess our pets bring into our homes. Not only do our pets contribute to some of the gunk and grime you’re cleaning off your stuff, but they also have their own staff that needs to be cleaned, organized, and updated. We’ve compiled a list of spring cleaning tips for pet parents to ensure you’ve covered all the basis!

Dog and Cat Beds:
Take a good look at your pet’s bed. Some pet beds can be put in the washing machine, and some have to be spot-cleaned. Give it a once-over with the vacuum cleaner before putting it in the washing machine. Unscented, clean detergents are best to avoid respiratory and skin irritation. If your pet has sensitive skin, use an extra rinse cycle. Let the cover dry thoroughly before your dog or cat uses it again.

It may be time to replace your pet’s bed if you can’t get it clean and there are any tears or frays beyond repair.

Crates:
Take apart your pet’s crate and give it a really good scrub down. Wipe the bars down with soapy water and vacuum the bottom of the crate. Then, give it a good soak with very hot, soapy water, rinse or wipe it off, and dry. That’s all you need to give your pet’s crate a thorough clean.

Dog and Cat Toys:
Take a close look at toys and get rid of any extremely chewed or torn-up toys. If pieces are falling off or too gross to clean, it’s time for a replacement.

Check the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on soft toys. Place them in a pillowcase or laundry bag, wash them on a gentle cycle with a pet-safe detergent, and let them air dry completely before you give them back to your dog or cat.

Soaking hard toys in one part distilled white vinegar to one part water can also clean some toys well. Thoroughly rinse before giving back to your pet.

Dog and Cat Bowls:
Cleaning your pet’s food and water dishes should be part of your weekly routine. Not cleaning your dog’s bowls causes multiple types of bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. Coli, to harbour. Water bowls should also be cleaned often to prevent the growth of molds, yeast, algae, and fungi.

Spring cleaning is an excellent time to see how they’re holding up. If they have a lot of scratches, consider replacing them. Bacteria hides in scratches and is tough to get rid of. For regular deep cleaning, either wash by hand with hot, soapy water and a soft rag/sponge or in a dishwasher.

Deep Cleaning the Litter Box:
Plastic litter boxes should be replaced yearly (more often if you have multiple cats or they take a lot of abuse from scratching and scooping).

To clean a littler box:

  1. Remove all the old litter and fill the basin with very hot water and a little dish soap. If it needs a more thorough cleaning, add 1/2 cup of white vinegar per gallon of hot water and let it soak.
  2. Give it a thorough rinse.
  3. When dry, add fresh litter, and you’re ready to go.
  4. Remember to clean your litter scoop the same way and wipe down the area around the litter box.

Furniture:
You should regularly vacuum your furniture to remove pet hair, dander and dirt. When it comes to spring cleaning, an extra thorough vacuuming is a great place to start. You may have to use multiple methods to get all that hair. Use a damp rubber glove to pick up stubborn hair from soft surfaces.

Pretreat any urine stains on carpets or furniture with a mixture of baking soda, vinegar and warm water. You may even want to sprinkle baking soda (a natural deodorizer) over the stain.

* Baking soda is a pet parent’s best friend when used in small amounts. Ingesting a large amount, however, can be dangerous to pets. Don’t let the baking soda sit for a prolonged period. Always vacuum it immediately, and don’t leave the package where your pets can reach it.

Check Expiration Dates:
Spring cleaning is an ideal time to look at all your pet supplies and check expiration dates on things like:

  • Medications
  • Flea & tick preventatives
  • Supplements
  • Treats
  • Wet food
  • Dry kibble

Deep Clean Your Pets:
Your pets may need a deep cleaning themselves. Brush dogs before bathing to remove heavy dirt and mats. Brush again after the bath to remove loose hair. For more dog grooming tips, check out our blog Dog Grooming Tips for Spring.

As for cats, they are good self-groomers, but some experts recommend a bath once or twice a year. If yours is accustomed to baths from kittenhood, go for it. If not, attempts to bathe an older cat could be highly stressful for the cat.

Spruce Up Your Yard:
Clean up any poop that hasn’t decomposed over the winter. Also, look for bones, dead animals, or garbage – anything that could be a choking or health hazard to your pet. Check any gates or fences and repair them as needed.

Clean and Inspect Collars and Leashes:
Collars constantly touch your pet’s skin, collecting dirt, oils, and odours. Leashes can also get dirty quickly, especially if you and your pet love to explore.

Start by soaking collars and leashes in a mixture of warm water and pet-safe detergent for about 30 minutes. Then, rub the item against itself to help remove any remaining germs. Let them air dry completely before using them again. If your pet has a collar made of leather, avoid soaking it and wipe it down with a damp cloth instead. Also, inspect your pet’s collar and leash for signs of wear and tear. If you notice any damage, replace the item immediately to keep your pet safe.

Keeping your home clean and tidy can be difficult when you have pets. But with these tips, you can make spring cleaning much easier as a pet parent while keeping your pets safe and happy!

Happy spring cleaning!

Pet Seasonal Allergies

If you’ve ever dealt with seasonal allergies, you know springtime is one of the worst times of year for producing allergens like pollen and dust. But did you know that seasonal allergies can also affect our pets? In this blog, you’ll learn what symptoms to look for and how to help your furry friend if they show signs of allergies.

What Are Seasonal Allergies?
Like us, dogs and cats can experience allergy symptoms during certain times of the year. Seasonal allergies are caused by various things in the environment that the immune system is hypersensitive to. These various things are called allergens, which can cause pets to have an allergic reaction when exposed. The spring (March-May) and fall (September-November) seasons are typically when most pets will be affected by seasonal allergies, but this can vary based on the weather and your location.

Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies in Pets:
Seasonal allergies typically affect pets around their paws, limbs, mouth, ears, abdomen, groin, armpits, tail, and around the eyes. During the spring and fall seasons, keep a close eye on your pet and watch out for these symptoms that may indicate a seasonal allergy:

  • Itchiness – Scratching, gnawing, licking, chewing, or digging at the skin
  • Skin Lesions – Redness, crusts, black pigmentation or thickening of the skin
  • Odor to the Skin or Ears
  • Head Shaking
  • Pawing at the Eyes, Ears, or Face
  • Watery Eyes
  • Reverse Sneezing
  • Recurring Scooting or Licking of the Anus 
  • Moist Skin

Seasonal allergies can be diagnosed by your veterinarian through a series of tests that will rule out any other conditions that could be causing similar symptoms. Since many common allergy symptoms can progress into more serious conditions, it is important to consult your veterinarian to help you decide the best course of treatment for your pet.

What Could my Pet be Allergic to?
Some of the most common allergens that affect pets seasonally are:

  • Plant and tree pollens
  • Mold spores
  • Yeast and other bacteria
  • Dust and storage mites
  • Fleas 

Treating Seasonal Allergies in Pets:
Seasonal allergies are a chronic condition that has no cure. However, many treatment options are available to manage symptoms and keep your furry friend feeling their best. We recommend consulting a veterinarian to help you determine what course of treatment is best for your pet.
Baths – Bathing your pet with a soothing shampoo will not only remove any allergens from your pet’s skin but also relieve symptoms like itching. Choose a shampoo with gentle ingredients such as coconut to hydrate the skin while minimizing inflammation or one that is formulated specifically for allergies and itch relief. Our experts recommend the OxyMed medicated or hypoallergenic oatmeal shampoos and soothing sprays for bathing pets with seasonal allergies.
Wipe Off Their Coat & Paws – When pets return from being outside, they can carry allergens inside with them. A quick way to combat this without giving them a bath is to use a moist cloth or hypoallergenic pet wipe to wipe down their coat, skin and paws each time they come inside. Tropiclean gentle coconut hypoallergenic wipes work perfectly for this!
Flea & Tick Prevention – Protect your pet from flea or tick irritation by regularly treating them with preventative treatments. Our experts recommend the Advantage II treatment for your canine or feline friends and the K9 Advantix treatment for canines only.
Inside Your Home – Cut down on airborne allergens inside your home by regularly changing air filters, running a dehumidifier to remove moisture and prevent mold and bacterial growth, vacuuming at least once per week, and remember to regularly wash areas that typically pick up allergens like rugs, curtains, blankets, and pet beds.
Dietary Supplements – Coconut oil, fish oils, and fatty acids like omegas 3 and 6 are a natural way to improve your pet’s skin and coat health. They can also help with anal gland irritation during allergy season. Supplementing your pet’s diet with these natural remedies can reduce itching and skin irritation, as well as improve overall coat health. Smart Earth camelina oil is a great source of omega 3 and 6 to help with pet’s allergies, skin and coat, joints and mobility, hearth health and more. Find this and other supplements, including Thrive herring oil, at your local Feeds’n Needs!
*Note – It can take 4-6 weeks for an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to take effect. If your pet is prone to seasonal allergies and skin irritation, we recommend supplementing year-round.
Topical Treatments – There are many topical treatment options that may help treat skin infections or irritation caused by seasonal allergies. These may include anti-bacterial or anti-fungal sprays, ointments, or wipes.
Ear Cleaning – Keeping your pet’s ears clean, especially after a bath or water activities, can help prevent bacterial growth and infections in the ears. Tropiclean dual action ear cleaner will both clean and dry your pets’ ears, working effectively to prevent bacteria.
Veterinary Treatments – Depending on the severity of your pet’s allergic reactions, your veterinarian may prescribe a more aggressive form of treatment such as steroids, antihistamines, or immunotherapy. 

Our experts understand that each pet has its own unique needs, and this applies to seasonal allergies too. Stop by your local Feeds’n Needs to check out our selection of supplements, shampoos, and remedies to help your pet this allergy season!

For more tips and information about your pet’s health and wellbeing, check out some of our other blogs!
Dog Grooming Tips for Spring
What You Need to Know About Your Dog’s Paws
How to Properly Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Benefits of Crate Training Your Dog

Crate training is a frequently overlooked yet highly beneficial training method when bringing a new dog home. Puppies, adults, and senior dogs can all benefit from being crate trained, and it’s a skill they can learn at any age. So, what are the benefits of crate training your dog? Keep reading to find out!

Nurturing Their Instincts:
Did you know that dogs have a natural “denning” instinct? This means that dogs will instinctively seek out small, safe places to take shelter and rest. Crates are a great way to nurture these instincts, providing the dog with a space to retreat where it feels safe and comfortable. Crate training is an important life skill for dogs, as it helps them learn to rest and relax when confined.

Crates can be a safe haven for dogs in many situations, for example:
Rescue Dogs – Crates can comfort fearful or insecure rescue dogs in a new environment. Since dogs feel responsible for their territory, having a smaller space to protect and call their own may help them relax while adjusting to their surroundings.
Senior Dogs – Crates provide senior dogs with a place to rest their achy joints and take naps undisturbed. Senior pets sometimes get overwhelmed if surrounded by other pets or children, and crates offer them a safe place where they can be left alone.
Anxious Dogs – Crates help teach dogs to self-soothe and cope with anxiety. When stressed or frightened, they seek the safety and comfort they know their crate provides.

Housebreaking:
Did you know that crate training is one of the most effective ways to housebreak your dog? Dogs instinctively try to keep their sleeping areas clean, which is where crate training comes in handy. Keeping your puppy in their crate between training sessions and socialization gives them a designated place to rest and teaches them to hold and strengthen their bladder and bowel muscles as they won’t want to soil their sleeping area. When kennel time is over, take your puppy directly outside to their designated potty area to reinforce proper bathroom habits. When choosing a kennel, it’s essential to select one that will give your dog enough room to relax comfortably but not be able to use the bathroom without soiling their sleeping space. For puppies, you could buy several appropriately sized crates as they grow or find a crate that includes a divider so you can adjust the crate size as they grow. Stop by your local Feeds ‘n Needs to see our crate and kennel options selection.

Prevent Hazardous Behavior:
As a dog owner, the last thing we want is to come home to chewed-up furniture or garbage strewn across the room after leaving our dog alone with free rein in the house. Not only is this inconvenient to us, but it’s incredibly dangerous for your dog. Dogs who display destructive behaviour when left alone are at risk of swallowing foreign material or injuring themselves, which could potentially be life-threatening. An easy way to resolve this is to crate-train your dog. While in a crate, there is very little harm your dog can do to your home or themselves, giving you peace of mind knowing that your dog will be safe while you’re out of the house or unable to supervise. Keeping your dog in a crate while you’re out will also prevent them from escaping or getting out of the house if this is something they have tried to do in the past.

Additionally, crate-trained dogs are less likely to develop anxiety disorders, which can lead to destructive behaviour. This is because if they are accustomed to being in a crate, whether you are home or not, they learn to self-soothe themselves and relax while confined.

Transportation:
Keeping your dog in a crate while travelling with them makes road trips safer for them and you. Having a dog loose in a moving vehicle is dangerous, as they can distract the driver, potentially causing an accident or getting them injured if they stumble around or fall while you’re driving. Crating your dog in the car will keep them safe, secure, and out of the driver’s way. Additionally, if you ever take your dog on a flight, so having a dog who is comfortable being kenneled will make the journey less stressful. 

Emergencies / Evacuation:
In an emergency where you may need to make a quick escape or evacuate your home, having a dog trained to go into their crate could save you precious time and reduce the risk of your pet getting lost or injured. Additionally, if there was ever an emergency when you weren’t home, having your dog in a crate will make it easier for first responders or rescuers to locate them than if they were free roaming the house. Crated dogs will also keep first responders safe from your dog if they were to become reactive out of fear.

Vet Visits / Recovery:
If your dog has to spend the night at the vet or a boarding facility, being comfortable in a crate will help them adjust to being crated in a new environment and reduce stress. In extreme cases, your veterinarian may require you to keep your dog on crate rest while recovering from surgery. A crate-trained dog is less likely to suffer complications following surgery since they are used to resting in their crate. Dogs who have never spent time in a crate may feel stressed and fearful, potentially causing more harm to themselves and delaying their recovery.

Stop by your local Feeds‘n Needs to check out our selection of crates and kennels, one of our experts would love to help you choose the right one for your dog!

Disclaimer – Dogs require lots of exercise, socialization, and mental stimulation daily to remain healthy, which is why they should never be left in their crate for prolonged periods. The crate is a tool for you to use when you cannot supervise your dog or when housebreaking a puppy, and it should never be used as a form of punishment for your dog. Consult a knowledgeable dog trainer or veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about crate training your dog.

Dog Grooming Tips for Spring

With spring in full swing, most dogs are saying goodbye to their winter coats, allergens are filling the air, and pests are coming out; now is the perfect time to start a grooming routine for your pet. Here are some important spring (and year-round) grooming tips for your furry friend to feel like their best selves:

Brush:
Dogs with thick winter coats will begin shedding as the weather gets warmer with spring. If your dog has a double coat, they’ll shed their thick undercoat for a light one, which is better for the warmer seasons. Brush them often; this helps remove all that extra fur and keeps their coat smooth. Regular brushing is essential during spring to remove dead hair and prevent mats. Brushing also helps remove dirt and improves circulation to promote healthier skin. Using a slicker brush will help to remove loose hair, followed by a comb to keep your pup’s coat knot-free. Visit your local Feeds’n Needs to see our selection of brushes. Not sure what you are looking for? Our Experts can help!

Bath Time:
Ensure all dead hair and mats are removed from brushing before bathing your dog. If a dog is bathed with mats in their fur, it only makes their hair tighter and harder to brush out. It’s important to regularly wash your dog, particularly during the spring, because pollen and other allergens are most active during this time and can take a toll on your dog’s skin. You should bathe your dog every 21 days to align with their skin rejuvenation cycle. Always use dog-safe shampoo and conditioner to keep their coat healthy and clean and avoid any irritation to your dog’s skin. 

Paws and Noses:
Keep your pup’s paws and noses moisturized with paw ointment to prevent dry or cracked skin. Don’t forget about their nails! When you don’t clip your dog’s nails, they get uncomfortable, and walking can hurt. If you don’t feel comfortable cutting your dog’s nails, try using a nail grinder or filer to maintain them between visits to a professional groomer. After your walks, always check your dog for foreign objects. Remove debris and carefully clean paws, examining each pad for any unwanted objects or injuries.

Smelling Sweet:
Keep your furry friends smelling sweet with a nice smelling dog-safe spritz. This will help them get by until their next bath.

Fleas and Ticks:
Pests like fleas and ticks start showing up more in spring. Be sure to check your pet often. A good time to always watch for them is while brushing and bathing your dog. The more frequently you check your pets, the more likely you are to locate these pests.

* Spring brings… muddy paws! If your dog is covered from head to paw in mud, act fast and wipe them down to prevent mud from drying and setting in. When your dog is dry, brush them with a slicker brush to remove any excess dirt and tangles before bath time. 

Get your pup squeaky clean at one of our Splash’n Dash locations!

The Feeds’n Needs in Berwick, NS, and Woodstock, NB, offer a self-service dog wash (with more locations opening soon)! You can bring your dog in for a $12 self-service wash, where we provide professional tubs, shampoo, towels, and dryers. The cost is only $10 if you bring your own towel.

We can’t wait to see your furry friends soon!

Overseeding Your Lawn in Spring

Is your lawn looking a little dull after a long winter? Don’t worry; the Feeds’n Needs Experts are here to share our top tips and products for bringing your lawn back to life this spring! From preparing your soil and overseeding to fertilizing and maintenance, this blog covers all the basics of springtime lawn care! Great lawns start with Feeds’n Needs!

Prepare Your Soil
Before you can seed your lawn, you need to prepare the soil.

  • Mow the grass: Set your lawn mower to the lowest setting and cut your grass short. Bag the clippings or add them to your compost bin.
  • Rake the lawn: Use a rake to scratch up the top layer of soil on your lawn and remove any dead grass or root buildup called thatch. Thatch buildup can prevent essential water and nutrients from reaching the soil beneath it and cause your grass to look dull and unhealthy.
  • Aerate the soil: Aerate your soil during the spring and fall growing seasons. Aeration helps prevent thatch buildup while allowing water and nutrients to penetrate deeper into the soil and reach the roots of your grass.

Overseeding
Overseeding your lawn in the spring helps cover up any thin or bare spots in your grass and encourages new growth of thick, healthy grass. At Feeds’n Needs, we carry a variety of quality grass seed blends. Ask our Experts which one is best suited for your lawn!

  • Choose a grass seed: When choosing grass seed for your lawn, consider the amount of sunlight or shade it receives and whether you’ll need cool-season or warm-season grass seed. Cool-season grasses are best for planting in spring and early fall when the soil temperature reaches 10 degrees Celsius.
  • Spreading grass seed: To ensure the grass seed is spread evenly across your lawn, fill your spreader and adjust the density setting according to the recommendation on your seed bag.
  • Let it grow: Once you’ve spread your grass seed, you’ll need to water your lawn frequently to keep the soil moist and allow the seeds to germinate.

Fertilizing
Once you’ve spread your grass seed and the new grass has begun growing, adding fertilizer will give your lawn the nutrients it needs to grow and remain healthy.

  • Choose a fertilizer: When new grass begins growing in the spring, a high-nitrogen fertilizer will encourage new leaf growth. We recommend the Cavendish slow-release 21-7-7 fertilizer for springtime lawn maintenance.
  • Spreading fertilizer: Fill your spreader and adjust the settings according to the recommendation on your fertilizer bag. Spread the fertilizer evenly across your lawn, ensuring each area gets covered.
  • Water: Once you’ve spread your fertilizer, continue to water your lawn regularly to allow the fertilizer to sink into the soil and bring nutrients to your growing grass seedlings.

Maintenance

  • Routine watering: Newly seeded and fertilized lawns need about an inch of water each week to promote root growth and vitality. Lightly water once or twice a day to keep the soil moist. Watering may not be necessary if it rains enough in your area.
  • Mowing habits: When your lawn is freshly seeded, avoid mowing until the new grass reaches about 3 inches in height to prevent damage.
  • Regularly Fertilize: Fertilize your lawn every eight weeks to support lush, healthy grass. Visit your local Feeds’n Needs to find fertilizer for every season!

When it comes to keeping a healthy lawn, Feeds’ n Needs is your one-stop shop for all the essentials! Check out our great selection of fertilizers, grass seeds, and more, and don’t forget to ask our Experts which products will work best for you!

For more expert advice on how to maintain a healthy lawn, check out our blog on How to Maintain a Healthy Lawn.

How to Attract Birds to Your Yard

Attract different wild bird species to bring your backyard to life! Many birds in Canada depend on humans to provide them with safe habitats where they can find food and make nests. In return, they help reduce insects in your yard, sing beautiful birdsongs, and are delightful to watch! 

There are four key elements to attracting birds to your yard; our blog will teach you about each one!

Habitat: 

The ideal habitat for wild birds should be diverse in its plant life. Planting different kinds of flowers, trees, shrubs, and bushes that are native to your area will not only effectively attract native bird species, but it will also help to strengthen and preserve your local ecosystem. Ensuring there is plenty of greenery and cover in your backyard will provide birds with a safe place to explore. 

Feed:

One of the best ways to attract birds to your yard is to provide them with a food source. Different species prefer different types of feeders, so try placing a few different kinds around your yard to attract a variety of birds. Feeders should be placed about 10 feet from trees and greenery to allow them to quickly escape from predators if needed. Additionally, different species prefer feeding from different heights, so try hanging your feeders at different levels. Make sure to keep all feeders clean by scrubbing them with one part bleach to nine parts hot water at least once per month. The type of seed you use to fill your feeders will also determine which birds may stop by. Different species have their own unique nutritional requirements and, therefore, will be attracted to different types of seed to meet their dietary needs. Black oil sunflower seeds and suet blocks are great options for feeding your yard’s most incredible variety of birds. Ask the Experts at your local Feeds ‘n Needs about what type of feeder and bird seed you should use to attract a desired bird species!

Water:

Birds require access to water for bathing and hydration year-round, so adding a water source like a bird bath, pond, or fountain can make your backyard even more popular with bird visitors. Try placing a shallow bird bath in your backyard near an area with good, dense greenery in which birds can take cover. Change the water in your bird bath every few days in the summer, and consider investing in a heater or de-icer to keep the water from freezing in the winter. 

Nesting:

Encourage birds to stick around all year by providing safe places to nest in your backyard. Many birds will build nests in dense greenery that provides adequate shelter. However, some bird species, such as bluebirds and chickadees, prefer a more secure, warm shelter to nest. Install birdhouses or nesting boxes on posts or tree trunks in safe areas around your yard for these birds to make nests in. Ensure the entrance hole in your birdhouse is only big enough for the intended species to get through to prevent larger predatorial birds from entering. 

You can also provide birds with materials to nest with by filling a suet cage with organic materials like grass clippings, twigs, dried leaves and even pet hair and hanging it where birds will find it. These organic materials will eventually decompose, so you don’t have to worry about harming the environment!

If you want to start attracting wild birds to your yard, make Feeds ‘n Needs your one-stop destination to find all the essentials you’ll need! Check out our wide selection of quality bird feeders, accessories, and premium bird seeds in our wild bird center! You’ll find that feeding the birds is even more rewarding when you join our Wild Bird Seed Club and start earning 10$ off after every $200 you spend on bird seed. Stop into your local Feeds ‘n Needs and ask one of our Experts for details on the loyalty program and how you can get started feeding the birds!

Are you interested in learning more about wild birds? You may enjoy our other blogs!
Keeping Feeding Areas Clean and Maintained
How to Properly Store Bird Seed
Feeding Wild Birds in Winter

 

Calving Supplies Checklist

When it comes to the birth of new calves, things sometimes go differently than planned. From difficult labor and delivery to dealing with sick, cold newborns, when you’re expecting a pregnant cow to give birth, you need to be prepared for any scenario. Make sure your calving kit is fully stocked and ready to go prior to the due date of the first calf so that even if it’s born early, you’ll be prepared. Our calving supply checklist is a great guide to help you make sure you have everything you need this calving season!

Veterinarian Contact Information

If you plan to own and breed cattle, you’ll want to make sure you know who your local farm veterinarian is and keep their contact information on file in case of an emergency. It’s not uncommon for a cow to require assistance to deliver her calf; however, sometimes, if the farmer cannot get the calf out, a veterinarian must be called to the farm to perform emergency measures. 

Notebook & Pencil

Keep a detailed record of important information, including breeding and due dates, so you have a rough idea of when to expect calves. Record newborn calves’ birth date, sex, birth weight, and any additional information such as the ID numbers of each cow and calf pair, whether or not a bull calf has been castrated, and any health issues noticed.

Calving Pen

Calving areas should be sheltered from cold weather, have clean straw or shavings for bedding, and ideally have a functional chute in case of emergencies requiring medical intervention. Make sure your calving pen has adequate lighting and keep a flashlight close by in case you need to inspect a cow or calf. Stock up on dust-free chopped straw or wood shavings at your local Feeds ‘n Needs.

Heating & Drying Sources

Since they are born covered in amniotic fluid, calves must be quickly dried and warmed up after birth to prevent them from developing hypothermia. A cow should be allowed to lick her calf clean after delivery; however, in cases of cold weather or if the mother does not clean her baby, have towels and blankets ready to dry the calf off and stimulate blood circulation. If a newborn gets chilled, have a warming box or other heat source like hair dryers and heat lamps ready to use to get the calf warm. Use a thermometer to keep track of calves’ temperatures, especially if they are sick or hypothermic. Always sterilize thermometers after use.

Gloves & OB Lubricant

Keep boxes of long and short disposable gloves to protect you and your animals from bacteria entering the body, and always change gloves between working with different animals. If a cow requires assistance delivering her calf, have lots of regular obstetrical lubricant on hand to lubricate the birth canal and your gloved arms to reduce friction and swelling. If your cow may require a C-section, avoid using J-lube to try and get the calf out, as it is toxic to the peritoneal cavity and will be fatal to the cow.

Halter, Rope & OB Chains

Ensure you have clean OB chains and handles ready in case you have to intervene and assist a cow during delivery. Additionally, have a halter and long rope prepared for laying down a cow to make delivery easier. 

Disinfectant

A 7% iodine solution or chlorhexidine should be used to dip the calf’s navel after birth to keep it clean and disinfected. Additionally, you can add these disinfectants to a bucket or squeeze bottle of water to create wash water for cleaning the cow after delivery. Roll cotton soaked in this disinfectant water also works well to wash the cow.

Colostrum & Milk Replacer

The colostrum, or “first milk” a pregnant cow produces, is rich with antibodies and nutrients, which are vital for her calf to receive in the first 4 to 6 hours after birth. Calves should be standing and nursing on their own within 1 hour. Otherwise, you may need to intervene. If you are worried that a calf is not getting colostrum, or if you have a calf too weak to nurse on their own, frozen colostrum or dried colostrum mixed with warm water should be readily available to administer to the calf. Colostrum replacer products should contain a minimum of 100g of lgG per dose. Keep powdered milk replacer on hand for calves that will be bottle fed. Trust Feeds ‘n Needs to provide you with the best quality powdered colostrum and milk replacers to help your calves grow and thrive.

Feeding Supplies

A flexible stomach feeding tube and large syringe may need to be used to administer colostrum to weak or sick calves that are unable to suckle. Be sure to sterilize supplies between calves or keep a second stomach tube on hand to feed sick calves only. Additionally, keep bottle feeding supplies like calf bottles and extra nipples on hand to bottle feed calves that are stronger and able to suckle.

Needles & Syringes

Keep an assortment of sterile needles and syringes in your calving kit for administering supplements, vaccines, antibiotics, or other medications as per your veterinarian’s recommendation. 

Use a bulb syringe to suction amniotic fluid out of newborn’s noses so they can breathe.

Injectables & Supplements

Administering supplements of the vitamins A, D, E, and selenium, as well as a mix of electrolytes for calves, is recommended for newborns. Our experts recommend the AVL Vitaferst-Care oral neonatal supplement for ruminants to give your calves the best start at life. Medications and vaccinations can be administered as per your veterinarian’s recommendation. Additionally, it’s always beneficial to keep scour pills or a prevention solution on hand in the event a calf develops scours and requires immediate treatment. If you do not have access to scour pills from your vet, we recommend administering Calf Renova at the first signs of diarrhea or Calf Perk to get a cold, weak calf to its feet after birth. Ask your local Feeds’ n Needs experts about product availability. 

ID Equipment

Each head of cattle in Canada is required to have a registered CCIA tag before being transported from their farm of origin. These can be bought from an authorized dealer like your local Feeds ‘n Needs store. In addition to CCIA tags, you may want to tag your cattle with an on-farm ID tag, which should be done within the first few days of a calf’s life as cows sometimes swap calves, making future genetic selections inaccurate if calves were not tagged at birth. If you plan to give your calves tattooed ID numbers, ensure all your equipment is clean and in good working order.

Elastrator Rings & Tool

If you plan on castrating bull calves, you will need to make sure you have elastrator rings and the proper elastrator tool. Castration of bull calves is typically done between 1 week and 5 months of age. Be sure to record which calves are being castrated and which are not.

When it comes to calving, expect the unexpected and always be prepared. Stop by your local Feeds ‘n Needs to pick up some essential calving kit items so that you’ll be ready when the first calf arrives!

 

Disclaimer: Feeds ‘n Needs is not qualified to give medical advice or recommendations; please consult your veterinarian for any concerns, vaccine recommendations, etc.