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

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!

Deworming Your Horse

Deworming your horse four times a year is ideal. It is recommended to do it once per season, alternating between various types of dewormer to help keep the parasites from becoming immune to the ingredients. If symptoms persist, contact your veterinarian. 

Our Equine Worming Products:
Panomec (1.87% Ivermectin):
Treats large and small strongyles, threadworms, pinworms, ascarids, hairworms, large mouth stomach worms, and bots.
Safe for horses of all ages, pregnant mares, and foals over eight weeks.

 

Strongid P (6.6% Pyrantel Pamoate):
Treats large and small strongyles, pinworms, ascarids, and tapeworms.
Safe for horses, pregnant mares, and foals over eight weeks.

 

IVL Ivermectin Liqiud (Ivermectin):
Treats internal nematodes and bots.
Safe horses of any age, pregnant mares, foals over eight weeks

 

Quest (2% Moxidectin):
Treats large and small strongyles, roundworms, stomach worms, pinworms, hairworms, integumentary microfilariae, tapeworms, and bots.
*MUST HAVE SPECIFIC WEIGHT OF HORSE AS YOU CAN EASILY OVERDOSE ON QUEST PRODUCTS*
Safe for horses, ponies 16 weeks +, and pregnant mares.

 

Quest Plus (2% Moxidectin & 12.5% Praziquantel):
Treats large and small strongyles, roundworms, stomach worms, pinworms, hairworms, integumentary microfilariae, tapeworms, largemouth stomach worms, and bots.
*MUST HAVE SPECIFIC WEIGHT OF HORSE AS YOU CAN EASILY OVERDOSE ON QUEST PRODUCTS*
Safe for horses, ponies 16 weeks +, and pregnant mares.

 

Safeguard (10% Fenbendazole):
Treats large and small strongyles, roundworms, and pinworms.
Safe for horses, ponies, foals, and pregnant mares.

 

Eqvalan Gold (1.55% Ivermectin & 7.75% Praziquantel)
Treats tapeworms, large and small strongyles, threadworms, pinworms, roundworms, hairworms, large mouth stomach worms, and bots. 

Eqvalan Gold is the most popular broad-spectrum wormer we sell.
*NOT SUITABLE FOR PREGNANT MARES*
Safe for foals over eight weeks, horses and ponies.

 

PowerMectin (1.87% Ivermectin):
Treats large and small Strongyles, intestinal threadworms, pinworms, ascarids, hairworms, largemouth stomach worms, neck threadworms, and bots.
Safe for horses, pregnant mares, and foals over eight weeks.

Worms by Season:
Spring: Roundworm/Tapeworm
Summer: Roundworm/Small Redworm
Fall: Encysted Redworm/Tapeworm/Bots
Winter: Tapeworm/Pinworm

At Feeds’n Needs, we think your horse deserves the best care! Stop by your local Feeds’n Needs, and one of our Experts can show you our selection of worse dewormers and help you find the right one.

Check out our other horse blogs!
Maintaining Your Horses Health

Why Guinea Pigs Need Vitamin C

Guinea pigs are wonderful pets that are a joy to observe and interact with, and they have something in common with us humans that no other companion pet does! Did you know that guinea pigs can’t make their own vitamin C in their bodies like most other animals do? Just like humans, they have to get it through their food. As a responsible piggie parent, it’s your job to ensure that your guinea pig’s diet meets their unique nutritional requirements, and we’re here to teach you all about it!

Why is Vitamin C so Important?
The body needs vitamin C to make collagen, a building block for all kinds of different issues. This means that vitamin C plays an important role in keeping skin, joints, gums, and the whole immune system healthy and helping wounds heal.

What Happens if Guinea Pigs Don’t Get Enough Vitamin C?
Most guinea pigs need between 10 and 30mg of vitamin C per day to maintain good health. Any excess that is not required will be excreted through the urine and will not be absorbed through the body. Piggies who are still growing, pregnant, nursing, or sick may require extra vitamin C in their diet as recommended by your veterinarian.

Deficiency in vitamin C is generally referred to as ‘scurvy’ and in guinea pigs, will typically present itself as the following symptoms:

  • Poor coat
  • Swelling and ulcers on the skin or gums/mouth area
  • Diarrhea
  • Poor appetite
  • Swollen joints and difficulty moving
  • Lethargy
  • Issues with wound healing

How do you Supplement Vitamin C in the Diet?
While a guinea pig’s diet should include around 80% hay, a portion of formulated guinea pig food, as well as fresh vegetables and fruit, must be fed daily to supplement them with the required vitamin C.

  • Packaged Food: Guinea pig food you buy at the store should be of good quality and contain high amounts of vitamin C in a stabilized form. Vitamin C is considered a relatively “unstable” vitamin, meaning it will break down over time, especially if exposed to light, heat, and moisture. Because of this, your guinea pig may not receive the amount of vitamin C listed on the bag. It is always recommended to follow the manufacturer’s “best before” recommendation and try to feed the entire bag of food within 90 days after opening to ensure that your guinea pig does not become deficient. It is also important to monitor whether or not your piggie is eating all the food given to them. Many mixed guinea pig foods contain “extras” such as dried fruit, seeds and nuts alongside the fortified pellets containing added vitamin C. However, these pellets are typically the least appealing to guinea pigs, and they will often pick out the “extras,” leaving the nutritionally balanced pellets behind. Our experts recommend feeding your guinea pigs a purely pelleted formulation to ensure that they consume the required vitamins and nutrients. Check out our selection of quality guinea pig food options in store!
  • Vegetables & Fruit: Besides pellets, the other primary source of vitamin C for guinea pigs is fresh vegetables and occasionally fruit. Feed a portion of veggies that are high in vitamin C each day, such as leafy greens, but be cautious not to overfeed veggies or fruits that are high in sugar (leads to obesity or intestinal issues) or high in calcium (guinea pigs are predisposed to bladder stones). Check this detailed chart to help you decide which fruits and veggies are safe for your guinea pigs: https://guineadad.com/blogs/news/guineadad-veggie-masterlist-what-kinds-of-vegetables-can-your-guinea-pig-eat

At Feeds ‘n Needs, we think your animals deserve the best, and that’s why we are proud to offer top-quality nutrition solutions for pets of all sizes! Stop by your local Feeds ‘n Needs, and one of our experts can show you our selection of guinea pig foods your piggie will be sure to love! We are always happy to answer any questions you may have!

Are you interested in learning more about small animals? Check out our related blog posts!
Small Animal Dental Health

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. 

Lambing Supplies Checklist

The arrival of new lambs can be exciting and busy, so the best way to guarantee a smooth lambing season is to ensure you are well-prepared in advance. In this blog, we will review the essential supplies that every shepherd should have on hand before the arrival of any lambs. 

Notebook & Pencil

Have a notebook to record all contact between ewes and rams, and use a gestation table to calculate approximate due dates. Knowing roughly when to expect lambs to be born allows you to ensure you have all supplies on hand at least a week before due dates. 

Use this notebook to keep track of other things, such as ewe and lamb ID numbers or colors, any health issues you have noticed, etc.

Lambing Pen

Ewes and their newborns should have an isolated pen away from the rest of the flock for the first several days after birth to allow a safe place for them to bond. The pen should be at least 5’ x 5’, and bedding should be kept clean and dry to prevent infection, especially after lambs are born. 

Lighting

Keep bright flashlights or headlamps nearby if your barn does not have great lighting. If a lamb arrives at night, you’ll need a good light source to assist the ewe and her newborn.

Heat Sources

Newborn lambs are susceptible to hypothermia, so several methods to warm a chilled lamb can be vital to survival. Hair dryers, warming boxes, and heat lamps are all great ways to get a lamb warm after birth when used with caution. You can also place a lamb’s body in a plastic bag with its head sticking out and sit it in a warm water bath to quickly raise its body temperature without affecting its smell.

Digital Thermometer
Monitor lamb’s temperature to ensure it isn’t too cold or sick. A normal temperature for a lamb is 38.8°C to 39.4°C, if the temperature drops below 37.7°C, the lamb is hypothermic.

Towels and Paper Towel

Lambs are born covered in amniotic fluid which the mother ewe should clean off. While this is important for their bonding, you may need to assist the ewe and help get the baby dry using towels or paper towels to prevent the lamb from getting cold.

Bulb Syringe

The use of a bulb syringe may be required to suck any amniotic fluid out of a newborn lamb’s nostrils after birth to allow it to breathe.

Iodine Spray or Dip

Whether or not you decide to cut a newborn lamb’s umbilical cord using sterile scissors, the navel can serve as a pathogen pathway to a lamb, and it is vital that the area be kept clean. Use a 10% iodine spray or dip solution to keep the area disinfected, and make sure that the lambing pen has clean bedding. 

Lubricant

Keep some OB lubricant on hand in case it’s needed. This can be helpful to lube up a thermometer, getting a lamb’s head unstuck during birth, or lubricating your arm and any needed birthing tools if the ewe requires help while giving birth. 

Gloves

Keep boxes of long and short gloves to use when handling lambs and ewes to prevent bacteria from entering your body. Be sure to use different gloves when handling different sheep to avoid the potential spread of infection.

Colostrum & Milk Replacer

Lambs need to nurse during the first 24 hours of their life to receive the nutrients and antibodies from the ewe’s first milk, called colostrum. Before a lamb can nurse, you must strip the wax plug from the ewe’s teats and ensure her milk flows. If a lamb is rejected by its mother, or if you have a lamb that is too weak to nurse, have powdered or frozen colostrum that you can warm and feed to them as they must receive this vital colostrum within their first 8 hours of life. It is also a good idea to keep a lamb milk replacer on hand in case of a rejected lamb that may need to be bottle-reared. 

Feeding Supplies

A flexible stomach feeding tube and large syringe can feed weak or cold lambs that can’t suckle on their own. Additionally, keep bottle-feeding supplies on hand, including lamb bottles and nipples, to feed stronger and able-to-suckle lambs, such as a triplet or rejected lamb. 

Needles & Syringes

Have a variety of sterile needles and syringes to be used to administer any injectables or vaccines as recommended by your veterinarian. 

Injectables & Supplements

Injectable vitamins A, D, and E with Selenium may be given after birth, as well as injectable antibiotics or vaccines per your veterinarian’s recommendation. Additionally, it can be beneficial to keep a propylene glycol solution on hand to help an exhausted ewe regain her energy after birth. This is especially helpful for ewes who have given birth to twins or triplets. 

Elastrator Rings and Tool

If you plan on castrating ram lambs not intended for breeding, you will want to make sure you have elastrator rings and the appropriate elastrator tool to castrate within the first week of the ram’s life. The same rings and tool can be used to dock a lamb’s tail. Unless you plan on leaving your lambs with their natural long tails, they will need to be docked within the first few days of their lives.

ID Tags & Applicator

Animals intended to be sold and shipped must have registered CCIA tags which can be purchased from an authorized dealer. You may also want to tag your lambs using a different tag to use as an on-farm ID. Use your notebook to keep track of animal ID’s!

Marker Crayons or Spray

Identify your animals more easily by marking your ewes and lambs with colored ID-marking crayons or sprays. Use this method to keep track of twin lambs, mother and lamb pairs, banded ram lambs, etc. Keep notes of your ewes and their lambs in your notebook.

Get prepared for lambing season with a trip to your local Feeds ‘n Needs! Our stores carry a variety of essential supplies to ensure that you can be well-prepared for the arrival of new lambs! Our Experts will be happy to help you find what you need!

 

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

Spring Cleaning Your Coop
Spring Cleaning Your Coop

Spring Cleaning Your Coop

Springtime is just around the corner, which means it’s time for some spring cleaning. With the days getting longer and temperatures getting warmer, it’s the perfect time to deep clean your chicken coop and prepare your chickens for the season ahead.

Do a Health Check:
With the change of seasons, it is important to perform a quick health check on your birds. Check for overgrown beaks or toenails that need to be clipped, any abnormalities to their feet, cuts or wounds that require treatment, and ensure no mites or lice are hiding in their feathers.

Coop Cleaning: Step by Step
Wintertime typically leads to a messy chicken coop since birds aren’t out free-ranging, and cold temperatures make cleaning or repairs more challenging. This is why when spring arrives, thoroughly cleaning your coop and all supplies is essential to keeping your birds healthy and happy.

1. Remove and Clean Accessories
When you’re cleaning out your coop, you first want to remove any moveable accessories such as feeders, waterers, nesting boxes, broody cages, etc. Take any dirty bedding out of the nesting boxes and use a putty knife or scraper to remove any residue inside of them. Use a non-toxic cleaner or Dawn dish soap with a scrub brush to give those accessories a good scrub until clean. Rinse everything thoroughly and set in the sun to dry. If the winter weather was harsh on some of your feeders and waterers, be sure to stop by your local Feeds’ n Needs to find quality poultry essentials to last you for seasons to come!

2. Clear Out Dirty Bedding
Next, use a shovel to remove all the old bedding in your coop. You can use a broom to sweep the floors and the walls or ceilings to get rid of any remaining debris. Lice and mites are known to hide during the day, so it is important to pay extra attention to areas like corners and edges, under roosts and in between seams of the floor when cleaning out your coop. Mixing equal parts water and vinegar, you can make an at-home, non-toxic cleaning solution to spray down all the walls, floors and other surfaces in your coop and thoroughly scrub before putting everything back inside. This is also the perfect time to spray or dust any products to eliminate mites or lice if you have an issue with them. We carry a variety of easy-to-use products that will help you rid your coop and flock of pests in no time.

3. Inspect Your Coop
While your coop is empty and clean, thoroughly inspect it. The best defense against predators is having a safe coop to protect your birds. Check your coop for any loose boards, nails, or hardware, large or small holes that predators could fit through, leaks in the roof, and holes or weak points in your fencing. Be sure to make necessary repairs as soon as possible to prevent unwanted visitors from harming your flock.

4. Put Everything Back Together
Once your coop is clean and dry and repairs have been made if needed, refill your coop and nesting boxes with clean bedding of your choice. Our bales of pine shavings and dust-free chopped straw make excellent bedding options for your coop year-round. You can replace heated waterers with regular ones; keep an eye on the temperature forecast to ensure the water won’t freeze. Warm spring days often lead to cold nights, so be diligent. Fill feeders with fresh food and return your chickens to their clean coop!

Stop by your local Feeds ‘n Needs store to view our large selection of poultry essentials, which will help you get your spring coop cleaning under way!

For more tips, tricks, and information about raising and owning chickens, check out our related blogs:
Hen’s Health Throughout the Seasons
Prep Your Coop for Chicks
Livestock Bedding Options