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Archive | Livestock

Stockmanship: 7 Lessons for Success

Pigs raised outdoors.

That highlights lesson one of my continuing life course of study in stockmanship. It is, simply, go out and go out often to look at, listen to and really study the animals in your charge.

I was raised in a house full of books and given a pretty broad view of my world from the seat of an old Studebaker pickup, atop many a sale barn gate, and perched on straw bales at livestock shows and breeder auctions. Dad began and ended each day with the stock, and I believe he could eventually spot one just when it was starting to get sick.

1. Observation

Thirty minutes just before full light and just before sunset are optimal times to walk among the creatures in your care. During those times they are generally more closely grouped, are settling in or rising up from a night of rest and are more easily approached for closer examination. These are also times when livestock are more vulnerable to predation.

I find much benefit in watching hogs rise up and come off of their beds. It is at that moment that they will demonstrate the earliest signs of lameness, their feet and legs are most observable, and they will often then demonstrate early respiratory ill precursors in the form of coughing, sniffling and/or labored breathing. Those last animals off of the beds and slow movers should be noted for further observation.

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Healing Clay: How to Harness the Power of Clay to Heal Your Horses and Pastures

For centuries, clay has been used to heal both livestock and pastures.

One of my horses, an 8-yeaphoto1r-old mare, came in from the pasture walking with a distinct limp. I found that she had a horizontal cut (3/8 of an inch deep by 1¾ inches long) on the fleshy back of her left foreleg’s pastern, just above the bulbs of the heel. An equine veterinarian inspected the wound and advised me that healing would be slow due to the wound site’s new tissue being flexed with each step. He also assured me that after healing, the previously able animal would always be lame from scar tissue forming too close to a tendon.

Swelling soon occurred on the leg from the wound up to the knee joint. Periodically, I support-wrapped the leg from fetlock (joint just above pastern) up to the knee with elastic banding cloth. The cut began to heal with applications of a comfrey gel, but after a week the new tissue cracked open because of November’s change to colder, drier air. Healing stopped. Later, I realized that applications of a moisturizing salve had been needed.

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Starting a Small-Scale Livestock Venture: Understanding Market Considerations

Kelly Klober

Farmer sitting near pigsA number of years ago a neighbor called with questions about starting a purebred swine operation in our area. It was going to be based on a breed not already present in the area, but one that was well-regarded and had been used often to produce some good, rugged cornfield shoats across the Midwest.

I agreed that it was a good idea as the breed was one that we had once considered. I was about to advise a small, careful start when he told me that they had already purchased 30 gilts and two rather pricey breeding boars. Within two years they were out of the purebred swine business. It was a case of too much too soon.

MARKET RESEARCH
A livestock venture and the market for it tend to begin small, and it will take time for both of them to develop. Along with acquiring needed skills and experiences, the producer must determine to what level of production the venture can be grown and continue to garner good selling prices and returns.

Price is set by the quality of the output and the demand for it. The producer can certainly shape the quality and, to an extent, have control over the amount of output (at least from his or her farm into nearby markets where most direct sales are generated). Before selling a single boar of his chosen breed our neighbor had the numbers in place and the money spent to be producing them by the score.

It is a mistake that we have all made, and some of us have made it several times. A young man of our acquaintance once ordered 50 quail chicks, grew them out with comparative ease and sold them quickly for a tidy profit. He next placed an order for 1,000 quail chicks, and the results were disastrous.

Small creatures though they may be, 1,000 quail chicks taxed his facilities, almost immediately problems began to arise that were beyond his level of experience, and a market that bought 50 and wanted a few more had no need for them by the hundreds. His losses of birds and dollars were substantial.

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Snap! Build a Weasel Trap to Protect Your Poultry

The weasel trap

Simple, non-toxic, and effective weasel traps.

It’s another idyllic evening on your patch of rural heaven. Tired from a long day, you drop off to the Land of Nod. Not all is not peaceful in the kingdom this night, though. A feathered commotion shatters your slumber. What could it be? Grabbing the flashlight, and perhaps your trusty scattergun, you plunge into the inky darkness to defend your livestock. Needless to say, mayhem ensues and your flashlight reveals your worst fears. A weasel has been on a murderous rampage. What do you do when nature invades the coop? Bite back!

What Is a Weasel?

Few wild creatures have the reputation for barnyard mayhem that the tiny weasel does. A member of the mustelid family, it shares the same bloodlust as its cousins the mink and wolverine. Tipping the scales at just a few ounces and barely a foot long, this tiny hunter is well-equipped for relentless pursuit of a meal. Slim and slinky, it is astounding the cracks they can crawl through to get into a rabbit hutch. Poultry fencing is no barrier either, and they can find a way into any building.

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Tips for Marketing and Selling Your Pork

446px-American_Pork_Cuts.svg

How to Get Started with Marketing Pork

When marketing pork, you get to pick the level of information that you share with your customer tribe on a regular basis. It has been my experience that most folks are interested in the general picture, but not the nitty-gritty details. That said, maybe your tribe is. Follow your heart to find out what your farm brand is all about. Developing a unique voice, the one you use for all of your farm brands marketing efforts, is part of the work of cultivating your tribe of die hard customers who absolutely love your products.

Using a combination of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and a farm website in a cohesive manner is an effective way to put your farm presence out into the world. A well-designed website with information about you, your farm, your farm products and regular updates on your activities provides a professional backbone to the rest of your Internet presence. I highly recommend updating your website’s blog at least once a week — it is hard to do that in the busy seasons, but it will grow content for your website that otherwise would become a static and boring page that is not often visited by even your most loyal fans. Keep the look of your website updated, and streamline the information and features so that people can easily find what they are seeking. You can never go wrong with a post that includes baby animal pictures. DIY ideas are very sought after, as well as cooking ideas for your products. In fact, including cooking ideas and pictures of your product is one of the most important aspects of your web presence — the more delicious ideas for your products that you can share, the better the odds are that a potential customer will buy your products to try them out for themselves.

Tips for Marketing Pork

• Begin by making sure you have all your bases covered in regards to
rules and regulations.
• Get your pig transportation and pork delivery methods set up, or at
least have an idea and a plan of how you will go about solving these
critical logistics.
• Create the backbone of your Internet presence — your website — with
the help of web-savvy friends, business partners, or pay for professional
web design services.

Marketing pork

Offering samples is a smart way to get the word out about your pork

• Begin your social media campaign immediately, and spend time every
day updating it all.
• Go out into the world and sample the heck out of your product.
• Work with event people to be showcased at relevant gatherings.
• Make sure your pork ordering webpage is clear and attractive. Include
information on payment, shipping costs and delivery schedule.
• Set up your inventory system so that you have a general idea of what
you have on hand at any given time. You should be ready to fulfill
orders when you add an email link or phone number for customers
to submit orders and begin to advertise your pork and request orders
on your social media or any other marketing materials you produce.
When a customer emails you or calls you with an order you can now
create an invoice in Paypal or other format. Utilizing online invoicing
or a simple invoice pad and cash/check system is up to your preference,
but definitely keep an ear open and listen to what your customers
want. After you receive your orders for the week, it is time to map
out your delivery route. Your invoices become your packing list.
• Deliver your products on the correct date and time with a smile.

Andrew French and his wife, Khaiti, own Living the Dream Farm (www.ltdfarm.com, www.farmerkhaiti.wordpress.com) in western Wisconsin, a 39-acre small-scale and diversified eco-farm, raising pastured ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys, pigs and produce for a unique CSA program.

These tips appear in the October 2015 issue of Acres U.S.A.

Teff Grass as Alternative Forage for Horses

teff erte_002_lhp

Bermudagrass has long been popular as forage for horses, but teff grass has potential as an alternative. Teff is not only palatable for the horses but they’ve shown some preference for it in certain situations, according to a study at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Teff has become popular in the western United States as a horse forage but not yet in the rest of the nation. “There seems to be indecision about it as far as I can tell,” said Ken Coffey, an animal science professor who supervised the study. “It’s getting easier to get seed for it now than in the past, so more people are trying it under different conditions to see if it will work or not.” The researchers compared horses’ preference for teff at four different growth stages with that of Bermudagrass harvested at two maturity stages. The results showed that the horses preferred the teff grass harvested at vegetative growth stages over even vegetative Bermudagrass.

This article appears in the July 2015 issue of Acres U.S.A.