Managing Livestock in The Heat

Written by: Cassie Holloway, General Manager of The Mill of Whiteford

Summer has officially arrived, and our livestock and horses are feeling it. This time of year, it is vital to keep your animals as cool and comfortable as possible to keep production and performance high. Make sure all animals have plenty of access to shade and cool water throughout the day. If possible, move water troughs under trees or into a shaded area. This will not only help keep your water cooler, but it will also decrease the water lost to evaporation. It will also encourage animals to drink sufficient amounts of water, as they don’t have to leave the comfort of the shade. Increasing the number of water sources is also beneficial, as it provides more opportunity for non-dominant animals to have an access point from which to drink. In your barns, put up fans and open windows to keep the air fresh and moving.  

Use caution with letting your animals have access to ponds to cool off. Generally, the animals will defecate in the ponds, which contributes an increase in bacterial populations. In turn, this can cause issues with udder infections in dairy cows and can result in various other infections if animals have cuts on their legs or feet. Rather than allowing them to stand in a pond, it can be helpful to dampen the barnyard (as long as it’s shaded) to give them a cool place to lay. Pigs love nothing more than a shallow, muddy or water-filled depression to lay in when they get hot, although this does not apply to other livestock species. 

Most animals will also decrease their food consumption, both because they don’t feel particularly inspired to eat when they are too hot, and because of the heat produced during digestion. To help with intake, consider changing the times animals are fed to the early morning and late evening hours, when ambient temperatures are cooler. Some species respond well to having moisture added to their feed.  

If your animals have substantially gone off feed, and you know it’s not the result of a medical condition, consider feeding animals a diet that is more nutrient dense, allowing them to eat less while still maintaining an adequate nutrient intake. Fat has a lower heat index and a higher energy density than fiber or carbohydrates, making it a good way to account for decreases in feed intake while meeting the requirements for dietary energy. For animals that require a large percentage of dietary fiber, such as cattle, horses, sheep, and goats, make sure it is high quality fiber which requires less energy and produces less heat during digestion.  

As with any changes to diet formulations, make sure the formulations are meeting the nutrient requirements of the animal, including vitamins and minerals. Vitamin and mineral requirements change with the heat, especially electrolytes, even in species that don’t use sweat as their main solution to being over-heated. Talk to a nutritionist or your vet to determine if your animal needs an additional mineral supplement to get through the summer months.  

With light skinned animals, especially pigs, keep an eye out for sunburn. Animals that are highly susceptible should be put inside during the hottest parts of the day, and only let out when the sun is at a lower intensity or during the night. Just ensure they are still receiving sufficient ventilation wherever the animals are placed, and that they have access to cool, fresh water. There are also sunscreen options available, although properly applying them can be tricky. 

Flies and other warm season parasites will also contribute to decreased production and performance during the warm season months. Many grazers won’t leave the relative safety of shaded run-ins or trees during the day in an attempt to avoid flies and heat. Fly control is a vital component to keeping animals comfortable and performing. Options include mineral with feed- through fly control, topical treatments, treated fly strips for mineral feeders, cattle fly rubs and dust bags, insecticidal ear tags for cattle, and barn spray systems.  

Feed-through fly treatments are great low maintenance options, but they take longer to work and have a recommended start in early spring in the Mid-Atlantic region, approximately 30 days prior to the beginning of fly season. Feed-through fly control is not a complete fix by itself, so you’ll need to use other options along with your feed-through program. For cattle and horses, topical treatments are a lower cost option as long as you are able to get close enough to your animals to apply them. Treated strips, rubs, and dust bags are good options if you don’t want to bring your animals in from the pasture just to apply fly control. Remember, the strips, rubs, and dust bags need to be refreshed every so often relative to your herd size and the fly control product being used. Be sure to read the label of any fly control product you use to ensure the product is appropriate for the animal that is being treated and to be certain you’re controlling the pests you need to control. 

The biggest goal of an animal manager during the summer months should be to keep his or her animals cool and comfortable. This will help ensure they stay healthy and continue to produce and perform at a high level. It is well worth your time and money to invest in some of the above recommendations. If you need additional help in assessing what practices you might implement into your operation, visit your local feed store. Most have experienced experts on-hand that would love to discuss concerns or questions you may have to get your livestock through the hot summer months. Your local Extension office is another source for valuable information pertaining to managing your animals through the heat of the summer.  

Items of Interest

Help Your Horse Weather Winter

This article is highly recommended by our Equine Nutritionist, Michelle Jennings. It was written by Diane E. Rice. To read the full article click HERE.

Items of Interest

Help Your Horse Weather Winter

This article is highly recommended by our Equine Nutritionist, Michelle Jennings. It was written by Diane E. Rice. To read the full article click HERE.

Items of Interest

Don’t miss out on our 12 Days of Christmas specials (specifically the items on 12/18 & 12/19)

Why feed the birds?

Written by: Brenda Holloway, Wildlife Product Manager

Many customers enjoy feeding wild birds during the winter months, and there are some that feed all year round. Not only does this bring a variety of pleasant colors and sounds to a yard, but placing feeders and planting native plants also provides a valuable service to the local ecosystem. Wild birds do a great job of controlling insects in the spring and summer. Douglas Tallamy, professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, has observed that chickadees raising a brood of chicks will use 350 to 750 caterpillars every day to feed their young. Additionally, adult robins will eat a variety of different insects during the day, including grasshoppers and spiders, and can eat up to 14 feet of earth worms in a single day! Thus, attracting wild birds to your yard will go a long way toward pest management in your neighborhood. 

As the temperatures start to drop with the approach of winter, and plants begin to go dormant, wild birds start to feel the pressure of fewer food options. This is a great time to attract wild birds. Wild birds like a variety of seed, nut, and fruit options, and picking a bird seed with a blend of items will attract many different species of birds. Not only does this provide you with greater visual entertainment but having a variety of wild birds is great for your yard come spring, as different species of birds prefer eating different species of insects!  

In addition to providing a variety of seeds, it is good to provide multiple feeder types. Different birds prefer different styles of eating. Cardinals, for example, prefer feeding on flat surfaces, and often you will see them eating on the ground underneath a bird feeder, cleaning up what other birds may have discarded. Nuthatches are one of the few birds that can hop headfirst down a tree and enjoy tubular feeders with peanut splits or other nuts in them that encourage this natural behavior.  

Wild birds are a great and easy way to keep your lawn and local ecosystem in balance. By providing food for them, especially in the cold winter months, you are encouraging the wild birds to establish themselves in your area. This helps decrease your local insect population, keeping both you and your plants happy through the spring, summer, and fall! 

Items of Interest

Wild Bird Sale November 9th-25th


Make Those Fleas Flee

Written by: Brenda Holloway, Pet Product Manager

The key to winning any battle, including one against fleas, is understanding your enemy. Fleas prefer temperatures around 65-80 oF, and humidity levels around 75-85%, which means you’ll most likely see them during the summer months. Although we tend to think fleas as being only on your pet but flea eggs and larva develop in the surrounding environment. This means you’ll need to treat your pet and the area where he or she roams.

Fleas are pesky when they’re inside a home, but controlling fleas outside poses a much larger problem due to chemical pesticide restrictions and wildlife reintroducing fleas to a clean lawn. Luckily for pet owners, outside fleas will die off as temperatures drop in the fall. So how do you manage the fleas on your pet and in your house?

There are different options to manage fleas on your pet, including spot-on treatments, shampoos, dusts, sprays, and prescription medicines. Be sure to consider using a product that fights all life stages of fleas. Adult fleas will lay their eggs on your pet, which then fall off and stay in the environment. By using a treatment that works on all life stages, you decrease the chance of adding more fleas to the area. When using spot-on topical treatments, it is important to make contact with your pet’s skin. These treatments need to be absorbed through the skin to be effective. Fleas like to live directly on the skin or very close to it, which is why shampoos need the opportunity to soak into the pet’s coat and to make contact with the fleas.

Once you begin eliminating fleas on your pet and in the environment, it is vital to avoiding re-infesting your pet. Foggers, or flea bombs, are a great starting point indoors. They work by releasing a gas that is toxic to fleas. However, they won’t reach fleas that are in crevices or that are deep in the fibers of a thick carpet or rug. Additionally, foggers need 8 hours to diffuse from a room and during that time no animals, including humans, should enter the area. They should also not be used around food. Separate from foggers, there are various dusts and sprays that can be used indoors on different surfaces, including upholstery. All bedding should also be washed in hot, soapy water. Vacuums are also very helpful! As long as you empty the canister or bag immediately after vacuuming. Unfortunately, this process may need to be repeated often while trying to eliminate the fleas, as they have a 2-3 week life cycle in ideal conditions.

If you’ve recently won the war or haven’t experienced the frustration of a flea infestation, take it from us, you want to put your pet on a preventative flea control schedule and now is the time to do it. Keep your pets flea-free next spring and summer by starting now!

Items of Interest

All Flea & Tick Products are 15% OFF during the month of October!

It's Bulb Season!

Written by: Brenda Holloway, The Mill Home & Garden Specialist

One of the favorite times of year for amateur and master gardeners alike is fall bulb season! Bulbs are a great way to bring low maintenance, lasting color to your flowerbeds. Bulbs need planting once evening temperatures are getting down to around 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the ground gets cooler. This is important because bulbs must experience an extended period of cold (winter), but they also need time to settle into the soil; by planting them a few weeks before the first frost, they have the opportunity to develop a strong root system and experience a cold spell. Luckily though, for us procrastinators, one of the nice things about bulbs is that they are pretty hardy, so even if you plant them a little (or much) later, there’s a good chance some of them will come up.

When determining where to plant your bulbs, it’s important to consider a few things. First, they need to be planted in soil that drains well; bulbs do not like wet feet, so they need porous soil. Second, consider the height of each plant and when they will come up. If your plants all come up at the same time, you don’t want to plant tall plants in front of the short plants or you won’t be able to see the short plants. However, if the short plants are early bloomers, and the tall plants late bloomers, then it’s better to plant the tall plants in front of the short, in order to hide the short plants as they die off. Finally, when it comes to placing the bulbs in the ground, a good rule of thumb is that small bulbs get planted shallower (~4” deep) and bigger bulbs get planted deeper (~8” deep). When planting, make sure the roots face down, and the pointy end (area where the plant will grow) faces up. If you’re not sure which end are the roots and which end is the plant, just put the bulb in the ground on its side; as it starts to grow, the plant will most likely work its way up to the surface on its own.

Once planted in the ground, give your bulbs a good water to stimulate the roots, but don’t water them anymore after that. Also, don’t worry about late frosts as your plants start breaking through the ground in the spring. Bulbs are hardy, and are prepared for early frosts. It is possible that early blooms may be knocked out if the frost is bad

Items of Interest

Take a look at the Neverland Bulb Company’s video above! Visit their page to learn more.

Keeping Your Horse Healthy

Written by: Mill Jennings, The Mill Equine Specialist

Reduce parasite reproduction and contamination of the environment by creating a deworming program.

The Problem:

Parasites are becoming resistant to current de-worming products. This causes de-worming products to be less effective. Horse health can be adversely affected with a heavy parasite burden (colic, chronic coughing, poor keeper, poor performance, unthrifty, internal organ damages, etc.).

How has this happened?

  • Overuse of de-worming products
  • Inappropriate use of de-worming products
  • Not knowing what parasites were present when de-worming
  • Deworming according to the calendar
  • Treating all horses the same when de-worming
  • Many other factors affecting grazing practices and pasture management

These are just a few of the major contributing factors.

What can we do?

Performing fecal egg counts on a regular basis and tailoring your deworming program based on these results is the single most important thing you can do to improve your parasite control strategy. Treat with the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time, in the right horse.

Good Pasture Management Practices (that may help)

  • Rotate pastures
  • Do not overcrowd pastures
  • Plant annuals such as winter wheat
  • Rotate livestock species in pastures when possible
  • Quarantine and deworm all new horses prior to introduction to the heard
  • Remove feces from grazing areas on a regular basis (every few days)
  • Avoid feeding on the ground
  • Harrow pastures only when climatic conditions (hot summer temps) will kill the developing parasites
  • Leave freshly dragged pastures empty for several weeks to allow the weather to kill the maximum number of parasites.

There are three classes of dewormers

  • Benzimidazoles (Fenbendazole, Oxibendazole)
  • Pyrantel (Strongid)
  • Macrocyclic lactones (Ivermectin, Moxidectin)

How to make sure the proper dose is given

Here is a way to estimate your horse’s weight

  • Measure heart girth (directly behind elbow)
  • Measure body length (from point of shoulder to point of buttocks)
  • girth X girth X length ÷330 = body weight

Consult your veterinarian if there are any questions concerning your horse’s fecal egg count results and recommendations about your deworming program.

Balancing the Equine Diet based on Forage Quality

Testing your hay will help you to know what to put into your feed bucket. All hay is not created equal and will often vary in nutrients depending upon when it is cut, the weather, the soil conditions and differences in fields. Hay analysis can give us specific nutrient values to work with and to help us better balance the horse’s diet. Testing will allow us to understand the overall quality of the hay and how it fits into the total diet.

When balancing a horse’s diet in general it is done in the following order:

  1. Digestible Energy (DE)
  2. Protein
  3. Minerals & Vitamins

Balancing DE in the Equine Diet

We must remember that calorie recommendations are just that – each horse is an individual and we need to feed them according to their body condition. I have included the calorie requirements below. These calorie requirements are designed for the horse’s total diet. We need to keep in mind that when looking at calories for the horse it is important to always keep age, work level and breed in mind.

Daily Digestible Energy Requirements ( 1,100 LB Horse)

Maintenance Horse – 16,500 kcal/day
Gestation – Final Trimester – 21,000 kcal/day
Lactation – 1stMonth – 32,000 kcal/day
Heavy Work – 27,000 kcal/day
Moderate Work – 23,000 kcal/day

Here is a quick example for balancing forage DE in the diet:

1,100 – Horse in moderate work requires – 23,000 kcal/day
Average “Grass Hay” contains – 909 kcal/lb
The horse will eat 1.5 -2% of Body Weight a day in forage – 16.5 -22 LBS of hay/day

In this example the horse will require 25.3 LBS of this type of hay per day to meet calorie requirements only, this does not include protein, vitamins or minerals. In this example, it would be necessary to supplement this horses diet with grain/concentrates to meet calorie requirements.

Balancing Protein in Diet

When balancing protein it is important to balance the total diet, just not the protein in your forage or grain concentrate. Also, protein is important in the diet, but it is the amino acids that the horse requires. Amino Acids are essential in nutrient absorption and utilization. It is important to check your feed tag for lysine and methionine as they are the first 2 limiting amino acids, which help to ensure good hoof quality, muscle maintenance and repair, hair coat and overall topline condition.

Here is a simple calculation to determine the overall total protein in your horse’s diet:

( (LBS of Hay x % of Protein) + ( LBS of Grain x % of Protein) )/Total LBS fed ( hay + grain) = Protein in TOTAL DIET

Equine Protein Recommendations in the TOTAL Diet:
Foals 16%-18%
Weanlings 14%-16%
Yearlings 12%-14%
Mature Horse 10%- 12%
Lactating Mare 12%-14%

Example in a yearling diet:
Protein requirements – 12%-14%
1-2% body weight in Hay – 8-16 LBS/day
Average Grass Hay – 10.8% protein
Grain – 4LBS/day of a 12% Concentrate
( (16LBS x10.8) + (4LBS x 12%)/(16+4) = 11.04% ( this diet is deficient in protein)
Need to increase the diet’s concentrate.

Balancing Minerals & Vitamins

Horses that are fed forage only diets ( hay & pasture) are almost always found to be deficient in the recommended minerals and vitamins. Most forages have their ups and downs in their vitamin and mineral content leaving horses with the same inconsistency in their total diet. These deficiencies will typically overtime manifest themselves into poor hair and hoof quality, as well as general lack of condition in the horse. These visible signs might be good indications that your horse has a mineral or vitamin deficiency or imbalance within their diet, but sometimes deficiency can go unnoticed for months or even years. Overtime deficiencies that are not addressed can cause your horse to be more susceptible to serious diseases, health conditions, and decreased longevity.

It is very important to remember not to rely on just forage to ensure a balanced diet for your horse. All horses require a concentrate or a supplement in addition to their hay.

Items of Interest

Interesting facts

  • 20% of the horses harbor 80% of the parasites
  • Worming according to the calendar encourages parasite resistance.
  • Not all horses are equally susceptible to parasite infection.
  • Removing feces from the environment before eggs become infective provides parasite control that is superior to deworming.
  • New additions to a heard can introduce resistant strongyles to a previously “clean” population.
  • More than 150 different parasites can infect horses (only a small number pose a real problem for horses)
  • The most important parasites (the big 4) to target are round worms, Large and small strongyles and tape worms.
  • Younger horses are more prone to problems associated with parasites and should be treated differently than adult horses.
  • The active ingredient in dewormers influences the interval between deworming times
  • Horses pastured with donkeys are more likely to harbor lung worms and should be treated accordingly

Why seed forages in the fall?

Written by: Henry Holloway, The Mill President

Many producers want to seed their pastures in the spring, as this is when dead spots and weedy patches become evident. By seeding in the spring, produces are able to fill in those undesirable patches making their pastures look fuller and greener. However, spring seeding of forages presents a number of challenges when considering the longevity of the new seedling. Forages that are grown and grazed in the Mid-Atlantic Region are primarily cool season forages due to the length of our grazing season (March to November). Cool season forage seeds require the soil temperature to be around 55oF for germination and need consistent moisture. Therefore, most cool season grasses planted in the spring will not germinate until after the middle of April.

Given that, spring seeded forages need to be well managed in order to keep them viable long-term. As temperatures rise going into summer, and the risk of reduced rainfall increases, the immature roots of new seedlings are susceptible to drying out and causing the new seedling to die. The young forage shoots need to receive consistent rainfall in order to keep the forages roots viable, particularly in summer. Plus, with the annual broadleaf and grassy weeds coming out in full force in the spring, the new forage seedlings will be facing stiff competition unless those weeds are closely managed. Thus, spring seeding, although possible, requires close management that doesn’t fit into all production systems. In reality, the best time to plant forage seed for long term success is in the late-summer/ early-fall, which brings a more ideal combination of moisture and temperature for optimum germination and growth of dense, high quality forage.

In contrast to spring, the warmer soil temperatures in the late-summer/early-fall allow for faster and more consistent germination. Furthermore, the daily air temperatures are cooling down which is preferred by cool season forages and allows for faster establishment. Additionally, this region generally gets reliable moisture in the late-summer/early-fall, keeping those seeds and immature roots moist but not overly saturated. As an added bonus, most of the annual broadleaf and grassy weeds are nearing the end of their annual cycle at this time, and they won’t be competing with your immature forage seedlings. With the seasonal change into winter, the plant will go dormant, but the roots of those fall-seeded forages will continue to grow and mature underground. As temperatures warm up with the arrival of spring, the seed you put down in the fall will have developed into a strong, mature plant that will grow quickly and produce multiple cuts of high quality hay or provide terrific grazing.

We have many options of forage seed to chose from to suit your production goals, whether it’s for quick establishing seed for successful short term grazing, or long term forage establishment. Give us a call with any questions you may have!

Pages of Interest

To see more videos from The Mill click HERE.