Tag: Swine

Kansas Ag Connection
The Farm

Kansas Ag Connection

Kansas Ag ConnectionLooking for a good way to keep up with daily agriculture-related headlines? Give Kansas Ag Connection a try!

Subscribers to On the Range, our weekly country living update (read more), may already be familiar with this site as a source for some of our headlines. There’s a reason for that. Kansas Ag Connection is a clutter-free aggregator of news stories and press releases of interest to farmers small and large across the state.

Kansas Ag Connection offers a way to keep up with the latest stories on:

  • USDA news.
  • Updates from the governor and state legislature.
  • Health issues currently affecting Kansans.
  • KU and K-State research on health, nature, and agricultural topics.
  • Press releases from Kansas-based companies.
  • State and regional crop and weather reports.
  • Conferences and workshops coming to Kansas.
  • Ron Wilson’s Kansas Profile column, featuring Kansas entrepreneurs with rural roots.

Links are also provided to more headlines from neighboring states, across the nation, and around the world.

Highly recommended!

An Introduction to Heritage Breeds
The Farm

An Introduction to Heritage Breeds

An Introduction to Heritage BreedsThinking about starting a farm with heritage breeds? If you are new to this topic, you may enjoy An Introduction to Heritage Breeds: Saving and Raising Rare-Breed Livestock and Poultry by The Livestock Conservancy.

This excellent beginner’s resource starts with the basics—defining breeds in general and heritage breeds in particular. It discusses the plight and importance of rare breeds, as well as the necessity to maintain genetic diversity within these breeds despite their falling numbers.

After a look at how different farming systems call for vastly different breeds, An Introduction to Heritage Breeds moves on to considerations of importance to new farmers, helping them honestly assess what species of livestock will best fit their needs and circumstances. Factors to weigh include:

  • Handling ease.
  • Noise and odor level.
  • Shelter and space requirements.
  • Zoning restrictions.
  • Daily food and water requirements.
  • Predator control.
  • Products.
  • Processing and transportation.
  • Potential markets.
  • Breed associations and other resources.

Next comes information on getting started with heritage breeds:

  • Choosing a breed.
  • Providing for the basic needs of your livestock.
  • Setting realistic goals for your project.
  • Setting up a system of animal identification and record-keeping.
  • Planning to market your livestock or livestock products.

Maintaining a heritage breed requires close attention to the principles of genetics and selection, particularly when the breed is teetering on the brink of extinction. An Introduction to Heritage Breeds provides an overview of this process in nontechnical terms. It also demonstrates that rare breeds can be maintained and promoted through breeding projects with very different emphases:

  • Performance and exhibition.
  • Production only.
  • Production and breed conservation combined.
  • Rescue of rare breeds or bloodlines.

The book closes with a look at how breed associations can either help or hurt a rare breed.

While An Introduction to Heritage Breeds is not a comprehensive guide to breeds, it does provide numerous breed snapshots, distilling the most essential facts about the distinctive characteristics of many breeds.

If you are serious about working with heritage breeds, you will quickly outgrow this resource. We recommend supplementing it with resources specific to your chosen species, including a guide to care, a guide to breeding and genetics, and a breed encyclopedia. If you can find any works written entirely about your breed, make it a point to add those to your bookshelf, as well.

An Introduction to Heritage Breeds is exactly what the title suggests—an introduction, concise and clear enough for a reader with no prior experience with animals.

 

Helpful Resources

Cattle BreedsCattle Breeds
Our own guide to the history, uses, temperament, health, and pros and cons of cattle breeds, including some heritage breeds.

Horse & Donkey BreedsHorse & Donkey Breeds
Our own guide to the history, uses, temperament, health, and pros and cons of horse and donkey breeds, including some heritage breeds.

How to Cook With Bacon
The Lifestyle

How to Cook With Bacon

How to Cook With BaconBacon has long been a staple of the American farm family’s diet, and now modern cooking techniques have given it greater versatility than ever before.

How to Cook With Bacon: Delicious and Mouthwatering Bacon Recipes by Tony James Miller shares some of these new and interesting ideas in three categories:

  1. Appetizers and salads.
  2. Main courses.
  3. Desserts.

The recipes range from simple to complex, standard to surprising. Find new ways to:

  • Garnish salads with bacon for the perfect accent.
  • Wrap your favorite meats in bacon for extra flavor.
  • Incorporate bacon into traditional desserts, such as apple pie.

How to Cook With Bacon is only available in eBook format, but content is high-quality. And it’s about bacon! What’s not to like?

Breeds of Livestock
The Farm

Breeds of Livestock

Breeds of LivestockThe varied livestock breeds of the world have fascinating histories and characteristics.  Many country living enthusiasts have spent enjoyable hours researching their favorite breeds.

One good source of information is the Breeds of Livestock site put together by Oklahoma State University.  This is a handy online encyclopedia-type reference packed with facts about both popular and rare livestock breeds:

While little is known about some of the breeds, the compilers have made every effort to provide photographs and information on the history and characteristics of the livestock of the world.

Another interesting feature of the Breeds of Livestock site is the world regions map, where you can view lists of the breeds native to each continent or region.

Handy for research, but fun just to read and explore.  If you love livestock and enjoy reading about breeds, this is the site for you!

Waterers and Watering Systems
The Farm

Waterers and Watering Systems

Waterers and Watering SystemsThinking about raising livestock this year? Do you have a watering system planned? If not, or if you want to improve an existing system, this is one book you must read: Waterers and Watering Systems: A Handbook for Livestock Producers and Landowners from K-State.

This free PDF download is packed with pros, cons, and design considerations for a number of water sources, power sources, and drink delivery options. Just to give you a sample:

  • Ponds.
  • Springs.
  • Wells.
  • Windmills.
  • Animal-activated pumps.
  • Limited access watering points.
  • Galvanized tanks.

The information is concise and to the point, helping you see at a glance the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Some additional material in the back of the book goes into the nuts and bolts of calculating well capacity, pipe diameter, and livestock water requirements, as well as obtaining permits when necessary.

An essential resource for any livestock owner in Kansas. And it’s free!

Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners
The Farm

Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners

Veterinary Guide for Animal OwnersIf you keep animals long enough, you will eventually become acquainted with some basic veterinary first aid. Here’s a book that can make the learning process a little smoother.

Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners by C. E. Spaulding, DVM, and Jackie Clay contains information on all common farm animals:

  • Cattle.
  • Goats.
  • Sheep.
  • Horses.
  • Pigs.
  • Poultry.
  • Rabbits.
  • Dogs.
  • Cats.

Each chapter starts with tips on basic animal care, tailored to the species in question. Then follows information on diseases, injuries, and other health problems common to that animal. You will learn the basics of how to identify, treat, and prevent a number of issues, ranging from serious contagious diseases to minor cuts and sores.

The final chapter of the book is also useful, explaining a number of basic procedures that you may want to become familiar with:

  • Giving medication.
  • Administering artificial respiration.
  • Treating cases of poisoning.
  • Handling an animal in shock.
  • Taking a temperature.

But probably the most useful parts of the book for beginning homesteaders are the sections on diseases. It can be very difficult to precisely identify a disease that you have never seen before, and the Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners is a big help in this process, enabling you to distinguish between a major life-threatening problem and a minor situation that just requires a little attention and nursing.

A must-have for every livestock owner, and a good choice for pet owners, as well.

Body Condition Scoring: Swine
The Farm

Body Condition Scoring: Swine

Body Condition Scoring: SwineThe body condition scoring (BCS) system for swine is very simple and is based on a five-point scale:

  1. Emaciated. Ribs, spine, and backbone prominent.
  2. Thin. Hips and backbone noticeable to the eye. Ribs can easily be felt with only slight pressure.
  3. Normal. Animal’s body is tube-shaped. Hips and backbone can only be felt with firm pressure.
  4. Fat. Bulging body. Hips and backbone cannot be felt at all.
  5. Overfat. Bulbous body due to obvious fat deposits. Hips and backbone thickly covered with fat.

With both boars and sows, the idea is to keep the score around 3 at all times.

In reality, however, sows will probably fluctuate slightly throughout their reproductive cycle. A BCS of 3.25 appears to ideal at breeding time. By farrowing time, the sow should score somewhere around 3.75. She should never drop below 2.5 at the end of a lactation.

 

Helpful Resource

Body Condition Scoring Graphic
This chart uses line drawings to make scoring swine easy to do at a glance.

 

Complete Series

Body Condition ScoringBody Condition Scoring

 

Diatomaceous Earth and Parasite Control
The Farm

Diatomaceous Earth and Parasite Control

Diatomaceous Earth and Parasite ControlBoth internal and external parasites can be the bane of a livestock owner’s existence. They make your animals’ lives miserable, increase the risk of disease, reduce performance, and just look nasty.

Unfortunately, drugs are proving to be increasingly ineffective as parasites adapt to modern chemicals. Isn’t there some natural remedy out there that will consistently work to eliminate parasites?

There is! This natural marvel is called diatomaceous earth. It is simply the fossilized remains of diatoms, algae that encase themselves in protective silica shells. Diatomaceous earth (DE) works on both external and internal parasites, and is not a poison. Instead, it is an abrasive substance that lacerates the vulnerable parts of the parasites and kills by dehydrating. Not something that is easy to adapt to!

 

A Few Words of Warning

Yes, diatomaceous earth is a very safe pesticide…if it is food-grade. Please be aware that pool-grade DE is chemically treated and therefore poisonous to both animals and humans. Only food-grade DE is safe to use for parasite control.

The other caution is to avoid inhaling diatomaceous earth. The fine particles that kill parasites can also damage your lungs.

With this in mind, how do we use diatomaceous earth?

 

External Parasites

A dusting of diatomaceous earth over the coats of your livestock and pets can kill any ticks and other nasty bugs that may be plaguing them. There’s no need to measure diatomaceous earth used externally. Just sprinkle it onto the animal in question and rub it into the coat.

Chickens suffering from external parasites can even be allowed to dust-bathe in DE. If the nesting boxes are harboring unwanted insects, sprinkle some diatomaceous earth there, too.

 

Internal Parasites

To use diatomaceous earth to kill worms and other internal parasites, sprinkle the appropriate amount over the animal’s food. Various sources (and some personal experience) suggest the following dosages:

  • Cattle: 1 ounce daily.
  • Horses: 5 ounces daily.
  • Hogs: 2% of feed ration.
  • Goats and sheep: 1 teaspoon per 150 pounds of body weight.
  • Llamas and alpacas: 1 teaspoon per 150 pounds of body weight.
  • Chickens: 5% of feed ration.
  • Dogs: 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight.
  • Cats: 1/2 teaspoon daily for kittens, 1 teaspoon daily for adult cats.

However, it is always a good idea to check the bag before using DE. If the manufacturer offers specific recommended doses, use those.

Many animals will also eat diatomaceous earth free-choice if it is protected from wind and rain.

As you can see, diatomaceous earth is extremely easy to use, and it is both safe and effective. Give it a try!

 

Helpful Resource

Diatomaceous Earth
A microscope image of diatomaceous earth, just in case you were wondering what it looks like up close.