Friday, February 17, 2017

The Right Place for Your Apiary

Take care in selecting the location for your apiary. Relocating hives is difficult, if not impossible for your bee colony. Choose a site near to food sources for the bees, protected from cold winter winds and preferably with shade. The apiary needs to be accessible to you, the beekeeper, but not too close to non-beekeeping neighbors with children or pets. 

"A commonly overlooked factor is the scenic setting," notes The Beekeeper's Problem Solver. "Most modern beekeepers keep bees for enjoyment and fulfillment rather than monetary gain. A scenic, placid apiary with gentle, natural sounds offers a quiet break..."

Artwork: Honey Beehives
Animal Husbandry and Livestock Books
The Beekeeper's Problem Solver

Monday, January 23, 2017

Farm and Garden Picks: The Beekeeper's Problem Solver

Whether you're a newcomer or an old hand, this book provides the information you need to nip problems in the bud and, better still, avoid them in the first place. Longtime bee keeper and apiary expert James E. Tew guides readers through 100 common problems faced by beekeepers, spelling out in clear and simple terms what the underlying cause is and how to solve it. Each one is tackled in depth, with photographs and diagrams, as well as a wide range of practical tips and useful insights. The problems are divided into ten chapters covering the main areas of beekeeping, from health to housing and parasites to predators. A subject-specific index is also included for easy reference.

100 Common Problems Explored and Explained
by James E. Tew
Quarry Books, 2015

Outrider Reading Group
Animal Husbandry Books
Homegrown Honey Bees

Friday, January 13, 2017

Farm and Garden Picks: The Backyard Field Guide to Chickens

Fueled by the local and organic food movements, as well as a sea change in local ordinances, backyard chicken keeping is booming. Anyone who's decided to join the new wave of chicken keepers knows that the poultry breeds available are dizzying in their variety.

This is a guide for backyard chicken keepers in search of chickens that best fit their needs.

Each breed of chicken listed in the field guide is thoroughly described and is illustrated by color photos. The book tells you all about the bird, detailing each breed's particular usefulness, adaptation to climate, coloration, number of eggs typically laid, foraging ability, temperament, and unique qualities.

The Backyard Field Guide to Chickens
Chicken Breeds for Your Home Flock
by Christine Heinrichs
Voyageur Press, 2016
Outrider Reading Group
Animal Husbandry Books
The Book Stall

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cattle Temperament Linked to Feedlot Performance

The temperament of cattle may have a significant impact in how they perform in the feedlot, according to recent studies.

Cattle classified as temperamental appear to be less susceptible to lung damage and related respiratory diseases and have decreased yield grades, but at the same time may produce lighter weight carcasses with decreased quality grade.

Researchers used 2,800 cattle at a commercial feedlot to determine cattle temperament solely by exit velocity upon arrival to identify the impact temperament had on feedlot performance. Infrared sensors were attached to the processing chute and alleyway and used to time how fast cattle exited the processing chute.  Once exit velocity was determined, within each pen the fastest 20 percent were classified as temperamental and the remained deemed non-temperamental.

Exit velocity was used as a measurement of temperament because it is the only objective and practical measurement of temperament that can be applied in a commercial setting. Scientists sought to evaluate the impact of temperament on animal health and carcass merit with an eye toward using the data as a sorting tool within feedlots.

After scientists determined exit velocity, the cattle were maintained in their original pens, not sorted based upon temperament, and finished.  At the end of the finishing period, the research team followed the cattle to the packer and evaluated lung damage, liver abscesses and collected all the variables for carcass data.

One of the major findings of the trial was the difference in lung damage associated with respiratory disease. The results suggest that the non-temperamental cattle had more observable damage to the lung, indicative of the animal being impacted by respiratory challenge, when compared to cattle classified as temperamental.

Research has suggested that temperamental cattle have an altered immune response and display limited clinical symptoms of illness and this altered immune response may be a more resilient immune response compared to non-temperamental.

The studies also found that cattle classified as temperamental had lighter carcass weight at harvest and decreased quality grades. More than 53 percent of the non-temperamental cattle received a quality grade of choice, compared to 49 percent of the temperamental animals.

The findings suggest that utilization of temperament may be a viable management tool for feedlots. It might provide for a unique management strategy that might increase returns on these temperamental animals. With the difference in lung damage in the temperamental cattle at the time of harvest, and previous research indicating limited clinical signs of illness in temperamental cattle, segregation may allow for some modifications to the processing procedures and management of these cattle to take advantage of this alterations.

Ty Schmidt, Ph.D., assistant professor, animal science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 402-472-6772; Jeff Carroll and Jeff Daily of USDA-Agricultural Research Service; Justin Waggoner of Kansas State University.

Artwork: Cattle Feedlot
Animal Husbandry and Livestock Books
Farm Supply
Feed & Hay

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Managing Cattle in Cold Weather

Bitter cold temperatures and extremes in wind chills are particularly stressful for groups of cattle that have not adequately acclimated to such conditions. The most susceptible animals are newborn calves in cow-calf operations and new cattle arriving in feedlots. Cattle that lack body condition for insulation also may be at risk from cold weather.

Most cattle can easily handle cold weather conditions if they are dry and maintain dry hair coats, even if temperatures are sub-zero. The most adverse conditions occur around freezing (32 degrees) when cattle get wet and the pens turn sloppy and muddy. The presence of moisture or mud on the animal draws heat from the animal's body at a much faster rate than when the animal is drier in extreme cold temperatures.

The ideal wintertime temperatures for feedlot cattle are around 20 degrees. At these temperatures, the snowfall that does occur is normally drier and will blow off the animal. Feedlot surfaces also remain firm and allow cattle easier access to feed bunks.

Healthy, dry, well-conditioned and well-fed cattle can handle wind chills of 40 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, but tissue damage may start to occur when wind chills drop to around 60 degrees Fahrenheit below zero.

There are a number of things that can be done in feedyards and other cattle holding areas both before and after major weather events.

Smooth or knock down rough frozen pen surfaces with a blade or harrow. Sharp edges that form when cattle tracks freeze can cause bruising of the feet which can lead to foot injury. When pen surfaces are rough, cattle don't make their way to feed or water often enough which can cause decreased performance.

Bedding such as wheat straw, corn cobs, or corn stalks can be used to help insulate cattle from the cold ground during severe cold outbreaks. These are better for bedding than hay-like materials because they are less palatable. Cattle will be less likely to eat the bedding and more likely to stay on the ration provided in the bunks. In feed yards, apply bedding after feeding to minimize bedding consumption.

Accumulation of snow in the pens can cause cattle bunching or piling on, which can lead to increased death losses. When heavy snowfall or drifting snow occurs, remove the snow from the pens before the next storm arrives.

It is important to keep feedlot animals from going off feed during even the worst of weather conditions. Erratic feed intake can result in digestive problems and loss of performance, possibly even death in severe cases. Cattle that are within 30 to 45 days of slaughter are particularly prone to go off feed and can be difficult to get back on feed. Moving cattle to a higher roughage, storm ration may be advisable.

Terry Mader, beef cattle specialist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Artwork: Cattle in Winter, 1862
Animal Husbandry and Livestock Books
The Corral
The Illustrated Guide to Cows

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Beekeeping In The City

Banned in the city limits of Los Angeles since 1879, beekeeping is returning to the nation's second largest city after the Los Angeles City Council voted this month to repeal the old law. New York City made beekeeping legal within its jurisdiction in 2010.

While legalization of urban beekeeping may be trending positively, Homegrown Honey Bees author Alethea Morrison cautions beginning beekeepers to check with local authorities before setting up a hive. "Many municipalities regulate beekeeping or prohibit it outright. Find out what the rules are where you live, ideally from your local bee association."

Talk to your neighbors before setting up a hive, Morrison suggests. She blames much of the public's fear of bees on yellowjackets, or wasps, which have similar coloring and are considerably more aggressive. Educating them on the differences can help make urban beekeeping less frightening.

An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Beekeeping
by Alethea Morrison
Storey Publishing, 2013

Artwork: Yellowjacket Eating a Bee
Here's How To... Control Yellow Jackets
Homegrown Honey Bees
Animal Husbandry and Livestock Books

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Calming Separation Anxiety

"Fearful dogs who are very insecure are more prone to separation anxiety. With these dogs, the dog becomes so afraid of being alone that he panics," writes Peggy O. Swager in her book "Rescue Your Dog from Fear: Tried-and-True Techniques to Help Your Dog Feel Secure."

"Dogs who panic will sometimes eliminate in the house while you are gone, even if you just put the dog outside. Some will tear holes in the couch or chew a favorite item such as a shoe. Some dogs are more silent sufferers and may pant and pace while the owner is gone. Punishing any unwanted behaviors can increase the anxiety the dogs has, making a separation anxiety event all the more likely the next time."

While specialized training may be needed for some dogs, Swager suggests that the confidence building techniques outlined in her book will help most dogs feel better about being left home alone. Owners should try to keep their arrivals and departures low-key and try to desensitize their pet to cues that signal the separation.

A separate DVD, "Separation Anxiety-A Weekend Technique," teaches owners an "I'll Be Back" technique that alleviates their dogs' fear.

Tried-and-True Techniques to Help Your Dog Feel Secure
by Peggy O. Swager
Lyons Press, 2015

Artwork: Anticipation
Separation Anxiety-A Weekend Technique (DVD)
Pet Supplies
Dog Food