Chickens and Flock Health

 

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Chickens are fun, educational, and practical pets.  Every day, more people are considering having chickens at home. Keeping chickens is a rewarding experience. Whether you consider yourself a hobbyist or a serious poultry farmer, we’ve come up with a few tips on maintaining a happy and healthy flock.

Nutrition

Like with other animals, nutrition is the corner stone to a happy flock. On average a chicken will drink a half-pint of water per day and more in warmer weather. You will want to make sure your hens have access to clean, fresh water 24/7.  We’ve got several different poultry waterers available to keep your flock well hydrated. Poultry nutrition science has come a long way from the cracked corn and scratch of by gone days. You’ll want to limit the scratch in your chicken’s diet to 10% or less while providing a well-balanced diet.  Mary’s has many different complete poultry feeds to meet your particular flock’s need.  Chicks 1 to 8 weeks old can be put on a starter feed  while laying adults may need feed that contains supplemental calcium or omega-3. Sometimes you may want to give your chicken a special treat Meal Worms are an excellent choice as they are high in protein.

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Flock Dynamics

Chickens are active and gregarious birds that can provide hours of entertainment. The added benefit of watching and enjoying your flock is you’ll get to know them through your daily observations. You will soon learn everyone’s normal behavior and personality quirks. They thrive on interaction so be sure to notice any changes to their personalities.  Pay attention if a chicken begins to isolate herself from the group, or if one hen or another starts to become a bully.  Noticing these changes early on can help stop a problem before it starts.

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Cleaning Routine

Backyard birds are quite susceptible to respiratory illness caused by dust. Chickens scratch, they molt, bedding ages and breaks down and feed is bound to spill and be trampled. By developing a regular cleaning routine such as replacing bedding monthly), cleaning waterers and feeders  weekly and scrubbing your coop bi-annually you will keep bacteria, viruses, and external parasites at bay.

Of course, if your birds fall ill and succumb to sickness, please call your veterinarian and the USDA.

Many of us at Mary’s are Chicken Enthusiasts and are happy to answer any questions you may have about raising chickens at home. We have a wide range of chicken products and feeds including Organic/Non-GMO and can provide feed and supply suggestions to keep your flock happily clucking along!

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West Coast Dressage Convention

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On April 8th and 9th. Mary’s had a Booth at the SH-Productions West Coast Dressage Convention at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The event was packed with people from all over the United States, Mexico and Canada, as it would be British Gold Medalist, Carl Hester’s only west coast appearance to do clinics and provide valuable feedback to riders and trainers alike.

While all the seats in the house had a great view of the dressage court in the Del Mar Arena, the Mary’s booth also had a grand and unobstructed overlook!

Mary’s Tack was joined by our amazing vendors from Mushroom Matrix, ERS, Fleeceworks and Romfh Equestrian Apparel. Carl Hester joined Mary’s staff and customers to the booth Saturday afternoon for a meet and greet with clinic goers.

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We were happy to see familiar faces and meet new ones, providing the excellent customer service that you’ve grown to love.

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Trailer Safety Tips

When you own or lease a horse eventually you’ll find it necessary to haul them. Whether for a trail ride, horse show, vet clinic, or just plain old moving, that horse will need to get on a horse trailer of some kind. Hauling horses can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some things to keep in mind.

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Inspection

You’ll want to inspect the wear and tear on your truck and trailer on a regular basis. For planned trips, taking the time a week before you go to make sure your tires have adequate pressure. That your lights all work, your brakes work and your hitch is in good repair. Be sure to check every nook and cranny of your rig for rust and rot. Rust and rot will put long term damage on your vehicle and put you and others in the way of danger.

Organization

Most people don’t realize but being organized is a key piece to being safe. Knowing where everything is from safety ties, your first aid kit  to your grooming supplies , will help you keep your cool in high stress situations. Not only that, in the case where someone else is helping you out it makes things easier on them. Having a place for your things will keep walkways and doorways clear of obstruction, so tripping and falling accidents don’t occur.

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Socialization

There are so many products on the market to help your horse have a safe haul, from shipping boots to protect the legs , to shipping caps to protect the noggin . You can’t expect your horse to be okay with any of these items the moment you plan to ship them. In fact, sometimes these items can cause more stress if your horse isn’t used to them. Taking adequate time prior to hauling to socialize your horse to such products will go a long way in reducing travel anxiety for human and equine.

Hauling doesn’t need to be a scary experience! Still have questions about trailering your horse?  Stop by or call! Many of us are seasoned haulers and will be more than happy to make suggestions on what products have worked best for us and may work for you.

A Boutique Experience

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Last Thursday, Mary’s Tack and Feed hosted it’s third ‘Sip N Shop’. The first ‘Sip N Shop’ was held in December of 2016. Good turnout and a great time had by all, inspired a second get-together the following week with plans for one a season! If you missed out last week we highly encourage you to keep your eyes open for the next one and pencil it into your calendars. Unsure what the fuss is all about? Here are some compelling reasons why you should attend:

New Products! –  A rounder at the front of the store lay bare hours before ‘Sip N Shop’ began. At 5pm Mary’s employees unveiled the products destined for that rounder – Equestrian apparel brand Joules’ new spring line. Bold Navy and Stripes, Adorable floral and horse prints adorned the items for women and girls.

Check out the rest of Mary’s Spring Apparel available now

#SupportLocalMade – There is something electrifying about meeting local artisans and exploring new products. Three booths were set out for designer-proprietors of local accessory vendors: Cassiano Designs, Mane Jane and SeamReap, so they could introduce themselves and their products to ‘Sip N Shop’ attendees.

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Seam Reap available at Mary’s

A Time to Unwind –  After a long day at work, ‘Sip N Shop’ offers a refuge from waiting in traffic. Friendly Mary’s staff offered delectable crackers, cheeses, and a welcoming spread of veggies. You could relax into the atmosphere, see friends old and new, browse current Mary’s offerings with wine, beer or refreshing water in hand. It’s also a great time to visit with Mary’s Employees as buyers, managers and cashiers are in attendance.

Be sure to visit our website and sign up for the Mary’s email newsletter to keep up to date on Mary’s Tack and Feed future events.

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Mane Jane available at Mary’s

If there is a vendor you’d love to see and talk to at a future ‘Sip N Shop’, please don’t hesitate to leave us a comment with your feedback and suggestions on the blog, drop us a message on Facebook or email us at email@marystack.com

Maximizing Limited Saddle Time

Has the recent weather kept you from riding as often as you’d like? Maybe you just can’t get to the barn due to puddles, mud and more puddles? Instead of letting the lack of saddle time get you down here are some ways to maximize growth and learning when not in the saddle.

Staying Fit
Riding, for many of us, is our main form of exercise. Less riding can mean loss of stamina and overall fitness — but it doesn’t have to!  No gym is required, just motivation to strap on a pair of running shoes and hit the sidewalks or the beach. (Running in sand is a great way to build up endurance). For those who can, joining a gym can be a great motivator for exercising. Many gyms offer fun classes like yoga, spin, cross-fit, Zumba and kickboxing. If it’s been a while since you’ve exercised and you have health issues or concerns, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first.

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Your friend’s can help motivate you!

Staying Limber
Downtime from the saddle can be a time to regain and improve flexibility. A physical therapist, yoga instructor, or physical fitness trainer can help you build a regimen of stretching, strength training, massage, or other alternative therapies you may need to get back into tip-top shape. Stretching has the added positive effects of increasing body awareness which translates to increased awareness in the saddle. As rider’s we’ve probably have had falls and riding related injuries. Many of us are stoic and will work through minor aches and pains when we shouldn’t. We all know someone who pushes themselves more than they should. Staying flexible can help us heal faster and more completely. Remember if you don’t use your flexibility you’ll lose your flexibility!

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Learning from varied sources
Lack of saddle time does not necessarily equal lack of time learning. You can commit yourself to going down and watching local rated and unrated horse shows in person or online. So many competitions are available to watch either on premium channels for a fee or for free on YouTube, regardless if they are happening today or in the past (and of course you can visualize your show rides of the future). There may also be clinics happening in your area that you can go audit. Mary’s Tack and Feed hosts events and seminars The local library, tack store or book store are great sources of knowledge with plenty of riding and horse care books and DVD’s that can be checked out or purchased. If your schedule allows it and your trainer approves, auditing barn mates and friend’s lessons is a great auditory and visual learning tool.

Limited saddle time doesn’t mean you need to backslide on your progress. By finding the right balance between fitness, flexibility and continued learning

Lessons Learned From George Morris

“If riding were all blue ribbons and bright lights, I would have quit long ago” – George Morris

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Whether you idolize him or just have a passing interest, George Morris is a driving force in the Hunter/Jumper community. And today the esteemed Horseman, Trainer, Author and Judge turns 79 years old! In the past I have been very fortunate to clinic with George Morris, not once, but three times. I was also able to audit his clinics long before I rode in them, and the years in between riding with him. With that experience under my belt, I share with you three big takeaways:

  1. You can never be too prepared – Whether it’s reading his book before the clinic (Hunter Seat Equitation) so you can accurately and quickly answer his questions. Or being armed with the proper equipment and knowing what it is and why you use it (i.e.: knowing which bit you use and why, if you are short having stirrup leathers that taller people can use etc.)
  2. Be an Active Listener : If you are auditing or participating in one of Mr. Morris’ clinics remember why you are there. This isn’t a social hour for you, your friends, or someone you remember from a show 2 months ago. You are there to learn. So being awake and aware of what’s going on around you is important. If you think you misheard something, ask George. Trust me, on my “been there done that horse”, he asked me to jump the course first. I have a hard time remembering courses and wasn’t sure how to approach the jumps. I trotted up to him, asked a clarifying question and he happily gave me the answer and shooed me to jump. It helped relieve my anxiety.
  3. Know Your Horse – The first two times I rode with George I took my older “been there/done that horse”. He was well schooled but he had a naughty streak and an aversion to Liverpools. In the clinic environment, he did really well and I was able to work on the exercises presented, improve some, and appropriately tackled that longtime nemesis, the Liverpool. After two days my gelding no longer cared about the blue plastic tarp. The last time I rode in the clinic, I  rode my young green horse. He was a mild mannered trying kind of horse; the flatwork in the advanced group was not a problem but the obstacles and exercises over fences were a bit much for him. At the end of the day he wasn’t over faced by the height but it may have been overstimulating for him and we wouldn’t reap the rewards of the experience until months later. In retrospect, the horse needed another year under saddle before going to a clinic of that caliber and that was a valuable lesson.

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At the end of the day, if you’ve never participated in a clinic with him before, definitely audit a day or two first. Pay attention to the exercises and practice them at home. Discuss with your trainer and listen to your horse about whether it’s the right opportunity for you to take at this time.