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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Staff Favorites – Carey

You met her last week in the Meet Mary’s Feature, now we’ll introduce you to some of Carey’s favorite items sold at Mary’s Tack and Feed.

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  1. Papa Psuka dog treats – both my dogs love them and will do anything for them. They are crunchy and stinky and stay fresh in their resealable bag.
  2. One K Defender Helmet – A very comfy and stylish helmet at a great price point.
  3. Romfh Sarafina breeches – the most comfy breeches I have ever worn. I wear them all day! Great color selection as well.
  4. Ultimate Hoof Pick – sturdy and strong hoof pick that is extremely comfortable in your hand.

Mare and Foal Nutrition

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A healthy diet for the average horse includes access to good quality forage, unlimited supply of fresh clean water and dietary supplementation when need be. When in foal, a mare is eating for two. By giving your mare everything she needs to birth a happy and healthy foal, you ensure your foal has everything they need to start off on the right hoof.
The first step to developing a balanced feeding program for your mare is to assess her body condition.  Inspect her ribs, flank,neck, withers, spine, tail head and behind her shoulder for excess or lack of fat so you know where to begin.

Correct Ratio of calcium to phosphorous
If your mare’s diet is high in alfalfa hay, you’ll need to balance the calcium and phosphorus in it. Typically, alfalfa’s calcium to phosphorous ratio can be as high as 10:1. A mare in foal’s total diet should contain at least .4% calcium to .3% phosphorous. A mineral balancer like Adeptus Augment can provide crucial nutrients that may be lacking in hay without overfeeding fortified grain. If your mare is over 15 she may require additional calcium during gestation and lactation as older horses are less efficient in absorbing those same nutrients.

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Increased protein
Broodmares should be started on a rising plane of nutrition with the emphasis being on increasing crude protein (along with vitamins and trace minerals). In early gestation, protein intake should be about 1.4% of the mare’s body weight and increase slowly to 3% by the time she is lactating. Halfway through the second trimester the foal’s growth really takes off! Protein helps feed fetal tissue growth and will ensure your foal will reach their full potential. If your mare is over 15 she may require additional protein during gestation and lactation as older horses are less efficient in absorbing it.

Alfalfa for increased milk production
Good quality leafy hay is important for all horses, but after foaling it’s vital in making sure mare and foal have adequate nutrition. While lactating, many mares have the nutritional requirements of hardworking performance horses.  The average mare produces 3% of her body weight in milk per day after foaling. Because of this, nutrition should be on a rising plane to support her increasing milk production. A mare can only eat so much hay so you may supplement the increased feeding needs with a commercial concentrate designed for broodmares specifically.

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You can always call the friendly staff at Mary’s with your questions and for suggestions (858) 755-2015.  Our knowledgeable cashiers & feed guys will be happy to help you design a good feed program for your broodmare and foal.  We offer many different concentrated grain formulas specifically blended to meet their needs.  As well as the high quality forage they require.  Don’t forget to bring in pictures!  We love seeing all of those mare & foal pics.  Always consult your veterinarian or equine reproduction specialist about your mare’s needs.

For more information regarding Broodmare nutrition refer to the following: Management of Broodmares, Mare Nutrition, Feeding Mares and Foals

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