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     FEATURED PURINA NUTRITION ARTICLES 

    Stories From Our Farm

    For nearly a century at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center, we’ve been learning what helps our animals reach their full potential. And we know if it works for us, it’ll work for other people, too.
     

     FIND ANSWERS 

    Information From Our Experts

    Animal experts from the Purina Animal Nutrition Center share their knowledge.

    Q
    What type of shelter do I need to provide for my chicks?
    A
    Young chicks can be raised in a variety of structures, but the area should be warm, dry and ventilated, but not drafty, as well as easy to clean. Small numbers of chicks can be warmed with heat lamps placed about 20 inches above the litter surface. Bigger groups of birds in a large room — a shed or a garage, for example — should have a supplemental heat source such as a brooder stove.
    Q
    When should I start weaning my calves?
    A
    Most producers start to wean their calves around 6 months of age. This can vary depending on forage conditions and when the calves are going to be marketed. In many cases the calves are weaned 45 – 60 days prior to marketing to get them off to a good start so they look their best for sale day.
    Q
    At what temperature can cold stress impact the growth and health of dairy calves?
    A
    At a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit we may be comfortable, but our calves start to divert energy away from growth and immune function to regulate body temperature. Calves become cold stressed at fairly moderate temperatures because they have a higher surface-area-to-bodyweight ratio than older animals.
    Q
    What are forage fish?
    A
    Forage fish are smaller fish, such as minnows, bluegill and small catfish. A sufficient population of these fish will provide the food that larger fish such as bass and trout need to prey upon to thrive.
    Q
    What causes milk fever in goats?
    A
    With the onset of milk production after giving birth, your goat must supply a large quantity of calcium with her milk. The goat normally has more than enough calcium reserves in her bones, but if she has been on a diet high in calcium during her dry period, her body may have “forgotten” how to mobilize those calcium reserves because it hasn’t needed to. Consequently, when she starts lactating, and she needs to deliver calcium to the mammary gland for milk production, her blood calcium levels may fall to a dangerous level, resulting in milk fever.
    Q
    What is the minimum daily fiber requirement for a horse?
    A
    Feeding a minimum of 1 percent body weight in forage per day (dry matter basis) is recommended to supply adequate levels of fiber required for proper gut function. Horses grazing good-quality pasture and/or provided ample access to hay generally have no problem meeting this minimum requirement.
    Q
    How do I wean the kits away from their mother?
    A
    Unless you are a professional and very experienced rabbit breeder, you should plan on leaving the kits with the doe until 8 weeks of age. During this growth period, the kits have been drinking mother’s milk, but also eating a high-quality rabbit feed, the same provided to their mother. When it comes time to wean them, simply remove the doe from the cage. Leaving the kits in their familiar cage, which still has the doe’s scent, and has their feeder full of familiar food, is the least stressful way to help kits through this very difficult adjustment period. This is a very common time for bunnies to develop enteritis, so the fewer changes that are made, the better. This is NOT the time to be changing their location or their food!
    Q
    What physical traits are important in selecting a show lamb?
    A
    You will need to select a quality lamb with the genetic potential to respond to good nutrition; genetic potential that results in a fairly heavily muscled lamb. After all, we are feeding and showing market lambs. A market animal needs to exhibit muscle. A poorly muscled lamb will normally find its way to the bottom of most classes. If you select a lamb that has inferior muscling, the greatest feed money can buy is not going to result in producing adequate muscle. Build a relationship with the breeder of your choice. They will be more than happy to assist you. You can be assured they want their lambs to perform their best for you.
    Q
    Why can’t I just switch right away?
    A
    Species such as guinea pigs and rabbits have very delicate digestive systems that rely on a consistent diet. Changing a diet immediately, or providing too many treats at one time, can cause a disruption to the ecosystem of microbes in the GI tract and lead to GI upset. Pets such as birds and guinea pigs are very finicky eaters. Birds especially are very attuned to the shape, size and color of their food. Switching a bird’s diet abruptly may lead to digestive upset, or worse, your bird will stop eating completely. You can change your pet’s diet, you just need to do it slowly.
    Q
    How can diet help ease the weaning process for piglets?
    A
    The weaning process and development of the gastrointestinal tract of the pig have a profound effect on nutrient absorption and protection from pathogenic challenges, thus impacting growth. Diets constructed for young pigs should take into account these changes that are occurring at weaning and utilize ingredients that the young pig can better absorb and that support intestinal health.
    Q
    Why can't other ruminant feeds be substituted for deer and elk?
    A
    People often want to feed deer what is handy, which might be sheep, goat, dairy or even horse feeds. The problem is these feeds are not formulated for deer, do not meet their specific needs and may even cause problems.