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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
    How do I keep my chicks warm?
    A
    A thermometer should be placed at the chicks’ level to accurately gauge temperature. Initially, a comfort zone should be 90 °? F at “chick level.” Use a brooder guard (a plastic, cardboard or wire barrier) for a few days to encircle the brooding area so that the chicks don’t wander too far from the warmth. Once chicks have learned where the heat is, remove or expand the guard. The temperature can be gradually reduced by 5 F per week to a minimum of 55 F.
    Q
    How can producers help minimize the stress of weaning on calves?
    A
    Not rushing the calf weaning process, avoiding the performance of other herd functions such as dehorning and castration during this period, reducing parasites, avoiding dietary changes, ensuring access to adequate water and vaccinating judiciously are among the actions cattle producers can take to help make the weaning process less stressful.
    Q
    Does amino acid balancing of rations help boost cow milk production?
    A
    Research at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center has repeatedly shown improvements in cow milk production of 6 to 7 pounds when balancing rations for metabolizable protein and subsequently, the amino acids lysine and methionine. Additionally, component yields of 0.3 pounds of fat and protein accompany this production improvement. These results have been shown to be highly repeatable in the field. This notable increase in lactation performance costs 36 cents per cow per day on average, yielding a 3-to-1 return on investment (ROI).
    Q
    What is pond turnover?
    A
    Pond turnover may occur at any time of the year. However, one of the most common times is in late summer, when the water is very warm and oxygen demand is already high. Turnover is often caused by a sudden cooling of weather or a cold rain that cools the water close to the surface. The cool water on top is more dense than the warmer water below, causing the pond to turn over. Turnover often releases anoxic water from the bottom, which causes a lack of oxygen throughout the pond. This can result in a large die-off of fish. Often, by the time it is discovered, oxygen levels have already returned to normal.
    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 causes polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM) and horse tying up?
    A
    Type 1 PSSM is caused by a genetic mutation. Insufficient exercise, and a diet too high in starch and sugar and too low in dietary fat can contribute to the onset of type 2 PSSM. Currently, horses with both elevated glycogen and the abnormal polysaccharide are identified as type 1 PSSM, whereas horses with elevated glycogen stores but no abnormal polysaccharide are identified as type 2 PSSM.
    Q
    Will my rabbit eat more during the cold winter months?
    A
    Intense winter weather will increase energy expenditure and have an impact on growth, weight maintenance and productivity if feeding rates are not adjusted accordingly. Outdoor rabbits will eat more — sometimes a LOT more — during the winter to stay warm. Do not assume that your rabbit that does fine on 5 ounces of feed in the summer will continue to need only 5 ounces in the winter. Feel your rabbits often to make sure they are not losing weight, and observe them for evidence of being cold.
    Q
    How can I determine the immune status of my pig?
    A
    Sick pigs will have very low feed intakes. Pigs that are mounting an immune response divert critical nutrients away from maintenance and growth to fighting infection. So, not only do they not eat well, what they do eat usually is used toward fighting the infection and not for growth. To find out for sure, take the pig’s temperature with a rectal thermometer; it should be about 102.5 degrees F. If the pig’s temperature is above normal, a treatment of antibiotics is warranted. Contact your local veterinarian for the best course of treatment.
    Q
    How is vitamin C incorporated into the manufacture of small-pet diets, and is nutritional value lost in the process?
    A
    Naturally occurring ascorbic acid is highly sensitive to high temperatures, pH, oxygen, and pressure. Unfortunately, high temperature and pressure also occur during the manufacture of many animal diets. Most small animal and pet bird diets contain at least some pellets or extruded particles. Pelleting and extrusion processes generally involve some heat and pressure, although to different degrees. Because the source of vitamin C within a diet usually comes from the pellets/extruded kibble, finding a heat-and-storage-stable vitamin C source was important to the animal feed industry. Current technology has allowed us to overcome these issues and provide long-lasting diets for species requiring vitamin C.
    Q
    What challenges does weaning present for young pigs?
    A
    Challenges include an abrupt change from a liquid to a solid diet that contains ingredients that may not be easily digestible to the young pig. Immediately after weaning, the digestive system of the pig has to adapt to a new feeding regime with respect to enzyme secretion. In addition, the young pig is presented with a new social structure. Combined, these effects disrupt nutrient intake that is necessary to maintain gut integrity and function.
    Q
    What is the Purina Game Bird Life Cycle Feeding Program?
    A
    The Purina Game Bird Life Cycle Feeding Program has been developed and tested at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Missouri. The program is designed to meet specific nutritional requirements of game birds at various stages of growth and production. Purina feeding programs stress efficiency based on research conducted exclusively with game birds.