Raising Animals

Best Farm Dog Breeds and How to Keep Them Happy

Most farmers know how helpful a trained dog can be. Throughout the ages, dogs helped in farming by herding cattle and sheep, guarding livestock or ridding the farm of harmful pests. The best dog breed for any farm will depend on the type of work expected from the dog. This article will discuss the best dog breeds for the three most common tasks: herding, guarding and ratting. For each task, five top breeds are listed followed by a discussion about how to care for the farm dogs and how to keep them happy.

Within each of the three groups are dogs with various personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, however, to discuss them all would go beyond the scope of this article. The goal here is to provide a starting point for further research into the best breeds for any given situation.

Herd Dogs

Herd dogs are good at herding livestock such as sheep and cattle. Herding dogs are highly intelligent, very energetic and love to chase things. Herding dogs are medium sized dogs usually ranging between 22 -42 pounds: Excellent breeds for herding are:

  • Border Collie
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Welsh Corgi
  • German Shephard
  • Old English Sheepdog

Because of their intelligence and energy, when caring for herding breeds, one must remember that they require a lot of physical and mental exercise. Due to their intelligence, herding dogs are fairly easy to train. However, owners need to provide plenty of physical and mental exercise to herd dogs otherwise they will develop behavior problems such as chewing, digging, barking, etc. Owners need to ensure that their dogs are walked or allowed to run on a daily basis. Herd dogs like to play active games like fetch or frisbee.

Herding dogs are bred for the herding instinct so a child or another pet running may cause the dog’s herding instinct to activate. However, with proper training and socialization, this should not be a problem as herding dogs usually do well around children and pets. The herding dogs will typically live near the family.

In addition to the care outlined above, Old English Sheepdogs also require quite a bit of grooming. Old English Sheepdogs need to be thoroughly brushed once a week which can be time-consuming. Because of the high level of maintenance required for the characteristic long hair of this breed, many owners choose to keep the dog’s hair cut short. Of the dogs listed above, the Welsh Corgi requires the least amount of grooming; the others fall somewhere in between with the Old English Sheep Dog requiring the most.

Livestock Guardian Dogs

Livestock guardian dogs have been bred to protect livestock from predators. They stay with the animals like any other member of the flock or herd because they bond with it from an early age. Guardian dogs are larger breeds than herding dogs, some weighing up to 150 pounds. Guardian dogs will confront intruders with barking and aggressive behavior. They are very valuable dogs because they can save farmers from the loss of their livestock. The best breeds for guardian dogs are:

  • Great Pyrenees
  • Anatolian Shepherd
  • Komander
  • Maremma Sheepdog
  • Tibetan Mastiff

Although guardian dogs typically live with the livestock, they still need to be socialized and exposed to other pets, members of the family, close friends and relatives at an early age and with frequency to the degree that the dogs accept them as members of the pack. Otherwise, guardian dogs will tend to be aggressive to those they perceive as outsiders.

Guardian dogs are happiest when guarding livestock. Other activities such as pulling a cart or backpacking can provide enough activity as well, but when bored, guardians tend become destructive. Guardians are constantly on the prowl for invaders, so they are happiest on farms with space enough to roam. They also prefer to work in a pack of two or more.

Guardians require training, and at the age of 8 to 16 weeks, they should be introduced to and kept with the livestock they will be guarding. Owners often use a bonding pen and choose one or two gentle animals to introduce to the puppy while under supervision. As the pup grows comfortable around the animals, then it can be released to the larger flock. The trainer should give the dog praise when it is with the livestock to reinforce their connection with the dog as a working partner.

Rat Dogs

Rat dogs, as the name implies are great at catching rats and other pesky rodents. Rat dogs are superior to cats at this job because the rat dogs are far more dedicated to the job than cats. The following breeds make terrific ratting dogs:

  • Dachshund
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Jack Russel Terrier
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Rat Terrier

The Terrier Breed Group is typically energetic and does not get along well with cats, other dogs or small children. When other animals or small children are involved, a Rat Terrier may be the best breed terrier to choose because Rat Terriers are better with animals or children when introduced to them at an early age.

In Conclusion

Owners must keep in mind that although the traits are bred into them, the dogs still need training and positive reinforcement. Puppies raised with veteran farm dogs will be easier to train because they will be able to see the older dogs working.

Among these three categories, there are many excellent dog breeds for farm work. They have been bred for these characteristics for thousands of years. To choose the best breed or breeds for farming, one must consider the help needed. Luckily, man’s best friend has been a faithful farm hand throughout history, and farm dogs will continue to be trusted farm hands. They provide companionship to family members as well as protection and herding livestock. They are an integral part of daily farm life, and the thought of a farm dog tends to invoke a Rockwellian image in one’s mind of a boy and his dog. Dogs will always fill an important role in the farming family.

Raising Animals

7 Tips to Raising Healthy Chickens

Humans around the globe have been raising chickens for thousands of years. It’s fairly simple to do with the right knowledge. Here are seven tips for raising healthy chickens.

Feeding Chickens a Healthy Diet

The first thing chicken-keepers should keep in mind is the diet of their birds. Chickens need different nutrients depending on their stage of life. Laying hens need a layer feed that is high in calcium and other nutrients.On the other hand, layer feed has too much calcium for roosters. Roosters do best with a maintenance pelleted feed or crumbles. A maintenance ration is also best for female birds that are not currently laying, such as pullets, older hens or young females who have ceased laying for the season. Chicks need a special, high-protein food as well.

Chickens also need access to grit (dirt or crushed stone) to help them digest their food. Oyster shell is an extra source of calcium that some chicken-owners like to keep for their hens. If oyster shell is provided, it must not be mixed in with the main feed but should be kept separate; otherwise, the birds may consume too much calcium which can cause joint problems and other health issues.

Keeping Chickens Safe from Predators

A second important factor in raising healthy chickens is predator-proofing. Many animals will eat chickens if they get the chance. Chicken-eating species include dogs, cats, raccoons, weasels, birds of prey, foxes and more. In order to prevent predator attacks, a secure coop and pen is necessary. Birds should be locked up safely at night and placed in a pen inaccessible to wild animals, feral cats and domestic dogs during the day.

It should be noted that chicken wire is not adequate keeping most predators out. It is designed to keep chickens in but will not stop skunks, opossums, minks or other determined predators. Ideally, the chicken pen should be covered with thin-slotted wire over the top. Wire should also be placed beneath the dirt of the pen if possible. This prevents animals from digging under the fence and coming up beneath the birds.

Diseases and Biosecurity

Disease is a third serious consideration. This is especially true concerning urban chickens. Urban chickens are at a greater risk of catching diseases, such as salmonellosis, and spreading them to other birds and to humans as well.

Biosecurity is the practice of preventing these diseases from spreading. Poultry-owners can practice biosecurity by avoiding visiting poultry auctions, poultry farms or other flocks of chickens. Another way to practice biosecurity is to only introduce new birds after a period of quarantine, during which time the new birds are kept far away from the existing flock.

Keeping the Pen Clean

A fourth thing to keep in mind is pollution. Chickens will peck at and swallow litter such as used cigarettes or old, rusty screws on the ground. This will kill them. Their pen must be kept clean and regularly inspected for dangerous pieces of trash. Other forms of pollution that must be avoided include chemicals such as rat poison, herbicides and insecticide. In addition, anything with lead in it must be kept away from chickens.

Other Hazardous Materials to Keep Away from Chickens:

  • Deep bodies of water, including water buckets chickens may trip and fall head-first into
  • Shoes and clothing that came into contact with the droppings, feathers or other body parts of poultry from a different flock
  • Bits of broken glass
  • Animal food designed for other species, such as goats, sheep or dogs

The Importance of Clean Water

Fresh water is a vital, fifth consideration. Chickens without cold water in the summer can quickly become dehydrated or over-heated and suffer a heat stroke. On the other hand, in areas with frigid winters, water should be heated so it does not turn into ice. Water should be changed twice daily, once in the morning and again in the evening. It should always be clean and free from droppings or other filth, which will cause disease and death. Stagnant water will also cause disease and death, even if it looks clear, due to the botulism-causing bacteria that breeds in still water.

Roosters and Hens

The sixth tip is the sex ratio. In a flock with too many males, the roosters will fight with each other, doing damage that may be fatal. The hens will also suffer from over-mating, and will lose feathers on the neck and back. Over-mated hens are more stressed and susceptible to injury or disease. A flock of eight or less hens should have just one rooster, if any. To avoid an unhealthy sex ratio, never buy straight-run chicks from a hatchery.

Mental Health

The seventh tip is to mentally stimulate the birds. Scientific studies show that chickens are as intelligent as a seven-year-old human being. They are emotional, thinking creatures more sentient than most people realize. They can suffer from boredom. Bored chickens may excessively peck at each other or pace constantly. Boredom can be alleviated by petting them, giving them safe treats such as fresh watermelon or summer squash or simply by spending time with them.

Faming Help, Raising Animals

How to Milk a Cow By Hand (It can be fun!)

To get the most from a dairy cow, you have to milk the cow every day, or she may stop producing milk and develop problems with her teats. However, unless you own more than 15 dairy cows, the cost of an expensive milking machine outweighs the benefits of using it.

You can save more money when you do it by hand, and while milking by hand has its difficulties in the beginning, it only takes time before you master the technique. After you know how to milk a dairy cow, you could probably do it blindfolded. Until you reach that stage, however, here are some things you will need.

Disciplined Schedule for Milking

You should milk cows twice daily, and you have to milk your cows correctly so that they feel happy and generous with their milk. As long as you handle your cow with care, she will produce milk from her udders when calving. Because her teats get stimulated from calving, she naturally produces the milk.

Clean and Sanitize Everything

Hands down one of the most important rules of milking a cow by hand relates to sanitizing everything. The main areas to sanitize before you start milking include:

  • Your hands
  • The teat you will be pulling on
  • The bucket to collect the milk
  • The receptacle to store the milk with

Without proper care of hygiene in the workstation, it affects the quality in the final product. Even worse, a failure to keep your workstation clean can lead to a buildup of harmful bacteria like mastitis, which is a disease of the udder that can spread from cow to cow and hurt your milk production. Clean the buckets out after each use and rinse it well with hot water. When cleaning the cow, you don’t necessarily have to wash her fully, but you should wash and brush the side of your cow to prevent debris from dropping into the buckets. Finally, you should wash your hands and the udder before you start to hand milk your cows.

Beware of Kicks

It doesn’t matter how docile your dairy cow acts out in the field, she can kick like a mule if she feels threatened. For that reason, you have to treat your cows with respect and tie their legs together with a strip of leather or cloth before you start milking. In addition to a cow kicking you, she may kick over your bucket full of milk just as you were about to finish. Some dairy farmers don’t restrain their cows, but it’s more trouble than it’s worth in the end if she kicks you and the milk bucket.

Milking the Cow

To begin, you will set the milking stool on the right side of your cow, and you will place the bucket between your knees so that the bucket doesn’t accidentally tip over. You should also try to get under the cow so that you shorten the distance between the teat and the bucket.

Milking by Hand: All in the Technique

When it comes to milking cows by hand, it all boils down to how you hold the teat of the cow. For example, you should always grasp the teat with your whole hand and thumb, and your forefinger should be close to the top of the teat. With the proper grasping of the teat, you stop the milk from flowing back up into the udder. After you have done this, you enclose the rest of the teat using your fingers. This will press the milk out of the cow. To effectively pull milk from the teats, you will release the grip from your forefinger and thumb on the teat, which lets the milk flow down from the udder. You repeat this process of enclosing the udder and squeezing the teat.

The Process of Milking

The actual process of how to milk a cow is not overly difficult, but it does take some time to master the technique. When you first milk cows, you should begin the process with the front teats and move to the back two teats after you have emptied them. Afterwards, you can return to the front teats and finish with whatever remains. Milking cows sets you in a rhythm, and after a while, you will learn how to pull with both hands.

A milker must exercise caution to keep small dust particles, hairs and other debris out of the milk. The most common way to do this is to set a cheese cloth over the milk bucket. While milk does get strained after, much of the dirt dissolves and passes through the strainer and into the milk. You prevent this problem with the use of a cheesecloth. After you have finished with milking, here’s some recipes on cheese making.

Raising Animals

10 Tips for Taking Good Care of Your Sheep

Caring for sheep has been completed by humans for thousands of years as the benefits of developing a flock for meat, wool, or simply for fun can be an attractive choice to make. Sheep, rams, and lambs are known for being relatively easy to work with as a shepherd, in many cases sheep will begin to respond to commands to follow, be fed, and move into their shelter when called, according to The Spruce.

The following are ten tips to make sure a flock remains as healthy and productive as possible over any career as a shepherd.

Choosing a flock

A flock of sheep will usually have to be purchased to make sure the novice shepherd chooses the best animals to make up a flock a few simple tips on choosing a healthy flock should be discussed. One of the best options for a shepherd is to examine each ewe carefully to make sure they are walking with heads held high and an alert appearance as they are walking around a pasture; a shepherd should run their hand down the spine of each ewe or ram being considered to make sure they are strong, muscular, and not too flabby.

Creating the perfect shelter

It is important to have everything prepared for the arrival of a flock of sheep, including the construction of a three sided, covered shelter to assist in keeping every sheep safe from the elements and potential predators. Mother Earth News reports each member of a flock requires around six square feet of living space to remain healthy and happy throughout their life and to avoid the development and spread of disease. Ventilation and the adequate movement of air should be provided in a bid to ensure every sheep is protected from the extremes of heat seen across much of the U.S., according to Follow Your Dream Farm.

Cull your flock

A subject not many shepherds enjoy discussing is that of culling a flock as it continues to grow and multiply when a ram is performing at his maximum potential throughout the mating season. Raising livestock can be an expensive business and any lambs born not meeting the standards of good health should be removed from the flock to avoid any illness arriving for the farmer. The benefit of sheep farming is those lambs culled in the Spring can be used for meat at home or sold for meats.

Get the best feed

Sheep are known for their ability to rummage for food such as grass and hay, which should make up a portion of the daily feed provided for any flock. Sheep can largely be left to their own devices in a pasture field where grasses and plants growing naturally will make up the majority of feed, but in times of drought or extremely hot or cold weather when grasses are not available a mixture of grains and legumes to make sure a flock of sheep remains as healthy as possible at all times of the year.

Always have water available

Sheep are grazing animals and require a large amount of food to be consumed each and every day, water is another must for all sheep who require as much as two gallons of water per day. In hot summer periods, a sheep may increase their water intake which should be adjusted for these issues.

Make sure lambs are cared for correctly

A healthy ewe will produce between one and two lambs each mating season to give a shepherd a happy problem of a growing flock to care for. Most breeds of sheep see lambs born in the Spring months when the weather can still be cold and force the shepherd to take some drastic action to care for the young lambs in their early weeks. The mother ewe can be sheared to force her to remain in her shelter to care for her lamb within the sight of a heat lamp for added comfort.

Reward good behavior in livestock

As with the majority of animals, the aim for any shepherd is to make sure their flock are well trained and cared for at all times to keep them fit and healthy. Although effective grazers, sheep also enjoy a treat and being rewarded for their impressive behavior; a good choice is to reward sheep with carrots and fruits, plus a favorite treat of most farm animals is animal crackers once in a while.

Sheep require grooming

As with all animals, the grooming routine of any sheep is needed to keep the animal healthy and happy. A thick wool coat is grown to provide a comfortable environment at all times for the ewe and should be removed at least once each year to avoid the ewe becoming uncomfortable and stressed. Crutching, the removal of hair around the anus and nipples is a popular option in the weeks before the lambing season begins.

Record keeping is essential

Record keeping is an essential part of raising a healthy flock as knowing when a ewe is due to give birth to make sure the shepherd knows as much as possible about their flock as possible. Each ewe and ram should have their own record and charts detailing mating activities and when a ram began mating with ewes to make sure an estimate can be made about when to expect the first lambs to be born. Other records that should be kept include annual wool yield and number of lambs born each season.

Keep a flock healthy

Finally, probably the most important aspect of managing a flock of sheep correctly is to ensure each ewe is given the chance to remain as healthy as possible at all times. Almost every ovine breed is known to be a target for a range of internal and external parasites which should be removed at regular intervals through the use of a pest removing dip. Routine vaccinations will be recommended by a veterinarian who will administer all the necessary shots required and identify any potential health issues seen in the local area a shepherd should be aware of.

Raising Animals

7 Tips to Raising a Healthy Cow

Raising cows can benefit you in so many ways. You get an unlimited supply of milk, dairy products, compose, beef, and you can sell them for profit. But cows can be a headache especially when they get sick, and you have no idea what to do. There are simple rules to follow if you want to raise healthy cows and succeed in your cattle farming business.

Cultivate a Fertile Land

Cows feed on grass, and it is no secret that what they eat will eventually have an impact on their health. You need a fertile land that will supply healthy grass for the cows, and if you don’t, you have to build one. Don’t use fertilizers because that will lead to severe problems in the future. Invest in potash, nitrogen, and limestone to enrich your land. You should also integrate rock phosphate, which contains nickel, zinc boron, iodine, and other elements that supply nutrients to the soil.

Provide Them with Enough Water

The water needs of cows is determined by factors like weight, stage of production, and temperature. On the average, they will need at least 1 – 2 gallons for every 100 pounds of body weight. Install a functional and healthy water supply system and invest in a tank heater to save back during cold weathers. Supply them with clean, fresh water that is free of manure, dirt, and other debris that could lead to problems. Lactating cows need twice as much water compared to other cows, so keep that in mind.

Perfect Cow Breeding

Proper cow breeding and reproduction can help you to recoup your investment and make a profit huge profit on your farm. You need to put a lot of things into consideration like keeping their environment clean and conducive, which is essential for the healthy birth of the calf. Also, don’t fatten your yearling bulls at the starting of the breeding season and make sure they receive pre-breeding vaccination just like the cowherd. You should also pay attention to synchronization protocols which can help increase pregnancy and conception rates.

Grass Feed Cows Perform Better

There are many options when it comes to providing your cow with feeding. You can buy grains, supplements, hay, and silage from farm feed suppliers or feed them with fresh grass. Grass fed cows are healthier because they get all the nutrients they need, which also increases the quality of the milk and meat. Grass fed diet also help reduce your farm management costs so you can invest the money in other areas on the farm.

Protect and Prioritize Their Health

Paying attention to the health of your cows will go a long way in ensuring they deliver the very best and remain healthy. Have a veterinarian support who can respond to situations as quickly as possible. You also need to get the cows vaccinated as it costs less than the money you will lose from ill or dead cows. Treat injuries and illnesses immediately you discover them to prevent it from spreading and attacking your whole herd.

Get Quality Calves Supply

The quality of the calves you purchase will determine the kind of cow they will become. Choose your cattle breed by considering factors like climate, weather, temperature, and land. Select cows based on your area’s climate and microclimate to increase their chances of survival. Determine if you’re raising them for dairy or beef, or both and put your business goals into consideration. Find information about your local market trends to know which type of cows to buy and the ones to avoid.

Maintain and Manage Your Facility

Raise your cows in a healthy, comfortable, and organized facility. Prepare your facility by keeping it clean, inviting, and well protected with fences and other cow handling equipment. Install facilities that protect your cow from physical injuries and bruises, and make sure that sanitation issues are taken care of regularly. Take the time to determine where the water resources and other facilities will be located based on the nature of your farm land. This is not only a moral obligation but also a legal one, and failure to provide this can lead to substantial penalties.

Farmers who want to raise healthy cows must realize it is a major task they need to be committed to. They must install and manage quality facilities and equipment, get a quality supply of calves, perfect cow breeding, and provide them with enough water. While it can be physically and financially exhausting to raise healthy cows and ensure that they live quality lives, it can pay off in dividends once they start breeding and multiplying. Use the aforementioned tips to help you get started.