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Hubbard Life Blog

Your resource for advice from Hubbard® Life experts.

A GMO Grain by Any Other Name Might Be…‘Natural’

Probably the number one question I get asked over the internet is if our Hubbard® Life products (esp. dog and chicken feeds) are made with GMO grains.  For a while I would try to explain GMO and non-GMO grain differences but I found it did not matter.  So now when I get that question, I just say ‘Yes’.  They are all made with GMO grains.

I have been pondering how to help spread the word that GMO is not the result of a mad scientist working in a lab modifying grains to take over the world (that was Brain’s job if you remember the show Pinky and the Brain).  I was reading my Drover Cattle Network e-letter and an article from Dan Murphy called Commentary: On the meaning of ‘natural’ that gave me a chuckle.   He starts out asking what is “natural” and suggested that most of today’s modern production is called “unnatural” by critics.  But he continues to say the “tolerance” about natural is much broader in other areas outside of grains in agriculture.

The first analogy he has is seedless fruit, particularly watermelon.  Since animals will consume normal fruit to move seeds for the plant, a seedless fruit seem to be a “waste of time” in nature terms.  But people like seedless fruit and thus breeders will take male pollen with 22 chromosomes and cross with a female flower with 44.   The resulting plant has 33 chromosomes which makes it sterile.  Very similar to a mule by crossing a horse with a donkey.  But with a mule, the sterility is a bad thing whereas it is a good thing with the fruit. 

But if you look at a website that talks about modern seedless watermelon, most negative comments were about how it did not taste as good as a watermelon with seeds.   But not one comment was about it being unnatural or how we should not consume it.

The next analogy he makes is about dogs today.  I breed purebred Shelties and Collies.  But how many of you have heard of Dorkies or Schweeines?    Many people are taking purebred lines and breeding them for these different types/names of dogs for the fun of it.  Isn’t that un-natural too?  I remember when those were called mutts or Hienz-57, but never a breed.    But no one thinks as these “Frankenmutts”, as Dan put it, as unnatural.   

So as far as I can tell, some grain made someone mad and now the world is getting back at it as it is being changed to fight that nasty herbicide or other insects.  It doesn’t matter that we have to produce more food with less water, ground and other resources as the world’s population keeps growing and growing.  Maybe we can come up with a way to feed more seedless watermelons to our animals and then people would not complain as much.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of 'hype' and negativity surrounding GMO’s and in some cases that hype may come from a place of misunderstanding.  Perhaps by thinking about these two other analogies that seem perfectly acceptable, we can begin to understand that using GMO’s in our animals’ feed is not really a bad thing after all.

Posted on 12/10/2014 by Dr. Ed Bonnette  |  Category: Equine, Poultry, Cat, Dog, Rabbit, Sheep, Goat, Specialty
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Bio-security Affects Everyone: Tips to keep you and your animals healthy

If you are reading this blog it is highly likely that you own at least one type of animal. It may be a companion animal or livestock…maybe both.  It is that time of year at my house where we are weaning calves from multiple locations, horses and dogs are transported from place to place to help with the work, and there is constant traffic in and out of our yards.  We also acquired a few new barn cats and I am frequently visiting other producer’s places as part of my role with Hubbard. What I’m trying to get at, is there is a constant need to be vigilant regarding bio-security.  Not only on my ranch that I like to otherwise claim is “organized chaos”, but anyone who may come in contact with animals anywhere.

Like people, animals get sick. It can be something as simple as a cold or a downright dirty infectious disease that can spread like wildfire. Some diseases can be carried from one place to another on a person’s shoe, while others may require nose to nose or other close contact to be transmitted. In addition, there are many diseases that are considered zoonotic, meaning they can spread from one type of animal to a completely different species (including humans).  Examples of such illness include brucellosis, rabies virus, toxoplasmosis, and vesicular stomatitis to name a few. I am not trying to frighten you, but simply want to you to be aware of the possibility that your animals or you can contract one of these illnesses.  The good news is there are bio-security measures you can take to minimize the risk of spreading disease and keep yourself and your animals as happy and healthy as possible.  Below are some suggested practices:

Consider adopting a Bio-Security Plan. There are numerous guides and helpful resources on the internet from university extension and state vet offices to help you do so.

Be Alert. Watch and observe your animals for signs of illness, preferably from a secret spot so your interaction with them does not affect their behavior.

Know the warning signs of diseases of the animals that you care for.

Vaccinate your animals with vaccines that offer protection against diseases they may come in contact with. Work with your local vet for suggested vaccine protocols.

Report any severe illnesses or deaths affecting a high percentage of your animals to your veterinarian.

Quarantine new animals for a period of 3-4 weeks before adding them to your herd.

Isolate sick animals so they are not spreading disease within your herd.

Minimize access and entry to your operation with gates or limited number of driveways. Keep vehicular traffic in livestock and feed areas to a minimum.

Keep track of who visits your place and determine where they have been before setting foot onto your place. If they have been to a farm that may have been infected, ask to meet with them in a neutral setting not on your property.

Be cognizant of foot traffic; consider utilizing foot baths or disposable booties for visitors.

Keep Feeding and Feed Storage Areas Clean. Minimize varmint access to your stored feed, keep feed bunks clean and clear of feces and clean water troughs frequently.

Sanitize Equipment between Uses. Clean and disinfect animal husbandry equipment that comes in contact with animals between uses.  

Clean vehicles and trailers often. Scrape mud, manure and dirt from vehicles as to decrease risk of transporting pathogens. Wash tires and undercarriage of vehicles as necessary.  Frequently wash the inside of your trailers out to remove feces.

Do not share equipment with your friends or neighbors unless it has been sanitized. This includes clippers for show animals or even horse tack. 

Wash your hands frequently. You should do this for own health as well as your family, but also for the sake of your animals.

Change and/or wash your clothing and shoes after visiting off-site livestock (friends, neighbors, livestock shows) before working with your own animals at home.

As you can see, there are quite a few things to consider when it comes to bio-security.  To simplify it, bio-security is comprised of three major components: Traffic control, Isolation, and Sanitation.  If you effectively manage these pieces of the puzzle, you will go a long way in keeping you and your animals safe and healthy. 

Posted on 10/29/2014 by Stephanie Jaeger-Whipps  |  Category: Equine, Poultry, Cat, Dog, Rabbit, Sheep, Goat, Specialty
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The Proud Heritage Chicken: A glimpse into the poultry past

I was given the wonderful opportunity to speak at P. Allen Smith’s Poultry Workshop last month held at his beautiful farm just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas.  As we arrived and started to set up our Hubbard Life booth, Allen’s staff started to bring out some of the different heritage poultry that had been raised on the farm.  When I say raised, I mean both in numbers and in people’s education.   He had a barn built specifically to raise and show these over 24 different exquisite color/pattern breeds.  One of Allen’s goals is to bring back some of the old breeds of poultry that have almost left us. 

Modern operations raise the large white birds for maximum number of eggs and meat which is great for that is what our ever expanding population is demanding.  But, the birds that were raised for their feather quality/color, calmness, brown egg, tolerances to heat and/or cold or many, many other traits were sometimes lost in the major commercial expansion.  Allen’s goal is to raise awareness of these cool old breeds.  There are the egg layer breeds and many were chosen as good meat producers and some as both.  These breeds ranged from the beautiful white faced Spanish birds with their black bodies and large white patches on their face and necks to the different shades of colors in the Wyandotte breeds - similar to those that my great-grandfather raised off the Little Kanawha River in West Virginia.   

Each breed has its own wonderful story about its background and its rise and fall from the poultry world.  If you wish to learn more about these wonderful breeds, please go to P. Allen Smith’s webpage ( or find a copy of the Hobby Farm magazine called “Chickens” 2nd ed., 2013.  This magazine has several nice articles on the Heritage breeds and many other articles on feeding, housing, etc.  See if can pick just one of the breeds as your new favorite.

We are proud to say all these heritage breeds at Allen's Moss Mountain Farm are being fed our Hubbard® Life Homestead® Poultry Feed!  You can see this highlighted on their website at Allen's Pick's.

You can also visit our website for more information on the products: 

Posted on 10/22/2014 by Dr. Ed Bonnette  |  Category: Poultry
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