Hubbard Life

Hubbard Life Blog

Your resource for advice from Hubbard® Life experts.


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 (www.pallensmith.com) 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: www.hubbardlife.com/poultry.aspx 

Posted on 10/22/2014 by Dr. Ed Bonnette  |  Category: Poultry
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The Not-So-Cute-Side of Rabbits: Coprophagy and why they need it

What is coprophagy and does my rabbit need it?

Coprophagy is a long, fancy term for the consumption of feces.  Sometimes it is referred to as hindgut fermentation.

And, yes, coprophagy is something your rabbit needs.  Let me explain why.

You have probably heard it said that rabbits consume their own feces.  It is true, they do, and it is perfectly normal and necessary.  It is essential to your rabbit’s healthy digestion system and weight gain/maintenance.

Rabbits do not have a complex ruminant digestive system.  They extract extra nutrition from grass by giving their food a second pass through the gut.  So, how do they accomplish this?  Rabbits produce cecotropes which are called “soft feces’ or ‘night feces’.   The cecotropes are the material resulting from the fermentation of food in a part of the digestive system called the cecum.  Rabbits also excrete another kind of feces which is their typical hard fecal pellet, but they do not normally consume that.

Cecotropes are nutrient-rich and are passed out of the body, like feces, but are re-ingested by the rabbit so that more nutrients can be absorbed.  Cecotropes have twice the protein and half the fiber of their typical hard fecal pellets.  They also contain high levels of vitamin K and B vitamins (Vitamin B 12 in particular).  After ingestion, on the second pass through, the extra nutrients are absorbed by the small intestine.  Without this process, many of the nutrients in the food would be lost and passed through the colon, and out as typical feces.

Rabbits are herbivores, eating only vegetable foods.  And they do well on fiber diets.  The rabbit’s cecum goes to work digesting the food.  At night, the contents of the cecum move rapidly through the colon because very few nutrients are absorbed there and then cecotropes are formed.  These cecotropes are the soft feces consumed by the rabbit straight from the anus.  That is how the rabbit is able to consume the feces before it falls through the wire mesh of the cage and onto the floor of the hutch.  The fecal pellets you see on the floor of the hutch are the ‘hard feces’ I mentioned earlier.

You will generally never see the cecotropes, but if you did they would be smaller, softer, more moist, and covered in a greenish mucus (compared to the hard feces that is round and hard).

In a way, cecotrophy (cecotropes passing through the system a second time) is similar to the process of ruminant animals chewing their cud.  Cows, goats and other ruminants chew their food once, swallow it, and then the digestive process continues in the rumen where the fiber starts to be broken down by bacteria.  When these animals chew their cud, the material from the rumen is brought back up through the esophagus to the mouth where it is re-chewed and swallowed.  By repeating this portion of the digestive process, ruminants, too receive more nutrition from their food.

I hope this helps you understand one of the natural body processes of the rabbit.  For more rabbit tips check out our Rabbit Tips & Tools page on our website.  You can also get information about our Hubbard Life Rabbit Feeds at www.hubbardlife.com/rabbit.aspx

Posted on 9/24/2014 by Amy Brown  |  Category: Rabbit
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