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Your resource for advice from Hubbard® Life experts.

4-H and FFA: Where 1 + 1 equals a lot more

I have had the great fortune of working with local 4-H clubs in my county and FFA groups close to the Botkins, OH plant for many years.  It is wonderful to see these bright, eager minds and bodies ready to tackle almost anything, from learning how to handle animals that outweigh them by 10-fold or to step in front of a group of people and speak. 

I just finished working on an FFA project where the kids did not want to perform an old “feed them/weigh them” experiment, but wanted to expand their knowledge.  They wanted to learn more about how new ingredients, like yeast, would affect the gut morphology when added to the animal’s diet. They observed it affected production and more importantly, taste.  They took their research project a step further by visiting our Botkins feed mill to see how their feed was made, and then went to the facility where the birds were processed.     

As I opened my email this morning, I noticed an article from the Pork Network by JoAnn Alumbaugh about 10 Reasons Why your Child Should Join 4-H or FFA.  I was in 4-H for 10+ years, as a youth, and those experiences, and great people I met, help me even still today.  I thought I would share the 10 reasons I believe youth should join 4-H or FFA:

  1. Leadership skills:  I started as a recreation officer and worked to president of many organizations.
  2. Knowledge of agriculture:  I had a step ahead of many of my fellow students when I went to college.
  3. Healthy living:  Life skills on feeding animals correctly and knowing what is in my Cheerios in the morning.
  4. Confidence:  In many of my first Junior Leadership meetings, I did not say a word.  But the experience helped me learn to make friends and work together.
  5. Good Sportsmanship:  Taught me to be a good winner, but most importantly a good loser as well.
  6. Work ethic:  My parents helped, but I learned early that it was up to me to get projects completed or to find an answer.
  7. Community service:  Showed me how great it feels to help someone else.
  8. Lifelong friendships:  I currently live four hours away from my hometown and still exchange Christmas cards with many of my old 4-H friends.
  9. Scholarship and education opportunities:  One of my daughters is a senior in college and the other is in grad school, anything to help save money is HUGE!
  10. And so much more:  Mentors, friends, education, etc.  The list goes on and on.

I am so glad that my sisters, myself, and now my children had the chance to develop and become better people, thanks to great organizations like 4-H and FFA.  

Posted on 1/9/2017 by Dr. Ed Bonnette  |  Category: Equine, Poultry, Cat, Dog, Rabbit, Sheep, Goat, Specialty
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Chickens Are Cool! Help Them Stay That Way

Not sure about where you live but here it has been HOT!!  Not only with temperatures in the high 90’s but the winds have made it feel like you’re in a convection oven.  Heat exhaustion is something that all animals struggle with and our role as good stewards is to do what is needed to insure our animals are kept within a comfortable and safe temperature zone. Birds are unique in the way they control heat since they do not have sweat glands like us.

Chickens remove heat from the core of their body by exhaling warm, moist air from their lungs.  The lungs serve like a radiator with circulating body liquids collecting heat that is expelled with rapid breaths out of their mouth. Thus releasing a portion of their body heat while inhaling cool air. Bird lungs are actually quite different from the human respiratory organ. Air can travel through in a single direction without disturbing air already contained within the organ, which allows them to cool off quickly without sacrificing oxygen absorption. Some tropical bird species can also flex their throat or mouth to increase the surface area of artery-laden tissue, lowering their body temperature even more. Knowing this we need to provide them a source of air that is at least 10 to 15 degrees cooler than their body temperature.  The normal range of a chicken’s body temperature is 104 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit; almost 10 degrees warmer than our body temperature. With this in mind it is difficult for us to compare our comfort zone with theirs. So having a thermometer inside the chicken house and in a shaded area outside will help you know what you’re dealing with.

Poultry producers can take a number of measures to help their chickens survive the effects of heat stress. Here are some management tips:

  • Chickens need clean, cool, water at all times.
  • Chickens are less inclined to eat during the heat of the day.
    • Feed housed birds within an hour of sunrise or the coolest part of the day. This allows the digestion process which naturally produces heat to occur during the cooler part of the day.
    • Free ranging birds should be released shortly after sunrise.  Insure water locations are shaded. Keep the water cooler with continuous flow systems on the hottest days.
  • Chickens should be kept in well-ventilated areas with adequate air flow. Move heat away from them by placing circulation fans to blow with prevailing winds. Continue moving the air as temperatures drop through the day and into the night. An ongoing cooling breeze makes a big difference in how chickens manage the heat.
  • When ambient temperatures exceed 100 degrees use misters or foggers inside the chicken house or outside in shaded areas. Water on the chickens' bodies helps to cool them.
  • Housed chickens need more room during periods of excessive heat; avoid overcrowding. It reduces body heat, as well as the corresponding amount of heat the ventilation system must move out of the poultry house.
  • Range chickens need shady areas with water.
  • During the heat of the day, don't disturb the birds. Let them rest.
  • Regularly remove any accumulated litter from the chicken house, as decomposition produces heat. Removal also keeps pests to a minimum.
  • Insulated poultry houses are easier to cool as radiant heat is minimized.
  • Keep areas around the chicken house free of tall grass and weeds which restrict air flow.  Low cut grass is best as it helps to absorb the sun and heat while bare ground can reflect heat into the house.

Your local Hubbard Life dealer can help with accessories for keeping your chickens cool and safe this summer and provide you with the best poultry feeds for your flock

Posted on 8/10/2016 by Dr. Dave Whittington  |  Category: Poultry
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Rabbit Oral Health: An important aspect to maintaining your rabbits health

After watching some rabbits chewing their food recently, it got me to thinking about whether rabbits tend to need any kind of oral care to keep those teeth strong and functional.

I did not know much about this area and did a little research into this topic.  I will share what I have learned.

Rabbits are chewers, using their teeth in many ways.  They use their teeth not only to ingest their high-fiber diet, but also to express frustration or happiness or pain, remodel their environment, groom themselves and explore new situations.

There is actually a lot we can do to help keep these important “tools” in good shape.  Problems that often occur in the oral cavity include malocclusion of the incisor teeth.  What is malocclusion?

Malocclusion-- when teeth don’t meet and wear properly.  When malocclusion occurs the teeth will overgrow and need frequent trimming.  Most cases of incisor malocclusion are hereditary and will show themselves before 6 months of age. Consult with your vet if your rabbit has that problem.

So, how can you check the incisors to determine if you have this issue?  The incisors are located at the front of the jaw and are easy to see and examine.

With your rabbit either on her back or sitting facing away from you, gently part her lips to make her “smile.”  If she is sitting use your body to prevent her from backing up.  The four large teeth you see (2 top and 2 bottom) are her incisor teeth.  Also, check to see that they are not loose and that the gum tissue is healthy pink (not red or purple). 

If malocclusion allows food or hair to collect around teeth, you can keep infection at bay by using the smallest size baby tooth brush to remove the accumulated debris.

The rabbit’s grinding teeth (also called cheek teeth) are too far back in the mouth to be easily checked, but you can watch for secondary signs of cheek tooth pain such as:

  • Drooling or wetness around the mouth
  • Swelling, warmth at jawline
  • Weight loss
  • Grinding teeth
  • Grumpy behavior
  • Bad odor from the mouth

Think about creating a safe chewing environment.  Offer plenty of approved and safe chewing objects such as cardboard, wood, dried pinecones and straw mats.  Exclude your rabbit from dangerous areas such as where electrical wires run or phone cords.  Pick up small objects that can lodge in rabbit’s mouth, such as rubber bands, needles, twist-ties and paper clips.

Healthy teeth are so important to maintaining your rabbit’s health.

Visit to learn more about rabbits, rabbit feed and other great companion animal information!  

Posted on 7/27/2016 by Amy Brown  |  Category: Rabbit
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