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  • This is a Way of Life You Have to Live to Truly Understand
     
    That’s why we feed more than 3,000 animals on our 1,200-acre working farm every day. Because a commitment to doing what’s best for animals demands nothing less.
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     FEATURED 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.

    Mariela Lachmann, Ph.D. - S...

    Effect of Feeding Pigs DDGS and Purina® EcoCare® ...

    Kathleen Young, Ph.D. - Lea...

    Feeding Options for Senior Horses: Part One

    Purina Animal Nutrition Exp...

    Will Great Nutrition Guarantee Trophy Bucks?

    Kevin Burgoon, Ph.D. - Tech...

    Feeding Show Lambs: Basic Show Lamb Nutrition

    Jason Leonard - Calf and He...

    Three Benchmarks for Breeding Heifers by Size

    Purina Animal Nutrition Exp...

    How to Start Raising Chickens: Start Your Backyar...

     FIND ANSWERS 

    Information From Our Experts

    Animal experts from the Purina Animal Nutrition Center share their knowledge.

    Q
    When will hens begin laying eggs?
    A
    Healthy hens will begin laying eggs at about 18 to 20 weeks of age. Hens will be at peak production at about 30 weeks. Eighty to 90 percent is considered excellent egg production (100 percent = 1 egg per hen, per day), but breed, housing, weather, management, parasite load and nutrition can all affect the rate of lay of your hens.
    Q
    What can happen if producers don’t make short-term investments in feed supplementation for their cattle?
    A
    High feed costs can make producers think they can’t afford to spend money on supplementation up front. However, if they don’t make the expenditure, they end up paying the price because their cows may have a reduced ability to conceive and conceive early, plus have a lower overall reproduction rate.
    Q
    What is the advantage of growing heifer calves faster and more efficiently?
    A
    Accelerated growth can help maximize performance and the health of the animal over its lifetime. However, these larger heifers need to be bred early enough to take full advantage of this more aggressive calf growth plan. Many heifers are still being bred at the same age as before, even though they could easily be bred two to three months sooner, based on size.
    Q
    What does it mean if my fish quit eating?
    A
    The first sign of a problem is often a sudden decrease in appetite. If a group of fish suddenly quits eating, the cause is usually either an adverse water quality condition or disease. First, check water quality. If a water quality problem exists, rectify the problem. If fish appear unhealthy in any way (improper or erratic behavior, sores, etc.), they may be diseased. Send unhealthy-appearing fish to a pathologist for evaluation.
    Q
    What causes bloat in goats?
    A
    There are two major causes. One is an obstruction of the esophagus — the goat may have swallowed something large, and it is stuck. The other is that the goat has either gotten into a source of soluble carbohydrates — often a grain that it shouldn’t eat — or someone has changed the goat’s diet too quickly. These situations cause a decrease in pH, resulting in the death of “good” rumen microbes and proliferation of undesirable microbes that produce foam, blocking the entrance to the esophagus and preventing the escape of gas.
    Q
    Why is important to not supplement balanced horse rations?
    A
    When a horse owner feeds a Purina® horse feed, it is already balanced to meet the horse's nutritional needs and contains sufficient amount of all the necessary proteins and amino acids, vitamins and minerals. If an owner then top-dresses a protein, vitamin, or mineral supplement on the ration, it can cause serious nutrient imbalances and possibly toxicities.
    Q
    Is it mostly respiratory diseases that can affect rabbits, or are there others?
    A
    Enteritis — or inflammation of the intestinal tract — is the primary disease that affects rabbits. There are many forms and causes. Mucoid enteritis, primarily a disease of young rabbits 7 to 14 weeks of age (although it can also occur in adults), disrupts the developing microflora population in the gut. This disease is often accompanied by pneumonia and has a high mortality rate. Non-mucoid enteritis, characterized by watery diarrhea, can be caused by infection with any number of bacteria or parasites, a diet that is too high in starch/sugar and/or too low in fiber, lack of water, rapid diet change or consumption of feed the rabbit is not used to, or stress.
    Q
    What type of forage should I feed my show lambs?
    A
    At minimum, each lamb should receive a double handful, or about ¼ lb. (4 ounces) of a good-quality alfalfa hay per day. Although progressive judges are selecting lambs with more base width, rib shape and deeper fore rib, we still want lambs that are relatively tubular in their design. That means a lamb with an excessive middle usually will not be placed high in class. Poor-quality forage passes slowly through the digestive tract of the lamb. So, feeding a low- or moderate-quality roughage source tends to put some middle or a belly on lambs. The higher-quality alfalfa passes through much faster, maintaining the tubular appearance of the lamb, yet meeting the lamb’s fiber requirement.
    Q
    Should I feed my rabbit alfalfa or timothy hay has a supplemental hay?
    A
    Calcium metabolism in rabbits is unique compared to other species. Rabbits are efficient calcium absorbers and excrete excess calcium in their urine. Because of this unique metabolic system, rabbits are prone to urinary stones if fed too much calcium. Therefore, when feeding an adult rabbit supplemental hay in addition to a complete diet, it is preferable to provide timothy hay to minimize excess calcium.
    Q
    What have been some of the outcomes of feeding pigs DDGS?
    A
    Partial results of our most recent study at Oklahoma State University suggest that swine producers who have adopted the use of DDGS as a cost-saving strategy may also be increasing their pigs’ water intake and manure volume, compared to pigs fed corn-soybean meal diets.1 1 Need citation
    Q
    I’ve heard that deer cannot tolerate more than 16 percent dietary protein, and that high-protein diets are wasteful or even toxic. Is this true?
    A
    No. Research in South Texas has shown that wild deer diets at certain times of the year can be more than 25 percent protein. Many forbs highly utilized by deer are more than 30 percent protein. Obviously, the wild deer are unharmed by consuming these high-protein plants. Indeed, excellent antler growth years were those with superb spring forage conditions. The resulting antler growth suggests that not only were the deer not harmed by their high-protein diet, they actually utilized the protein to grow bigger antlers, indicating that higher protein is necessary for a buck to achieve his genetic potential for antler growth.