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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.

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

    Karen E. Davison, Ph.D. - S...

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    Three Benchmarks for Breeding Heifers by Size

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     FIND ANSWERS 

    Information From Our Experts

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

    Q
    Are oats a bad thing to feed to performance horses?
    A
    No. Oats provide a good source of calories, starch, fat, some protein and amino acids. However, they lack many important nutrients performance horses need to stay in top form. Through the years, successful horse trainers have often fed high-quality oats, but had to add various supplements to try and meet all the nutritional needs of a top-level performance horse. Horses cannot maintain top performance on oats and hay alone.
    Q
    Is it necessary for a rooster to be present for egg laying to begin?
    A
    No, but without a rooster, all eggs will be unfertilized.
    Q
    Won’t increasing feeding during the last trimester of pregnancy increase the risk of dystocia in cows?
    A
    That is a myth. In fact, a number of studies have concluded the opposite is true. Cows that lost weight during the last trimester did have smaller calves, but also had more problems calving because they did not have sufficient energy stores in their bodies to calve rapidly and easily on their own. Cows that maintained or gained weight had a lower incidence of calving problems — even though their calves weighed slightly more. Body condition also affects fertility, rebreeding and pregnancy, all of which can have a direct impact on herd profitability.
    Q
    How can I help meet my calves’ increased energy demands in colder weather?
    A
    Added energy can be provided by adding a third feeding of milk replacer, preferably late in the evening; and increasing the amount of starter offered. Seasonal formulations of both milk replacer and calf starter are now available and are designed specifically to meet the needs of calves during inclement weather.
    Q
    What are the benefits of supplemental feeding of fish?
    A
    Research has shown that ponds stay healthy, fish grow big and fast, and sustainable per-acre populations are large with supplemental feeding. Ponds that naturally sustain a stocking population of 500 bluegills and 50 bass per acre can easily sustain 1,000 bluegills and 100 bass per acre with supplemental feeding. This remarkable difference is due in part to the fact that supplemental feeding affects a pond’s entire food chain.
    Q
    What are the signs of goat milk fever?
    A
    Moderate milk fever will make the goat lethargic, with poor appetite and poor milk production. Acute cases of milk fever can leave the goat in a coma; she will need immediate veterinary attention.
    Q
    Should I supplement my horse’s diet with selenium?
    A
    Selenium is an important antioxidant for the protection of cellular membranes. However, excess selenium in the horse’s diet can lead to substitution of sulfur in the keratin fibers with selenium, resulting in poor structural integrity. Chronic selenium toxicity can result in hair loss, coronitis and bleeding of the coronary band, as well as sloughing of the hoof and even laminitis.
    Q
    I’ve noticed some unusual behavior on the part of my doe with her newborns — is this normal?
    A
    Occasionally, incidents happen that are often blamed on “bad mothering skills,” but are often the result of stress and/or inexperience. A first-time mother may accidentally bite into the belly of a kit while removing the umbilical cord, or cause other damage trying to pull the kit from her vagina using her teeth. These incidents usually do not happen after the first litter. Stomping on kits is often a result of the doe jumping at an unusual sound, and she may “thump” to warn others, which can be dangerous for her kits within the confines of the nest box. A doe may also urinate on her kits to camouflage them if she thinks a predator is lurking. Does exhibiting such behavior should be moved to a quieter, more secure location where they will not be stressed into dangerous behavior. Does may also become aggressive toward their caretaker at this time, as they are in a very protective mode. Simply perform any necessary tasks quickly and quietly and leave the doe to do her job.
    Q
    Should I feed my show pig oat groats?
    A
    You might have noticed some folks feeding rolled oats (oat groats) along with their regular show pig feed. It might be a good idea to offer a small amount of oat groats (1/2 lb.) each day with the pig’s feed to increase the particle size of the total diet. This is a good idea, as the pig is less likely to suffer from ulcers, although many pigs perform very well and are never fed oat groats. It is a personal decision.
    Q
    How are alfalfa and timothy hay different?
    A
    Alfalfa and timothy are both forage sources commonly used in rabbit and guinea pig diets. Nutritionally speaking, however, they are very different. Alfalfa contains higher concentrations of protein and calcium compared to timothy hay. When alfalfa or timothy is used in a complete rabbit feed, the nutrients of the hay source used is taken into account and mixed with other appropriate ingredients to obtain a final diet formula that meets the needs of rabbits or guinea pigs. For example, while calcium is much higher in alfalfa than in timothy, in a complete feed, the amount of additional calcium sources (such as calcium carbonate) would be lower in an alfalfa-based diet compared to a timothy-based formula.
    Q
    How can diet help ease the weaning process for piglets?
    A
    The weaning process and development of the gastrointestinal tract of the pig have a profound effect on nutrient absorption and protection from pathogenic challenges, thus impacting growth. Diets constructed for young pigs should take into account these changes that are occurring at weaning and utilize ingredients that the young pig can better absorb and that support intestinal health.
    Q
    What factors should wildlife managers consider in making nutrition decisions for deer and elk herds?
    A
    Seasonal forage availability and quality, physiological state and nutritional requirements, number and kinds of animal species, livestock and grazing management practices, and production goals.