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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...

    Winter Means Increased Respiratory Problems for S...

    Purina Animal Nutrition Exp...

    Will Great Nutrition Guarantee Trophy Bucks?

    Feeding Show Lambs: Basic Show Lamb Nutrition

    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
    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
    What type of shelter do I need to provide for my chicks?
    A
    Young chicks can be raised in a variety of structures, but the area should be warm, dry and ventilated, but not drafty, as well as easy to clean. Small numbers of chicks can be warmed with heat lamps placed about 20 inches above the litter surface. Bigger groups of birds in a large room — a shed or a garage, for example — should have a supplemental heat source such as a brooder stove.
    Q
    Should I consider creep feeding my calves?
    A
    Creep feeding 60 days prior to weaning should be considered for a couple of reasons. During the later stages of nursing, milk production is decreasing. At the same time the calves are growing so there is a difference between available nutrients and what is needed to optimize calf growth. In addition, calves that have been creep fed will usually wean easier because they are already accustomed to feeding equipment and eating feeds other than forages and milk.
    Q
    How do energy levels in the cow diet affect amino acid balance?
    A
    If the energy levels in the diet are not in balance, the cow will convert amino acids from a protein source to an energy source. Amino acid balancing then becomes extremely costly because the amino acids are being used for something they are not intended for. Meeting the cows’ energy and fiber needs first is key when balancing for amino acids.
    Q
    How can supplemental feeding potentially increase the number of trophy fish in my pond?
    A
    Predator fish, such as bass, walleye and larger catfish, eat the bluegills, minnows, small catfish and other forage fish that have been supplied with supplemental feed. By feeding the forage fish, you’ve not only provided yourself with a better catch when you hook a bluegill, you’ve also provided a better meal for your bass. As an added bonus, supplemental feeding also makes the forage fish population more plentiful, because the larger size brought on by feeding encourages earlier breeding — sometimes as early as the first year. In the end, the result is an increase in the capacity of your pond to grow and maintain a greater number of trophy fish.
    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
    What is geophagia in horses?
    A
    Geophagia refers to eating dirt and is reported to be fairly common in feral horses. Geophagia is not simply horses taking in dirt while grazing close to the ground or eating grain off the ground; it is a behavior where horses actively bite into the ground specifically to eat dirt. Anecdotal evidence indicates dirt-eating may be more common in stallions than mares or geldings, but no studies of gender effects on geophagia have been reported.
    Q
    How do I wean the kits away from their mother?
    A
    Unless you are a professional and very experienced rabbit breeder, you should plan on leaving the kits with the doe until 8 weeks of age. During this growth period, the kits have been drinking mother’s milk, but also eating a high-quality rabbit feed, the same provided to their mother. When it comes time to wean them, simply remove the doe from the cage. Leaving the kits in their familiar cage, which still has the doe’s scent, and has their feeder full of familiar food, is the least stressful way to help kits through this very difficult adjustment period. This is a very common time for bunnies to develop enteritis, so the fewer changes that are made, the better. This is NOT the time to be changing their location or their food!
    Q
    Should I hand-feed my show pig or use a self-feeder?
    A
    Whether you hand-feed or self-feed at the beginning of the feeding period, it is merely a feed delivery process. However, hand-feeding usually results in the pig becoming gentle more quickly. When the pig associates you with feed, it begins to trust you. Pigs are like most creatures, they need to learn that you are not going to do them harm. Self-feeding can also be effective. The important thing is to spend time with your pig, regardless of how you plan to deliver the feed. There is no substitute for time spent building a bond and trust between pig and exhibitor. Regardless of how you deliver the feed at the onset of your project, you will need to begin hand-feeding at some point in the feeding period to allow your pig to look its best on show day.
    Q
    Has this more stable vitamin C source been created and is it being used in small-pet food?
    A
    Modern technology has allowed us to significantly increase the shelf life of vitamin C using a stabilized version, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate. The phosphate is broken off during digestion, making the ascorbic acid completely available to the animal. This ingredient is heat stable and shelf stable, making it the perfect option to ensure your pet is getting all the vitamin C it needs!
    Q
    How can the transition of piglets from milk to solid food be eased?
    A
    The importance of getting newly weaned pigs to eat and drink water as soon as possible cannot be overemphasized. A successful nutrition program for older weaned pigs is similar to that for younger weaned pigs. Highly digestible, highly palatable, pelleted diets containing plasma protein and lactose are required to achieve maximum feed intake and gain during the first week postweaning. It is important to consider the variability in age at weaning within a weaning group when reviewing feeding budgets to ensure that the youngest, at-risk pigs receive adequate amounts of the proper diet. A phased-feeding program for maximum feed intake is essential to optimize performance and to get pigs to a lower-cost, grain-soybean meal diet as quickly as possible.
    Q
    How do deer and elk intake levels impact a nutrition plan?
    A
    Their daily intake levels change from winter to autumn. Daily dry matter intakes range from 1.5 percent of body weight in midwinter to more than 3.0 percent in summer and autumn. A key factor in this intake change is a shift in the metabolic rate. Deer, for example, have a high metabolic rate in the late spring to fall and a low metabolic rate in the winter. This is especially noticeable in the northern US.