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Basic Tips For Raising Livestock

If you are thinking about adding some livestock to your farm, you may be under the impression you can simply provide them with shelter in a safe area, give them food, and make sure they have plenty of water available. While this would keep the animals alive, they will not be as productive as they could be, and they certainly won't be happy. 

We sat down to discuss livestock tips with Eliza Walton, owner of historic Martin’s Feed Mill, in Coburn Pennsylvania. Martin’s specializes in milling custom feed orders for their customers, as well as providing just about everything you’ll need to care for your animals. 

“We carry a wide selection of animal health products, like fly spray, de-wormer, medicines, and supplies,” Walton says. “We also carry feeders and waterers for all sizes of animals from your rabbits and guinea pigs, up to stock tanks for cattle and horses. We have birdseed, bird feeders, wildlife blocks and food plot supplies to care for the wild animals too.”

Here are a few farm animal tips to ensure both you and the animals are satisfied with the arrangement.

More Than Just Chicken Feed

Ducks, geese, chickens, and turkeys are the most common types of poultry on farms. Walton is a wealth of knowledge about how to properly care for your fine feathered friends - starting as soon as they hatch into the world.

“Start your baby chicks off with a chick starter.,” Walton recommends. “These feeds are specially formulated with the protein, vitamins and minerals the chicks need to develop into healthy mature birds.” 

If your birds are destined for the dinner plate, there are additional considerations to take into account. 

“If you are raising meat birds, it is especially important that you use at least a 20% protein feed,” Walton says. “They grow so fast that they can develop leg problems if they don't have enough protein.”  

Interested more in the eggs? Walton’s got a plan for you, too.

“If you are raising laying hens, plan to switch to a layer feed around 18 weeks of age,” Walton recommends. However, be careful about keeping layer feeds around young birds. “Layer feeds contain higher levels of calcium for strong egg shells and should not be fed to young birds as it can lead to kidney problems.”

Martin’s has a wide variety of items to help your eggs be as healthy as possible. 

“Martin's Feed Mill offers a variety of layer feeds. We make our own 17.5% protein layer mash and we carry crumbles and pellets from Kalmbach and Purina,” Walton says.  “Feeding a complete layer feed that is at least 16% protein will help boost egg production.  We also have scratch grains- the perfect treat to make your hens happy!  Never underestimate the importance of a consistent and fresh water supply to help your hens lay.  We have a great selection of feeders and waterers that will get the job done.”

It is becoming more common to allow these birds to free-range around the property. This will not only reduce the amount of feed you need to buy, but it will also keep the birds healthier and happier because they get fresh air, sunshine, and can pick and choose bugs and plants to eat. However, because they will eat plants, one of the farm tips for poultry is to be sure to surround your gardens and plants with chicken wire to keep the birds away from them. 

It is also important that you provide a safe place for the birds to roost at night. They will go into the trees if you allow them to, but this is not a good idea. There are many kinds of wild predators on the loose who would love a chicken dinner.   It's best to lock your birds inside a protected area at night and in the early morning. In addition, if the birds are finding their own place to roost, they will also find their own place to lay eggs. Hunting eggs may be fun on Easter, but not when you are trying to make breakfast every day. When they are used to sleeping in the coop they will also be more likely to lay their eggs in there.

’Til the Cows Come Home

Martin’s carries everything you need to keep your cows happy - starting with when they are calves.

“We have bottles, nursing buckets and milk replacers for getting your calf off to a good start,” Walton says. “Martin's offers a selection of calf starter and grower feeds.  I try to start my calves on feed as early as possible ( within the first 2 weeks for dairy calves).  If you have beef cattle, we offer free-choice minerals and protein tubs.  We have receiving feeds and can make creep feeds  to your specifications as well. We have a wide range of feed and mineral products for raising replacement heifers, maintaining the herd and finishing market animals”

What tips do you have for animal care? We’d love to hear them! Send your tips to Martinsfeed@gmail.com