Seeking the Holy Grail of Livestock Supps

j0405454[1]After seeing excellent results from offering the Purina goat mineral mix to my sheep, I decided to do a little more experimentation. Before I got my forage analysis results back, I decided to offer two varieties of Sweetlix brand of supplements as an option side-by-side with the Purina mineral.

I had several reasons for wanting to do this, at the time. For one, Sweetlix looked like a better brand overall, it had “more stuff” in it than the Purina mix. And, it offered me the ability to put two similar tasting minerals side-by-side, one with a lot of copper and one with a little copper, because they have both a sheep and a goat variation. I figured this would give the sheep greater control over their own copper consumption. I can’t do this with the Purina goat mix, because there is no low-copper version that’s otherwise identical. Purina and Land O’Lakes apparently don’t make sheep minerals.

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Traction Footwear for Old Dogs

image Our eldest Border Collie, Spanky, is about thirteen years old (I’m not sure if his exact age because  he’s a rescue, but I know he is at least that old). He is having the same problem many old dogs suffer- weak rear quarters. This, combined with our wood floors, make it very difficult for him to get up from lying down. He lacks the muscle strength and coordination to get traction. Sometimes he collapses midway, sprawling out like a frog, and would need assistance to get back up. It’s sad to see once-spry dogs suffer these old-age maladies, and I’m sure it impacts their quality of life. So, we’ve gotten him some shoes to help!

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Country Living Expo & Cattlemen’s Winterschool

Washington State University - World Class Face to FaceHere is a plug for an upcoming event in Stanwood, WA that should be well worth attending. WSU’s Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is an amazing array of 135 classes on all sorts of topics,a jam-packed day of learning, plus a prime rib lunch. The hardest part is choosing which classes to attend! 😛

Here is a sampling of some of the topics:

Fruit Tree Maintenance, Hands on Hay judging, Frisbee Dog Training, Growing Giant Pumpkins and Vegetables, Building Your Own Greenhouse, Native Plants for Wetland Restoration, Arc Welding- Hands on, Soap Making, Cheese Making, Growing Vegetables Year Around, Wild Game Dressing in the Field, Raising and Processing Pastured Poultry, Palatability Control Points for Direct Marketed beef, pork and lamb, Plethora of Pasture and Forage Classes, Chain Saw Maintenance, Beginning through Advanced Specialty Canning, Frisbee Dog Training, Marketing Small Businesses, Cider Making, Honey Bees, Raising Beef, Sheep, Swine, Goats, Spinning, Weaving, equine classes and more.

How can you resist? Get yourself over to the Skagit County Extension website and register asap, as I understand the classes fill fast.

Calculating Copper in a Sheep’s Diet

File:Copper sulfate.jpgWell, I can’t stop thinking about copper, and how much to allow my sheep to eat. And I’m going to keep blogging about it until I figure it out! 🙂 Sorry if it’s getting boring, eventually I’ll get past this phase!

So, as Kirk can tell you, when I’m in a period of indecision, I make a spreadsheet! I love spreadsheets. Looking at math and side-by-side comparisons of things always helps me think through a problem.

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I’m Pretty Jazzed About My Sheep’s Hooves!


I did some hoof trimming on the sheep yesterday, to see how things are looking after the sheep have been getting supplemental copper. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. They are looking SO good, the improvement and healing is profound! I should qualify, though, that there is more than one variable at play, so I can’t yet credit the copper supplement. Though I feel fairly sure that’s what it is.

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Relief in the Results (sort of): Soil & Grass Metrics are In!

Sheep I was excited to get my soil and forage analysis results back on Monday, they were very useful and thought-provoking. I spent many hours delving into the details to divine what it all means.

First, the soil- it looks pretty good overall. I wasn’t sure if it would be a mess from a century of farming, but it wasn’t. Most of the mineral metrics were medium to high, within the “desirable” ranges. The soil pH is a little low for optimal plant growth, so lime was recommended to raise the pH. And, nitrogen was low, so addition there was also recommended. Phosphorous, zinc and iron were all high; and that all translated into the forage measurements to some degree.

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(Nearly) Vet-less in Seattle

I called our local large animal veterinary hospital, Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital, to inquire about doing a parasite load count on my sheep. No can do. Pilchuck no longer offers services for small ruminants. They will still work on sheep and goats brought to their clinic, but for emergencies only. Their website lists four vets who specialize in goats, sheep and llamas- I guess this must be out of date?

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Cu for Ewe(s)

Spectacles5 As I study the Pat Coleby mineral supplementation subject more and more, the biggest hang-up I have is over copper (Cu). I can breeze right through the advice for offering the other minerals free-choice, feeling confident in her assertion that the sheep will eat what they need and no more. And most of what’s in her recipe is fairly low-risk, even if the sheep ate a little too much. But not so with copper!

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Broken Coyote Jaw


We boiled the skull of the coyote that Kirk shot, and were surprised to have the bottom jaw come out in three pieces. It was broken clean through, with a large, shattering injury to the lower right jaw, under and behind the last tooth. Huh, I thought, did Kirk shoot him there? I didn’t think so. I knew he had gotten a good, lethal shot to the chest.

Looking back at the photos, his face showed no outward signs of injury. [Somewhat graphic pictures below, click for more if you’d like to view them and read the rest of the story.]

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What Is Inside Gene’s Toe?

GenesLegsMy Border Collie, Gene, has been battling some kind of leg or foot problem off and on for several months. It caused her to not use her right front leg at all. Though she gets around famously on three legs- she can really cruise! The issue didn’t seem to be causing her any distress or discomfort, she went about her business like she wasn’t even aware that she was only working with three  legs!

At first I thought this was caused by a thorn or other sharp object in her foot, as originally I could see a little hole in her pad (or maybe even an insect bite or sting?). I could massage and palpate her whole leg and foot, and hyper-extend it in all directions, with no complaint from her- just a little sensitivity right on the pad was all I could find. I tried digging around in there with a needle and squeezing it, but could never produce anything large enough to explain the problem-just sand grains would come out of the hole (hmm). I tried a couple of different homeopathic remedies, and soaking in Epsom salts, thought the problem was gone, but then it came back. So, I finally sought the help of a vet to figure it out.

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