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Refractometer and Brix

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   August 18, 2011 19:08

Nutrient dense crops!  Brix!  Refractometer! New terms looming on the horizon?  Not new but not mainstream...yet.

What is a refractometer?  It is a hand-held or digital instrument used to measure the amount of bend or refraction in the rays of light as they pass through plant sap.   Light enters the prism and depending on the percentage of dissolved solids in the juice it will refract the light at a different angle. This angled light is projected to the eyepiece scale where the Brix concentration can be read.  Simply put, it’s a fuel gauge for your plant, a way to measure the sucrose or mineralization in a plant.  Using a refractometer is easy, a drop of plant sap is placed on the lens, the lens is held up to a light source and looking through the eye piece will give you an instant brix reading. 

What is brix?  Developed by German chemist, Adolf Brix in 1897 for the wine trade, the brix scale is the measurement of sugar in a liquid.  Brix varies directly with plant quality. For example, a poor, sour tasting grape from worn out land can test 8 or less brix. A full flavored, delicious grape, grown on rich, fertile soil can test 24 or better brix.  Dr Carey Reams is responsible for developing “The Refractive Index of Crop Juices” or brix chart, which grades crops as poor, average, good or excellent based on the degrees of brix reading on the refractometer.

What benefits does a high brix plant have?  To the consumer high brix means better quality, nutrient density and it just plain tastes better. Armed with a refractometer and a brix chart the consumer is able to test the products they chose to purchase. With health being one of the main market drivers in the grocery market, consumers are willing to pay more for healthier produce.  To the producer a high brix plant means a healthier crop.  Plants that are higher in sugar are more resistant to frost, drought, and insect pressures.  Insects are unable to digest sucrose as they don’t have a pancreas so a high brix crop is able to withstand an insect infestation.  High brix plants are more immune to molds, fungus, algae and other diseases. 

So shouldn’t every producer strive for a high brix, nutrient dense crop?  How do you start to grow healthier plants?  It all starts in the soil, balancing the soil, getting the soil back to the way nature designed it to work.  This can be achieved through the use of good, clean plant available minerals, and biologically friendly products. It only makes sense that once the quality is back in the soil the quality will come back to the plant.

Written by Deb Agrey

Back to Your Roots Soil Solutions Inc.

306.747.4744

Email: deb@back-to-your-roots.com

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Feed the Natural Way with Eco Nets

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   June 30, 2011 08:07

Feeding horses the way nature intended…

Eco Nets are ‘Small Mesh Hay Nets’ (SMHN) or restricted free-access feeders.

Using an Eco Net challenge’s the horse to engage his brain to get the hay; this creates curiosity and less boredom. The benefit to the horse owner is that it extends the feeding time, without using more hay. Horses in nature browse and graze throughout the day, best utilizing their digestive system. Horses in stalls or pens are usually fed 2-3 times a day and this taxes their digestive system. By using an Eco Net, you extend the time it takes to consume their ration, thus feeding in a more natural way.

Use Eco Nets to offer ‘restricted free-access’, where they learn that they will never run out of feed (similar to horses on pasture). Provide more nets than there are horses (or use our round bale nets) and never let them run out of feed. The horses will learn that their food is always available and the stress associated with getting or guarding food will go away.

Shod Horses: fill and securely close the Eco Net using clips or the cord provided. Please hang the Eco Net, with the bottom of the bag at least chest high on the horse.

 Barefoot Horses: fill and securely close the Eco Net using clips or the cord provided, then toss into their pen. They really enjoy pushing the net around and picking up any hay that may fall out. After eating the hay the Eco Net becomes a play toy, when you go to refill you never know where you’ll find it!

our website is underconstruction so please check out our facebook page.... 

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eco-Nets/208301222548353

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Healthy Horses Make for Healthy Watersheds

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   June 29, 2011 08:45

Image of a Watershed

 

By Patricia Lowe, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority

 

What do healthy horses and healthy watersheds have in common?  More than you think, when you look at the natural environment that hosts equine businesses in rural communities across Ontario.  One way to better understand that environment, which is made up of land and water resources, is to divide it into geographical units called watersheds.  A watershed is simply an area of land upon which melting snow and rainwater drain into a common body of water like a creek, lake, pond or river.  Homes, businesses, farms, forests, hamlets, towns and cities are all an integral part of any given watershed.  What happens on the land associated with those types of activities, can have a negative or positive effect on the health of the environment and its associated watershed.

 

The equine industry relies on local land and water resources within a watershed to operate their hobby or business.  Those resources are well protected by landowners who take action through positive stewardship activities.  While the benefit of these activities ensures livestock health, it also creates a healthy network of wetlands, creeks, forests and meadows found in our watersheds. 

 

Just what are these positive stewardship activities you ask?  These are simple steps taken by landowners like you, to improve land management practices. A stewardship project, depending on the location and existing natural features of a property or farm, could involve fencing off a local water course, providing alternative drinking water sources for livestock, employing good pasture management practices, storing manure properly at a safe distance from wells and creeks and finally, planting native trees and shrubs along waterways and pastures to filter, recycle and trap nutrients before they enter the water.  The benefits to your horse from these actions, as well as you, your family and your neighbours “down watershed” of your land, are significant.

 

Stewardship projects typically require a small financial investment on the part of the landowner.  Additional or matching funding and free technical expertise are available from a variety of local stewardship programs including Conservation Authorities.  Conservation Authorities (CA’s) are in the business of managing watersheds and may offer financial incentives to equine owners to encourage and support the implementation of stewardship projects on private land.  Not sure which of the 36 Conservation Authorities you should contact to begin a stewardship project on your property?  Check out the provincial map and contact listing on the Conservation Ontario website at www.Conservation-Ontario.on.ca. 

 

This article has been prepared by the Healthy Lands for Healthy Horses Steering Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Ontario Equestrian Federation’s Horse Facilities Council, Uxbridge Horseman’s Association, Ontario Trail Riders Association, Equine Guelph, University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and various Conservation Authorities. Funding for events organized by this committee has been provided by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association from the Nutrient Management BMP Demonstration Grant funding project.

 

For more information please visit: www.equineguelph.ca/healthylands.php

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Healthy Horses and How to Protect Water Resources on Your Land

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   June 29, 2011 08:32

Buffer Project Before

 

Buffer Project After


Livestock Fencing and Vegetation Buffer

 

By Patricia Lowe, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority

If you are fortunate enough to have a creek, wetland or seasonal water course running through your pasture, you likely have already taken steps to fence out your horses, provide an alternative drinking water source and naturalize the ribbon of land along it with native trees and shrubs.  By taking action and stewarding your land in this positive way, you are ensuring your horse has a safe clean source of drinking water, limiting the risks associated with walking up and down unstable creek slopes and of course, protecting the natural environment. 

 

The natural vegetation along a creek or waterway contributes to the healthy watershed guidelines targeted by Conservation Authorities across the province.  Science tells us that having 75 percent of a streams length naturally vegetated with a 30 metre wide buffer, is ideal for watershed health. If the majority of plant species in this buffer are native, it will attract birds that will consume nuisance insects.  In addition to the birds, you will also attract beneficial insects to pollinate yours or your neighbours crops.  Some of those insects also provide sustenance for the fish found in your local creek or waterway. 

You could stop right there with an impressive list of environmental benefits from stewarding and maintaining a natural buffer on your land, but there is another very important service it provides to watershed health.  Horse urine and manure can contain a variety of synthetic and natural medications that horses receive as part of their general health care.  These end up in manure piles, pastures and other areas of your farm and are eventually carried by surface water to your local stream or water course.  While the research on the effects of those medications on aquatic communities is in the early stages of development, fisheries biologists are reporting significant concerns. Common de-worming medications may pose serious health threats to aquatic species. Vegetation buffers along a watercourse provide a natural solution to trapping those contaminants and contributing to improving overall watershed health.

To find out more about stewardship programs available to help you improve the natural buffers around water features on your land, contact your local Conservation Authority.  Not sure which of the 36 Conservation Authorities you should contact, check out the provincial map and contact listing on the Conservation Ontario website at www.Conservation-Ontario.on.ca. 

This article has been prepared by the Healthy Lands for Healthy Horses Steering Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Ontario Equestrian Federation’s Horse Facilities Council, Uxbridge Horseman’s Association, Ontario Trail Riders Association, Equine Guelph, University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and various Conservation Authorities. Funding for events organized by this committee has been provided by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association from the Nutrient Management BMP Demonstration Grant funding project.

For more information please visit: www.equineguelph.ca/healthylands.php

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Forage Alternatives

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 26, 2011 16:25

Hay is hard to find in some areas. Because of a scarcity of hay in many regions, can you just skip feeding hay this winter and make up the deficit by doubling your horse’s grain ration? The answer is an emphatic NO.

Consider availability, cost, and practicality when choosing ways to provide adequate fiber.

 

Hay, or some other source of fiber, is absolutely necessary to the health and function of the horse’s digestive tract. Overconsumption of grain is characteristically followed by colic, gastric ulcers, or laminitis, so this is not an option to consider. Aim for an average of 1.5% of the horse’s weigh in hay or equivalent forage each day (approximately 15 pounds of hay for a 1000-pound horse, or 7 kg for a 450-kg horse), adjusting up or down depending on the horse’s age, use, and metabolism.

 

Why is fiber so important in the equine diet?

Consumption of grass, hay, and other forage fulfills both physical and psychological needs. Horses have a strong desire to chew, and also to have the full-gut feeling that comes from eating a lot of fiber. Deprived of adequate forage, horses tend to chew on trees, fences, stalls, and anything else that is available. A steady supply of forage helps to maintain the optimum types and numbers of microorganisms in the hindgut. These bacteria and other organisms transform fiber into energy the horse can use for growth or performance. The proper balance of beneficial bacteria prevents an overgrowth of harmful organisms that may upset digestion. As well as aiding the passage of food through the digestive tract, adequate fiber provides bulk and weight in the intestines. This helps to keep them from twisting and looping around each other, possibly leading to tissue damage and colic.

 

Is there a particular need for forage during cold weather?

A near-constant supply of forage is an important factor in keeping horses warm in the winter. The vast fermentation vat of the horse’s hindgut steadily produces heat that can’t be supplied by an all-grain diet.

 

My local hay dealer doesn’t have hay for sale this year. Should I buy hay from outside my region?

Obviously, not all hay is the same, but with some precautions, you should be able to use hay that is shipped in from other regions. Things to look for include:

Blister beetles. Alfalfa hay may contain these small insects that are highly toxic to horses. Signs of ingestion may include colic, depression, loss of appetite, and straining to urinate.

Unfamiliar weeds or plants. Hoary alyssum, a pasture weed, has been found in alfalfa hay baled in Michigan. Horses consuming the plant showed diarrhea, swollen legs, fever, and signs of laminitis.

Selenium levels. The amount of selenium in hay is influenced by the level of the mineral in the soil where the hay was grown. Horses need a certain amount of selenium, but high levels are toxic. Hay from some western states may have this problem. Signs of selenium toxicity include laminitis and a loss of mane and tail hair.

• Vitamin content. Levels of vitamin A and E drop slowly as hay ages. Hay baled last year, or even very early in the current year, may not contain enough vitamin E to keep horses in good health through the winter; signs of deficiency include muscle weakness, tremors, and weight loss. Vitamin E level depends less on the hay’s place of origin than on how long it has been in storage.

• Quality. Ask hay brokers for a nutrient analysis before making a purchase, and examine the hay before accepting delivery. Good hay will smell fresh and clean without a moldy odor. Check the center of a few bales; hay that appears dry and yellow on the outside of the bales may still be green and fresh inside.

 

I still don’t have enough fresh hay to supply my horse all winter. What can I do?

If at all possible, some hay should continue to be fed. Owners can use alternative fiber sources to round out the diet if the amount of traditional hay must be reduced. Ideas for stretching your hay supply include:

Feeding chopped hay, available at some feed stores in 50-pound (23-kg) bags. Palatability is an asset; expense and storage may be problems.

Adding some hay cubes to the horse’s diet, soaking the cubes if necessary before feeding. Alfalfa, timothy, and mixed cubes may be available, and in some parts of the country a hay cube fortified with vitamins and minerals is available. Many horses can get along well on mixed cubes, and selection should match the horse’s needs. Because there is less waste with cubes than with loose hay, you often do not need to feed an equivalent weight. Don’t put all the cubes out at one feeding, as the horse will probably gobble them up quickly and then have nothing to eat for hours.

Adding beet pulp to the ration. This “super-fiber” can make up a maximum of 20% to 30% of the diet, is easily digested, and can be bought in bulk at feed stores. Many people advocate soaking beet pulp before feeding, so use of this fiber takes a little more time and management than some other choices. Beet pulp is low in phosphorus and some other minerals and vitamins.

Feeding a “complete” or “fiber-included” feed that incorporates both the forage and grain portions of the diet. Be sure that the feed actually includes forage; some companies use the “complete” designation to indicate a fortified grain mix, not a product that offers forage. This type of feed should be offered in several small feedings throughout the day rather than as one large meal.

Using clean older hay. Even if last year’s hay doesn’t have optimum levels of some vitamins, it gives the horse something to chew on. Older hay that is clean but very dry can be moistened before feeding to make it more palatable, and the nutritional shortfall can be made up by adding a vitamin-mineral supplement.

Feeding straw, either baled or chopped. Clean, non-moldy straw is palatable to many horses and contains nearly as many calories as some grass hays, although it is lower in protein and phosphorus.

Allowing horses more access to pasture. If non-grazed fields are available, horses will continue to eat grass all winter even though it is not actively growing. In fields that have been grazed all summer and fall, horses may be forced to eat brushy or toxic plants as the only choice. Before counting on this source of forage, owners should walk the fields to make sure there is something to eat.

 To view  the complete article go to:  http://www.equinews.com/article/forage-alternatives

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General | Feed

Planting Trees for a Healthy Horse

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 11, 2011 16:07

 

 

By Patricia Lowe, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority

 

The best time to plant a tree was a decade ago; the next best time to plant a tree is – today.  The author of that statement is unknown, but was likely the owner of a horse or two and knew full well the connection between planting trees and horse health.  So go ahead, order some native trees for planting this spring and your local Conservation Authority will help you get started with a tree plan for your property.  

 

Generally, the best place to plant trees for horse health is just outside the perimeter of the pasture. Planting native trees as opposed to ornamental varieties is important, as they benefit the natural ecosystem and are generally resistant to insect pests and disease.  It is important to not over plant and totally shade your pasture, select species that are non-toxic and select trees that suit your wet or dry site conditions.  The roots of trees will further stabilize soil, reduce erosion and maintain water clarity, absorbing excess nutrients like nitrates from horse manure.  The benefits to a horse include shelter from cold winter and dry summer winds, reduced exposure to sun further decreasing stress to your horse and providing a more comfortable living environment.  The leaf litter provided by trees as they drop their leaves each fall, improves the soil fertility of your pasture, resulting in improved nutrient uptake by your horse.

 

Conservation Authorities offer native tree and shrub planting programs at cost and will provide you with advice on species selection suitable to your watershed and beneficial to your horse.  Some examples of native and non native trees NOT recommended around your pasture are red maple (Acer rubrum), Cherry (Prunus sp) and Black Locust (Robinia pseudocacia) due to their toxicity to horses and other livestock.  Other dangerous trees include oaks (Quercus sp), horsechestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus), pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), pine (Pinus sp) and yew (taxus sp).  If you already have some of these trees on your property and they are small enough, simply transplant them out of your horses reach.  If they are too large, fencing around them or re-aligning pasture fencing is a simple solution to protect your equine friends.  

 

Spring is an excellent time to plant, as bareroot trees can be purchased in bulk quantities at wholesale costs through your local Conservation Authority.  Not sure which of the 36 Conservation Authorities you should contact, check out the provincial map and contact listing on the Conservation Ontario website at www.Conservation-Ontario.on.ca. 

 

This article has been prepared by the Healthy Lands for Healthy Horses Steering Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Ontario Equestrian Federation’s Horse Facilities Council, Uxbridge Horseman’s Association, Ontario Trail Riders Association, Equine Guelph, University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and various Conservation Authorities. Funding for events organized by this committee has been provided by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association from the Nutrient Management BMP Demonstration Grant funding project.

 

For more information please visit: www.equineguelph.ca/healthylands.php

 

 

Photo:  Tree Planting or Harrell Site CPA Community Tree Planting

 

 

Notes to Editor:

Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph.  It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups.  Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole.  For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.

 

Media Contact:

Jackie Bellamy, Communications

Equine Guelph

Guelph, ON   N1G 2W1

519.824.4120 ext. 54230 ¡  jbellamy@uoguelph.ca

 

 

 

 

 

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Planting Trees for a Healthy Horse

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 11, 2011 15:54

By Patricia Lowe, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority

 

The best time to plant a tree was a decade ago; the next best time to plant a tree is – today.  The author of that statement is unknown, but was likely the owner of a horse or two and knew full well the connection between planting trees and horse health.  So go ahead, order some native trees for planting this spring and your local Conservation Authority will help you get started with a tree plan for your property.  

 

Generally, the best place to plant trees for horse health is just outside the perimeter of the pasture. Planting native trees as opposed to ornamental varieties is important, as they benefit the natural ecosystem and are generally resistant to insect pests and disease.  It is important to not over plant and totally shade your pasture, select species that are non-toxic and select trees that suit your wet or dry site conditions.  The roots of trees will further stabilize soil, reduce erosion and maintain water clarity, absorbing excess nutrients like nitrates from horse manure.  The benefits to a horse include shelter from cold winter and dry summer winds, reduced exposure to sun further decreasing stress to your horse and providing a more comfortable living environment.  The leaf litter provided by trees as they drop their leaves each fall, improves the soil fertility of your pasture, resulting in improved nutrient uptake by your horse.

 

Conservation Authorities offer native tree and shrub planting programs at cost and will provide you with advice on species selection suitable to your watershed and beneficial to your horse.  Some examples of native and non native trees NOT recommended around your pasture are red maple (Acer rubrum), Cherry (Prunus sp) and Black Locust (Robinia pseudocacia) due to their toxicity to horses and other livestock.  Other dangerous trees include oaks (Quercus sp), horsechestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus), pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), pine (Pinus sp) and yew (taxus sp).  If you already have some of these trees on your property and they are small enough, simply transplant them out of your horses reach.  If they are too large, fencing around them or re-aligning pasture fencing is a simple solution to protect your equine friends.  

 

Spring is an excellent time to plant, as bareroot trees can be purchased in bulk quantities at wholesale costs through your local Conservation Authority.  Not sure which of the 36 Conservation Authorities you should contact, check out the provincial map and contact listing on the Conservation Ontario website at www.Conservation-Ontario.on.ca. 

 

This article has been prepared by the Healthy Lands for Healthy Horses Steering Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Ontario Equestrian Federation’s Horse Facilities Council, Uxbridge Horseman’s Association, Ontario Trail Riders Association, Equine Guelph, University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and various Conservation Authorities. Funding for events organized by this committee has been provided by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association from the Nutrient Management BMP Demonstration Grant funding project.

 

For more information please visit: www.equineguelph.ca/healthylands.php

 

 

Photo:  Tree Planting or Harrell Site CPA Community Tree Planting

 

 

Notes to Editor:

Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph.  It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups.  Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole.  For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.

 

Media Contact:

Jackie Bellamy, Communications

Equine Guelph

Guelph, ON   N1G 2W1

519.824.4120 ext. 54230 ¡  jbellamy@uoguelph.ca

 

 

 

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WELCOME TO HOP HILL STABLE-Tips for Dealing with the End Product

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 5, 2011 14:43

 

 

Article 3: WELCOME TO HOP HILL STABLE

Part 3: Tips for Dealing with the End Product

 

Written by Nadine Abrams

In our summer issue; Hop Hill Stables, owned and operated by Michael Jewett and his family was highlighted for its unique approach using recycled materials for constructing a barn, adjoining tack room and riding arena.  Using salvaged materials sourced from building demolitions around the province and repurposed on site features like the original homesteads’ masonry stove, Hop Hill Stables illustrates its commitment to reducing its environmental ‘hoof’ print.

 

With 26 horses residing at Hop Hill Stables at any given time, there are a lot of hoof prints to consider.  With the average horse consuming 2% of its body weight per day (about half a square bale) and an estimated 300,000 horses in Ontario; that is a lot of hay making and hay eating!  However, it was the end result of the hay eating that concerned the Jewett family.  With 220 feeding days when pasture is not available, the end result is a lot of accumulated manure.  This needs to be removed from stalls, stored, composted and recycled to ensure that it does not contribute to contamination of nearby ground and surface water sources integral to the health of Hop Hill Stable’s two and four legged residents!

 

With funding assistance from the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA), the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), and Environment Canada, the Jewett’s have constructed a modern 200m2 (2,150ft2) covered manure storage facility adjacent to the barn.  The facility consists of a cover-all type roof, pre-cast concrete walls and a sloped concrete slab to facilitate drainage.  “While we understand the risk of contamination, we also recognized the benefit manure can provide to improve pasturing for our horses. By keeping the manure on site, it also saves us the cost of trucking it to another facility for composting or disposal”.  The manure storage facility was specifically sized and designed for Hop Hill as per the recommendations provided in the farms’ Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) and subsequent Nutrient Management Strategy (NMS).  For more information on how you can complete an Environmental Farm Plan, contact your local representative at OSCIA (www.ontariosoilcrop.org).

 

The cost for a manure storage facility can range significantly depending on the farms needs and size of operation.  The cost of labour and materials must also be considered.  Based on manure storage facilities completed in 2010 by landowners in the Greater Toronto Area, the cost varied significantly ranging from $6/m2 for a 15m x 23m facility to $17/m2 for a 14m x 9m facility. The size and location of the facility, which should provide a minimum of 240 days of manure storage as per the EFP guideline, is based on a number of factors which are investigated during the development of your NMS.  The number of livestock on the farm, topography of the land, the amount of pasture available to spread the manure and if there are any significant natural features nearby such as a creek or wetland are just some of the factors investigated.  With so many variables to consider, one can see that a NMS is unique to each farm and that the cost of a manure storage facility can be easily affected.  

 

At Hop Hill, the manure subject is still up for discussion as the Jewett’s investigate phase two of their manure management plan, a composting system.  Over the past year, Mr. Jewett and his family have investigated various uses for horse manure.  After careful consideration and analysis of anaerobic digestion (composting without oxygen) for biogas and fertilizer, gasification and basic composting, the decision was made to pursue composting in a series of windrows.  In agriculture, windrow composting is the production of compost by piling organic matter or biodegradable waste, such as animal manure and crop residues, in long rows (on level ground). In the case of Hop Hill, the farms’ tractor is used to sculpt the manure into windrows. It is then turned every two days initially and then approximately once a week. The windrow is simultaneously watered via a compost turner (attached to the back of the tractor) which has built-in nozzles that spray the windrow during turning.  The nozzles are attached to a 1,500 gal tank, acquired from a maple syrup equipment supplier, and is filled using the “recycled” water out of the existing cistern (rain water collected from the arena roof).  Of course, a good watering from a hose works as well.  The windrows are also monitored for temperature as the optimal temperature to kill pathogenic organisms and undesirable weed seeds is 1300F to 1600F.  The turning process is repeated for approximately 10 to 12 weeks or until the manure has been suitably composted for application to the pasture or lawn area. There is no definitive rule but finished compost should be dark in color and have an earthy smell (like the smell of soil).

 

Mr. Jewett commented that manure from horses is not well studied as it is mixed with wood shavings or straw/straw pellets and that he is still learning about basic composting, the material compositions as well as more technical data such as the carbon-nitrogen ratios within the compost.   The first round of composting at Hop Hill was successful with product being spread on the paddocks byearly August. “The advantage for us, “ says Jewett, “is that we no longer need to haul manure off-site, but we eliminated spreading raw, nutrient high manure on the land, which is so much better for the environment and our water resources.”

 

It is estimated that Hop Hill Stable produces 400 tons of manure each year, providing a considerable amount of invaluable nutrients for other uses around the property.  Not only can composted manure help to improve pasture yield, but extra product can be applied to lawn and garden areas prompting some equine establishments to bag and sell their leftovers as a revenue generator.

 

“Every horse farm should look at their manure as a resource,” recommends Jewett.  “Even if a properly designed manure storage facility is not in the budget, I would encourage people to look at the location of their manure storage and how they can reduce the risk of runoff contaminating local water resources.”  Suggestions from the Healthy Lands, Healthy Horses program include making sure your manure pile is not located “up-hill” from your well or local creek.  Based on the best EFP rating, manure storage of any type should be a minimum of 90 metres away from a private well and greater than 300 metres away from any municipal well (numbers vary in the Nutrient Management Act).  Installing eaves troughs to divert clean water from building roofs away from the manure pile can help. It may be as simple as putting an extension on an existing downspout. Another option is tarping your manure pile as this will speed up composting and reduce runoff which reduces the nutrient content of your manure.  For more information on how you can better manage your manure, visit the ‘nutrient management’ section on the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs website (www.omafra.gov.on.ca).

 

We hope you enjoyed our three part series on Hop Hill Stables. To learn more about stewardship programs, the Environmental Farm Plan process and funding programs available to help you, contact your local Conservation Authority or OSCIA.  Not sure which of the 36 Conservation Authorities you should contact, check out the provincial map and contact listing on the Conservation Ontario website at www.Conservation-Ontario.on.ca. 

 

This article has been prepared by the Healthy Lands for Healthy Horses Steering Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Horse Facilities Council, Uxbridge Horseman’s Association, Ontario Trail Riders Association, Equine Guelph, University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario Equestrian Federation and various Conservation Authorities.  Funding for events organized by this committee has been provided by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association from the Nutrient Management BMP Demonstration Grant funding project.

 

For more information please visit: www.equineguelph.ca/healthylands.php

 

Photo credit:   Nadine Abrams

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Notes to Editor:

Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph.  It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups.  Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole.  For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.

 

Media Contact:

Jackie Bellamy, Communications

Equine Guelph

Guelph, ON   N1G 2W1

519.824.4120 ext. 54230 ¡  jbellamy@uoguelph.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hay Analysis: Its Importance and Interpretation

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   December 22, 2010 22:14
Horses require a sufficient amount of hay and roughage in their diet. In order to ensure that your horse is receiving the required nutrients, hay is often analyzed for nutrient content and quality. This article explains the two types of hay analysis: visual and chemical.

Jenifer Nadeau, M.S., Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Equine Extension Specialist, Department of Animal Science

Having your hay analyzed is a great idea. It is the only way to determine the actual nutrient content of the hay. It is important to know this so that you can be sure your horse is consuming an adequate diet. You may or may not need to feed grain, depending on the quality of your hay. The better the quality of the hay you feed, the less grain you will need to feed. This can be a significant savings.

Two types of analyses can be performed: visual and chemical. If you have already purchased hay, then you have probably performed a visual analysis. Chemical analysis is done when the hay is sampled and the nutrient content of the hay is determined by a laboratory.

In visual analysis, there are several factors that should be considered. These include:

  • Maturity of hay– The more mature, or older, a hay is, the more fiber it contains, and the more stemmy or unpalatable it will become.
  • Leafiness of the hay – The more leaves a hay has, the more nutrients it is likely to contain since nutrients are concentrated in the leaves, where photosynthesis occurs.
  • Color of the hay – Generally the greener, the better but see chart on next page.
  • Odor and condition of the hay – Throw out hay that is musty, dusty or moldy.
  • Presence of foreign materials in the hay – These can be injurious (poisonous plants, wire) or non-injurious (weeds), but either decreases the overall quality of the hay.

In order to have your hay analyzed chemically, you will need to get a hay sample. Use a core sampler and try to sample from at least 20 to 25 different bales. Be sure to penetrate into the center of the bale with the core sampler. If you do not have experience in hay sampling, see your county extension office for information on how to use the core sampler or to borrow one. Mix the samples together and then put them in a tight, clean, plastic bag or the bags that the forage testing lab provides. Mail the bag to the forage testing lab as soon as possible and have it analyzed.

Interpreting Hay Analysis Results

Interpreting your hay analysis results may not be the easiest part of this process. If you cannot determine what the results mean, you may want to consult an extension specialist in forage crops or agronomy at your county extension center, an animal scientist or a county extension agent. Some of the main things to focus on when you see the analysis reports are:

  • Dry Matter (DM)– This tells you how much of the sample is left after water is removed. It is the moisture or dry matter content of the sample. Hay will generally be about 89 percent dry matter or greater.
  • Digestible energy (DE) – This is a measure of the digestible energy in the hay. For a light-working horse, DE should be 20.5 Mcal/day. Hay may have .76 to .94 Mcal/pounds or higher of DE.
  • Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) - This is a measure of the total digestible nutrients in the hay or its energy value. TDN may be used in place of DE or offered in addition to DE. It may range from 40 to 55 percent.
  • Crude Protein (CP)– This is a measure of the protein concentration of the hay and can range from 6 percent to 8 percent in native grass hays to about 15 percent or higher in high quality legume hays.
  • Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF) – This is a measure of the plant’s cell wall content, shown as a percent. The higher this is, the less hay the horse will eat.
  • Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF) – This is a measure of the fiber concentration of the hay, shown as a percent. As ADF increases, digestibility and nutrient availability decreases.
  • Non-Structural Carbohydrates (NSC) – This is a measure of the non-structural carbohydrates in the feed. If your horse has Cushing’s disease or is prone to colic or laminitis, you want to select hay with a lower NSC value. Timothy and alfalfa hay may have a 15 percent or 20 percent NSC value, respectively. If you want this analysis done, you should check to see if the lab offers it, as it is not a common analysis at this time.
  • Starch and Sugar- This is a measure of sugars and starches in the feed. You should feed no more than 15 percent of total daily calories from starch and sugar to horses with EPSM (equine polysaccharide storage myopathy) and PSSM (polysaccharide storage myopathy) EPSM is a muscle disease found in over 100 draft breeds that may cause severe weakness and muscle wasting in horses of all ages, poor performance, abnormal hind limb gaits and shivers, in which the muscles keep twitching. PSSM is a muscle disease found in horses with Quarter Horse in their breeding, such as American Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas. Symptoms include reluctance to move, muscle stiffness, sweating, shifting lameness and tremors in the flank area.

Now you know some basics about analyzing hay. Be sure to consult your county extension agents or state specialists for help if you are not sure how to apply these results. By analyzing your hay, you will be able to feed your horse more effectively and efficiently.


References

  • National Research Council. Nutrient Requirements of Horses. (1989). National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
  • Wright, Bob W. Hay, Haylage and Treated Hay for Horses. (Sept. 2004) Online fact sheet. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
  • Vough, Lester R. Evaluating Hay Quality (2000). Online fact sheet, FS-644, University of Maryland. Available online at http://www.agnr.umd.edu/MCE/Publications/Publication.cfm?ID=110


http://www.extension.org/pages/Hay_Analysis:_Its_Importance_and_Interpretation

 

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Just Add Horses: A Manure Success Story

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   November 23, 2010 15:35

Just Add Horses: A Manure Success Story by Mat MacLean

This past January, I had a chance to visit Kathy Fremes, owner and manager of Country Hill Farm in Stouffville. I went to see the environmental beneficial management practices (BMPs) that she has implemented on her farm. Located 45 minutes northeast of Toronto and situated on 30 acres of the Oak Ridges Moraine, Country Hill Farm is home to 25 horses and includes a large indoor arena, outdoor sand ring, a grass dressage ring, a stadium jumper course, a cross-country course, and 19 box stalls, including a foaling and wash stall. Oh yes, the facility is impressive, but what was really impressive was the manure composting methods used at Country Hill Farm.

 Fremes, who has been involved with the equine industry from an early age, has a passion not only for horses, but also for the environment. In between the duties of managing her facility, coaching students, and training horses, Fremes sits on the executive as the Secretary for the Ontario Equestrian Federation, and chairs its Horse Facilities Advisory Council.  Her passion for the environment is evident when you look beyond the stable doors and see how the waste is managed on site. “My farm received the ‘Just Add Horses’ Environment Award, but I still want to further reduce my carbon hoof print and there is grant money out there to help us to achieve that goal, such as the Environmental Farm Plan” says Fremes. Kathy is modest in acknowledging the award that is presented to the horse facility owner who has demonstrated an active approach to conserving the environment.

 Waste, such as manure and stall residue, can be a problem on horse farms. Generally not dense enough in nutrients to be a high value fertilizer, many facilities have to pay to have manure and soiled bedding removed from their operations. At Country Hill Farm, this waste is turned into a nutrient rich natural fertilizer through composting. The natural process of composting decomposes organic matter, shrinking the volume and maintaining the amount of nutrients making it more nutrient dense. At Country Hill Farm, the composted waste is used to grow hay on a nearby field, top dress summer paddocks, and enrich the soil in extensive vegetable and flower gardens.  This compost was also used for planting hundreds of trees and shrubs to reduce the erosion on the farm and act as wind breaks. 

Here is Kathy’s successful recipe from horse to hay. First, to reduce the amount of bedding material needed and still provide comfort for the horses stabled indoors at night, Fremes lines each stall with rubber mats. In addition, she does not use all of her 19 stalls as many of her herd live out of doors 24/7. The manure from the paddocks, mixed with the waste hay, is also composted and is used for the same purposes as the indoor material. The waste material collected from mucking out the stables is deposited into one of two stalls in a covered storage area where the composting begins. Here it will be left to decompose for about 6 months being turned over periodically to give oxygen to the busy microbes working throughout the pile. When it is sufficiently decomposed and resembles nutrient rich soil, the compost is hauled away to be spread on a nearby field used to grow hay.

Careful storage and handling of manure is key to protecting the environment. Kathy’s storage area is a shining example of how to store solid manure. Kathy has an impermeable concrete pad with 2 U shaped stalls of large interlocking concrete blocks—each of which are 6 feet long by 3 feet wide and 2 feet high. A total of 90 blocks were used to complete this structure which also acts as a retaining wall for the extension of Fremes’ arena. “We had to create a retaining wall anyhow so I thought if we were going to all this expense we might as well do the manure storage,” says Fremes adding “it was a lucky guess that I managed to build it larger than we actually needed because we did not have a Nutrient Management Strategy (NMS) at that time. I would advise anyone embarking on such a project to build bigger than your actual present day needs to accommodate future expansion of your business and therefore needs.” 

The manure storage is covered and sheltered from precipitation. Each storage stall is roughly 35 feet long by 18 feet wide and 8 feet deep and actually can contain more than a full year’s of manure if both are used. “If we don’t need both bins for manure then we can store bulk shavings that we use for bedding in the empty one,” said Fremes.

By covering the solid manure storage, Fremes has taken a step towards preventing water contamination. This is a positive outcome, which is even more valuable considering the farm’s location on the Oak Ridges Moraine, a source of much of Southern Ontario’s drinking water. Uncovered manure piles are exposed to precipitation and in some cases topography and nearby buildings can affect wind currents resulting in more precipitation landing on these piles. For example, snow will accumulate on the lee side of a building and if a manure pile is there, that extra accumulation can lead to increased runoff. Rain, snow, or any other type of precipitation will eventually runoff the manure pile and into nearby surface water or seep into the ground. As the water flows off the manure it takes bacteria and nutrients with it. The bacteria can create human and animal health problems, and the nutrients can contaminate groundwater making it unsafe to drink. In surface water, excess nutrients create algae blooms which put considerable stress on aquatic species by lowering dissolved oxygen levels. The $12,000 fabric roof over this solid manure storage almost eliminates the problem of manure pile runoff all together and was almost entirely funded with government grants. 

 Fremes has taken it upon herself to be a good steward of her land which means taking responsible action to effectively manage the environmental aspects of her business. Because of all the options available that can make a difference to the environment, like preserving water quality and implementing beneficial management practices (BMPs) such as composting manure, there are always opportunities to become a better steward of your land. With so many improvements to choose from, there is usually at least one available for any environmental issue you are faced with. For more information on Country Hill Farm, check out www.countryhillfarm.ca.

 To find out more about stewardship programs available to help you improve the natural buffers around water features on your land, contact your local Conservation Authority.  Not sure which of the 36 Conservation Authorities you should contact, check out the provincial map and contact listing on the Conservation Ontario website at www.Conservation-Ontario.on.ca. 

 This article has been prepared by the Healthy Lands for Healthy Horses Steering Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Horse Facilities Council, Uxbridge Horseman’s Association, Ontario Trail Riders Association, Equine Guelph, University of Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Ontario Equestrian Federation and various Conservation Authorities.  Funding for events organized by this committee has been provided by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association from the Nutrient Management BMP Demonstration Grant funding project.

 For more information please visit: www.equineguelph.ca/healthylands.php

 Sidebars:

1.       Nutrient management plans (NMP) and nutrient management strategies (NMS) can help you determine how much manure your horses generate and how it is stored and used. You can hire a professional to prepare one for you or you can take a course and do it yourself. Country Hill Farm has a nutrient management strategy as well as an Environmental Farm Plan. Visit www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/agops/index.html for more information on Nutrient Management, and visit www.ontariosoilcrop.org or www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/environment/efp/efp.htm for more information on Environmental Farm Plans.

2.       There is an excellent series of award winning books with information for improving your farm’s environmental performance; the Best Management Practices Series of books produced by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. You can find and order these books for no charge by visiting www.publications.serviceontario.ca/ecom/ and typing “BMP” in the search box.

3.       If you want more information on implementing BMPs at your property and to find out if you qualify for funding for such projects contact your local conservation authority. You can find your conservation authority at www.conservation-ontario.on.ca/find/index.html.

 

Photos:  Courtesy of Country Hill Equestrian Centre

 

Notes to Editor:

Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph.  It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups.  Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole.  For further information, visit www.equineguelph.ca.

 

Media Contact:

Jackie Bellamy, Communications

Equine Guelph

Guelph, ON   N1G 2W1

519.824.4120 ext. 54230 ¡  eqmania@uoguelph.ca           

 

 

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