5 Tips on Caring for Chicks

Posted on April 07, 2016

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Spring in Minnesota is busting! Flowers are beginning to bloom, trees are budding, and baby chicks are hatching! Just like many baby animals, baby chicks are adorable and lovable. However, they can be a handful. It is important to know the responsibilities that come along with raising chicks before you make the commitment!

In preparing to raise baby chicks, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

Have a clear schedule:

Baby chicks require constant care and monitoring for the first 4 weeks. Be sure that you don’t have any big commitments that will take away from your time with the chicks. You or another caretaker should check on the chicks at least 5 times a day.

Decide where they will live:

Have a warm, spacious, protected area for your chicks to live. The space requirements of new chicks are quite small because of their size. Space requirements include half of a square foot per chick initially, three-quarters of a square foot per chick once they are 6 weeks, and 1 square foot per chick after 10 weeks.

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Create a suitable living environment:

The most important part of raising a happy and healthy chicken is making sure the living conditions meet all of the basic necessities. It all starts with absorbent bedding, plenty of water, nutritious food sprinkled with grit, and most importantly, a good heating source. When you think heating for a baby chick, think sauna! The chicks need to start at a temp of 95° F. The temperature can continue to go down 5°F each week until the chicks go outside. During their time under the heat lamp, it is important to watch their behavior. If they stray too far aways from the light, they are too hot and if they are all huddled together, they may be too cold.

Important health notes:

Upon receiving your baby chicks it is important to check for “Pasting up” – a sign that they are not digesting their feed correctly. This can cause deadly conditions for your chick and must be dealt with immediately. It is also important once you receive your chicks to make sure that they are getting the right amount of water before they are fed. If they aren't finding the  water, pick an especially spritely one and gently put its beak into the water, the others will then follow. This tactic will also work for their food!

Ongoing care:

To keep your chicks in good health as they become full grown chickens, it is important that you provide them with a consistent supply of energy, protein, essential amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and water.

If you are interested in raising chicks, you won't want to miss out on “Chick Days” going on now at our Watkins, MN location. Customers can order chicks through us from Hoover's Hatchery in Iowa, which are delivered Wednesday, March 16th & 30th, April 13th & 27th, and May 11th & 25th.

These steps are essential in raising healthy baby chickens. Visit our website to learn more about our poultry products and ongoing poultry health for your new flock.

 

5 Things to Consider When Buying Dog Food

Posted on February 04, 2016

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Everyday dog parents are faced with a variety of choices to keep your pet safe, healthy, and strong. The most important decision you will face when it comes to your dog is deciding which kind of food is best for their needs. This choice is made more difficult when you are presented with the vast array of choices in today’s pet food market. How can you tell which food is best for you dogs specific needs? Here are a few factors to look for:

 

  1. Carbohydrates and Grains

Grains are often used in dog food to provide carbohydrates and a good source of energy for active dogs. Grains also help keep your dog’s digestive system in good health. If your dog is one that has allergies to carbohydrates, options such as soy, beans, rice, oats, corn, barley and wheat are good alternatives. Take a look at some of these grain free options.

 

  1. Protein

Protein can come from a variety of sources: chicken, beef, salmon and rabbit are a few examples. When looking at the protein in your dog's food, be sure to check the ingredients list. The most nutritious dog foods will have the name of the meat as the first ingredient and then list it again before it lists the fat source.

 

  1. Oils and Fats

Oils and fats are often thought of as a bad thing. However, they are completely necessary when it comes to your dog's health. These provide energy and flavor and encourage vitamin absorption. They can also help your dog keep a shiny, healthy coat. Finding a dog food that offers omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids means they are considered a high-quality dog food.

 

  1. Vegetables

Although vegetables are not necessary in your dog's food, they provide a variety of vitamins and minerals. Some vegetables to avoid include onions, garlic or mushrooms. These aren’t included in typical dog food, as they are highly toxic to dogs, but they are good to keep in mind.

 

  1. Preservatives

When looking at your dog's food, you should be looking for natural preservatives like tocopherols and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Theses are the preservatives that help your dog's food stay fresh and not spoil.

 

Considering these factors can be one of the best things you do for your pet. Choosing the best dog food will not only improve your dog's immune system, it will also keep their digestive system in good health, and keep their hair coat shiny and sleek. A great example of high-quality pet food is Nutrisource Premium Pet Food. Take a short quiz to find what kind of food is best for your pet, and be sure to stop in our Watkins, MN location to pick some up! From now until February 14, 2016, you’ll receive $2 off a 30lb+ bag of NutriSource Dog Food!

 

Gardening in the Winter

Posted on January 29, 2016

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Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean that gardening season is over. It is actually fairly simple to grow vegetables and have flowers blooming all year long. Although it may seem impossible, some flowers and vegetables actually grow better in the cold weather. Cold-weather gardening is not for everyone, but it is great for people who are looking to keep up with the fertility of their garden’s soil throughout the seasons and are looking to save money at the grocery store. Here are some different methods to try this winter:

 

Raised beds: These beds can be made of stone, bricks, concrete, or lumber – either treated or untreated. The soil inside of a well-made and maintained bed can be 8-12 degrees warmer than the surrounding soil. They are great for growing vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli during the fall and winter.


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Underground Greenhouse: Although an average greenhouse can do the job, underground greenhouses are typically less expensive to construct and heat throughout the winter. This earth-sheltered greenhouse draws heat from the thermal mass of the earth and is topped with solar panels to take in the heat from the sun, making this option to be much more affordable to heat.

 

Windbreaks or walls: Windbreaks are structures that stop the wind from getting to plants. They can be anything from the side of a house or shed to a line of trees. Having some kind of windbreak can lead to big improvements in garden yields. You can add 10-15 degrees of warmth to your winter garden by taking advantage of windbreaks and walls.

 

There you have it, just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to hang up your gardening gloves. You just have to learn to work around the snow and make sure you have your winter gardening planned out before the snow gets too deep. Nothing will give you greater joy in the winter then to see fresh vegetables and blooming flowers. Happy gardening!

 

The Gift of One More Day

Posted on December 30, 2015

Happy Holidays from everyone at AgVenture.  For some, this past year has been a wonderful year of happy memories, successes and good living. For others, the year was filled with trials, losses and hardship – sometimes in unbearable ways. The gift of one more day is a reminder that, as long as we are given breath to live, all we are called to do is get through one day at a time. 

This past year in agriculture has been one of challenging markets. Although we are not unfamiliar with low milk prices and commodity markets, we still feel a certain amount of angst as we try to navigate our way through these downturns. I recall someone asking me when the economy starting crashing several years ago if I was scared for my business. I quickly responded that, when you’ve been through great personal tragedy, the potential downturns in our professional lives are pale in comparison to what hard times could be. Besides, farmers are a resilient bunch who just keep pressing on since we are used to market fluctuations. 

I’ve often heard people comment when going through uncertain times that “I just wonder why I do this as a career”. No doubt, in periods of extreme stress and trial, we’ve all thought this and perhaps said this comment out loud – myself included. The reason we keep going is because we love what we do, we are invested more than just financially and it is our passion. For me, the reasons are all of these and much more. AgVenture is more than “just business”. I doubt that something can be “just business” when we have the privilege of working with awesome customers and amazing employees who are like family. This part of our work is truly one of the greatest gifts of all. 

We want to extend our gratitude for you – our customers and our friends who turn our efforts into invaluable worth.  We believe in all you do, we fully support your hard work and are dedicated to your success.  Thank you for being a part of our days and for supporting our passion to bring success to you, our customers, who make our work so fulfilling.  We are thankful for the opportunity to be a part of your passion and hopeful futures.  

As we celebrate the season of Christmas and the New Year, we honor those we are suffering the loss of loved ones or are going through trials. We all know that the holidays can be the toughest times of all. I encourage you to contemplate the gift of one more day that you have been given in your own lives. Our wish for you this holiday season is to know the true value of each day and of all the wonderful people in your lives.  Thank you for being those people to me and to all of us at AgVenture!  

-Sandy Hansen-Wolff & Everyone at AgVenture


DIY Gift Ideas for your Furry Friend

Posted on December 23, 2015

 

Pets are a big part of the family and deserve to be spoiled like the rest of us. Don’t leave your pet digging through the leftover wrapping paper from your holiday gifts just hoping that there is a present left for them. Here are some fun DIY holiday gift ideas for your pet:


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  1. DIY Doggy Treats: You can never go wrong with giving a dog food. Try these healthy homemade peanut butter dog treats. They only need a few ingredients and about 50 minutes of your time and your dog will love them!
     

  2. DIY Cat Tent: All you need is an old t-shirt and some extra household materials to create a cozy tent for your cat to nap in between play sessions.
     

  3. Rope Tug Toy: This no-sew fleece dog rope is easy to customize for your dog depending on size and activity level. Not only is this a good gift for the dog in your life, it is also a good project for the kids to make on a snow day.
     

  4. DIY Pet collar: For those of you looking for a truly unique and one of a kind gift for your pet this holiday season, a DIY pet collar is the right gift for you! You can choose from a variety of colors and material to create a collar most fitting to your furry friend.

 

Embrace the sentiment behind watching your pet enjoy one (or all) of your homemade gifts this holiday season. If you are interesting in more gifts for your pet but don’t have the time to create any yourself, be sure to stop by Agventure at our Watkins, MN location to check out our selection of pet toys and accessories.

 

From all of us at Agventure Feed and Seed, have a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year!

 


Benefits of Using Water Softener Salt

Posted on December 04, 2015

Having hard water means that there are excess minerals or metals in your water, such as calcium or iron. Water softener salt helps to dilute those mineral concentrates and turns the water from feeling hard to soft. Along with a better taste and smell, there are tons of money-saving benefits to water softener systems:

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  1. Improves Health

Hard water often dries out your skin – especially in the winter. By adding water softener salt, your skin and hair will feel softer, and smoother. Soft water also helps your soap and shampoo to increase lather causing them to perform better and last longer.
 

  1. Appliances Last Longer

The minerals found in hard water often build up inside of the appliances, slowly decreasing their efficiency. Softening your water will increase the life of your appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, water heater, and other appliances that use water – you will also be spared from buildup and discoloration around shower heads, sink spouts, and drains.
 

  1. Fabrics Last Longer

Minerals from hard water get caught in the fabric during washes and also causes discoloration. Using water softener salt in your system will help your fabrics to last longer, stay soft and keep their vibrant colors.
 

  1. Extends Life of Plumbing Systems

Hard water minerals often leave a thick deposit in the plumbing fixtures and pipes, which can eventually lead to buildups or clogs. Increase the life of your plumbing system and save yourself some money by using a water softener system to prevent mineral buildups.
 

AgVenture offers a few different products to help maintain the life of your plumbing and appliances, as well as keep your clothes lasting longer and your household healthy. Diamond Crystal Pellets will help to keep your water soft and improve your skin health. Red-Out is a top water softener product that works to prolong the life of your appliances and prevent build-up from water deposits. Solar Salt will also minimize the amount of residue and buildup to reduce clogs and erosion.
 

Generally, you should change your softener salt once a month, but the more often you regenerate, the more you’ll need to add salt. Stop into our Watkins, Minnesota location or submit a question online for more information on water softener salts, and stay tuned for special offers from AgVenture.

 

Pet Safety in Winter Weather

Posted on November 05, 2015

Although it maybe doesn’t seem like it, cold weather is just around the corner. This is the perfect time to take a look at the proper precautions in caring for our pets. The snow and harsh weather can have negative effects on our pets. To help prevent any problems this winter, we have put together a list of the top 10 ways to help you protect your pet in colder weather:

Pet Safety

Especially For Horse Owners…

It is important to make sure you are able to provide your horses with a dry, warm shelter. Horse blankets are a good way to keep your horses dry and warm. It is also important to provide your horses with constant food and water. Their bodies are working harder in the winter to stay warm, so they (along with any pet) need more food in the winter to stay energized and hydrated.

 

Towel Dry Extra Snow

Coming in and out of the house can cause your pet’s skin to become irritated. Snow and ice build-up (including the salt and other chemicals that come with it) can create dry, pads or even cause them to bleed. Make sure to keep a towel ready to dry off your pet when they come in the house and pay close attention to the spaces between their toes.

 

Brush Your Pet’s Fur

Most animals grow extra hair during the colder months, and this extra fur needs to be groomed. Matted fur can lead to extra hair loss and less protection from the cold. Also. brushing your pet’s fur on a regular basis will stimulate blood flow and help the health of their skin.

 

Winter Haircuts

If you have a long-haired pet, it is a good idea to trim your dog’s hair in the winter to reduce the amount of snow, ice, and different ice melting chemicals that can get stuck to them. Be careful not to cut it too short, they still need something to keep them warm. For shorter-haired breeds, you might want to skip the cuts until spring and add a sweater to keep them cozy.

 

Potty Training New Puppies

Puppies’ paws are a lot more sensitive to the winter cold. Your new pooch should not be spending too much time outside. If you are potty training, it would be a smart idea to paper train your puppy until the weather starts to warm up and limit their exposure outdoors.

 

Winter Bathing

A warm bath is a good idea to clean your pet from the dirty ice and snow. However, bathing too much during the winter can cause your pet’s skin to become dry, itchy, and flaky- just like your skin! If this happens to your pet, check with your local veterinary clinic to find a moisturizing shampoo.

 

How Cold is Too Cold?

The extra fur your pet grows for winter does act as added protection from the elements, but you wouldn’t be expected to be left outside with a warm coat in the coldest winter temperatures, no matter what kind of coat you wear. Your pet should always have a warm, dry place to go in the winter, but remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them!


 


7 Tips For A Safe Harvest

Posted on October 06, 2015

To ensure a safe harvest this fall, it is important to focus a great deal of attention to the safety and precautions involved with operating machinery, hazardous weather and dust, and field hazards. Every year at harvest many farmers risk losing their fingers, hands, or arms to harvesting equipment. Many of these accidents could be prevented if farmers took the opportunity to learn more about the equipment safety. To keep our farmers safer this year we have put together a list of the top 7 safety precautions:

 

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  1. TURN IT OFF! Anytime you are getting out of the tractor or not using the equipment it is important that you are turning it completely off.

 

  1. Never allow for extra riders in the tractor or equipment. The number of seats determines the number of riders safe to ride. Ex: One seat means one rider.

 

  1. Teach all workers how to properly use the equipment and enforce the safety rules.

 

  1. All powered equipment should have a working, up-to-date fire extinguisher. All workers should be fully informed on how to use it as well.

 

  1. Be sure to know how the weather conditions are affecting your crops before you go out. Cold weather is known to clog the feeding mechanisms and warm weather – which creates dry crops – can cause fires.

 

  1. Make sure all shields and guards are in place and secure before starting to harvest. It is important that any parts that are broken or chipped get fixed immediately.

 

  1. Be sure to have the clean air filters in place when harvesting. The dust from the harvest can be very dangerous to breathe. It is also a smart idea to take a break and get some fresh air!

 

Besides keeping these tips in mind during harvest season, be sure that all your workers are fully informed on the precaution when dealing with harvesting equipment. From all of us at AgVenture, have a happy and plentiful harvesting season!

 

Life Lessons from Showing Cattle

Posted on August 12, 2015

Generations of former 4-H and FFA members will tell you about the many life lessons learned from participating when you are young. Children and teens benefit greatly from many different activities that are available to them through school and extracurricular groups. One such life-lesson building activity is showing cattle. Showing cattle is a great way to give someone a structured and purposeful childhood, not to mention many life lessons that can be learned in the process.

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Responsibility

Let's get the most obvious one out of the way first; responsibility. Showing cattle requires daily work, a strict schedule, and the consistency to commit even when you don’t feel like it. Cattle must be fed and worked with on a daily basis; bad weather, good weather, rain or shine- cattle (like some teens) respond best to consistency and routine.

Time Management

With great responsibility comes the need for time management skills. Kids and teens are busier today than they have ever been; sports, homework, spending time with friends- even elementary-aged children have a schedule. Dividing your time up efficiently is a skill cattle showers need to master in order to become successful.

Patience

Breaking in and training any animal is hard, but no one is going to make a cow do anything against its own will. The first few months, especially, can be very stressful, and it takes patience and dedication to stick with the training. Learning to be patient is important and can take some time, but if you can be patient enough to train stubborn cattle, you will be more than prepared for working with stubborn people.

Strong Work Ethic

Learning responsibility, time management, and patience will end in one thing- an incredible work ethic. Seeing months of hard work pay off in the end shows kids that consistency and hard work do pay off and that if you want something hard enough and work at it, you can achieve your goals.

Winning Isn’t Everything

On the other hand, hard work does not always pay off. Even the most well-intentioned and dedicated people don’t always finish first. Working hard and losing can teach a person much more than reaping in benefits without much effort. Learning that you won’t always win just because you put in the hard work teaches kids that losing is a part of life just as much as winning. Learning to deal with disappointment is just as important as any other life lesson. Some of the most successful people in the world are not the nicest or most genuine because they never learned to be humble.

Showing cattle isn’t always just about winning or losing. There are many life lessons to be learned along the way. Perhaps the most important lesson of a parent is to show support and let their children learn these lessons on their own.

 

Dairy Cow Nutrition- Starting Early

Posted on July 01, 2015

Dairy cows are a lot like humans, nutrition is a very important part of their life from the very beginning. There are a few things that you can do to ensure that your calves grow to become healthy cows.

 

According to The Holstein Foundation, a dairy cow gains 70% of its weight in the last 60 days before birth. This means the health and nutrition of the mother is very important during this period to help ensure the calf is born healthy. Cows that are properly fed and immunized produce higher quality colostrum, which is the first milk that a cow produces after giving birth. Colostrum is very essential for newborn calves because they are born without a working immune system. Colostrum supplies the calf with antibodies that help the calf fight off infections and stay healthy.

 

bottle feeingBottle feeding is preferred over bucket feeding at a young age; why is that? When a calf has to lift its head and suck from the bottle this allows the milk to be diverted from the rumen and straight into the omasum or abomasum. This is very helpful for the calf because the rumen does not start functioning properly until the calf is about 60 days old. The more often a calf is fed, the better the calf will grow. Most dairy farmers feed the calves twice a day, but adding a third feeding during the day can be extremely beneficial to the calves growth.

 

Once the calf reaches one week old, offer a calf starter. Calf starter is a feed that includes pellets and corn. The calf might not take it at first, but it is important to always have fresh starter feed available to the calf. Along with starter feed, good quality alfalfa should be offered in small quantities. This will help the calf’s rumen to develop properly.

 

Remembering these few simple things are a great way to ensure a strong and healthy life for your dairy cows. For more information on dairy and nutrition visit the dairy page of our website.