The Sacred Bird of January

Did you know that the month of January, and the first day of every month during the year is associated with roosters?
Well it’s true and I’ll tell you why.

A Buff Orpington Rooster

Jimmy the Buff Orpington Rooster

January is named for the ancient Etruscan god Janus.
Janus/Jana was an androgynous, mythical creator sun-god and was considered to be the keeper of the door of life. He was the guardian of all beginnings and endings and every new undertaking. He was father to twelve other Etruscan gods, and his divine children had twelve altars that belonged to the twelve months.
Gates, doors, caves and portals were all sacred to Janus.

The early Romans adopted and absorbed the myths of Janus and he was one of their earliest divinities.The people of Rome attributed the introduction of agriculture, law and religious worship to him.
In Rome, the doors to the temple of Janus were left open in times of war and closed during times of peace.
In art and literature Janus is most often portrayed as a two-faced or two-headed figure.


The Two Faced Roman god Janus

One face looks to the past – and the other face looks into the future.
Janus is at times depicted with a staff and he is usually in possession at least one key. Sometimes Janus has a rooster by his side.
The staff is a porter’s staff that directs the way forward to new beginnings or ventures.
The key is a symbol that Janus is the gate-keeper of life and that he holds the keys to the gates of heaven.
And because Janus is a sun-god, the rooster was his honored and sacred bird.

The Romans believed that the rooster welcomed the sun at dawn with vigorous crowing that symbolized the sun’s triumph over the night and darkness.

Dark BrahmaRooster

A Dark Brahma Rooster

Tiny Chicken Eggs – A Natural Phenomenon With A Spooky History

I went to collect eggs yesterday and found a tiny chicken egg sitting in the nest boxes along with the regular size eggs.

Tiny Chicken Egg

Regular Size Eggs and a Small Dwarf Egg Called a “Cock Egg”

I thought to throw it over the house but instead decided to tempt Fate and brought it indoors so I could take a picture of it to share with you.

Tiny or miniature size eggs in standard size hens are the natural result when a small bit of reproductive tissue or other small foreign mass enters the hen’s oviduct and triggers the regular formation of an egg.
Inside the hen’s body the bit of tissue or foreign mass is treated exactly like a normal yolk. It is swathed and enveloped in albumen, membranes and a shell and is eventually passed from the hen’s body. When it is laid it looks just like a regular chicken egg except that it is very little and teeny.

These types of malformed eggs have been known for centuries as a ‘Cock Egg’. Most often these little eggs contain only the white of the egg and no yolk. Usually the shells are harder to break than that of a normal egg.

Cock Egg - No Yolk Just Egg White

Cock Egg – No Yolk Just Egg White

‘Cock Egg’ is a synonymous term for any type of abnormal egg.
Sometimes a normal sized egg is formed without a proper hard shell but with a yolk. That egg too is also known as a cock egg, but is sometimes called a “rubber egg’ or “tube egg” by people not familiar with the history or folklore of eggs.

In folk tradition, a cock egg was understood to have been laid by a rooster or cock and not a hen, and was a cause for concern. Cock eggs according to different folklore traditions bring bad luck or illness if they are brought into the house. That’s because a cock egg is believed to have malefic and magical powers. They are reputed to be of value to sorcerers and magicians for mixing magical potions and casting spells.

The way the story goes, is that if a toad, serpent or witch at the behest of Satan incubates a cock egg, the resulting hatchling will be a cockatrice or a basilisk. A cockatrice or basilisk is an ancient winged monster with a serpent’s body and a rooster’s head that can kill and destroy by its breath and glance.

During the middle ages it was self-evident to most intelligent people that a cock egg was the work of the devil. Animals as well as people could be in league with Satan, and in 1474 a chicken passing for a rooster in Basle, Switzerland was put on trial and condemned to be burned at the stake for “the heinous and unnatural crime of laying an egg”. American author and educator, E.V. Walter in his essay – Nature On Trial – The Case Of A Rooster That Laid An Egg , writes, “ the execution took place with as great a solemnity as would have be observed in consigning a heretic to the flames, and was witnessed by an immense crowd of townsmen and peasants.”

A cock egg has also been called a ‘Witch Egg’ since the Middle Ages and a ‘Fairy Egg’ during the mid and late Victorian era. In Scotland and elsewhere in Europe, a cock egg is sometimes also called a ‘Wind Egg’. In recent times here in the U.S. these types of deformed eggs are sometimes called ‘Fart Eggs’.
I suppose language really does reflect cultural ideals and concerns.
Superstition instructs that the best way to protect against the evil of a cock egg is to throw the malformed egg over the roof of the house and smash it on the other side which of course I didn’t do.

So now I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next. But I’m not too worried – it was worth the photos.

An Easy Trick To Help Pick A Calm Cow

Selecting young cattle for future breeding is as much an art as it is a science. It’s a guessing game in regards to future temperament, productivity, milking ability and mothering. Temperament in cows is an important trait to keep in mind especially with a small herd.
Temperament in many animals is hereditary.

Good sound feet, sturdy legs, a nice straight top line and a feminine appearance are all important considerations when selecting foundation breeding stock. And all things being equal I also select cattle by low head whorls.

A Good Conformation in a Beef Type Heifer

A Good Conformation in a Beef Type Heifer

Some cows are just born crazy. They have a wild streak and there’s not much to be done about it. Crazy cattle are harder to handle and can end up hurting themselves or you. Rowdy cattle will run into walls and try to jump fences and holding pens trying to get away from people. I call it “crashing”. Unmanageable cattle can be dangerous in both a squeeze chute and in an open pasture. Trust me life is too short to put up with crazy cows.

Chasing A Heifer In The Farm Yard

Chasing A Heifer In The Farm Yard

When buying a group of cattle or even just a single animal, I always judge temperament by using three different assessments.
The first is I watch to see how the animal or the group of animals reacts to a stranger (me) in an standing open lot. Next I watch to see whether or not the animal crashes during handling or with a little pressure to move. Lastly I also note the position of the head whorl on the animal .

The first two behavior tests are obvious. But judging cattle temperament by a head whorl is maybe not so obvious.

A facial head whorl is where the hair on a cow or horse’s face meets. Head whorls are simply cowlicks on the face.
Generally the lower the whorl on the face, the less high-strung and calmer the animal will be. The whorl should be at or just above eye level on the face. It is best to avoid very high whorls and especially very uneven whorls high on the face.

Low Head Whorl In A Crossbred Heifer

A Low Head Whorl In A Crossbred Heifer

The example above is a crossbred Kerry heifer with a very low facial head whorl. Notice that the whorl is just below eye level. This heifer was usually calm.
Selection by head whorls is not fool-proof, but when combined with the other two factors, it can help pick good heifers out of a big lot.

Healthy Sheep Feet

Elliot, my Border Cheviot ram has pretty good feet. His hooves haven’t been looked at in over a year and really don’t need too much trimming.

Healthy Sheep Feet

Good Feet Need Little Trimming

I live in a very wet climate and often to deal with soggy pastures. Over the years I’ve noticed over that sheep with black hooves tend to do better on wet ground than sheep with lighter colored hooves.Wet ground can lead to foot scald in sheep and leaves the hoof susceptible to foot rot.
Some of the sheep breeds with light colored hooves are Dorset, Merinos and Polypays. Sheep with light colored hooves do very well in dry climates.

So the next time you’re thinking about buying sheep, keep in mind the kind of pasture or ground the sheep will be standing on. You’ll save yourself and your sheep a lot of trouble.
Now aren’t you glad you know that!

Ram Get Feet Trimmed

Elliot Is Getting His Feet Trimmed

Black Badger Face Border Cheviot Lamb

Spring has finally arrived here in western Pennsylvania!
Daffodils are beginning to bloom and lambing season is finished. For the most part this year’s lambing season went smoothly.
But there was one big surprise.

An unusual Badger Face ewe lamb was born about 10 days ago.
The ewe lamb is a twin out of two registered Border Cheviot parents. Her sister is white and her mother is one of my oldest ewes.
It’s recessive genetic throwback.
In Border Cheviots there is a recessive gene for black. Sometimes purebred Border Cheviot lambs will be born with a black patch or born completely black.

Lamb With A Black Circle Around His Eye

Lamb With A Black Circle Around His Eye

But an extreme reverse Badger Face?
In over 25 years of breeding Border Cheviots I’ve never seen anything like her before.
In fact when I first saw her, I was left completely speechless and dumbfounded.

Badger Face Border Cheviot Lamb

A Black Border Cheviot Ewe Lamb With A Badger Face

My new Badger Face Cheviot lamb is marked similar to that of a Torwen Badger Face Welsh Mountain Sheep.
Badger Face Welsh Mountain sheep are from Wales, United Kingdom, and come in two distinct types: the Torddu and Torwen.
The Torddu variety is mostly white with a distinctive black underbelly and black eye stripes.
The Torwen is the opposite. They are mostly black with a white or beige colored belly and smaller white eye stripes. The Torddu type is about three times more common than the Torwen and is known as the Badger Face.
Sadly my little Badger Face lamb is being picked on by a couple of the adult ewes.
Because of her coloring she’s not recognized as a natural part of the flock.
Believe it or not sheep do notice color and distinctions. In fact given a choice, sheep prefer to mate with other sheep of their own face color. More than just people are racist.

Badger Face Lamb With Twin

Badger Face Border Cheviot Lamb With Her Normal Marked Twin

Her mother is protecting her and doing a pretty good job of keeping her away from the main flock.
Hopefully some of the adult ewes will grow to accept her and she won’t become too over shy.
Just yesterday I noticed she was jumping and playing with some of the other lambs.
So there is hope that all will be well for her.
Good thing.
Because I’m keeping her.


What You Can Do To Make Your Veterinarian’s Job Easier

My veterinary practice is purely mobile at this point.
I travel to peoples’ homes and farms to see their animals.
This can go very smoothly, or it can be an exercise in frustration depending on what is going on.
Some people call me for an appointment and are prepared for my arrival.
Others think they are prepared and really aren’t.
It’s when owners aren’t prepared that things can be very frustrating. Here are 7 things you can do to help make my job, or any traveling veterinarian’s job easier .

1. Remember That I’m Coming
Yes, this has happened. I get to a farm ready to do something and the owner isn’t there. I call from the barn to make sure they are coming out…and they went to the store. When this happens, I still have to charge for my time. It’s frustrating because I could have been helping someone else. If you have to be somewhere else, please just call and let me know!

2. Have The Animal(s) Caught
Few things can waste my time more than waiting for an unprepared owner trying to catch the flighty animal.
On any given day, I can have one farm call or several farm calls for that day. When I’m prepared to start, having to wait for folks to catch an animal is very frustrating.

Chasing A Heifer In The Farm Yard

Chasing A Heifer In The Farm Yard

This is especially true one days when I have more farms to visit and it takes a half an hour or longer to corral an animal. Have your animals in the barn or in a pen. They don’t have to be tied up. They just have to be where we can get to them quickly.

3. Have The History Ready
Many times when I’m heading to a farm, I only get a quick summary over the phone; just enough to let me know what’s going on.

When I get to the farm, in order to help the animal fully, I need to know everything that has gone on, as well as that particular animal’s history.
It makes a big difference when I’m treating a downed animal to know how old it is, whether it’s pregnant or not; if there was anything it may have eaten, or if there was an injury.
It also helps to know how much time or money you are willing to put into the animal. Tell me ahead of time what the animal’s purpose is.
If it’s a food animal, there are medications that I can’t give them. I don’t want to treat your animal with certain usable drugs if that animal is going to slaughter in X number of days.

4. Tell Me What You Have Already Done or Not Done
When I come to treat a sick animal this is important for me to know.
If you have already given a pain medication, please inform me, so that I don’t give it again and overdose your animal.

Sick Ewe

A Sick Ewe

Tell me what you have already tried, so I can try something different, or tweak what you have already done.
And let me know which medications you have on hand, and which ones you don’t. Speak up and tell me what you are comfortable doing for the animal and are able to do. That information can help me plan the treatment of your animal.

5. Have the Paperwork Ready
If you are taking your animals to shows or to fairs, or selling them, it helps me to know ahead of time where you are going.
With that information I can double-check the requirements for you.
If you are going out-of-state, there may be extra tests the state you are going into requires.
Also there may be additional things a particular show wants you to do.
Be prepared for that. Because if I find something that is required and you didn’t know about it, I will let you know. Keep in mind that there are time frames for when I can do exams, tests, and CVIs before shows, fairs or sales. Knowing ahead of time when to schedule me to come out is important.

6. Tell The Truth
I can’t tell you how unbelievably frustrating it is to go to a farm and have an owner flat-out lie to me about what is going on with the animal.
I do the physical exam and come up with a likely diagnosis, but the owner swears that it can’t be that because of X, Y, or Z that they did.
When you lie to the vet, we can’t help you or your animal.
Our job isn’t to judge you. Our job is to help you give the best care to your animals.
We can’t help you take care of your animals if we don’t know what’s going on. I don’t care that you made a mistake and forgot to give a medication or gave the wrong dose.

Pony Waiting For The Vet

A Pony Waiting For A Farm Call

I don’t care if you forgot to lock the pen and they got out and into something they shouldn’t have.
I don’t care that you should have being doing something, and didn’t because of time or money constraints.
I don’t care about any of that.
What I do care about, is that I know about everything so I can treat your animal appropriately.
With misinformation, I may treat your animal inappropriately; which terrifies me, because I could accidentally kill your animal. Just tell me the truth when I show up, and I will help you find the best way to take care of your animals.

7. Listen and Tell Me What You Don’t Understand
Another frustration many vets have, are clients who apparently listen to everything we tell them…and then don’t follow through on treatment.
Most of us went through at least 8 years of school to become veterinarians. Many of us went to school even longer because of Masters Degrees and internships. We learned all the building blocks of diseases and treatment plans, so we can go out and help people care for their animals. When we have worked with you to come up with a treatment plan, and then learn on follow-up that you didn’t complete the treatments needed to help your animal that hurts us because it means you don’t trust us.
When we are going over the treatment plan, or explaining the reason why we are recommending this vaccine or this prevention management, if there is something you don’t understand just tell us. I for one am happy to go into more detail as to why I’m doing something. If you don’t agree with something I suggest or recommend, tell me why so we can work something else out.

Veterinarians work hard to help people take care of their animals. We didn’t go into veterinary medicine for the money; we chose the profession because we care. We went through 8 or more years of school in order to practice in a profession we love. And we all swore an oath:

Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.
I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.

So when you call us to come take care of your animals, remember veterinarians put a lot of time and effort into what we do. We will work with you to help you care for your animals.
But you have to help us out too.
Respect our time and we will respect yours.
Tell us what we are going to be seeing on your place so we can plan accordingly.
Let us know what you have done already and what you are willing to do.
Be honest with us.
Whenever I go onto a farm or to some one’s home I have sworn to do my best. But I need your help. Please keep in mind the things that you as the animal owner can do to help me or any veterinarian, to do just that.

Dr. H

***Today’s post is authored by Dr. Risa Hanninen.
Dr. Hanninen is a 2013 graduate from Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.Her practice, Northwest PA Veterinary Service, is a mobile veterinary practice that stretches across seven counties in Pennsylvania and into eastern Ohio.

If you live in northwestern Pennsylvania or eastern Ohio you can contact Dr. Hanninen at (814) 573-7013

How To Give Animal Injections

As a veterinarian, I’m always giving animals injections for one reason or another. I give vaccines, I give antibiotics, I give pain medications and other drugs.
Often when I’m treating an animal, I give owners instructions on how to administer the medication themselves so that they can continue the treatment. Many of my clients already know how to give injections, but sometimes I have to teach folks how to give injections.
Depending on what medication I’m giving the animal, the route of injection may vary.


2 Hereford Cross Pigs

What follows below are the two different types of injections I routinely have owners give to their animals.

SQ or Sub Q – This is short for subcutaneously. This means you give the shot under the skin.

IM – This is short for intramuscular. This means is a shot given in the muscle.

There are also IV (intravenous)injections. But I do not teach owners how to do these types.
Intravenous injections take a higher skill level to do. IV injections also carry a higher risk of complications especially if something goes wrong. Some drugs or medications will cause abscesses and extensive tissue damage if they leak out of the vein. If you should miss the vein and give a medication in the artery, the animal will go into seizures.

When giving SQ or IM injections, you must always draw back on the plunger to make sure you are not in a blood vessel and that you are not drawing air into the syringe.
If you do get air into the syringe, it means you’ve generally gone through the skin and back out again. You don’t have to draw the plunger back very far, just enough to know where you are.

Where to Give An Injection
Where to inject medication depends upon the species of animal and the preferred route for drug delivery.
Food animals tend to have injection guidelines based on meat and hide quality. Some medications can cause lots of muscle scarring which has to be later cut out of the carcass. Injections also may cause scarring in the skin which can devalue an animal hide.
Areas to inject are chosen for the ability of that particular spot to handle an injection.
The SQ space in some animals can handle quite a bit of drug volume. Muscles on the other hand can’t take as large an injection.
Muscle injection sites are chosen based on muscle size, animal comfort after the injection, and with consideration of the muscle value as a cut of meat.
Muscles should not be given more than 10 ccs (ml)of medication at one time.
Large volumes of medication for muscles need to be split into two or more injection sites.

What follows are the common farm animal species and where to give them injections.
I’ll try to hit the highlights and you can laugh and enjoy my drawing and tracing skills.

1. Horses – Many injections given to horses are IM. These injections are given either in the neck or less commonly in the muscles farthest towards the hind end. The neck is most often used because it is also safer for the person giving injection because they’re less likely to be kicked.

Horse Injection Site

Horse Injection Site

2. Small Ruminants – Sheep and Goats – Many injections given to small ruminants are SQ, but sometimes they are given IM. Small ruminants are considered food animals even though many people have them as pets.
The most common injection site for sheep or goats is right in front of the shoulder. This shoulder spot has loose skin which is good for SQ injections, as well as muscles for IM injections. Another spot for SQ injections in small ruminants is behind the elbow where the hair or fleece is thin. At this site it’s easier to find skin.

Sheep or Goat Injection Site

Sheep or Goat Injection Site

3. Cattle – Cattle are popular food animals. Even when a cow starts out in a dairy herd, she often ends up going to slaughter when her milk producing days are over. Because of this almost all cattle injections are given in the neck region. The neck region on cattle is a low value meat area and is not a valuable part of the hide. Both SQ and IM shots are given in this area. The one shot that is given differently is the antibiotic Excede which is given SQ at the base of the ear.

Cattle Injection Site

Cattle Injection Site

4. Swine – Pig and hogs are another popular food animal which some people also keep as pets. The ideal spot to inject a pig is in the neck, about 7 cm behind and below the base of the ear. Again, the area chosen for injections for pigs was decided based on meat quality and ability of the area to handle injections.

Pig Injection Site

Pig Injection Site

5. Camelids – Llamas and alpacas have gone up and down in popularity but are still quite numerous. Many folks have them as guardian animals or for fiber. Because camelids are fiber animals, injections can be a little interesting. There are a couple of places to give SQ injections. One is in front of the shoulder, and the other is behind the elbow, down where the thick fleece ends. Most injections in camelids are SQ. But should you have to give an IM injection, the recommended spot is in the muscles of the shoulder, above the elbow.

Camelids Injection Site

Camelids Injection Site

No matter what medication you are giving or where you are giving it, there are some things you should always do for cleanliness and animal safety.
1. Always use alcohol to clean off the tops of bottle. Use alcohol to clean a spot on the animal where you are giving the injection. This helps keep your medicines or vaccines uncontaminated, and it helps keep the needle from dragging dirt into the bottle or the animal.
2. Always use new needles going into a bottle (prevents contamination), and you should really only use one needle per animal. Sharp needles don’t hurt as much, and you won’t carry disease (like blood parasites) from one animal to the next.
3. Throw out contaminated bottles. This one can hurt, depending on the medication or vaccine. But what would hurt worse would be you injecting bacteria or fungus into your animals and causing abscesses or systemic disease.
So there are the main points about giving injections and where to give them. As always, if you have any questions, ask your local vet for help.
Dr. H

***Today’s post was authored by Dr. Risa Hanninen.
Dr. Hanninen is a 2013 graduate from Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.Her practice, Northwest PA Veterinary Service, is a mobile veterinary practice that stretches across seven counties in Pennsylvania and into eastern Ohio.

If you live in northwestern Pennsylvania or eastern Ohio you can contact Dr. Hanninen at (814) 573-7013

Common Veterinary Abbreviations, Words and What They Mean

With every profession there seems to be a secret language or code spoken for the purpose of confusing everyone else. Veterinary medicine is no different with our alphabet soup of acronyms and abbreviations that we use as short hand.

Usually I remember to ask my clients if they understand what I mean when I give them instructions. But sometimes I forget.
So here are some of the ones I commonly use in practice and what they mean.

When Giving Injections –
1. SQ or Sub Q – subcutaneously, this means you give the shot under the skin. Most animals you can tent the skin and slid the needle into the tent.
2. IM – intramuscular, this one is a shot given in the muscle. Most animals you give the shot in the neck muscles, some you give in the muscles of the back leg. I’ll often show my clients how and where to give these shots before making them do it on their own.
3. IV – intravenously, this is an injection I will not have you do because so many things can go wrong if done improperly. This is an injection into a vein. With most farm animals I use the jugular vein, with dogs and cats I use their leg veins.
4. IN – intranasally, meaning into the nose. Equine strangles vaccine and canine kennel cough vaccines are often given this way.

Filling A Syringe

Drawing medication into a syringe

When Giving Medications –
1. PO – per os, this simply mean giving something by mouth or oral medications
2. SID or q24hrs – this is short hand for giving something only once a day
3. BID or q12hrs – short hand for giving something twice daily
4. TID or q8hrs – short hand for giving something three times daily
5. QID or q6hrs – short hand for giving something four times daily
6. EOD – short for giving something Every Other Day
7. mL or mil or cc – milliliter aka cubic centimeter, both mean the same amount. 1 mL is equal to 1 cc. This is an amount of liquid I want you to give as an injection or as an oral med.
8. mg or mig– milligram, this is an amount and a weight
9. kg or kig– kilogram, this is a unit of weight that the rest of the world uses and so is the standardized way for veterinarians to record and calculate weights. One kg is equal to about 2.2 pounds or lbs.
10. mg/mL or mig per mil– milligram per milliter, this is a concentration. For example, the common antibiotic LA-200 has a concentration of oxytetracycline of 200 mg/mL. The anti-inflammatory Banamine has a concentration of 50 mg/mL. I use these concentrations to help me figure out how many mLs I need to have you give your animal.
11. mg/kg or mig/kig – milligram per kilogram. When I’m calculating doses, I’m often given the appropriate dose as “give this number of mg per kg of animal weight.” For example with Safeguard, the dose for goats is 10mg/kg. I have to know how much your goat weighs so I can turn that into kgs and multiple things together to get you the correct dose.
12. IU – international units, this is another concentration often found on the labels of penicillins and vitamins. Instead of mg/mL, the concentration is IU/mL
13. X – I use this one personally; another vet may use something different. I use it when I want someone to give more than the labelled dose, for example “Give Safeguard at 5X the labelled dose,” when I want you to take the labelled dose and multiply it by 5. I’ll also use it to tell you how many days I want you to give it. “Give Safeguard at 5X the labelled dose X 5 days,”
Hopefully these clarify some of the label directions that I, or another vet, may give you and you can translate “Give Safeguard at 5X labelled dose PO SID X 5 days,” and “Give 4.5 cc/100lbs (9mg/lb dosing) LA200 IM EOD X 3 treatments.”

Where Things Are Located On Your Animal –
1. Rostrally – towards the nose. Usually I’m describing something on the face
2. Cranially – towards the head
3. Caudally – towards the back-end
4. Dorsally – towards the back or spine area
5. Ventrally – towards the belly
6. Laterally – towards the side
7. Medially – towards the center
8. Distally – away from. Usually used to describe something on a limb
9. Proximally – near to, another one used to describe something on a limb.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. But hopefully the next time you talk to your vet, you’ll be able to better understand what we’re talking about when we forget to translate.
Dr. H

***Today’s post is authored by Dr. Risa Hanninen.
Dr. Hanninen is a 2013 graduate from Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.Her practice, Northwest PA Veterinary Service, is a mobile veterinary practice that stretches across seven counties in Pennsylvania and into eastern Ohio.

If you live in northwestern Pennsylvania or eastern Ohio you can contact Dr. Hanninen at (814) 573-7013

Pick The Best Day For Hatching Eggs

I’m a great believer in agricultural traditions and folk wisdom.
That’s because much of what I learned about homesteading was passed onto me by the two generations of garden farmers that came before me. Heeding their advice enabled much success and fewer homesteading failures.
One bit of advice that was given to me by those far more experienced than myself was regarding the best time for setting or incubating eggs.

The most favorable time for setting eggs under a broody hen or in an incubator is 21 days before a waxing moon is in the zodiac sign of Cancer.

New Hatched Chick

A Buff Orpington Chick Hatched During A Waxing Moon in the Sign of Cancer

In order to determine what day that would be you’ll need an almanac for the current year. All good almanacs have tables or charts that map the course of the moon though the zodiac.
If we use chicken eggs as an example here’s how to find the best day.

Chicken Eggs Hatching

A Clutch of Chicken Eggs Hatching In The Moon Sign Of Cancer

Chicken eggs need 21 days to hatch.
So a quick look in any current almanac will find days that the moon will be in the sign of Cancer, and will also be waxing.
Most years there will be a couple of days that this will occur during the light (waxing) of the moon.
All that is necessary is to pick a Cancer day and then count backwards 21 days. Whatever day that happens to be is the day to begin to incubate the clutch of eggs. That day counts as Day 1.

If for some reason a waxing Cancer day is inconvenient for setting eggs, a day that a waxing moon falls in the signs of Scorpio or Pisces would be a second best choice.
Chicks that are hatched during a waxing Cancer moon tend to hatch with fewer problems and grow faster.

Supplies To Keep Hand For An Animal Health Emergency

Animals rarely pick a convenient time to have an emergency.
So when one comes up, it is good idea to be prepared and to have some basic supplies on hand and to keep a few things in mind.

For starters ask yourself, is this animal a pet? Or it this an animal that will be going into the food supply?
If it is a food animal that is injured, is this animal ready to be butchered? Or can you afford to wait until the animal is healed up and the drugs are out of its system?
For food animals, you have to be very careful of what you give them and the dosing. Because drug withdrawal times meat and milk are set to keep people safe.
Once these questions are answered, you can act accordingly.

Animal Health

Border Cheviot Ewe With Her Resting Lamb

General Supplies:
There are some general things that are good to have on hand no matter what species you have.
1. Disinfectants – Betadine and Chlorhexadine are examples of disinfectants. These types of disinfectants are diluted with water. With them you can clean off injuries and flush wounds and abscesses.

2. Bandage Materials – Gauze rolls, gauze pads, vet wrap, cotton leg wraps, roll cotton, white bandage tape and even in a pinch…duct tape. All of these bandage materials should be on hand in case of injuries.
Even for an injury that you will need a vet for (like a broken bone), you can help your animal by cleaning off the injury or stabilizing it until the vet arrives; or before you transport your animal to the vet. Broken legs can benefit from lots of cotton padding secured with vet wrap. Gushing blood can be slowed or stopped by the application of pressure from a wad of cotton secured by vet wrap.

3. Blood Stop Powder – You put it on to help clot blood. Flour and Corn starch will also work.

4. Electrolytes – Animals who don’t want to drink or have diarrhea/vomiting, or who are ill in general could all use some electrolytes. These replace the ones they are losing to diarrhea/vomiting or aren’t taking in.

5. Drenching Gun or Oral Syringe – For those animals who are eating or drinking, or those who need oral medications.

6. Gloves – Short exam gloves and the long rectal sleeves. The short gloves are good for when you are dealing with injuries or giving oral meds to help keep your hands clean and protected from zoonotic disease. They also help protect your animal’s injury from the bugs that normally live on your skin. Rectal sleeves are good to have on hand when you are birthing animals and have to go in to reposition a baby. Again, they keep you clean, and also keep the animal protected from your skin flora.

7. Wound treatments – for minor wounds, things like Scarlet Oil and general triple antibiotic ointments are useful to have on hand.
Furazone ointment is often used in horse but is a major DON’T in food animals. AluShield is a spray on bandage that is useful for covering minor wounds to keep the flies off.

This is where you have to start thinking about what animal you are treating and what its purpose in life is.
For food animals, you have to pay attention to medication withdrawal times and to which medications are forbidden.
Your vet can help direct you, because what is good in one species can kill another.

These are a few medications your vet may want you to have on hand.

1. Antibiotics – For most dogs and cats, your local vet can dispense or prescribe these according to diagnosis.
A. For food animals, (cows, goats, sheep, pigs) many of these medications are commonly found at your local feed store.
What type of medication your vet advises will depend on why you are treating your animal.
a. Penicillin G is an oldie, but goodie. It’s a broad spectrum that is the first line of defense for many ailments from wounds to retained placenta.
b. Oxytetracycline AKA Biomycin AKA LA-200 AKA…This is another broad spectrum antibiotic that is used in another plethora of ailments, from foot rot to pneumonia.
c. Ceftiofurs are also broad spectrum. These include Excenel, Excede, Naxcal, and Ceftiflex. Again, also have a wide range of uses.
B. For horses, Penicillin is also one that is commonly used, but SMZ-TMP is another broad spectrum your vet may want you to have on hand. Other antibiotics are used to treat a specific ailment and may only be prescribed when needed.

2. Pain/Anti-inflammatories – These are most commonly prescribed as needed for pain.
Often people often want to use human medicines, like ibuprofen, Tylenol, and aspirin, for their animals. But animals metabolize these drugs differently than we do and giving them our medicines can kill them.
So please, before giving your animal something, ask your vet.
For large animals, Flunixin Meglumine (aka- Banamine, Prevail, Flunixiject) is often one that a vet will let you keep on hand if there is a need for it. For large animals it’s their version of an NSAID. This medication comes in an injectable form for food animals and horses. But for horses there is also a paste version for owners who are uncomfortable with giving injections. Horse owners may also want to keep Phenylbutazone (aka- Bute) on hand.

Here are a few other odds and ends that you can have on hand as well.
1. Activated Charcoal is frequently used when an animal has eaten something toxic, like a poisonous plant.
2. Mineral oil is often a go-to for colicking horses. But it is also use when an animal has eaten something you want to have move smoothly through the guts with some lubrication.
3. Baking Soda is often used in ruminants to treat rumen acidosis
4. Diphenhydramine is mostly use in pet animals. It isn’t labelled for food animals and is good for allergic reactions.
5. Vitamin B Complex and Thiamine is helpful for ruminants who are off their feed or ill. TRuminants usually make their own B vitamins in the rumen, but when they don’t feel good, they don’t always make enough. Vitamin B Complex and Thiamine also stimulates appetite to some degree.

There are many other things you could have on hand for animal emergencies. These suggestion are just a starting point.
Each farm and home is different.
What one needs on Farm A isn’t necessarily what will be needed on Farm B.
In any case, talk with your local vet ahead of time about the things you may need in an emergency. Your veterinarian can help you tailor your emergency grab bag to fit your farm needs.
Dr. H

***Today’s post is authored by Dr. Risa Hanninen. Dr. Hanninen is a 2013 graduate from Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.Her practice, Northwest PA Veterinary Service, is a mobile veterinary practice that stretches across seven counties in Pennsylvania and into eastern Ohio.
If you live in northwestern Pennsylvania or eastern Ohio you can contact Dr. Hanninen at (814) 573-7013