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With the late start to spring this year, hopefully the extra time was used to double and triple check machinery before taking it out for use. There are a few things that should always be examined before bringing out machinery that has been sitting all winter. In case you missed a step, or missed maintenance altogether, check out the quick list below.
- Observe fluid levels and cleanliness
- Look at hoses and belting for signs of wear or cracking
- Check the steering, wheels, brakes, and gearbox for proper alignment and operation
- Make sure the exhaust system isn’t blocked by small animal nests or debris
- Examine tire treads and tire pressure
- Inspect machine to make sure all safety shields and guards are in place
- Check safety signage, lights, and directional for travelling on roadways
Want more information on vertical mixer maintenance? Click here.
“Farm Maintenance Checklists for Spring.” HobbyFarms.com
“Machinery Maintenance for Energy Efficiency.” Extension.com
Body Condition Scoring (BCS) measures the fat (energy reserves) and body of beef cattle. This is a subjective measurement taken by looking at 6 different areas of the cow focusing on the fat and muscle deposits – not the weight or coat. Since there is no clear way of measuring, it is best to have the same person do all BCS in order to ensure consistency across the scores and the herd. BCS focuses on the brisket, back, ribs, hooks, pins, and tail head of the animal (as seen in the picture).
Body Condition is rated on a scale of 1-9. Measurements of 1-4 signify the cow is thin, often showing bones with little fat coverage. Measurements of 5-7 are the idea body condition, with visible hips and perhaps a rib or two, but generally having an even covering of fat where needed. Scores of 8-9 mean the animal is over conditioned and overweight. The animal is flush with fat that bones aren’t really visible. Animals that have longer hair or their winter coats may need to be palpated in the 6 specific measuring areas to help determine their score.
Body Condition Scores help to identify nutritional needs in the herd. With feed costing up to 60% of operating costs, having up-to-date BCS for animals helps the farmer know what sort of diet animals need to be fed to reach their ideal score. Keeping cows in that ideal range means they are healthy and will be more successful breeding, birthing, and producing milk. This will in turn benefit the next generation of cattle being raised.
Body Condition Score should be measured before breeding, during gestation, and at calving. Cows will gain weight during gestation – but should be monitored that they don’t get over conditioned at this time. If BCS is ideal at calving time, the cow will likely need less time to recover before being able to breed again. Over or under conditioned cows will need to have their BCS corrected before they are at an ideal score where they may breed.
“Body Condition Scoring Beef Cows.” Virginia Cooperative Extension
Peck, Clint. “How to Body Condition Score.” Beef Magazine
Having access to fresh eggs is a true treat for those who are able to enjoy. But how come there tends to be an overage of farm fresh eggs in springtime?
Chickens are influenced heavily by sunlight. With springtime, the amount of daylight increases, which improves egg laying production. The ideal amount of light for a chicken is around 14 hours, the longer days in trigger the pineal gland to help with the laying process. The pineal gland is able to “sense” sunlight, and is responsive to it. Melatonin is produced when the pineal gland senses darkening, which helps the hen relax and roost for the night. The longer the days, the less melatonin is released, which means more opportunity for laying.
Temperatures and diet are also a factor. Warmer weather allows chickens to be outside for longer periods of time. They are also able to seek out seeds and insects on their own, creating a more palatable diet for themselves.
If people want chickens to lay through all seasons, artificial light on a timer can be used to mimic sunlight and keep their production at a more even pace. Incandescent bulbs are found to work better than florescent because they emulate sunlight better.
“Effects of Light on Laying Hens.” Roys Farm
Harlow, Ivory. “Spring Egg Surplus: Why Chickens Lay More Eggs in Spring.” Farmand dairy.com