Agriculture and Livestock

Estimating Horse Weight

Knowing your horse’s weight can be very useful for many purposes including calculating feed rations and knowing how much of a de-wormer to administer.

It is not always easy to find a scale that will accommodate the weight of a horse therefore the next best option is to estimate the horse’s weight using one of the following methods.

The most common method used to calculate the weight of a horse is a height/weight tape. When wrapped around the horse’s girth, this special tape will display an approximate estimate of the horse’s weight. This tool has been around for many years and is considered to be quite reliable.

Another method is to calculate the horse’s weight using your own measurements. Simply measure the horse’s girth and length (in inches) and calculate his or her weight using the following formula:

Formula to measure a horse's weight

In order to measure girth (heart girth):
Measure (in inches) from the base of the withers down to a couple of inches behind the horse’s front legs, then under his or her belly and up the opposite side to where you started.
Note: your tape measure should run at an angle.
In order to measure body length:
Measure (in inches) from the point of the horse’s shoulder to the point of his or her rump.
Note: your tape measure should be running at an angle.
A calibrated weight scale will always give the most accurate weight however these suggested methods can be utilized in order to obtain a reasonable estimated value.
Image by LifeSupercharger

Agriculture and Livestock

Why Are Barns Red?

Farmlands across North America are dotted with red barns. For many years red has been the cliché color for a barn. But why? What created this tradition of the red barn?

Red has been adopted as the color of choice for barns for centuries not due to its aesthetic appeal but, rather, due to its useful effects and the early adoption of home-made sealants.

Before a time when paint, sealants and other building materials were readily available from the local hardware store, farmers were forced to create their own paint that would seal and protect the wood on their barns.

One of the first substances used as a sealant consisted of a mixture of linseed oil, an orange-colored oil derived from the seeds of the flax plant, milk, lime and ferrous oxide (or rust). Rust was abundant on farms and was very effective as a sealant due to the fact that it would kill any fungi and moss that might grow on the structure. The combination acted as a long-lasting paint that would dry and harden quickly. It was due to the added rust that the mixture was red in color.

In the 1800’s, red paint was inexpensive and continued to be used on barns, as it was discovered that the red helped to absorb sun rays in the winter, keeping the barn warmer.

It has also been suggested that animal blood was combined with milk to act as a staining agent.

Although many viable color and sealant options exist today, red continues to be used as a common barn color due to this age-old tradition.

Image by Earl-Wilkerson

Agriculture and Livestock

Facts About Animals: Goats

Who knew that goats were such interesting animals? Check out these interesting facts about goats.

Did you know…

  • Goats were the first animals to be tamed by humans.
  • Humans began herding goats approximately 9000 years ago.
  • Goats are members of the cattle family. They are closely related to sheep, deer and bison. Distant relatives include giraffes, ibex, and antelopes.
  • There are over 210 breeds of goats.
  • The world population of goats is estimated to be 450 million.
  • Approximately 6 to 8 % of the world’s goat population can be found in North America. The majority of the world goat population however can be found in the Mideast and Asia.
  • Goats have no upper front teeth but instead a hard “gum pad”. A goat’s age can be determined by the configuration of and wear on their teeth.
  • A goat with parasites and worms that is left untreated will most likely suffer many negative health effects that may decrease production and even result in death.
  • Female goats can weigh between 22 to 220 pounds and male goats can weigh between 27 to 275 pounds.
  • Both male and female goats can have horns and beards.
  • A goat’s pupils are rectangular in shape.
  • Generally a goat lives 10 to 12 years however there have been cases of goats living up to the age of 15.
  • Goats are very intelligent and social creatures. They prefer to surround themselves with other goats of their same breed. Goats are able to recognize their mothers even if they have been separated for years.
  • Some breeds of goats are able to jump over 5 feet.
  • A male goat is known as a buck or billy and a female is known as a doe or nanny. Young goats are called kids and a castrated male is called a wether. Male goats under the age of 1 are referred to as bucklings and white female goats less than a year old are called doelings.
  • A group of goats may be called a herd, trip or tribe. Herds are generally led by a female called the “herd queen”.
  • Male goats can breed as young as 4 months old and females once they have reached the age of 7 months.
  • Pregnancy for a goat lasts approximately 150 days or 5 months.
  • A goat may have 1-6 kids per litter. Twins are most common.
  • The United States in the largest importer of goats, while Australia is the largest exporter.
  • It is estimated that more people eat goat meat and drink goat milk than that from any other animal. In fact, approximately 72% of the world’s milk consumption is goat milk.
  • Goat meat is referred to as Chevon or Cabrito. It is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef, pork and even chicken.
  • Goats are often kept with racehorses as a companions to help keep the horse calm.
  • A goat has 4 stomachs.
  • Goats are often recognized as the founders of coffee. Ancient goat herders noticed that goats became much more energetic after consuming beans that later turned out to be those from a coffee plant, leading to the discovery of coffee.
  • Cashmere comes from the Cashmere goat. A Cashmere goat can produce about one pound of fleece per year.

Image by Andreas März

Agriculture and Livestock

Llamas and Alpacas: What Is the Difference?

There are many differences between llamas and alpacas, with their physical appearances being the most obvious.

Here are some of the main differences that exist between llamas and alpacas.

  • A llama is approximately twice the size of an alpaca. Most llamas weigh approximately 200 to 350 lbs while alpacas usually weigh between 100 and 175 pounds when they are fully grown.
  • A llama has long banana-shaped ears while alpacas have short spear-shaped ones.
  • A llama’s back is long and straight with a high-set tail on the other hand, an alpaca has a shorter back that tends to round at the rump with a low-set tail.
  • Llamas have a coarse outer coat and a soft inner coat while alpacas have a very fine single
  • Alpacas produce much more fiber per animal than llamas (despite their smaller size). This is due to the fact that the alpaca has been bred specifically as a luxury fiber-producing animal while the llama has been bred as a pack-carrying animal.

When it comes to similarities, both animals are friendly, curious and easily trained and handled. They are both herd animals who prefer the company of their own species. They can be interbred to produce fertile offspring however these offspring will not be as strong as a llama nor have the beautiful fleece of an alpaca therefore most breeders do not see a point in interbreeding.

Image by TriggerHappyDave

Diatomaceous Earth

Does Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth Have an Expiration Date?

Red Lake Earth (RLE) is a food chemical codex grade diatomaceous earth product that is registered for use in livestock feed as an anti-caking and flow agent (not to exceed 2% of total diet).

This product does not have an expiration date. As long as it is stored in a cool, dry area, it is good for an indefinite period of time. In fact, Red Lake Earth can even become wet and be used after it is left to dry! Once dry, the product will return to its natural state and continue to work as it did before it became wet.

A date stamp can be found on RLE packaging however this stamp is not an expiration date but rather the day that the product was packaged.

Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth is an all natural product. The age of the product does not affect its ability to function therefore a new bag of RLE will be just as effective as an older bag.

Image by Steve Snodgrass

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth: What Does Food Chemical Codex Mean?

The term Food Chemical Codex (FCC) refers to a compendium of standards that is used internationally to ensure the quality and purity of food ingredients. The FCC helps manufacturers and consumers in recognizing genuine ingredients and substances and assures the quality of food products. Currently, the United States Pharmacopeia publishes the FCC every two years. The compendium was first published in 1966 by the Institute of Medicine and was acquired by the United States Pharmacopeia in 2006.

FCC standards are recognized in more than 130 countries around the world. In fact, some regulatory authorities and government bodies have incorporated these standards into their laws to help protect the quality of products and ingredients that are produced in or exported to their countries.

US law and FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) regulations refer to FCC standards. Currently, over 200 FDA regulations in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations incorporate the standards set forth in the Food Chemicals Codex compendium.

In Canada, food additives must comply with regulations issued by Health Canada. If no such regulations exist, specifications set by the FCC (Fourth Edition) are to be followed.

Australia and New Zealand’s governing body for such regulations (the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand) recognizes standards set by the FCC (Sixth Edition) as the primary source of identity and purity for substances added to food.

In Brazil, FCC standards are recommended, along with other standards.

In Israel, Public Health Regulations state that those who produce, import, market or store food additives must comply with the requirements in the latest edition of the FCC or in the latest edition of the Compendium of Food Additive Specifications (JECFA).

Products that are labeled Food Chemical Codex Grade have met high standards and are considered safe however, in the case of diatomaceous earth, this term does not suggest that the product is safe or registered for human consumption. Food Chemical Codex Grade diatomaceous earth products may be approved for use as a filtering and processing aid in the food industry, as long as the substance is removed from final goods offered for sale. In the United States, FCC compliant DE products are regulated by each state for use in livestock feed as an anti-caking agent and flow aid (in amounts not to exceed two percent of total diet).

There is also confusion around DE being safe for human consumption due to GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status. Again, with all FCC DE products, GRAS only refers to the acceptance of DE being used as a filtering or processing aid in food. The term GRAS when associated with DE does not refer to human consumption, as some web-sites may indicate.

In order for a DE product to be sold for human consumption it must undergo stringent and lengthy testing and be registered with the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) or CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) for this purpose.

Image by Michael Graf

Diatomaceous Earth

“Pure” Diatomaceous Earth: Fact and Fiction

Any mined material which is composed primarily of the fossilized exoskeletons of diatoms can be defined as a diatomaceous earth. This material can come from a fresh or salt water deposit.

Each deposit is different, not only in the species, shape and age of the diatoms it contains but also in the wide range of other elements present in the material.

It is often believed that the silicon dioxide (SiO2 or amorphous silica) content of a diatomaceous earth product is a measure of its purity however, this is not the case.

Silicon dioxide (Si02 or amorphous silica) is the main element in diatomaceous earth however all diatomaceous earth products, in their natural (raw) state, typically contain 20-35% addition elements other than silica.

Color and formulation also vary between deposits and can be affected by the manufacturing processes. These characteristics are also not a measure of purity.

It is the presence of the diatoms that define a diatomaceous earth and their species, shape and particularly the age of the diatoms that define their ability to function for certain purposes. As well, the way in which the DE is prepared (calcined or non-calcined) also plays an important role in the end products use. For example, diatomaceous earth that is heated to a very high temperature (calcined) can be used only as a filtering aid in swimming pools and should not be consumed or inhaled (due to its high crystalline silica content). Natural diatomaceous earth, on the other hand, is non-calcined. It is not considered harmful and can be ingested by animals.

For more information on the importance of species, shape and age please see Diatoms: The Importance of Shape and Age

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Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth: Is This A Super-Product?

Currently our diatomaceous earth is registered for several purposes throughout Canada and the United States. Our Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth is registered as a feed additive for agricultural use in the U.S. and Canada. Last CrawlTM Insecticide Powder, which is composed of the same Food Chemical Codex Grade diatomaceous earth as Red Lake Earth, is registered in Canada and the United States as a natural insecticide for domestic applications. As well, in Canada, our DE-cide diatomaceous earth product is registered as an insecticide for commercial applications. Beyond these registered uses however, many speculations are being made as to what other exciting benefits DE is really capable of providing!

All across the web, stories and suggestions can be found regarding the use of Diatomaceous Earth for various purposes and while these claims cannot legally be made by producers, it is very interesting to see the results people are experiencing with the use of this natural product.

Here at Absorbent Products Ltd. we are committed to research that will put us on the cutting edge of environmentally friendly technologies and products therefore it was only suiting that we conduct a study on Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth.

Here’s what we found:

Diatomaceous Earth as an Insecticide:

DE is effective in killing barn, garden, grain and household insects such as ants, bedbugs, silverfish, flies, darkling beetles, flour beetles, and other crawling insects.

How to Use DE as an Insecticide:

Diatomaceous Earth can be mixed with an attractant such as a cereal or nut powder, icing sugar, powdered soup mixes, powdered yeast, etc. to attract and encourage the insect to ingest it resulting in a lacerated digestive tract, causing further dehydration. Note: Mix at a rate of 25% to 50% in volume.

For infestations of ants, bedbugs, silverfish and other insect pests inside your home, apply the DE dust behind appliances, cabinets, along baseboards, along edges and underneath carpets and rugs, bed frames, cracks, crevices and other places where insects hide or crawl. Note: Apply at a rate of 70g per 10m2.

For use outdoors, lightly coat areas where ants and other crawling insects are found including ant trails, door frames, entrance ways, perimeter foundations, patios, window frames and window sills. Note: apply at a rate of 70g per 10m2.

For use against house flies in operations where manure accumulation occurs be sure to combine this treatment with good manure management practices (e.g., aeration via proper placement of fans and intake vents, maintenance of watering system equipment).

**DE can control house flies in layer poultry operations by reducing the number of fly larvae occurring in the accumulating manure 5 to 6 weeks after weekly application.

For use in-transit, clean out box cars, ship holds and truck beds prior to transporting grains, then simply apply a light dusting of DE to all walls and floors.

For use in the garden, apply a light dusting of diatomaceous earth to both sides of the plant leaves for effective control of ants, flies and other crawling insects.

PLEASE NOTE: Avoid dusting flowers and other areas where bees and beneficial insects may land, as diatomaceous earth has the potential to negatively impact most insects that come in contact with it. As well, for food plant and other industrial use, avoid contamination of food in the application and storage of the product. Do not use diatomaceous earth on food contact surfaces. When using DE for garden use, wash all produce thoroughly before using.

For more information and application rates for our natural insecticide, please see:
APL’s Diatomaceous Earth Now Approved in Canada As Natural Insecticide

Image by notmargaret

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth in Animal Feed: What Is an Anti-Caking Agent and Flow Aid?

While individuals have found many other uses for Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth, the product it is currently only registered for use as a pelleting aid, anti-caking agent and flow agent in livestock feed (not to exceed 2% of the total diet).

What this means is that Red Lake Earth improves the flowability and mixability of feed.

In a silo, wet grain, corn and other types of feed will often stick together creating clumps. Adding Red Lake Earth helps to dry the feed out, break it up and keep it from sticking in the silo. This is the function of an anti-caking agent or flow aid.

As a pelleting aid, Red Lake Earth helps with the formation and the quality of pellets. More specifically, when mixed in feed, the product helps to lubricate grain that is being prepared in to pellets. The RLE helps the grain to slide easily through the die plate, which compresses the grain. As well, the product creates a better pellet by helping it stick together.

Image by SAN_DRINO

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatoms: The Importance of Shape and Age

Each deposit of diatomaceous earth is different. They possess varying blends of pure diatomaceous earth combined with other natural clays. The diatoms in each deposit contain different amounts of silica, depending on the age of the deposit, and different deposits may even contain a different species of diatom all together.

The species of diatom found in a deposit is dependant upon the age and paleo-environment of the deposit. In turn, the shape of a diatom is determined by its species.

The shape of the diatoms contained in a deposit has not been proven to affect their functionality when it comes to the absorption of liquids, however certain applications, such as that for slugs and snails, do work best when a particular shaped diatom is used. For example, in the case of slugs and snails large, spiny diatoms work best to lacerate the outer shell of the insect.

The deposit used for Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth is from the Miocene age and, like many other deposits throughout British Columbia from this same time period, Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth contains a species of diatom known as Melosira granulata. These diatoms are approximately 12 to 13 million years old and are a small globular shape.

A deposit containing diatoms from this age can provide many more benefits than an older deposit, for example Eocene age diatoms (that are approximately 40 to 50 millions year old) due to the fact that older diatoms recrystallize and their small pores become filled with silica, reducing their ability to absorb fluids.