Q: What are the unique nutritional needs of goats?
A: Like the cow, goats have a four-compartment stomach: rumen (which is 80% of the total stomach area), reticulum, omasum and abomasum. However goats have unique dietary needs that require specially formulated diets. Feeding diets designed for other species can create nutritional imbalances that can lead to poor health or even be deadly to your goats.

Q: What should I feed my kids?
A: During the first three days of life, newborn kids must receive colostrum...the first milk produced by the doe after birth. It is very rich in nutrients and protective antibodies. After this critical time of colostrum feeding, kids can be fed kid goat milk replacer, however milk replacer is NOT a replacement for colostrum.

PURINA KID MILK REPLACER contains all of the necessary milk proteins balanced with vegetable oils, sugar, vitamins and minerals to produce optimum growth and healthy kids.

Bottle Feeding? To bottle feed you’ll need milk replacer, water, bottles and nipples. Package directions should be strictly followed when preparing milk replacer to avoid diarrhea or malnourishment. Feed milk replacer at room temperature. Be sure to properly clean and disinfect bottles and nipples to prevent bacterial growth from milk residue which can lead to diarrhea.

Kids usually take to the bottle just like the babies they are. If your kid is lethargic, sickly or not sucking, pry its mouth open and work the nipple in. You may need to practice a little before your kid gets the hang of it. Hold your kid’s head higher than its shoulders during feeding so that milk flows directly into its stomach and not its lungs. Milk consumption should gradually be reduced at weaning to prevent digestive disturbances.

PURINA GOAT CHOW rations are formulated specifically for the unique nutritional needs of goats at all life stages and contain the proper nutrients to help your kids grow up strong and healthy. PURINA goat feeds are available as supplemental feeds designed to be fed in combination with a forage diet, or as complete feeds that supply total nutrition in each bite.

PURINA GOAT CHOW can be fed as a creep feed by allowing the nursing kid access to Goat Chow. As the kid matures they will consume small quantities of Purina Goat Chow, which will help develop a properly functioning rumen. This will help the weaning process.

Q: What are urinary calculi and how does it affect my goat?
A: Urolithiasis, commonly referred to as urinary calculi or "water belly" occurs when stones form in the urinary tract and block the urethra, preventing urination. Formation of urinary calculi is more prominent in male goats because of the anatomy of the male urinary tract, making it susceptible to blockage.

Certain individual goats, wethers, immature bucks and some smaller breeds are at a higher risk of blockage. Genetics, diseases and nutritional imbalances may be contributing factors. Poor water intake can also result in concentrated urine which can increase the risk of urinary calculi, especially in winter months and hot weather.

Restlessness, frequent attempts to urinate with no success, a decrease in feed intake and kicking at the abdomen are all signs of urinary calculi. The abdomen may swell if the bladder ruptures and goats may appear to temporarily improve...however urine flowing into nearby tissue usually results in death. If these symptoms occur, contact your veterinarian immediately. Death could occur if left untreated.

The best cure for urinary calculi is prevention. Feeding a balanced diet with the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio, plenty of clean, fresh water to keep urine diluted and regular exercise should keep your goats healthy and happy.

Increase water intake by offering free choice salt to help dilute the urine. Urinary acidifiers such as ammonium chloride can be added to goat diets to help reduce urinary calculi formation.

Nutritionally complete feeds, including PURINA SHOW GOAT RATION and all PURINA MEAT GOAT feeds contain urinary acidifiers and properly balanced calcium to phosphorus ratios.

Q: What is Thiamine deficiency?
A: Thiamine (Vitamin B1) is naturally produced in the rumen of the goat, by the rumen microorganisms. Thiamine deficiency, or Polioencephalomalacia, occurs when thiamine production is decreased in the rumen. More frequently found in goats kept under intensive management conditions, it results from changes in microbes resulting from diets that are high in energy without sufficient levels of fiber.

Goats with a properly functioning rumen do not require a dietary thiamine supplement.

Frequently seen in goats kept under more intensive management conditions, it most often occurs in 2 to 3-year-olds. Because immature kids do not have a functioning rumen, they are susceptible if they are not fed a thiamine enriched product such as Purina Kid Milk Replacer. Other possible causes include sudden feed changes, moldy hay, dietary weaning stress, deworming with anthelmintics, eating some types of ferns, and overdoses of some anticoccidial medications.

First signs include depression, anorexia and/or diarrhea which may appear suddenly or over a period of several days. Other signs include head elevation while standing, excitability, drowsiness, circling, muscular tremors and apparent loss of vision which causes goats to walk in circles. If symptoms occur, contact your veterinarian immediately. Rigidity and convulsions occur in later stages of the disease.

Adding thiamine to the diet is not a treatment for this condition. Because thiamine is destroyed in the rumen, it is not available to the goat. Therefore, if your goat shows any signs of thiamine deficiency, call your veterinarian immediately. Left untreated, goats will die within 24-72 hours of disease onset. Treatment may consist of thiamine therapy in combination with a lower energy diet and more good quality forage. Animals severely affected by the disease for more than 24 hours usually don’t respond to treatment.

As usual, the best cure for thiamine deficiency is prevention. Always feed your goats sufficient fiber, proper fiber to starch ratio -- especially with concentrated feeds intended to stimulate rapid growth and increased production. Changes in diet should be made slowly, usually over 7-10 days, to give the rumen microbes time to adjust.

Q: What is bloat?
A: Defined as an excessive amount of gas in the first compartment of the ruminant stomach. Left untreated it can decrease feed intake and milk production, and can cause great discomfort and even death in goats.

Bloat can be caused by an obstruction in the esophagus by a solid object that prevents the release of gas produced in the rumen during normal fermentation. More commonly though, bloat occurs when the gas produced by fermentation is greater than the gas expelled through the mouth. This often happens when goats eat different plants in different pastures; graze in damp, lush, legume pastures with forage like alfalfa; eat a large quantity of feed at once; or eat too quickly.

The most obvious sign is swelling on the left side of the animal. Goats will quit eating, become restless and sometimes salivate excessively. Goats in pain will gnash their teeth and kick their legs out. Breathing may become difficult since the rumen presses on the lungs and eventual respiratory failure can follow.

Bloat caused by an obstruction in the esophagus can sometimes be corrected by massaging the foreign object towards the stomach. For other, more complex factors, a defoaming treatment can be given by drenching with vegetable or mineral oil. Contact your veterinarian for proper treatment.

Bloat can be controlled with good management practices. Care should be given to prevent goats from eating too much lush, green pasture, especially legume pasture such as clover and alfalfa, in a short time.

Although alfalfa is a highly palatable roughage and an excellent source of protein and calcium, a little goes a long way. Goats should not have unlimited access to a very palatable feed when hungry. Any change in diet should be made gradually over 7-10 days.

Purina Mills research has shown the potential risk of bloat can be reduced by feeding smaller amounts of feed more frequently during the day. The risk for bloat increases significantly when goats are hungry and are allowed to eat large amounts of good quality feed at one time.

In the event goats are extremely hungry, Purina Mills’ researchers suggest first feeding a poor quality grass hay to reduce appetite before providing small amounts of good quality feed or pasture.

Q: What is ketosis?
A: Ketosis occurs when an animal’s energy needs are greater than the animal can consume and therefore, the goat must rely on body reserves for fuel. This breakdown of body fats results in an excess of "ketones" that accumulate in the blood and body tissues and has a toxic effect on your goat.

High producing milk goats that cannot eat enough feed to meet the high energy requirements for production. This often happens immediately after birth when there is a rapid rise in milk production.

Goats may decrease feed intake and milk production. They may become lethargic with dull, rough coats. A sweet odor can be detected on their breath, in the urine and in the milk that indicates ketones are being released. If left untreated, this condition can be fatal.

If you suspect ketosis, call your vet immediately. Treatment is usually successful. To meet the energy demands of milk production after birth, be sure your does are fed a high quality diet. Slowly increasing the daily amount of feed before kidding helps insure your does have sufficient energy levels to meet lactation demands when the kids are born. Energy demands will continue to be high as long as does are producing milk. Always feed lactating goats according to production for the duration of lactation.

Research has shown low quality diets tend to increase the incidence of ketosis because the energy levels in the diet are not sufficient to meet the energy needs of the lactating doe.

Q: What is pregnancy toxemia?
A: Pregnancy toxemia is a form of ketosis that occurs late in pregnancy when your goat is deficient in energy due to a higher energy demand over what is being consumed. Body fat is broken down for use as energy and toxic ketones are released.

Pregnancy toxemia is caused by the increased nutritional stress of developing kid(s) during late pregnancy. Overfed does and those carrying twins or triplets are more susceptible to this very serious condition, which can be fatal. In addition, the rapidly expanding uterus of a goat in late pregnancy takes up more space which limits feed intake.

Pay particular attention and quickly identify does that are listless, have reduced feed intake, apparent blindness or appear to be in a coma.

Unfortunately by the time symptoms of pregnancy toxemia are detected it is often too late to save the animal. Prevention is the best course of action and is easily achieved through proper feed management. Since overweight goats are more prone to developing this problem, limit feed in early pregnancy to prevent your does from becoming fat. Increase feed during late pregnancy to insure sufficient energy is available for the developing fetuses.

Purina Mills’ scientists suggest feeding Purina Goat Chow products for a balanced ration.

Q: What is milk fever?
A: Milk fever is a noninfectious disease that occurs at or soon after kidding. It is brought on by lactation after birth.

The sudden increase in calcium necessary for milk production after birth can drastically decrease calcium levels in a doe. The goat may fail to mobilize stored calcium reserves in her bones during pregnancy, especially if a diet high in calcium is fed prior to birth.

During the onset of the disease, your goat may appear unsteady and weak as she walks. As milk fever progresses, she may lie down, which can advance to a coma and death.

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately. Treatment involves administration of calcium. However you CAN take preventative measures to lower the incidence of milk fever.

Avoid diets high in calcium during late pregnancy and avoid the use of alfalfa as the only forage source during the dry period. Does usually have a good supply of calcium stored in their bones that can be used when needed. However when a diet high in calcium is fed, the doe may fail to use the stored calcium since it is already abundant in her diet. Then, when milk production begins, her calcium requirement dramatically increases. Since her body has not used the calcium storesfrom her bones, her blood calcium level plunges below normal, resulting in milk fever.

Purina Mills research has shown feeding a highly palatable diet with proper mineral balance such as Purina Goat Chow helps reduce milk fever.

Q: Why does my goat get diarrhea?
A: Diarrhea can be a symptom of several underlying problems including stress, disease, internal parasites and diet mismanagement.

Believe it or not, goats are very sensitive to sudden changes in diet. Rations containing a high level of grain and/or insufficient levels of fiber can also cause diarrhea, along with feed that has become spoiled or moldy. In addition, supplemental feeding too much corn or oats without the proper balance of fiber can lead to diarrhea. In some cases diarrhea can be a sign of disease. For example, diarrhea is a primary symptom of thiamine deficiency. Internal parasite infestation can also lead to diarrhea and result in weight loss.

You know it when you see it -- unusually soft or watery, foul smelling feces.

Any changes in diet should take place gradually over 7-10 days to give the population of microbes in the rumen time to adjust to the new feed without causing digestive problems. Water should always be available since persistent diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Persistent diarrhea in young kids may lead to death if left untreated. If symptoms do not improve, consult with your veterinarian.

If internal parasites are suspected, a fecal sample can be examined by your vet who can properly treat the infestation. If diarrhea is tinged with blood or if your goat has a fever, contact your vet immediately.

Basic good feeding management will help prevent diarrhea. Purina Mills’ scientists recommend a good quality, balanced ration such as Purina Goat Chow.

Q: What can I do about internal parasites?
A: Parasitism is one of the primary causes of death in goats, especially in young animals under six months of age. Treatment depends on the type of infestation.

A common protozoan disease called coccidiosis infects the intestinal tract causing severe weakness, decreased feed intake and diarrhea which is frequently blood tinged. Typically a problem in young kids, it is potentially fatal.

The eggs of internal parasites are passed in the feces of infected goats and develop into infectious larvae which are ingested by other goats where they mature and reproduce. The cycle then repeats. Undernourished goats are particularly susceptible.

Symptoms of internal parasites can include weight loss, dull or rough coat, anemia, decreased milk production, diarrhea, lethargy, and poor feed intake.

A veterinarian can diagnose the presence of internal parasites by examining feces. If internal parasites are present, goats are usually dewormed and then put in safe, parasite-free pastures to avoid reinfection.

Treatment and control of internal parasites cannot be achieved by drugs alone. Good management practices, and proper sanitation and feed management can minimize parasite ingestion. All food and water should be kept clean and away from feces. Adults and kids should graze in different pastures and goats should be put on routine worming schedules.

Kids are usually wormed at 3-4 weeks and again at three months of age and should be kept in well-lighted, clean dry pens since sunlight is known to be one of the most effective coccidiostats. Goats should be dewormed at breeding and 2-3 weeks prior to kidding. Any new goats should be dewormed and separated from other goats for at least a week.

Treatment of coccidiosis includes medicated feed or medicated drinking water -- which is usually successful. Prevention requires the use of medicated feeds containing a coccidiostat such as Decoquinateä.


Q: My chickens are breaking the eggs and eating the inside. Why are they doing this?
A: Probably a result of softer shells caused by inadequate nutrition. There are a few very essential minerals that are required for strong shells. Unfortunately most people only think of calcium as being important for strong shells. But there are 5 or 6 that are critical, not only the correct levels, but the rations between each other. Also, if the diet was deficient in these minerals, it may have caused the chicken to become a little nervous and that may cause them to eat their shells.

We recommend feeding Purina Mills® Layena ®SunFresh® Recipe® to avoid this problem. Layena® is formulated with added Vitamin D3, phosphorous and other essential minerals for strong, hard shells.

Now here is the problem, when you switch from your current feed to Layena®, the birds have already developed this habit and may continue to try and break the eggs. They like the taste of the eggs and will purposely try and break them. So what you need to do is to collect the eggs several times a day for a couple of weeks so that no eggs get broken. This should break (no pun intended) the habit and allow you to enjoy your farm, fresh eggs.

Q: What SunFresh Recipe products are available and how do they differ?
A: Purina Mills® carries three primary SunFresh Recipe® products: Start & Grow®, Flock Raiser®, and Layena®. Purina Mills also carries a whole grain poultry supplement, Purina Mills® Scratch Grains.

Purina Mills® Start & Grow® SunFresh® Recipe is intended for layer chicks and should be fed from the time they hatch until they are ready to lay at about 20 weeks of age. Start & Grow® is a complete feed containing all the proper nutrients to grow healthy chicks and comes in the form of crumbled pellets (etts). Start & Grow® Medicated can be fed to chicks until 8 weeks of age to prevent coccidiosis.

Purina Mills® Layena® SunFresh® Recipe is designed to be fed to pullets from the time they start laying throughout their entire span of production. Layena® is a complete feed and provides all the vitamins and minerals necessary to produce top quality eggs.

Purina Mills® Flock Raiser® SunFresh® Recipe is formulated for broiler chicks, ducks and geese and is fed from hatch until market weight. For turkeys, it can be fed from 6 weeks of age to market. Flock Raiser® is a complete feed and contains all the required nutrients to efficiently and rapidly grow meat birds from hatch to use. Flock Raiser® Medicated is available to provide protection against coccidiosis in broiler chicks and turkey poults. Flock Raiser® Medicated is not FDA approved for use in ducks or geese.

All of the above Purina Mills® SunFresh® Recipe feeds provide a complete and balanced diet for the birds they are intended for. No other supplemental feeds are necessary for birds to receive proper nutrition.

Purina Mills® Scratch Grains SunFresh Grains is a natural all grain supplement and allows natural pecking and scratching instincts to be satisfied. Scratch Grains are not a necessary part of the diet but can be useful to keep poultry busy and content. Purina Mills® offers Scratch Grains for feeding to chickens after 12 weeks of age. Purina Mills’ nutritionists suggest feeding a limited amount of Scratch Grains per day in proportion to the daily feed consumption (i.e., 5-10%).

Q: What causes double yolked eggs?
A: Egg production in the hen is controlled by the release of specific hormones, which in turn stimulate the release of a single egg yolk from the ovary. After the yolk is released from the ovary it continues its journey through the hens reproductive tract where it develops into an egg with a hard outer shell. Usually, only one yolk is released by the ovary in a given day. However, sometimes two egg yolks or on rare occasions, even three yolks may be released at the same time resulting in the formation of a double or triple yolked egg.

This release of more than one yolk at a time is due to an over stimulated ovary which occurs as a direct result of the increased level of reproductive hormones in the hen. This phenomenon appears more commonly in young hens and is also seen more frequently in meat-type strains of hens verses egg-type hens. Genetics may also be a factor involved with some hens naturally producing a higher percentage of double yolked eggs than others.

Q: How does light affect egg production?
A: Chickens have a pineal gland (a gland behind their eye) which functions to control reproduction. Increasing day length in the spring acts to naturally stimulate egg production through the increased length of exposure to light. Furthermore, as the amount of light decreases in the fall and winter due to shorter day length, egg production naturally declines.

The use of artificial light to supplement natural daylight allows egg production to continue throughout the year. To maximize egg production in the hen, Purina Mills’ researchers recommend 14-17 hours of light per day. Providing supplemental lighting in the spring, fall and winter will insure that the number of hours of light remains consistent thereby allowing optimum egg production throughout the year.

Q: At what age do hens begin laying eggs?
A: Hens begin laying eggs at the time of sexual maturity, around 18-22 weeks of age. Peak egg production usually occurs at about 28 weeks of age. In a laying flock, excellent peak production would be between 85-95%. This means that on a given day, 85-95% of the flock would produce an egg. After this peak in production, the rate of lay decreases about 1% to 1 1/2% per week. Several factors are involved in how many eggs a hen will produce such as breed, light exposure, housing and nutrition.

Commercial Leghorn strains have the genetic potential to lay 270 eggs per year, with good management and proper nutrition. Meat-type strains and pure lines i.e., Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, etc. are not as prolific.

Purina Mills’ nutritionists recommend Purina Mills® Layena® SunFresh® Recipe for maximum egg production.

Q: What should I feed my turkeys, ducks and geese?
A: Ducks and geese should be fed Purina Mills® Flock Raiser® SunFresh ®Recipe from hatch on. It is perfectly okay to also feed Purina Mills® Layena® SunFresh® Recipe after 18 weeks of age. Medicated Flock Raiser® SunFresh® Recipe is not FDA approved for use in ducks or geese.

Turkeys can be fed Purina Mills® Gamebird Startena® or Purina Mills® Show Chow® Turkey Starter from hatch to 8 weeks of age. After 8 weeks, turkeys should be fed Purina Mills® Flock Raiser® SunFresh® Recipe. The medicated option of Flock Raiser® SunFresh® Recipe can be fed to turkeys to provide protection against coccidiosis.

Q: What is the proper way to handle and store eggs after gathering?
A: Eggs should be collected three times a day, especially during hot weather. If washing is necessary, eggs should be washed carefully with water. Common household detergents can produce an off odor or flavor in eggs. Eggs should be dried and cooled as quickly as possible. Storage temperature for eggs should be approximately 45 degrees Fahrenheit and 70-75% humidity. Care should be taken to store eggs away from other foods since eggs can easily pick up the odors and flavors of nearby foods through their tiny pores.

Q: Do I need to feed my chickens oyster shell?
A: Oyster shell is sometimes fed to chickens because it is an excellent source of calcium. Purina Mills® complete feeds which include Purina Mills® Start & Grow® SunFresh® Recipe, Layena® SunFresh® Recipe or Flock Raiser® SunFresh® Recipe are formulated to meet calcium requirements so supplemental oyster shell is usually unnecessary. However, for older hens in hot weather, particularly those laying larger eggs, extra calcium may be beneficial. In this instance, a small amount of oyster shell can be fed at 1 pound per 100 hens daily. Over-supplementing with oyster shell should be avoided since too much calcium in the diet can lead to the same symptoms as a calcium deficiency and include weak or soft shells and reduced egg production.

Q: Do I need to feed grit to my chickens?
A: Chickens which are fed a complete diet such as Purina Mills® Start & Grow® SunFresh® Recipe, Layena® SunFresh® Recipe or Flock Raiser® SunFresh® Recipe do not need grit for digestion. If chickens are being fed whole grains such as Purina Mills® Scratch Grains SunFresh® Grains or if they are outside on the range, then grit should be fed to aid in grinding up feed in their crop. In this situation, grit should be fed at 1 pound per 100 chickens twice per week. It can be fed free choice or mixed with the regular feed.

Q: What determines egg shell quality?
A: Egg shell quality is primarily dependent upon the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals in the diet. Calcium and vitamin D3 are the crucial nutrients involved in egg shell formation. Calcium functions in the actual egg shell formation. Egg shells are comprised of 95% calcium carbonate. Vitamin D3 is critical for the absorption of calcium by the hen. Poultry can synthesize a portion of vitamin D3 through exposure to sunlight but additional vitamin D3 is necessary in the diet. An excess of any of these major nutrients involved in shell formation can result in weak or soft eggs shells and reduced egg production.

Q: How can cannibalism be controlled?
A: The act in which chickens establish social dominance is called "pecking order". Pecking order in chickens is a natural behavior in which status determines which birds eat first and have right of way privileges. Excessive pecking can lead to bleeding sores and even death if allowed to get out of control and is referred to as cannibalism. Cannibalism can be difficult to stop once it begins so prevention is the best and most successful treatment. Controlling cannibalism can be achieved by not crowding the birds, keeping light levels reduced, providing adequate feeder space, and insuring proper nutrition through a well balanced ration, such as Purina Mills Family Flock products.

Be sure to maintain good air quality and alleviate other conditions that may be stressful for the bird. It is also important to have adequate nesting space (4-5 hens/nest), with reduced light intensity. Furthermore, be sure to have dry litter; wet litter will damage feather quality, allowing greater damage from pecking. One of the best methods of preventing cannibalism is through beak trimming. Beaks are trimmed during the growing period with a heated blade in which about 2/3 of the upper beak and 1/3 of the lower beak is removed. After this procedure, the chances of injury due to pecking is markedly reduced, but does not impair the birds’ ability to consume feed.

Purina Mills® Layena® SunFresh® Recipe is balanced to contain the proper vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in the proper ratios necessary for the production of excellent quality eggs.

Q: How can cannibalism be controlled?
A: The act in which chickens establish social dominance is called "pecking order". Pecking order in chickens is a natural behavior in which status determines which birds eat first and have right of way privileges. Excessive pecking can lead to bleeding sores and even death if allowed to get out of control and is referred to as cannibalism. Cannibalism can be difficult to stop once it begins so prevention is the best and most successful treatment. Controlling cannibalism can be achieved by not crowding the birds, keeping light levels reduced, providing adequate feeder space, and insuring proper nutrition through a well balanced ration, such as Purina Mills Family Flock products.

Be sure to maintain good air quality and alleviate other conditions that may be stressful for the bird. It is also important to have adequate nesting space (4-5 hens/nest), with reduced light intensity. Furthermore, be sure to have dry litter; wet litter will damage feather quality, allowing greater damage from pecking. One of the best methods of preventing cannibalism is through beak trimming. Beaks are trimmed during the growing period with a heated blade in which about 2/3 of the upper beak and 1/3 of the lower beak is removed. After this procedure, the chances of injury due to pecking is markedly reduced, but does not impair the birds’ ability to consume feed.

F I S H   &   A Q U A T I C S 

Q: Why is there a change in the color/smell of my fish feed?
A: Ingredients used in all Purina feeds are routinely tested to determine their nutrient content. Small adjustments in diet formulations are sometimes made to insure your fish receives constant nutrition, regardless of differences in feed ingredients at a given time. So even though your feed may look or smell a little different from bag to bag, you can be sure they’re getting the exact same amount of nutrition every time.

Q: Is Purina feed "least cost formulated"?
A: No. Our goal is to consistently provide you with the highest quality fish feed - not the least expensive. The fish digestive system requires a diet that is stable and nutritionally constant, not a diet which is formulated based on the cheapest ingredients available at a given time.

Ingredients used in manufacturing Purina fish diets are the highest quality in order to maintain consistent nutrition from bag to bag. Our feed may cost more per bag than other brands, however because it is higher in nutrients, you actually have to feed less to your fish - which makes Purina fish feeds a tremendous value.

Q: What is the shelf life of Purina fish feed?
A: Purina fish feed will stay fresh for up to 12 months, providing you store it properly. Be sure to store your feed in a cool, dry area that has good ventilation to prevent mold, vitamin loss and contamination by disease carrying insects or rodents. When properly stored, the vitamin availability in Purina feeds is guaranteed for 12 months.

However, we recognize that high relative humidity in certain regions of the country may reduce the shelf life of the fish feed. When it is not possible to store feed in a dry and cool area, the shelf life may be reduced and should be taken into consideration.

R A B B I T 

Q: How do I prepare my rabbit for winter?
A: Winter brings a variety of situations, including cold temperatures and short days, which affect the well-being of your outdoor rabbit. There are steps you should take to prepare your rabbit(s) to weather the season in optimal health and comfort.

Your rabbit should have a hutch that has solid walls on at least three sides and a slanted, overhanging roof that will allow snow and rain to run off. The hutch should be placed in an area protected from blustery winds and heavy precipitation. Straw or other bedding in the hutch will provide extra warmth, but it must be kept clean and dry. It is very important that you check daily to ensure your rabbit has a dry environment. Damp surroundings, whether from rain, snow, a leaky water bottle, or urine, will contribute to chilling and immune stress, which in winter can easily result in serious illness. While well-protected, the hutch should still have adequate ventilation to reduce odors and keep your pet breathing fresh air.

Water is very important in the winter. It is critical to keep the rabbit’s source of water clean and not frozen. In very cold weather, this may necessitate checking the water several times a day or providing a heated waterer. If you use the latter, be sure to still clean it regularly to inhibit bacterial growth and keep the water appealing to the rabbit. Also be sure that the cord cannot be chewed by the rabbit.

If you are breeding rabbits, you will need to provide 14 to 16 hours of light during these short winter days. The lighting intensity should be 25 lux at the level of the animals. Since no one really knows what a lux is, simply hang one 36-watt fluorescent tube light about 6 feet above the rabbits for every 55 square feet of floor space. In addition, baby rabbits cannot tolerate the cold temperatures that adult rabbits can, so it will be very important to provide extra warmth if needed. If you provide supplemental heat, be sure to monitor the temperature of the nest box daily. There have been instances where the nest box gets too hot and doe’s not nurse the litter. Remember, a little heat goes a long way in a small nest box.

Finally, expect your rabbit to eat more – maybe lots more! The colder it gets, the more the rabbit must eat. Like all animals, rabbits have what is called the “thermoneutral zone”. This is the ambient temperature range at which the rabbit does not need to expend energy to maintain an ideal body temperature. For adult rabbits, this zone is 69 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (young rabbits will be comfortable at higher temperatures). Below 69 degrees, the rabbit must use energy to stay warm. The colder the environment, the more energy the rabbit needs. Energy comes from food, so expect your rabbit to eat as much as three times more in the winter than it does during warmer times of the year. This increase in feed intake even has a fancy name: thermostatic appetite control. The rabbit’s appetite automatically adjusts to meet the energy needs of the rabbit in different temperatures. If your rabbit does not have access to adequate food, it will be hungry, cold, lose weight, and will likely get sick. If the situation becomes dire, the rabbit could die from illness or hypothermia.

The graph shows the relationship between feed intake and decreasing ambient temperature. Note that eventually the rabbit’s intake “maxes out”. This is because even a hungry rabbit in a cold environment can eat only so much food; at this point, housing becomes very important in keeping the rabbit comfortable and healthy.
If you provide your rabbit with warm, dry housing, plenty of food, and lots of fresh, clean water, your rabbit will stay comfortable and healthy through even the longest winter!
Q: Why does my rabbit get diarrhea?
A: Diarrhea can be a symptom of several underlying problems including stress, disease, genetics, diet mismanagement or the use of certain antibiotics. Regardless of its cause, it remains one of the most common causes of death in rabbits, which makes it a serious concern that should not be taken lightly.

Technically, diarrhea is the result of an inflammation of the intestines called Enteritis and is characterized by soft or runny, foul smelling feces.

Diet Management
The rabbit digestive system is unique and depends in part on beneficial bacteria and microorganisms to break down food. This process, called fermentation, takes place in part of the rabbit’s digestive tract called the cecum. The cecum of the rabbit is much larger and more developed than any other domestic animal. The nutrients from cecal fermentation are packaged into soft (or "night") feces that are consumed by the rabbit in a process called coprophagy.

To keep the digestive system working properly, rabbits require a high fiber diet. Fiber helps to keep the correct balance of nutrients going to the cecum for fermentation and maintains the normal population of "good" bacteria.
A diet low in fiber can throw the fermentation process out of balance resulting in an increase in harmful toxin producing bacteria. These toxins can lead to diarrhea, dehydration and eventually, death.

Newborn and weaning rabbits are at a greater risk of developing diarrhea due to their immature digestive systems and the inability to fight off harmful bacteria.

Rabbits under a great deal of stress are more susceptible to diarrhea. So what could cause your bunnies to become tense, irritable and susceptible to diarrhea? Temperature extremes, either hot or cold, can cause a sudden change in feed intake which upsets the population of bacteria in the cecum. Stressful environmental conditions such as wind, rain, drafts and sun can also throw rabbits off of their feed. And, of course, the presence of other animals such as dogs, cats and other predators can give a rabbit cause for concern.
Did you know that diarrhea can sometimes be brought on by the use of certain antibiotics that alter the population of microorganisms in the cecum? Certain antibiotics destroy beneficial bacteria which allows an increase in the number of harmful toxin producing bacteria. Consult veterinarian for the proper use of antbiotics. Purina rabbit diets DO NOT contain any antibiotics.

Diarrhea is a common sign of disease that can be caused by internal parasites such as Coccidiosis. If you suspect this may be the problem with your rabbit, isolate it immediately to prevent transmission of the disease to other animals, and call your veterinarian.

If your rabbit develops diarrhea, take away its feed for 2-3 days and provide only water and small amounts of hay. After the diarrhea has ended, gradually begin feeding small amounts of feed each day until full feed is resumed within 2-3 days. If the situation doesn’t get better right away, call your veterinarian.

The best way to solve a problem is to make sure it never occurs. Limit feed intake in all of your rabbits, except lactating does and newly weaned bunnies which should be feed free choice.

Always increase the amount of food slowly to prevent diarrhea. Sudden changes in a rabbit diet can upset the digestive tract and lead to diarrhea. Any changes in feed should be made over a 7-10 day period to give your rabbit’s digestive system time to adapt.

During this period, mix the new feed with the old feed, and gradually increase the amount of new feed. Feed your rabbit at the same time each day, ideally in the evening, due to your rabbit’s nocturnal nature.

The importance of fiber in the diet should never be overlooked. Purina Rabbit Feeds provide 100% of the daily requirements for fiber. Purina Show Formula, Rabbit Chow Complete Plus and Rabbit Chow Gourmet all contain Lactobacillus Acidophilus and specific yeast cultures. Research has shown that under certain circumstances, this may improve digestive function and helps to reduce the occurrence of diarrhea.

If antibiotics are necessary due to illness, only use those recommended for rabbits by your veterinarian. Do not use antibiotics continuously as a preventative.

Good sanitation and management practices can also help prevent diarrhea from developing. Be sure your rabbit has proper housing and protection from the elements and predators to keep them healthy and happy.

Q: Is it okay to only feed hay to rabbits?
A: While some hay is desirable in a rabbit's diet, complete diets based on a high level of hay will not work. Rabbits need some fiber (which hay is high in) to keep their digestive system working properly; without fiber, they will become very ill. However, rabbits have fairly small digestive systems, which means they cannot hold much food, and they are surprisingly inefficient at digesting high-fiber foods, so they don't get much energy from them. If fed a diet high in a bulky fiber such as hay, they simply will not be able to eat enough or digest it thoroughly enough to obtain enough energy to maintain their bodies, much less be productive (such as having babies, lactating, etc.).

In fact, if you feed alfalfa to a rabbit, you will notice that they tend to avoid the stemmy portion and pick off the little leaves. A fine grass hay is good to have for you rabbit to nibble on, but it will need a complete pelleted feed to meet all its nutritional needs. Our different Rabbit Chow® diets range in fiber from about 17% to 24%, to meet the different production goals of the owners (pet, breeder, show, meat production); they have alfalfa in them, but they also have other ingredients which provide protein, energy, vitamins and minerals rabbits need to thrive.

Q: Why won’t my rabbits breed?
A: Again, there’s no easy answer. Factors that influence breeding include age, weight, temperature, light and the frequency of breeding.

The biological time clock affects bunnies just like humans. Females typically can be bred for the first time at five months. Males usually reach sexual maturity by six months of age. However, these times vary. Larger breeds are slower to reach sexual maturity.

Purina Mills' research has shown the most common cause of breeding problems occur because does and bucks are under or over weight for their breed specific "target" weight. Underweight rabbits may be physically incapable of breeding successfully. Overweight rabbits may not show any interest in mating and can have a hard time becoming pregnant if mating does occur. Establish a "target" weight prior to breeding according to the specific breed standards of your rabbit for greatest success. Adjust the feed intake of your rabbit to maintain an ideal weight.

Environmental temperatures can affect reproductive performance in bucks. Temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit can cause heat induced sterility. Keep bucks in a cool area when used for breeding purposes.

How much is too much? The active breeding life of a rabbit can range from 4-6 years. Females on a more intensive breeding program (more than five litters per year) will be productive for fewer years than those bred less frequently. Frequency of breeding can also affect the performance of males. When used in an intensive breeding program, keep one buck per 10-20 does. In cool weather, fewer bucks can be used more often. Does that are infrequently bred may become overweight which may lead to breeding difficulties.

Keep the amount of light constant for 14 hours each day to maintain constant breeding throughout the year.

Be sure your rabbits have reached sexual maturity and are the proper weight and condition for their breed prior to mating. Monitor the amount of food your rabbit eats to prevent overeating and excess weight gain.

Gradually increase the feed of underweight rabbits to get them in the ideal condition for breeding. Purina Rabbit Chow Complete Blend and Purina Show Formula contain all the essential nutrients for reproduction and are formulated to support up to 40 bunnies per doe per year (5 litters a year).

If a more intensive breeding schedule is desired, Purina Professional Formula is recommended. Formulated with extra protein and nutrition it enables does to produce up to 64 bunnies per year (8 litters per year).

Keep bucks cool and maintain light exposure at a constant 14 hours per day to achieve the best breeding performance of your rabbits.

Q: What causes ammonia odor and how can I control it?
A: Normal metabolic processes protein into amino acids that are used by the body for the development of muscle, bone and fur. Protein (amino acids) not needed by the body are converted to urea for excretion in the urine. Urea is converted to ammonia by an enzyme called "urease" (pronouced Ur E ase).

The longer urine stays in the environment the more urea is converted to ammonia. If you can smell ammonia, then the ammonia levels are too high. Ammonia can damage the lining of the respiratory tract allowing harmful bacteria to enter the body which may lead to disease. Therefore, the daily removal of urine and waste are important to your rabbit’s health and long life.

Maintain good ventilation in your rabbitry and keep cages clean to prevent any potential health problems.

Purina Show Formula contains additional amino acids that are required for the production of a thicker and shinier coat. Show Formula, Complete Plus and Gourmet all contain Yucca Shidigera, a plant extract that may help to reduce the production of ammonia.

Q: Why is there a change in the color/smell of my rabbits feed?
A: Ingredients used to manufacture Purina rabbit diets change in physical characteristics due to varying growing conditions, climate changes and the maturity of crops when they are harvested. This can cause a slight change in feed color or smell from bag to bag; but no need to worry.

Ingredients used in all Purina feeds are routinely tested to determine their nutrient content. Small adjustments in diet formulations are sometimes made to insure your rabbit receives constant nutrition. So even though your rabbit’s feed may look or smell a little different from bag to bag, you can be sure he’s getting the exact same amount of nutrition every time.

Q: What is the chalky white film on the bottom of my rabbit’s cage?
A: It is calcium carbonate. Rabbits are unique. Their bodies do not regulate blood calcium levels as well as other animals. As a result, calcium is absorbed readily and may reach very high levels in the blood.

Calcium is removed from the blood and excreted as calcium carbonate in the urine. Over time, calcium carbonate builds up and becomes the chalky white film you see.

Rabbits require from 0.6 - 1.3% calcium in the diet, depending on age and life stage. Calcium is the mineral your rabbit needs most to develop teeth and bones. It also has other functions in the body. Purina formulates its' rabbit diets to contain a constant amount of calcium in the diet to insure proper development of strong bones and teeth.

Q: Does alfalfa in rabbit diets result in high calcium levels?
A: Purina Rabbit diets are formulated to meet the daily dietary requirement for calcium.

Our rabbit feeds contain high levels of alfalfa, which is highly palatable to rabbits and provides an excellent source of fiber. All diets are carefully formulated to contain a specific and constant amount of calcium.

Basically, it makes no difference whether alfalfa or other grass hay is used in the diet. We need to supplement the rabbit's diet with calcium in the form of calcium carbonate because neither alfalfa nor grass hay contains sufficient calcium to meet the rabbit's daily needs.

For example, when hay such as timothy is used in the diet, more calcium carbonate would need to be added to the ration to meet your rabbit’s requirement for calcium. Using alfalfa "which has a greater calcium content" means less calcium carbonate is added to meet the needs of your rabbit. Purina rabbit diets are formulated to maintain a constant level of calcium in the diet.

Do not feed alfalfa supplements or other vitamin and/or mineral supplements to rabbits eating Purina’s complete rabbit diets since this could cause a nutritional imbalance that might make your rabbit sick.

Q: Is Purina feed "least cost formulated"?
A: No. Our goal is to consistently provide you with the highest quality rabbit feed; not the least expensive. Your rabbit’s sensitive digestive system requires a diet that is stable and nutritionally constant, not a diet which is formulated based on the cheapest ingredients available at a given time.

Ingredients used in manufacturing Purina rabbit diets are the highest quality in order to maintain consistent nutrition from bag to bag. Our feed may cost more per bag than other brands, however because it is higher in nutrients, you actually have to feed less to your rabbits - which makes Purina rabbit feeds a better value per bag.

Q: What is the shelf life of Purina rabbit feed?
A: Purina rabbit feed will stay fresh for up to 12 months, providing you store it properly. Be sure to store your feed in a cool, dry area that has good ventilation to prevent mold, vitamin loss and contamination by disease carrying insects or rodents. When properly stored, the vitamin availability in Purina feeds is guaranteed for 12 months.

However, we recognize that high relative humidity in certain regions of the country may reduce the shelf life of the rabbit feed. When it is not possible to store feed in a dry and cool area, the shelf life may be reduced and should be taken into consideration.

Q: What can I do about hairballs?
A: Hair shed from your rabbit’s coat can lodge in its’ digestive tract. Some rabbits may develop a habit of eating their own hair or may even pull hair from other rabbits. If hairballs are a problem, rabbits may become listless, and fecal pellets may decrease in size and number, due to a reduction in feed intake. Your rabbit’s belly may appear to be full, but upon closer examination, you may notice that is has lost weight and that it may actually be suffering from malnutrition.

Regular brushing can help to remove much of your rabbit’s loose hair. A high fiber diet will also help to maintain good digestive function and aide in the passage of ingested hair. Be sure to limit feed intake based on the breed size, and production goal of your rabbit. Feeding a limited amount of diet can improve functioning of the digestive tract and reduce the potential for hairballs.

Purina Show Formula and Rabbit Chow Gourmet are designed to produce rabbits with superior coat quality and contain papaya. Papaya contains the enzyme papain. Papain enzymes do not breakdown the hair itself, but may help breakdown the mucous which holds the hairball together. You can also add small amounts of grass hay to your rabbit’s diet to keep him from getting bored and playing with his hair.

Q: Why is my rabbit losing condition?
A: Condition refers to the amount of flesh or the degree of fatness of your rabbit and is also referred to as "body condition." To determine the condition of your rabbit, give your rabbit a gentle squeeze. A rabbit in top condition will be firm to the touch and muscular without excess flesh.

If your bunny is less than buff, he may not be getting enough feed. Feed intake should be adjusted according to life stages and production. Growing rabbits need more nutrients than adults. Breeding rabbits need more nutrients, too. You may even need to increase your rabbit’s intake during cold weather to maintain his body weight.

But don’t go too far. Rabbits fed more nutrients than what is required to maintain a desired condition will become overweight and soft to the touch.

Adjustments in intake should always be made slowly over a period of 7-10 days to prevent digestive disturbances. All rabbits, except lactating does and young growing rabbits should be limit fed.

Purina Rabbit Chow Complete Blend and Complete Plus are recommended for all stages of life and is balanced to contain all the nutrients required for growth, maintenance and reproduction.

For more rapid growth and a superior coat, pick Purina Show Formula. The additional amino acids and vegetable oil in this highly nutritious diet give your rabbit a strong body and luxurious coat so that it can reach its’ genetic potential.

When you’re interested in maximum growth and reproductive potential, Purina Professional Formula is the perfect choice. Purina research has shown that this higher protein feed results in optimum growth and reproduction as well as excellent coat quality.

All Purina rabbit diets are complete, so there is no need for dietary supplements. Purina Mills research has shown, feeding additional vitamins and minerals can cause a harmful dietary imbalance.

Q: Why is corn added to your rabbit diets?
A: Corn is a natural, wholesome ingredient which has been used in animal and human nutrition for centuries. Corn is a rich source of carbohydrates and essential oils that provide for a good source of energy and helps to maintain a healthy immune system.

Formulation of a well-balanced rabbit ration requires the use of several different ingredients. Purina complete rabbit diets are alfalfa based for fiber, with corn added as a carbohydrate source. The addition of corn to our diets supplies necessary energy for your rabbit. Corn is a safe ingredient for rabbits when used properly in combination with a variety of other feed ingredients.


Q. What determines the level of lysine used in Strategy, the Omolenes and Equine Junior?
A: Equine research provides estimates of the daily requirements for lysine by different classes of horses. Many studies on amino acid requirements of horses have also been conducted at the Purina Horse Research Center. Using the information available, Purina horse feeds are formulated so that the requirement for lysine is met when the feed is fed as recommended. Then further studies are conducted at the Purina Horse Research Center and with research cooperators to confirm that the feeds perform as expected before they are marketed.

Q. What should a geriatric horse be fed?
A: The older horse has many problems that may affect the utilization of their feed. One of the most common problems is the loss of the ability to chew hay and grain. This problem and many others are discussed in detail in the Purina publication, The Care and Feeding of the Aged Horse. Purina's Equine Senior was designed to meet the special needs of the aged horse by preprocessing the hay and grain so chewing is unnecessary. Equine Senior also contains sources and levels of carbohydrates, protein and fat as well as vitamins and minerals that meet the unique needs of the older horse.

Q. How should a young horse be fed to avoid abnormal bone development?
A: Young horses have to be fed high quality feeds with the proper levels and balances of protein, minerals and vitamins in order to grow to their genetic potential. Many problems can be prevented in the young horses by paying careful attention to feeding the proper feed in the proper amount. Purina products such as Omolene 200 & 300, Strategy and Equine Junior were designed for feeding to young horses. Unfortunately, many factors besides nutrition influence bone development in young horses. These factors include genetics, management, injuries and disease. If these factors are involved, it is advisable to obtain veterinary medical assistance and counsel. It may be necessary to reduce growth rate by restricting feed. If feed is restricted, it is important to provide a feed with high levels and proper balances of essential nutrients. Purina's Equine Junior is a complete feed containing both hay and grain that is especially useful when it is necessary to maintain close control of the quantity of hay and grain being fed to young horse while still assuring adequate intake of essential nutrients. For further information on feeding young horses, see the Purina Publication, Feeding the Young Horse.

Q. What is the biotin level in horse feeds?
A: Biotin is one of the B vitamins. Biotin has many roles in animal metabolism but is probably best known for the effects it may have in improving hoof condition in some problem horses. Natural feed ingredients contain 0.1 to 0.2 mg of biotin per pound of feed. Biotin is also synthesized and absorbed from the cecum and large intestine of the horse so that the total amount from feed plus absorption from the intestine is more than adequate to meet the needs of most horses. Horses that have been off feed or sick, especially with diarrhea and other gastrointestinal conditions, may benefit from Biotin supplementation. Also, research has shown that feeding very high and expensive levels of Biotin (total intakes of 15 mg to 30 mg per day) for a year or more will improve hoof condition in some horses. Supplements can be purchased that are designed to furnish high levels of Biotin as well as certain other nutrients believed to be involved in hoof growth. Most horses will not need additional Biotin supplementation if they receive high quality feeds such as the Purina Omolenes and Strategy that contain normal levels of biotin along with the proper levels and balances of protein, minerals, and other vitamins.

Q. What affects the potassium level of horse feeds?
A: Potassium is a mineral that is very important in animal physiology and is very abundant in most natural feedstuffs. It is found in very high levels in certain horse feeds such as alfalfa and other legumes, molasses and protein meals used as supplements in horse feeds. Grains contain the least amount of potassium. Therefore feeds that contain large amounts of alfalfa, molasses and/or protein supplements will have higher levels of potassium. Normally have no difficulty excreting excess dietary potassium. Horses that have the condition known as hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP) appear to have difficulty excreting excess dietary potassium and benefit from receiving diets containing lower levels of potassium. The greatest reduction in dietary potassium can be accomplished by replacing alfalfa hay in their diet with grass hay. Additional reduction in potassium intake can be realized by using feeds containing the least amounts of alfalfa, molasses and protein. Purina sweet feeds and pellets with lower protein levels and Strategy can be utilized in diets of horses with HYPP. Complete feeds with roughage such as Equine Senior, Equine Junior and Equine Adult can also be fed to horses with HYPP if the horses do not receive additional hay or pasture with these feeds.

Q. How should a pregnant mare be fed?
A: The pregnancy period of mares is approximately 11 months. The mare should be fed to maintain excellent body condition and receive feeds supplemented with vitamins and minerals throughout her pregnancy. At birth, a normal foal will weigh approximately 10% of its mothers weight. Most of this weight is gained the last 90 days of pregnancy. The mare should receive a diet with higher levels of protein, minerals and vitamins during the last 90 days of pregnancy to support rapid fetal growth. Thus, a mare can be fed good quality hay or pasture and a high quality feed such as Omolene 100 or Strategy during early pregnancy and fed increased amounts of Strategy or Omolene 200 during the latter stages of pregnancy. Refer to the Purina brocures on Strategy or Omolene for more detailed feeding instructions.

Q. How should a horse be fed after colic or colic surgery?
A: The Veterinarian treating the colic or who did the surgery should be consulted for specific recommendation on feeding the horse. The Veterinarian is in the best position to know how the cause of the colic and/or the site and extent of the surgery will affect recommendations on feeding the horse. Purina Equine Senior, Equine Adult or Horse Chow are often used because they contain little or no grain and have fiber with small particle sizes that are easily digested with limited residues.

Q. How should a horse be fed that has laminitis?
A: The horses should be fed to maintain moderate to low body weights so that excess weight does not aggravate the laminitis condition. Diets for horses with laminitis should contain digestible fiber sources and fat with little or no starch. Purina products to consider include Strategy, Equine Senior, Equine Adult and Horse Chow.

Q. What should a horse that "ties up" be fed?
A: The condition in horses commonly referred to as "tying up" is characterized by muscle stiffness, difficulty in moving, hard, tense muscles in the back, and dark colored urine. These signs are all due to muscle damage that can result from a variety of causes including feeding methods and training techniques as well as genetic defects in the muscle. Feeding high levels of grain during idle periods is a major nutritional cause of tying-up. Grain levels should be reduced when the workload is reduced and the horses should be fed more hay. It is hard to predict when tying-up will occur but it is more likely to occur in females than males and nervous, high-strung horses seem to be especially susceptible to the condition. The may be helpful to use feeds that contain lesser amounts of starch and more digestible fiber and fat. Purina products such as Strategy and Athlete may be useful in managing the tying-up condition.

Q. Should foals be "creep" fed?
A: The term "creep-feeding" generally refers to supplemental feeding foals while they are still nursing. The term "creep-feeding" originated with calf feeding where feeding facilities were constructed to prevent adult animals from getting access to the feed while groups of small calves were able to "creep" through a small opening to gain access to the feed. Similar facilities have been used to supplemental feed groups of foals. However, this is not the preferred method of supplemental feeding because of risk of injuries to foals and because it may allow more aggressive foals to over-consume feed and grow at excessive rates. Excessive growth rates in foals may result in abnormal bone development and lameness. If at all possible, foals should be individually fed so each foal can be fed according to its needs and so each foal will get the intended amount of supplemental feed


Q: What is the rumen?
A: The rumen is the first part of the ruminant stomach. It acts like a fermentation vat to digest the feed that cattle have consumed. Inside the rumen are microorganisms such as bacteria, protozoa and fungi. These "microbes" essentially ferment feed that cattle eat. The by-products of this fermentation are used by cattle for growth.

Q: What is bloat?
A: Bloat is defined as an accumulation of an excessive amount of gas in the rumen. If bloat is not treated, discomfort and death can result.

One of the byproducts of digestion in the rumen is gas. Cattle void the gas produced in the rumen by belching (eructation). When gas is produced more rapidly than it can be eliminated, bloat can result because large amounts of gas will accumulate in the rumen.

Bloat is easily identified by noticing a swollen area distended outward on the upper, left side of cattle between the last rib and hip bone. Cattle will stop eating when bloated, grind their teeth and sometimes kick at their bellies in an attempt to rid them of the discomfort. Breathing will eventually become labored as gas accumulates, because the rumen expands and presses against the lungs. If the gas buildup is not relieved, then death can result from suffocation.

In order to treat or prevent bloat, it is important to determine why bloat has occurred. Accumulation of gas can be attributed to either a physical abnormality or a diet related problem.

Physical abnormalities can result from something swallowed or from anatomical deformities of the cattle. For example, cattle can swallow an object that gets lodged in the esophagus, thus preventing gas from being expelled. In this case, the foreign object can be massaged towards the rumen in an attempt to dislodge it. Most "chronic bloaters" are thought to have one of two types of an anatomical deformity form birth. The first is thought to be a flap of tissue located at the base of the esophagus which prevents gas from escaping. The second is poor musculature located where the "characteristic bloated swelling" occurs. In this theory, gas accumulates because there is not enough muscle tone to prevent the gas from accumulating in that area.

Nutritional bloating can be caused by the feed cattle eat or feeding management. On pasture, bloating typically is seen when cattle graze alfalfa or wheat pasture. With pasture bloat, gas is trapped in tiny bubbles (frothy bloat). These tiny bubbles do not allow the gas to escape.

Bloat can occur when hungry cattle are allowed to eat feed too rapidly. In this case, the extra large quantity of feed that is eaten is fermented so rapidly that too much gas is produced.

Bloat can also occur when cattle are fed a new diet (especially a higher grain diet). In this instance, a new population of microbes quickly evolves to digest the new feed in rumen. Ideally, a gradual transition over a period of two to three weeks is needed to properly adapt the microbes in the rumen.

Q: What is acidosis?
A: Acidosis is an abbreviated name for a term called lactic adidosis. It is a digestive disorder caused by an accumulation of lactic acid in the rumen.

When feed is eaten by cattle, it travels down the esophagus and enters the reticulo-rumen. Once feed enters the rumen, microbes begin to digest (ferment) the feed. As the feed is fermented by the microbes, they release acids. The acids are good for cattle, because after the cattle absorb these acids they are converted to energy in the liver. However, when acid is produced too rapidly for absorption, the pH can be driven to very low levels in the rumen. One of the acids is produced and accumulates is lactic acid (hence lactic acidosis). If the lactic acidosis is severe enough, death can occur.

Loose, watery stools predominate when acidosis occurs. In addition, feed intake drops and if severe enough, cattle will not eat.

Acidosis is most commonly caused by improper bunk management. When cattle are hungry they eat feed very rapidly, as mentioned above, which causes the digestive problem. That’s why it is important that cattle have feed available to them at all times. It is best to target "no more than 1 to 2 hours of time when they are without access to feed".

Another common cause of acidosis, is improper transition to new rations. The microbes in the rumen are very sensitive to changes in the ration. If the ingredients in the ration change abruptly (switching feeds) then too much acid can be produced resulting in acidosis. A gradual adaptation from one ration to another ration is highly recommended. Below is the ideal mixing ratios and days required to adapt cattle to a new ration.

Mix 75% current ration with 25% new ration-feed 4 to 5 days
Mix 50% current ration with 50% new ration-feed 4 to 5 days
Mix 25% current ration with 75% new ration-feed 4 to 5 days
This feeding regimen will gradually adapt the rumen microbes to the new ration. During this process, monitor feed intake, if feed intake drops on a particular blend the cattle are telling you that the microbes are having difficulty adjusting to the new ration. In this case, you should remain on that blend until original intake levels have been achieved before going to the next blend.

When acidosis occurs, feed long stem, medium quality hay is the best solution. Hay consumption will stimulate the production of saliva, which will help to "buffer" the pH in the rumen. Limited amounts of the current ration can be fed, but typically the cattle will have poor appetites. As intakes begin to raise back to normal levels, reduce the amount of hay offered.

D E E R   &   E L K

Q: Are other deer feeds that claim to have by-pass protein equal to AntlerMax®?
A: NO. AntlerMax® Technology is not just by-pass protein. It’s our safe, all-natural PATENTED manufacturing process on the by-pass protein that makes it much better than ANY other protein source. Our competition might say that they are “just like Purina, only cheaper”. But that’s impossible, because AntlerMax is a patented process that only Purina Mills has. It delivers up to 2-3 times more amino acids to the deer’s bloodstream than any other traditional or by-pass protein we tested it against. No other product has this technology, and the proof is in our astounding antler growth!

Q: Are AntlerMax WaterShield® pellets just as digestible as non-WaterShield (regular) AntlerMax Deer Chow® pellets?
A: YES. Whole pellets, WaterShield pellets are not as digestible as non-WaterShield pellets, which makes sense, since they are designed to repel liquid, be it water or digestive juices. However, once they are crushed, as when a deer chews them, digestion analyses show they are just as digestible as non-WaterShield pellets.

Q: What does CWD stand for?
A: “CWD” stands for Chronic Wasting Disease, a condition in deer and elk that is similar to Mad Cow Disease in cattle. It is caused by a tiny protein compound called a “prion” (pry-on), but no one knows how deer get infected with this defective form of a naturally-occurring prion. Programs that ban feeding deer on the assumption that bringing deer together increases the risk of the disease are controversial because currently there is no proof that this is true. And deer band together anyway, whether they are fed or not.

Q: Can year-round feeding result in not only bigger antlers, but in a bigger, healthier fawn crop?
A: YES. Supplemental feeding fills in the gap when Mother Nature has a less-than-optimal year. Research has shown that does on poor nutrition in winter and spring lost up to 92% of the fawns born. Does on poor winter and good spring nutrition lost about 35% of the fawns. However, less than 5% of the fawns born to does on good nutrition in winter and spring died, and the surviving fawns weighed nearly twice as much as fawns born to does on poor nutrition. Good nutrition can result in higher birth weights and stronger fawns that have a much better chance of survival.

Q: Why is protein so important to antler growth?
A: Because the growing velvet antler is about 85% protein, so in this case the old adage “you are what you eat” really holds true! Not enough high-quality dietary protein results in not enough antler to make the record books.

Q: If the velvet antler is 85% protein, why are minerals so important to antler quality?
A: Antlers reach a stage where they stop growing and their protein matrix begins filling in with minerals. This is what makes them dense, hard, heavy and strong. Without the correct amounts and ratios of dietary mineral supplementation, antler quality will suffer.

Q: Is the buck or the doe more important for passing on the genetics for big antlers?
A: No one knows yet how much of a buck’s genetic potential for big antlers comes from its sire versus its dam. As with many other traits in other species, it’s likely a combination of both. However, we do know that genetic potential is just potential without good nutrition to support it. Without solid nutrition from its days in the womb and throughout its life, a buck will not achieve its potential for maximum antler growth. A year-round feeding program is essential for maximizing your chances for raising trophy bucks.

Q: What is the difference between a complete feed and a supplemental feed?
A: A complete feed has everything the animal requires, including the roughage they need. This type of feed is excellent for confinement operations that have little available forage. A supplemental feed is meant to be fed with a source of forage; it provides all the necessary nutrients in the right amounts except the fiber. Such feeds are excellent for high-fence, low-fence, and no-fence operations where the deer have access to plenty of browse.

Q: How come the deer don’t initially eat protein pellets as well as corn?
A: Even when hungry, deer may not initially recognize pellets as food. They are used to seeing corn in the wild, so they know it is a food source. Deer must be trained to recognize protein pellets as food and get used to eating them out of a protein feeder. You can do this my heavily mixing corn in with the pellets in the beginning. They will come for the corn and start eating pellets. After a few weeks when they are regularly cleaning up the pellets, you can stop mixing in corn. Care must be taken to always wear gloves when handling the feeder and the feed, as human scent can repel deer. Be prepared for it to several weeks or even months to fully train deer to eat pellets, especially if the area has an abundance of natural forage. The best time to start a deer pellet program is in the fall and winter when other food sources are scarce.

Q: If supplemental deer feeds contain a good mineral package along with the protein and vitamins that deer need, why feed a straight mineral product such as AntlerMax Deer and Elk Trophy Mineral?
A: Well, in a perfect world you wouldn’t need to. But in reality, deer are going to pick and choose what they eat, and some deer may not eat enough of the pellets to provide the full complement of minerals they require. Deer eating from food plots rather than a pellet program are at the mercy of the soil mineral condition and may need a mineral supplement to ensure optimal nutrition. Using a mineral supplement gives you one more tool to use in your feeding program to make sure your deer are getting the best nutrition you can give them. And awesome nutrition delivers awesome antlers.

Q: Is it important to feed deer during the fall and winter even though the antlers aren’t growing then?
A: YES. Feeding Deer Chow to your deer in the fall and winter can be the difference between a small buck and a trophy next summer! That’s because in the fall and winter, the body condition of deer typically becomes very poor. Natural forage is much poorer in quality and quantity. Bucks lose lots of weight burning up calories during the rut and their feed intake drops off significantly. If they enter spring in poor body condition, they will not begin growing antlers until their body condition improves. So if they are well fed during the most stressful time of year – fall and winter – then they will have better body condition going into the spring growing season and actually start growing antlers earlier than bucks with poorer body condition.

Q: Can the AntlerMax Energy Technology really help deer grow bigger antlers?
A: YES. AntlerMax Energy Technology contains a patented energy nugget inside the Deer Chow pellet that has a proprietary blend of 5 vegetable oil sources along with an optimal Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acid ratio for improved immune function, hair coat and skin. It provides immediate energy when and where it’s needed. This amazing nutrient system also contains biotin for top hoof strength and natural antioxidants for overall health. This results in better body condition for bigger antlers.

Q: Is there ever a problem with AntlerMax Energy Technology that it can give the deer too much starch, possibly causing them to founder?
A: NO. The power of AntlerMax Energy Technology is its optimum ratio of energy sources from fat, fiber and starch. Because it is not formulated too “heavy” with any one of these sources, it cannot easily founder deer. This optimum ratio of fat, fiber and starch creates balanced rumen bacteria populations resulting in optimal digestion of feed and enhanced digestion of natural forages. The balanced carbohydrates and fat can deliver prolonged stamina and endurance, essentially providing a targeted nutrient delivery system for energy on demand times, such as when does are nursing, bucks are burning calories during the rut and when all deer are struggling to find quality food sources during the harsh winter.

Q: Does AntlerMax Energy Technology include a powerful probiotic formulation?
A: YES. The optimal probiotic formula in AntlerMax Energy Technology contains partly inactive and stabilized microorganisms that are activated when exposed to the digestive tract. They help to maximize rumen function by creating and maintaining a healthy bacterial population. It can also help control populations of certain bacteria that create toxins in the rumen. This creates a healthy rumen with maximum nutrient utilization for greater absorption of minerals, vitamins and trace elements. This probiotic also has the potential to “jump start” the rumen in times of stress, especially those that can occur when deer are sick or are in confinement.

Q: Can AntlerMax Energy Technology enhance deer reproductive success?
A: It is very early in the research stage, but so far indications are that the proprietary ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids in AntlerMax Energy Technology can improve the cell membranes of semen cells, thereby increasing the chances of conception. This is especially important to deer breeders where artificial insemination (AI) is a very integral part of their deer breeding business.

Q: Will AntlerMax Energy Technology make deer obese and possibly grow smaller antlers?
A: It is true that AntlerMax Energy Technology contains by-pass fat, but it will not make deer obese. By-pass fat is unheard of in the deer world, making Purina Mills the first to focus on it. By-pass simply means the fat source resists being broken down by the bacteria in the rumen. So a higher percentage of the fat moves through the rumen and is utilized by the deer’s stomach and small intestines for greater energy benefits. This by-pass fat has 270% the energy of standard diet ingredients and has no negative impact on nutrient digestibility or feed intake – both common of other fat ingredients. There is not enough of the by-pass fat to make deer obese, but an optimal amount to help improve body condition, hair coat, overall health and antler growth.

Q: What are the new Deer Chow breeder diets with AntlerMax Energy Technology?
A: They are AntlerMax Professional Hi-Energy Breeder 16 and AntlerMax Professional Hi-Energy Breeder 20 with 16 and 20% protein respectively. These are complete diets, so they contain all the roughage penned deer need. This means it is not necessary to feed hay, which can be costly and labor intensive for deer breeders.

Q: Does AntlerMax Energy Technology grow bigger antlers by making the pituitary gland larger?
A: NO. AntlerMax Energy Technology delivers better body condition, which is essential to growing big antlers. A deer entering the spring in poor body condition will initially use most nutrients from feed to building back body stores lost during the winter. When the body is properly conditioned again, then the feed will begin helping the buck to grow antlers. With better year-round body condition, bucks are able to start growing antlers earlier in the spring than bucks in poorer body condition, resulting in bigger antlers later that fall.

Q: Do the new Deer Chow breeder diets only need to be fed during the fall and winter because this is when body condition is at its worst and the antlers aren’t growing then?
A: It is true that the fall and winter are the roughest time for body condition, but deer will have better body condition going into the fall if they are eating either of the two new Deer Chow breeder diets YEAR-ROUND. That’s because the best way to ensure top body condition in the spring is to make sure the deer have optimal body condition all the time. And a steady year-round diet of either new Professional Deer Chow breeder diet with AntlerMax Energy Technology is the key.

Q: Are the new AntlerMax Energy Technology breeder diets are only for deer in pens?
A: Although it is true that mostly penned deer owners will feed one of these new diets, any deer enthusiast who wants to feed a complete diet (one that contains all the roughage they need) in place of natural forage or hay could be interested. And if demand exists for AntlerMax Energy Technology in a supplemental Deer Chow diet (one without high roughage such as AntlerMax Deer 20), one could become available soon. This would allow deer enthusiasts who rely on natural forage as a roughage source for their deer to also enjoy the better body conditioning benefits and subsequent bigger antler growth from AntlerMax Energy Technology. These deer enthusiasts might be ones who either don’t have a high fence, ones that have a high fence but it is very large in acreage or smaller high fence owners who just choose to continue feeding hay as a roughage source.

Q: Does adding rice bran, corn, or other high energy grains provide better energy for deer in the fall and winter than AntlerMax Energy Technology?
A: NO. Adding an additional food source to a deer’s regular diet can “water down” some of the protein and minerals, effectively lowering the levels of these key nutrients that deer need for top antler growth. These additional food sources may provide additional energy, but the downside is the nutrient profile of the diet is disrupted. Plus it’s a biological fact that corn lacks the nutrients necessary for strong antler growth. For the most part, the only nutrient requirement deer have that corn provides is digestible energy. Just remember: “if you feed too much corn, you won’t grow much horn”. So feeding corn to deer in the fall and winter might help them survive, but it won’t help them thrive. In fact, feeding deer too much corn too fast can actually founder or even kill them! AntlerMax Energy Technology in the two new Deer Chow breeder diets provides much safer and wholesome nutrition for deer because the energy sources are accounted for in the total diet. This means the additional energy does not dilute the delicate balance of amino acids, vitamins and minerals deer need for growing trophy antlers.

Q: Will feeding deer corn in the fall and winter will help them grow bigger antlers next spring?
A: NO. It’s a biological fact: corn lacks the nutrients necessary for strong antler growth. For the most part, the only nutrient requirement deer have that corn provides is digestible energy. Just remember: “if you feed too much corn, you won’t grow horn”. So feeding corn to deer in the fall and winter might help them survive, but it won’t help them thrive. In fact, feeding deer too much corn too fast can actually founder or even kill them! AntlerMax Rut & Conditioning Deer Chow 16 is the ideal fall and winter body conditioning diet so deer stay in good shape to grow big antlers next spring.

Q: How come Purina Mills doesn’t show guaranteed analysis on their AntlerMax® Deer Chow® feed tags the way many competitors do on theirs?
A: Purina Mills is synonymous for thorough product research. We don’t want to invest in this research only to have it readily available for the competition to copy. So in order to protect our formulas, we don’t “advertise” as many guaranteed analysis ingredients on our tags. The competition might say they “fully disclose” their tags and Purina Mills doesn’t – so consumers should be weary of Purina Mills products. But it’s actually the OPPOSITE! We’re so proud of our high-performing products that we want only our dealers to have them to sell, and not our competitors.

Q: Can the number of free-choice feeders and where they are placed on your property really affect the size of deer antlers?
A: Optimal antler growth requires optimal Deer Chow intake. So you must have enough free-choice feeders in the right places on your property to ensure they are eating enough for strong antler growth. One free-choice feeder can comfortably feed 25 free-ranging deer, each consuming an average of 1.5 pounds of AntlerMax Deer Chow 20 per day. Place your feeders along frequently used runways or trails and be sure to have enough so that they do not have to travel more than ½ to ¾ of a mile to a feeder. A good rule of thumb is to provide one feeder per 300-400 acres. Make sure your feeding area has good visibility, access to fresh, clean water and easy escape routes near cover. Place your feeders near the center of your land to keep deer on your property. Do not place them along fence lines, roads, power lines or in large openings. And never hunt in a feeding area.

Q: Is it nutritionally sound to feed sheep or cattle feed to deer?
A: Sheep are extremely susceptible to copper toxicity. NEVER GIVE DEER FEED TO SHEEP. Deer, on the other hand, require considerably higher levels of copper in their feed. Therefore, sheep feeds will always be deficient in copper for deer and, conversely, deer feed will be toxic to sheep. Cattle feed, while adequate in copper for deer, is not tailored to the specific needs of deer and will not have the appropriate amino acid and trace mineral amounts and ratios to support maximum antler growth.

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