Earth Haven Farm
Earth Haven Farm BLOG

Why Cows Need Horns

Originally Posted on October 5, 2016 by  

“Why cows have horns” is a resource compiled by the cattle breeding group of the Swiss Biodynamic Association in conjunction with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and co-published by the NZ Biodynamic Association.

Created to address the practices of horn disbudding and breeding of polled (hornless) animals, the guide is a summary of basic facts and fascinating observations about the role horns play in cattle.

When the moon is in Aries at conception, the animal’s horns will tend to grow strongly upwards and become long. ~ Hans Oswald, farmer

This easy-to-read report covers the nature of horned animals; horn development; the function of horns; the effects of disbudding and breeding polled animals; and encouraging trust between humans and animals.

Download the full report here: Why cows have horns.

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Raising Baby Chicks

Not only are our chickens FREE RANGE, but we also allow our flock to reproduce naturally, meaning that eggs are selected to remain in the nesting box.

A hen that has natural brooding tendencies will soon take up the task of sitting on the eggs and claiming them as her own. She will become very protective of her eggs.

Chick in Egg21 days after the hen begins to sit on the eggs, the chicks will begin to hatch. The mother will naturally select the healthiest of her brood to survive.

Within a day they will be running around, learning all about what it means to be a chicken. Once out into the barnyard with the main flock they will still remain close to their mother.

At night she will return to the coup and roost with her chicks tucked under her wings. Within a week to two weeks they will be independent and start venturing further from their mother and exploring their environment.

As time goes on the chicks become more and more independent. Roosters and hens will easily become distinguished. (Roosters are fancier, with plumed tails frequent crowing) The new hens will not start laying eggs until they are 18-20 weeks old.

Yes it does cost a lot to feed baby chicks the first year that they do not produce eggs.

A good laying hen can lay eggs up to ten years, but most hens will decline in their egg production after two years of age.

Culling the flock and allowing new chicks to replenish the flock is a must to keep things healthy and productive.

Raising free-range chickens is not recommended for producers that want to make a lot of money as chickens will lay their eggs in all kinds of places except the coop.  They are also more susceptible to predators, especially baby chicks at all stages.

Predators may include foxes, coyotes, hawks, owls, weasels, mink, fishers, skunks, raccoons and yes even the beloved farm dog or cat.


Mother Hen and Chicks

Mother hen attentive with newborn chicks in nesting box.

One Week Old Chicks

Day old chicks hatched from an incubator group together for warmth and companionship.

Mother Hen and Chicks

Mother Hen teaches chicks how to scratch and forage in the safety of the coop aviary.

Mother Hen taking her chicks outdoors to forage.

Mother Hen brings her babies inside the coop at night.

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Farm Fresh Eggs

Have you ever compared a home-grown, farm fresh egg with an egg from a big chain supermarket? Naturally raised chickens produce yolks that are a deep orange-yellow and taste like the old fashioned farm eggs your Grandma used to make in the mornings!

Farm Fresh Egg Yolks
Our eggs are 'non-graded' meaning that they are not sorted by size, weight, shape or colour at a certified grading station.  Because they are 'non-graded', we can only sell our eggs direct from the farm.
We will sort some of our eggs by colours and that is simply because some customers have that preference. However, a carton of eggs will vary from small to extra-large and you may even get a double yolk in the mix. What a treat!
Once eggs are collected, cleaned and dried, they are packaged into egg cartons and labelled with the date they were collected. Eggs here at the farm are stored in the refrigerator until they are purchased from the farm.
It is recommended that you store your eggs in your refrigerator. You don't have to store eggs in the refrigerator, but they will last longer this way. Eggs are good for one month after the date of collection when stored in the fridge. Actually they are good for a few weeks after this, and best used for baking or hard boiling.
Use the float test to check egg freshness: fill a bowl with water and place eggs in it. An egg that floats has too big an air pocket inside the shell; the contents have evaporated too much and it's likely spoiled. Compost it. You can also use a strong light to see how much air space is inside an egg; this is called candling.
"Candling" an egg is the process of holding a light or candle near the egg to see the inner contents. It is used to see whether the egg is fertile or not. Looking at the color, shape and opacity of the egg contents can help a farmer determine whether there is a chick inside or not.
We do keep a rooster or two in our flock which means that our eggs are "fertilized".  We collect eggs on a daily basis, wash and refrigerate to ensure that you do not get a yucky surprise when you crack one open.
Coloured Eggs
You can go into any grocery store and buy white eggs, and many stores carry brown eggs.
But what if you really want green eggs and ham?
Green Eggs
Well you would have to know someone that raises Ameraucana Chickens, and we have just that breed of chicken.
Our hens lay eggs in a variety of shell colours from turquoise to pale-green to pinkish-tan to burnt-orange.
The insides are all the same as white or brown eggs: delicious!

Egg Yolk

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Loss Of Animals' Poop Disrupts Nutrient Cycles, New Study Shows

Repost Natural World News - October 27, 2015

By Samantha Mathewson

Believe it or not, we rely more heavily on animals' feces than you would think. Essentially, the poop from wild animals keeps the planet fertile by transporting nutrients deep from the ocean floor all the way to mountain tops, a recent study revealed. This makes the extinction of large animals even more devastating.

Animals' poop plays a key role in keeping the planet fertile. When animals go extinct, natural nutrient cycling from deep ocean waters to high mountainous areas dwindles. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons )

"This once was a world that had ten times more whales; twenty times more anadromous fish, like salmon; double the number of seabirds; and ten times more large herbivores--giant sloths and mastodons and mammoths," Joe Roman, a biologist at the University of Vermont (UVW) and co-author of the recent study, said in a news release. "This broken global cycle may weaken ecosystem health, fisheries, and agriculture."

(Photo : Diagram from PNAS; designed by Renate Helmiss)
This diagram shows an interlinked system of animals that carry nutrients from ocean depths to deep inland -- through their poop, urine, and, upon death, decomposing bodies.

The ability of animals to readily transport nutrients over a wide area has significantly decreased since the mass extinction following the end of the last ice age, according to researchers from UVM. This proves that animals act as major "distribution pumps" that transport large amounts of nutrients to areas that would otherwise be less productive, including surface waters and remote inland areas. 

Basically, the more animals eat, the more they poop. When animals eat a lot of plant matter, they release nutrients from vegetation through processes of digestion. Then they transport these nutrients from feeding areas, or nutrient-rich "hot spots," to more remote areas. The valuable nutrients are introduced to scarce areas when animals excrete poop and urine, or when their bodies decompose after death, the release explained.

So how do nutrients cycle through different ecosystems? Marine animals transport vital nutrients, such as phosphorous, to the surface from otherwise unreachable areas deep within the ocean. Then, seabirds and fish spread the nutrients across seas, up rivers and deep inland, where land animals then help transport the nutrients to high mountainous areas, researchers explained. Humans, in turn, depend on these fertilized ecosystems to perform natural life-sustaining functions, such as agriculture or carbon storage.

"Phosphorus is a key element in fertilizers and easily accessible phosphate supplies may run out in as little as fifty years," Chris Doughty, lead author and an ecologist at the University of Oxford, explained in the release. "Restoring populations of animals to their former bounty could help to recycle phosphorus from the sea to land, increasing global stocks of available phosphorus in the future."

From their study, researchers concluded that this animal-powered nutrient pump has decreased to six percent of its former capacity to spread nutrients away from concentrated areas on both land and sea, according to the release.

"But recovery is possible and important," Roman added, as he continued to explain that bringing back herds of North America bison is a prime example of how humans could rejuvenate nutrient cycles.

"The typical flow of nutrients is down mountains to the oceans," Roman explained in the release. "We are looking at ways that nutrients can go in the other direction--and that's largely through foraging animals. They're bringing nutrients from the deep sea that could eventually reach a mountain in British Columbia."

Their study was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Samantha on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13

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