What is Sour Crop?

sour crop, hens, chickens, poultry, free range, bhwt

If you keep chickens, you are bound to have come across the term ‘sour crop’. It is one of the most common chicken ailments. Here is what you need to know:

What is the Crop?

The crop is part of the bird’s digestive system. It is a small pouch in the chest, sitting to the right of the breast bone. The food is stored in the crop before moving on to the gizzard where it is ground down ready for absorption. In the mornings your birds’ crops will be empty, but after a day eating you can feel that it is full up again.

Sour Crop

Sour Crop is caused by a Candida yeast infection. It can cause thickening of the crop wall that makes a blockage more likely. One of the indicators of the disease is foul smelling breath, like sour milk, hence its name.  Sour crop causes weight loss and even death as the bird cannot eat or digest its food properly.

What causes Sour Crop?

The candida yeast are naturally part of the microflora, it is only when they take over the healthy bacteria that they cause a problem. This could be due to poor diet, damage to the crop, impaction of foods and worm infestation. Conditions that damage the healthy bacteria allow the candida to grow. Dirty conditions increase the risk, as does a course of antibiotics, which also kill the good bacteria and therefore upset the natural balance of microflora.

The Symptoms:

As well as looking generally unwell, your chicken may be reluctant to eat. It’s crop could be full in the morning, suggesting that yesterday’s food is still blocked in the crop. If a sour white liquid is secreted from its mouth the condition has reached an advanced stage.


There are several online recommendations for massaging the crop and withdrawing food, but you should always contact your Vet first. Fungicidal medication may be required (anti-biotics are not effective).


  • Always ensure your hens have access to fresh drinking water
  • Keep their living conditions clean and free from faeces
  • Only feed fresh food
  • Limit starchy foods like bread or pasta as these can block the crop (especially as hens tend to love them and eat too much at once! High starch foods are also poor nutritionally)
  • Feed grit for a healthy digestive system. (see Gastro Grit)
  • Feeding cider vinegar is good for promoting the healthy bacteria and maintaining the correct acidity in the gut. (See Pure Devon Cider Vinegar, which is unfiltered and full of all the good stuff)

Mud Fever – Causes, Treatment & Prevention

mud fever, horses, muddy horse, rain scald, scratches

There is no getting away from it – winter is coming and soon the mud will return. Here is all you need to know about mud fever in horses…

The Cause of Mud Fever –

Mud Fever is caused by a bacteria called dermatophilus congolensis. This bacteria is also responsible for Rain Scald. The bacteria lives in soil and on the skin of our horses, but when the skin becomes weakened by continuous wet conditions, and if there are any small scratches and wounds, the bacteria can enter the body and cause an infection.

However, mud fever isn’t just a skin problem. The reason why some horses get it and others don’t is down to the immune system.  Some horses are more sensitive to the bacteria, and their body is less able to fight it off.  This may be a natural trait, or they may have other conditions which are putting the immune system under pressure (such as a dust allergy, cough, age, poor diet, hard training schedule etc). A poor immune system will make them more prone to  mud fever.


How to Treat Mud Fever –

The reason why Mud Fever is so difficult to treat is because you have to keep your horse out of the mud. Easier said than done! Most vets will tell you that you need to remove the scabs. The scab forms a nice little protective cover allowing the bacteria to thrive underneath. Removing the scabs is painful and whether you can do it or not depends on your horse. Applying  aqueous cream and then wrapping in cling film before bandaging will help to soften them.  Washing in medicated shampoo – and drying thoroughly, and then using Veterinary prescribed creams such as Flamazine are very effective.  It is also important to ensure that your horse is in optimum health to help him to naturally fight off the bacteria for himself. Feeding a supplement rich in anti-oxidants, Such as Skin Saver, will support the immune system and help maintain healthy skin.


How to Prevent Mud Fever

As mud fever is so difficult to treat, it is vital to try to prevent it from taking hold in the first place. You should do this from the outside AND the inside. Regularly checking the legs and pasterns is vital. Whether you should or shouldn’t wash the legs regularly is much debated. It may be best to dry the legs as quickly as possible and then gently brush the mud off.  There are many barrier creams and turnout boots on the market, but if the legs are not spotless underneath they could end up harbouring bacteria or even rubbing and weakening the skin further.   Feeding a balanced diet and a supplement to support the immune system and promote healthy skin may help to stop the condition from taking hold.


But what if you are doing everything and it still isn’t getting any better?

Mud Fever is similar to other conditions, and it is also very easy to get secondary infections. If you are not seeing an improvement contact your Vet. Conditions like vasculitis, mites and photosensitivity will produce similar symptoms but require a different treatment regime.

Could you be our Brand Ambassador?

brand ambassador

The Little Feed Company is looking for a Brand Ambassador! To be considered please send your entry to us by Friday 5th October.

The Ambassador will:

  • Be over 16
  • Live in mainland UK (South West England would be an advantage but not essential)
  • Compete with either horses or dogs at an affiliated / regional level
  • Be able to demonstrate that they can represent the company values of The Little Feed Company
  • Be heavily involved in their sport in their local area, either as a competitor and / or as atrainer.
  • Have a great presence on social media with good engagement with their followers. Perhaps their own blog or youtube channel.


The Little Feed Company Offers:

  • The Little Feed Company agrees to offer sponsorship to The Ambassador in the form of free products in return for promoting & supporting The Little Feed Company brand.
  • The Ambassador will be given a 6 month trial, and if successful this will be extended for a further 6 months.
  • The Little Feed Company will give their Ambassador products for use on their horses / dogs and other animals up to the value of £500  (at retail price) over a 12 month period.  This will be split into two, so £250 for the first 6 months, with £250 for the second 6 months should the trial be successful.
  • The Little Feed Company will provide The Ambassador with a few items of branded clothing & saddle cloths to be worn at events & training sessions when ever possible.


In return, The Ambassador will:

  • Promote The Little Feed Company brand on his social media streams
  • Wear branded clothing and saddle cloths at events & training sessions, when appropriate.
  • Provide latest results and any other news for The Little Feed Company to post on social media etc
  • Provide good quality copyright free images for The Little Feed Company to use.
  • Provide 1 or 2 blogs or vlogs for exclusive use by The Little Feed Company each month. Subject matter / topics to be discussed & agreed beforehand. Examples would be training tips, how to? articles, interviews, competition reports etc
  • Not accept any sponsorship / ambassordorship from any other company who may compete directly with The Little Feed Company (i.e no other supplement company) or promote another supplement company on his social media platforms.

How to Enter:

Send us an email, a letter or a message via facebook. Send us photos or videos and make your application stand out! Tell us where you are based and include links to your social media pages (if you have them) Contact us before October 5th to be considered.


Why do Chickens Need Grit?

grit for chickens, oyster shell

Chickens need two different types of grit for two different reasons…

    1.   Chickens need grit because they don’t have teeth!

When we eat, our teeth grind the food down into small particles before swallowing. This not only starts the digestion process by mixing the food with saliva, but the smaller particles of food are easier for our body to digest and break down. Without teeth, chickens are swallowing their food whole – you have probably seen the excitement when they try to swallow an enormous worm – it is quite a challenge!

After swallowing, the chicken’s food enters the Crop. This is like an enlarged storage compartment. From there, the food enters the Gizzard (the equivalent of our stomach) The Gizzard is a muscular pouch which mixes and churns the food at the start of the digestive process.  When we feed our chickens grit, and the grit reaches the Gizzard, it is used to help grind the food into smaller particles, just like our teeth would have done.   Chickens therefore need to eat grit and small stones to aid the digestion of their food.


2. Your hens need soluble & insoluble grits in their diet:

We have already mentioned that there are two reasons why chickens need grit, and two types of grit. For digesting food, chickens need mainly insoluble grits which will hang around in the gizzard for grinding. But, chickens also need soluble grits which are a source of calcium. Soluble grit, such as oyster shell, will dissolve in the digestive system releasing dietary calcium. Chickens need plenty of calcium as this is what gives the egg shell its strength. Without extra calcium their body could reabsorb calcium from their bones, putting their overall health at risk. If your chickens are not laying as often as helped, or are producing soft shelled eggs on a regular basis , they could be lacking calcium in their diet.


It is also important to remember that your chickens need extra calcium, and protein, while moulting to help with the growth of new feathers – hens often stop laying while moulting as all their energy goes into feather growth rather than egg production. Supplementing their diet can help speed this process so there are less days without eggs.

Recommended Product: Gastro Grit

Learn more about Gastro Grit  here 

Watch our video comparing the palatability of Gastro Grit vs Ordinary Grit here

Read the review of Skin Saver by The Fair Weather Rider…


Sweet itch, allergies, whatever it is – owning a horse with itchy skin is an emotional journey to say the least. From sheer frustration at the inability to find a miracle cure to the upset at seeing your four legged friend tearing their skin apart; it’s heartbreaking.

I’ve experienced this with Steve (or Steven when he’s really pissing me off!). Steve is best described as the dream horse I never knew I wanted. He’s a little pocket rocket in the form of a Welsh D (Trevallion blood lines) x Thoroughbred. He was NOT on my wish list and most certainly not on my to do list. I wasn’t looking for another horse but my then 6 month old foal Danny was in the field with my 12 year old Clydesdale X and Welsh A pony, neither of whom wanted to frolic of any kind. I felt sorry for Danny and did the only logical thing to do, especially when there happens to be a spare stable on your yard, and that was go in search of a “temporary” companion. I use the term temporary loosely for the simple fact that a year and a half down the line and Steve is quite obviously still here and looks to be going nowhere soon…

Steve was a totally blind purchase from a stud in Wales and completely wow’d me when he came trotting off the lorry, full of beans after a mammoth journey from Tregaron. After a little persuasion, he finally realised that us humans were fab things and made himself firmly at home – sometimes a little too much but we won’t go there. His first spring/summer as a 1 year old were when his problems began. As you can see from the image above, his itching was a little more than the usual. The hair was ripped from his skin and his skin left red raw. Over the course of the summer, despite eliminating certain food groups, products and more, this cycle would continue over and over again until winter arrived. Steve was beside himself until the cooler days when it just disappeared. Vets decided the infamous sweet itch was the culprit and we were to manage it year in, year out forever more.

As any owner of a horse with sweet itch will know, it’s not something to take lightly. It’s a hideous allergy that doesn’t just look horrible but can quit literally change a horses personality. So you can imagine my desperation when I spotted The Little Feed Company‘s post on Instagram in search of itchy horses. They were trialling a new supplement aimed at healing the horse from within. I messaged them instantly and after sending images across, Steve was placed on the trial. Forward to a few weeks later and two bags (a months supply) of Skin Saver arrived at my door. I was sceptical to say the least but desperate to try anything considering the onset of his itching had begun already (we were in March – just). Life being the way that it is, nothing’s simple and putting the supplement in his feed was just far to easy as Steve decided that in actual fact, he didn’t want to eat it. Over the course of the next few weeks, his itching, as predicted increased and we were met with this summers first scab (pictured above). After speaking with the lovely Hermione from The Little Feed Company, I introduced it once again to his feed, this time in much smaller doses than first recommended. This time, the super fussy itchy one actually began to eat it and eat it he did. It took just a few days for him to accept it at the full dose rate.

The scab continued to worsen for the first week or so of him being on it and as I usually am, just five minutes into a diet, deemed it no good. However, as my father would say, “O ye, of little faith” because just two weeks later and his serious itching had stopped. The scab stopped spreading and stopped looking so angry. Over the course of the next two weeks, I found the scab and site of the wound began to shrink too. It began healing and now, in the middle of summer (almost July) and as you can see from the pictures below, his chest is super shiny and super clear. He still itches every so often but then again, I love a back scratch every now and then so I don’t see it an issue.

I wouldn’t say we’re completely in the clear as his tail still looks like a hot mess but that may just be him! Who knows with this guy, he loves to throw a curve ball all the live long day but hey, we have no more scabbed chest, no more incessant itching that destroys fence posts and stable walls and what’s more, I now have a very handsome and super calm two year old who looks and feels great. If your horse or pony is suffering at the hands of sweet itch or any other allergy, I highly recommend. In fact, I cannot sing its praises highly enough, so much so, I’ll be investing in the 5kg tub next!

Thank you to The Little Feed Company for allowing Steve onto the trial! We couldn’t be happier! Now just to get over his latest adventure of puncturing his leg….blimming horses, who’d have them?

Read more from The Fair Weather Rider here

Turmeric or Glucosamine?

Joint Supplements for dogs – Which is best?

There are so many joint supplements for dogs on the market so it can be difficult to choose the best one for your pet. Many are glucosamine based, but Turmeric is also rising in popularity. How do you choose the best for your dog?

Glucosamine Based – usually in combination with other ingredients such as  MSM, Chondroitin, Boswellia, Green lipped mussel etc..

Ingredients such as glucosamine, green lipped mussel and chondroitin support the cartilage health. They also help the body to repair and maintain healthy joints. If your dog is middle aged or younger but very active, these ingredients will support healthy joints.  MSM and Boswellia help the body maintain its natural anti-inflammatory mechanisms. MSM  also supports soft tissue repair. These ingredients will help an elderly dog feel more comfortable, but a very old dog may benefit less from the ingredients which support repair.

Turmeric Based –

Turmeric has become hugely popular as a joint supplement for dogs. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and can support joint comfort. It also helps to flush out toxins and can be beneficial for a number of health issues.  Unlike glucosamine and chondroitin, the body won’t use turmeric to help repair wear and tear to joints. For this reason it may be better for older dogs, when the priority is to maintain comfort and quality of life. If there are other health concerns to consider, such as a weak immune system, turmeric can also support these too, along with general health and vitality.


Glucosamine based supplements actually support joint repair and are the first choice for a middle aged dog, or very active dog. Turmeric based products are great for maintaining comfort and supporting health and vitality for older pets. It is possible to feed them both together, but check with the manufacturer first.

Does my horse / pony have laminitis?

Most horse owners will have heard of laminitis and be aware of the dangers, but how do you know if your horse or pony has it? The quicker laminitis is diagnosed the more likely he will make a full recovery. So, what symptoms should you look for?…


Laminitis is painful. Your horse’s feet will hurt so he will be reluctant to move. He may shift his weight from one foot to another and look dull and listless. As horse owner you know if your horse is acting differently – do his eyes look dull with a sad, dis-interested expression on his face?

Digital pulse

During laminitis the blood circulation to your horse’s feet is restricted. This creates a pulse that can be felt at the back of the fetlock joint. With some healthy horses it can be difficult to detect a pulse at all, in others you will feel it gently, even when they are well. The key for a laminitic, is that the pulse will be ‘bounding’. It isn’t faster, but feels stronger due to the blood constriction pushing the blood back up the artery. It is a good idea to monitor your horse’s pulse so you know what it feels like normally and can therefore detect if it changes. Make sure you are not just detecting your own pulse in your thumb – the horse’s pulse is much slower than ours! (there are lots of online videos showing you how to detect the pulse)

The Laminitic Stance

The typical laminitis stance is where the horse leans back to take the weight on his hind quarters, with his painful front feet stretched out ahead. This is easily recognizable but other symptoms may help you detect the condition before it reaches this stage (and if he has laminitis in all four feet, you won’t see the typical stance)

Warm Hooves

Heat in the feet, in combination with the other symptoms, is a key indicator of laminitis.  If heat is the only symptom it is more likely to indicate a hoof infection.


Laminitics are often ‘pottery’ on their feet because it hurts to put their weight on them. Their gait gives the impression that they are walking on hot coals – taking short, quick steps and their movement will be worse on hard ground rather than soft. It is important not to force your horse to walk if he doesn’t want to.


If your horse has any combination of symptoms from the above, take action immediately. Keep him stabled on a soft bed, feed soaked hay with no concentrates, and call the Vet. The sooner laminitis is diagnosed, the more successful the outcome will be.

Turmeric for Horses Made Simple

turmeric linseed black pepper horse pony

Countrylix Gold is the simplest way to feed your horses turmeric through the summer

Thousands of horse owners have turned to turmeric to improve the health of their horses. It offers a palatable and natural solution to joint stiffness, skin problems and immune function. Turmeric is usually fed as a supplement, but this is not always convenient. During the summer, many horses do not require any extra hard feed so in order to continue feeding turmeric an alternative is needed.

Countrylix Gold is the only turmeric supplement in the form of a solid mineral lick. This method of feeding gives your horse free access to turmeric, day and night, as well as providing essential vitamins and minerals without needing to give a bucket feed every day.

Crucially, Countrylix Gold contains both black pepper extract and the right balance of linseed oil to enhance turmeric absorption.   It is low in sugar and low molasses (less than 10%) and packed with healthy vitamins and minerals for a balanced diet.

Countrylix Gold is weatherproof and may be used in the field or stable. It is non sticky, mess free and safe for laminitics. It is also an excellent way of providing turmeric to other grazing animals, such as sheep, cattle and alpacas and is ideal for use within mixed grazing situations.

Countrylix Gold offers the simplest way to feed your horses turmeric – just remove the lid!

Learn More

For more information and to purchase click here

To watch our Countrylix Gold videos visit our youtube channel here

Hemp Oil vs Linseed Oil. What’s the Difference?

hemp oil linseed oil horses dogs chickens

Hemp Oil is one of the most nutritious vegetable oils on the planet. Here are 6 great reasons why feeding Hemp Oil is better than Linseed Oil for your horses, dogs and chickens.

1 – Hemp Oil provides the perfect balance of Omega 3 : 6 for optimum nutrition

Most people think that the Omega 3 are the good guys and Omega 6 the bad guys, which is why Linseed Oil, with very little Omega 6 but one of the richest sources of Omega 3 has grown in popularity, but it isn’t quite that simple! Some scientists believe the ratio between 6:3 is more important than the actual quantity consumed, and Hemp oil naturally provides the perfect ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 of 3:1. The ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in Linseed oil is 1:5

2 – Hemp Oil contains unique beneficial Omega 6 fatty Acids

Not all Omega 6 is bad. Certain Omega 6 fatty acids are actually very beneficial, such as GLA, which is not found in linseed oil. Hemp is also unique because it contains SDA (a particularly potent form of Omega 3) which is not found naturally in any other vegetable oils. The Omega 6 fatty acids offer health benefits for skin, joints and circulation.

3 – Hemp Oil is a natural source of GLA

Hemp Oil also contains Gamma Linolenic Acid, the very special Omega 6 fatty acid which is also found in Evening Primrose Oil. GLA is used in the formation of Prostaglandins which are essential for health.

4 – Hemp Oil is naturally rich in anti-oxidants.

Unlike Linseed Oil, Hemp is naturally rich in vitamin E. This helps to protect the oil and prevent it from going rancid, as well as giving nutritional benefits. Linseed Oil however, is very delicate and goes off quickly – It should be used within 3 weeks of manufacture. Storing it for any longer could actually damage the Omega 3 content and could even have negative health effects. Most linseed oil available for animal feed has been stored for much longer than 3 weeks. The strong putty-like smell is an indication that it has started to go rancid.

5 – Pure Devon Hemp Seed Oil is made exclusively by cold pressing

Cold Pressed oil means the oil is extracted from the hemp seeds without applying heat. This is important because heat damages Omega 3 fatty acids and can affect the nutritional content of the oil. Feed grade linseed oil is often heated or solvent extracted meaning that it may not be as healthy as you think it is!

6 – Pure Devon Hemp Seed Oil is chemical free and environmentally friendly

Our oil comes from hemp plants grown exclusively in the heart of the countryside in Devon. No fertilizers, pesticides or chemicals are used in its production and the whole crop is used with nothing going to waste. Much of the Linseed oil used in animal feed is imported from Europe where it is produced on a grand commercial scale. Chemicals are used to promote growth of the crop and only the seeds are used, the rest goes to waste.


If you are looking for a healthy oil which is natural, nutritious, vegetarian, made without chemicals, is palatable, environmentally friendly and has a good shelf life, look no further than Pure Devon Hemp Seed Oil.


Suitable for Horses, Dogs and Chickens

The perfect balance of Omega 3:6

Contains anti-inflammatory Omega 6 (GLA)

Rich in Antioxidants and Vitamin E

Cold pressed to preserve nutritional content

Hemp is farmed without pesticides or chemicals

Grown & produced in Devon

Delicious nutty flavour

click here to learn more 

How do I keep my animals warm?

cold winter warm chickens horse dog

Hands up if you are worried about keeping your animals warm right now….

Most animals are much better adapted than us, so this blog should put your mind at rest…


Horses are better designed to cope with cold weather than hot. Because of the way their digestive system works they are carrying around their own internal central heating system. Keeping their gut well stoked with plenty of forage is a more efficient way of keeping your horse warm than adding an extra rug.

So, How do you tell if your horse is warm enough?

Touching the base of his ears to judge his warmth is a myth, as is putting your hand under his rug as what you feel will depend on how warm your hands are!  A horse’s exterior temperature could be as much as 28 degrees cooler than their internal temperature. They could feel cold on the outside even if they are warm on the inside. Without getting a thermometer out, your most reliable indicator is knowing your horse and watching his behaviour. Is he out in the middle of the field grazing, or tucked up under the hedge with his tail jammed between his back legs? Is he happy or bad tempered? Shivering? Charging about in the field (to keep warm)? Horses can lose weight when they are too hot or too cold and just because we feel cold doesn’t mean they do.


Chickens are kept successfully in all climates, including countries like Canada where the winter temperatures regularly hit -20. They will fluff up their feathers and huddle together to keep themselves warm. As with horses, it is important to ensure they have plenty of food and drinking water. You could increase their corn rations as this will give them the extra energy to keep warm. It may be tempting to completely shut them up in their coop or barn, but they need ventilation as the ammonia from their droppings can damage their respiratory system. If there is heavy snowfall, clear a path so they don’t have to walk on the snow to reach their food and water. Also check those with large combs for frostbite. They may need some Vaseline smoothed on to protect the bare skin.


Small breeds and those with very fine coats can shiver quite easily in the cold, especially if they spend most of their day in a warm house. If you think your dog would benefit from a coat or jumper, a design which completely covers their tummy will keep them warmest. Dogs have little, if any hair, on their tummy so this is where they lose heat the fastest.

A long or thick-coated dog will not need any extra protection and may even over heat in a coat, especially if they are wearing one while being exercised.

Our top winter tips:

To protect your dog’s paws from salted roads, and keep your water troughs flowing read our Winter Tips:

Winter Tips #1

Winter Tips #2