Dry food - essential or not

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Abnoba

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Following up a discussion from another thread, I would like to know if people had any experience with this.

Alot of people where I come from dont feed their guinea pigs dry food. They basically say, it fattens them up too much, often has stuff in it that isnt good for them, and really, they dont need it.
If they have lots of fresh water, hay, and a really good variety of fresh fruit and veg they are happy and get all the nutrition they need. Now someone asked, where do they get their protein from, and I was told that they do actually get that from hay.

Everyone on the german guinea pig forum agreed, piggies that are kept outside need dry food, because it is colder than inside piggies would have it, so hence need more energy and more fattening up.

But they pretty much agreed that for a guinea pig that lives inside, and that has a diet of good quality hay and a big variety of fresh fruit and veg, it isnt necessary. Some give dry food out of their hand as an occasional treat, but in general, dry food isnt available, or only very little of it.

Now here I have seen people who just give them a measured amount each day, but also people who let their piggy have dry food available 24 / 7... Which leads me to another question, which is a bit off topic: I heard that because dry food gets soft in their mouth very quickly, it doesnt actually help grind their teeth down, so piggies who prefer dry food over hay are alot more likely to develop teeth problems when they have their favourite available all the time, as of course they would rarely nibble the hay, being full up with the other stuff already...

I would like to know your opinions on both subjects,
a) how necessary is dry food? Can piggies go without it?
and b) is that dry food versus hay an actual risk for piggies that one would need to take into account?
As in, should we really have dry food available at all times, or only a measured amount daily?


Its just that I am starting to feel like I am doing everything wrong, I moved country and all of a sudden I cant take rescue piggies in because I use shavings, or because I rarely feed dry food... its just weird, how different countries seem to have completely different cultures even when it comes to such a international thing like how to keep pets, I thought we would be all the same :)
 

starshine

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Everyone has different opinions of how it is best to keep piggies. I find your comment about not being allowed to take in rescue pigs rather worrying however. Rescues want the very best for their animals as so very often they have had a really bad start in life and so they need a extra special home which will cater for their needs.

I am one of the people who will not rehome piggies to live on woodshavings as I do not believe the risks to their health and well being are worth it. There are so many good alternatives available now that there is no need for piggies to be kept on them now. I always explain this to people who want to adopt from me and 9 times out of 10 they are willing to switch. If they weren't I'm afraid I would somewhat question their motives.

Similarly I would never rehome any animal to live without the appropriate diet. Guinea Pig Feeds are very carefully formulated to provide our complex little animals with all the nutrition they need. I have seen so many piggies with health problems from not getting the food they need to keep them fit and healthy. I think dry food is an essential part of their diet along with hay and veggies - if they are fed good quality hay they will want to eat it and there will not be any issues with teeth etc. All my own piggies and my foster piggies have dry food at all times and hay at all times and they have the good sense to eat what they need of both. I have healthy, happy piggies and I hope they stay that way for a long time to come.
 

Mary

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starshine said:
I am one of the people who will not rehome piggies to live on woodshavings as I do not believe the risks to their health and well being are worth it. There are so many good alternatives available now that there is no need for piggies to be kept on them now. I always explain this to people who want to adopt from me and 9 times out of 10 they are willing to switch. If they weren't I'm afraid I would somewhat question their motives.
What do you bed your guinea pigs on Starshine

Mary
 

starshine

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My own pigs are on a Hemp bedding called Aubiose - it is the best thing I have found.

Foster pigs are on soft chopped straw - a good alternative as it is cheap and does not cause any skin or respiratory problems.
 

michellemuffin

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as already said pigs need dry food because it has all the nutrients needed including vitamin C which we all know guinea pigs dont make themselves fresh veg and fruit obvioulsy help with this, mine get food 24/7 and i dont tend to find that it stops them eating hay they dive on it and munch through it like locusts meaning i replace it twice a day, they would rather hay then food, I find the food is the one thats left,
and wood shavings is a definate NO so many of us on here have said this, there is so many other choices why take the risk,
 

Mary

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Can you get this beddng from wholesalers. I get all my stuff deilived and how much is a bale. Sorry all the questions, but I have always kept my cage animals on wood shavings and I dont think I have had a problem with them.

Mary
 

starshine

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I get mine from a feed merchants - it is about £6 per bale and a bale lasts me about 3 weeks even with 9 cages being bedded in it.

www.aubiose.co.uk should have a supplier listing.
 
B

BEATRICE

I use vet bed pro fleece for my piggies. Visting pigs or ones I look after from friends are bedded down on megazorb and some carefresh added. I have used chopped straw which is very soft for bedding too. Plenty of hay and dried food is out 24/7. Mix of different veggies twice a day. My piggies skin and fur looked so much better after a few weeks of being without woodshavings. Hope this helps :)
 
B

Beaney

My piggys have access to dry food (cavy cuisine) all the time. They don't actually eat that much dry food - they much prefer their hays and veggies which they have a mixture of both twice a day. I like to know that all their nutritional requirements are covered. I have never had a piggy who didn't like hay so I have never felt the need to restrict access to dry food. My rabbit, on the other hand, is not a good hay eater so I do have to be careful about how much dry food he has because, if he had his way, he would only have his dry food which would cause health problems.

I used to use woodshavings and never had any problems but I switched for three reasons. Firstly, I had read about the possible health issues which did worry me even though I hadn't actually had any issues myself. Secondly, I had decided to get a couple of peruvians and shavings would have been a nightmare with all the hair and last of all, my rabbit (who is very old) was diagnosed with arthritis and therefore needed to be bedded on vet bed. It made sense to use vet bed for the piggys as well - and they love it! :)
 
K

karenrgpr

:) Protein can be obtained from greens- you have to know what you're feeding though :) Its difficult to know exactly how fresh these greens are (unless you grow them yourself).
There is some Protein in hay but not as much as in the GP food.

I grow and sell Cereal Grass (Organic) for my pigs which has a Protein content of 18-20%. In the summer I grew some Chicory, also high in Protein. There is other herbage that is high in Protein but beware of what else it contains.

A friend of mine doesn't give her pigs dry food. Mine vary in the amount they eat, some love it, others can take it or leave it.

Pigs can go without dry food, but their diet must be adjusted accordingly.

Hay is more important than dry food. Like grass it promotes the correct action for wearing down pigs teeth. To give a high Protein high fibre 'hay', feed Readigrass from Spillers/JustGrass/Graze On/ Burgess Forage. Mine have their favourite in Readigrass, but they are all pretty much the same as far as nutrition goes. Try to get it from a farm shop, online shops do sell it but its the same stuff packaged differently. :)
 

Abnoba

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I grow and sell Cereal Grass (Organic) for my pigs which has a Protein content of 18-20%.
that sounds interesting. :)

Where would I get seeds for that, and is there anything special I have to do, or can I just have flower pots of that grass on my windowsill? Never heard of Cereal Grass before..
 

linda.b

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I use fleece in one half of his cage, and carefresh in the other. He only does his business on the carefresh so the fleece stays nice and clean. I used wood shavings for the first couple of weeks, but noticed him sneezing a lot. i changed his bedding and now he is fine. i also feed him dry food along with hay and fruit and veg. I think its good to give a choice of foods even if they don't eat much of the dry stuff.
 
K

karenrgpr

:) I sell them on Ebay and on www.planetguinea.co.uk but the sites 'in a pickle' at the moment, I'm changing it round :) All the prices include postage. If you are putting in a large order contact me first and I'll combine postage if possible (with the seeds).

100g is enough for 2 half size seed trays (75p for 2) and costs £3.25 including trays, or £2.25 for just 100g of seed. There is such a difference in price because the seeds on their own go as large letter, the trays are packet size post obviously.

Hints and tips are included. I regularly get grass ready for eating in approx. 14 days.
I have Puna Chicory (30% Protein approx) if you want to grow that indoors, but I've never tried it indoors.

It does grow in pots but drainage is soooo important or you will get mould. Yes it grows on the window sill, though the trays I sell are probably too wide for that (they're too wide for mine anyways :) But they're a good size.

PM me if you can't find it on Ebay or the site is a problem.

EDIT: To get the most Protein from hay feed 2nd Cut Timothy, the first has more fibre and the pigs aren't so keen on it. Remember that not all pigs need a high Protein diet unless they are young, breeding or being shown.
 

Abnoba

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thanks for all that advice :)

Its just that when I started with piggies I was told, dry food was invented to make it easy for the owners.
And that, if you are willing to feed very selected and carefully, you can get by without it.

karenrgpr said:
To get the most Protein from hay feed 2nd Cut Timothy, the first has more fibre and the pigs aren't so keen on it. Remember that not all pigs need a high Protein diet unless they are young, breeding or being shown.
Yeah, thats what I was told, plus when you have them outdoors, that a high protein diet is necessary aswell in that case.

Cool, I will def. have a look at your grass :) How much (kg or g) is that 2nd cut TH you sell? I know it is quite expensive everywhere, so I just wondered. Heh, hubby is going to have a go at me if I start buying 8 quid hay for 500g or something ^^
 
K

karenrgpr

:) Hi, The hay is for 750g and should last two pigs about 2 months when fed alongside your ordinary Meadow hay (which is about £4 a bale dependiing on where you are)

Feed it in small amounts so theres no waste, unfortunately they don't know the value of it and will still use it to snuggle in given the chance ;)

I trialled it against Oxbow and 8 out of 9 pigs preferred it to Oxbow. It does look very disappointing when you see it, golden and not green (so lots of Vit D :) you have to trust the tastebuds on this one ;D

Price does include postage. What you see is all you pay.
 
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