Feeding Grass And Preparing Your Piggies For Lawn Time

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Wiebke

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Warmer spring weather is on the way - and that means the start of the lawn season!

How to provide the run
- Provide a shelter against wind and weather, as temperatures can drop quickly as soon as the sun has gone or a sudden shower crops up. Make sure that your piggies have access to hay to help balance the digestion and ideally a place slightly above the ground that is dry and warm, so they don't catch UTI (urinary tract infection).
- Remember to make a run safe against predators from above, not just from the ground! If your lawn is easily accessible by dogs or foxes, make sure that it is anchored into the ground.
- Don't ever leave any runs with or without guinea pigs unsupervised on a front lawn open to the street.
- Part of the run should always be out of the sun. Unless the day is really unseasonably warm, limit the first few times your piggies are outside to let them get used to it.
- Make sure that any plastic hideys are out of the sun, as they quickly heat up and turn into ovens in full sun, especially on hotter days.
- Here are our hot weather tips. Please bring your guinea pigs indoors during heatwaves and keep them in the coldest room of the house. They can die from heat stroke even in the shade of a tree if a sun heated breeze is blowing their way and building up!
Hot weather management and heat strokes


How to best prepare indoors guinea pigs for the lawn season
- Treat your guinea pigs like tender plants and accustom them to the outdoors slowly on sunny, warmish afternoons with sheltering away from wind if wished and well insulated from the still cool ground.
- Please remember to put indoors piggies only out on the grass for the first when it is warm and dry to your bare feet in order to prevent UTI (urinary tract infection).
- It would be good if you started to gradually accustom your piggies to fresh, rich grass once the new grass is gorwing out. Start with small ripped grass portions and then up the amount every time in order to avoid diarrhoea or, at the worst, bloat on their first full stay on the lawn with an unaccustomed digestion. This is especially important for young, frail or elderly guinea pigs!


Beware!
- Do not feed soaking wet or frozen grass; it can cause tummy upsets.
- Please do not feed lawn mower clippings; they ferment very quickly and can cause digestive problems.
- If you have treated your lawn, you need to wait until you have mowed the grass 3-4 times before it is safe for the piggies to graze.
- Please remember that dog and fox pee is poisonous to guinea pigs; make sure that you don't let them have any grass or fresh greens from places where dogs could have toileted - this applies parks and road verges, too. Fresh dog pee can kill!
- Creeping buttercup and moss are poisonous. Too many daisies are also not good to eat.
 

katie-elizabeth

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Thanks for this post, was wondering how to introduce this to the piggies... But our next door neighbours dog is often in our garden :/
 

Wiebke

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Thanks for this post, was wondering how to introduce this to the piggies... But our next door neighbours dog is often in our garden :/
In that case, I would fence off an area on the lawn that the dog cannot get into and make sure that you mow the grass once or twice before letting the piggies on it. Make sure that the top is appropriately and safely covered!
 

Sue G

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I've been feeding a saucerful of handcut grass most days through winter - is that sufficient acclimatisation for going out on the grass in a run?
 

Wiebke

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I've been feeding a saucerful of handcut grass most days through winter - is that sufficient acclimatisation for going out on the grass in a run?
It should be enough if you keep the first lawn trip fairly short and offer plenty of fresh hay afterwards. You may notice some softer, slightly squishy poos after a day on the grass.

The biggest problems usually happen when piggies hit the lawn completely unaccustomed, especially those that do not get much in the way of veg, so their guts are not prepared. If you have a piggy with a sensitive digestion/bloating issues, then you want to be extra careful.

By the way, I count fresh, rich spring grass about half veg/half hay in terms of their diet and serve less juicy veg.
 

Sue G

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Thank you. I probably wouldn't be letting him have a whole day out anyway, because I will want to "stand guard" when he's outside, and might run out of ooomph after half a day. :)
 

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I would keep the first trip to an hour or two, anyway... ;)
 

Veggies Galore

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It should be enough if you keep the first lawn trip fairly short and offer plenty of fresh hay afterwards. You may notice some softer, slightly squishy poos after a day on the grass.

The biggest problems usually happen when piggies hit the lawn completely unaccustomed, especially those that do not get much in the way of veg, so their guts are not prepared. If you have a piggy with a sensitive digestion/bloating issues, then you want to be careful, too.

By the way, I count fresh, rich spring grass about half veg/half hay in terms of their diet and serve less juicy veg.
Glad you've mentioned to count grass as 1/2 veg - 1/2 hay. I once overheard a pet shop owner telling some potential GP owners to either have their pigs on grass OR feed veg but not to mix grass and veg. I couldn't see how that would work - especially at the start of the season when you are acclimatising the piggies to grass. The other thing I have to watch is my OH - he makes out he's not bothered about the piggies but I've seen him sneaking dandelion leaves into their run when he thinks I'm not looking.
 

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Glad you've mentioned to count grass as 1/2 veg - 1/2 hay. I once overheard a pet shop owner telling some potential GP owners to either have their pigs on grass OR feed veg but not to mix grass and veg. I couldn't see how that would work - especially at the start of the season when you are acclimatising the piggies to grass. The other thing I have to watch is my OH - he makes out he's not bothered about the piggies but I've seen him sneaking dandelion leaves into their run when he thinks I'm not looking.
Count dandelion leaves as veg greens and make sure that your hub only gets them from places that dogs don't pee on. Otherwise, they need to be well washed.
They are fairly high in calcium and mildly diuretic, but with access to fresh water, they are a valid seasonal addition to a piggy diet in the "a good portion every few days" or "just a very few big leaves daily" category. Be more careful with piggies with ongoing bladder issues because of the calcium content.

Fresh rich spring and autumn grass will count more as veg while dry summer grass will equate rather as hay than veg. You can adjust the diet accordingly. I always make sure that my piggies get their high vitamin C veg or herbs daily, but I up or reduce the amount of juicy veg like cucumber or celery (cut out after a day on lush grass, but feed during a heat wave). ;)
 

Veggies Galore

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Count dandelion leaves as veg greens and make sure that your hub only gets them from places that dogs don't pee on. Otherwise, they need to be well washed.
They are fairly high in calcium and mildly diuretic, but with access to fresh water, they are a valid seasonal addition to a piggy diet in the "a good portion every few days" or "just a very few big leaves daily" category. Be more careful with piggies with ongoing bladder issues because of the calcium content.

Fresh rich spring and autumn grass will count more as veg while dry summer grass will equate rather as hay than veg. You can adjust the diet accordingly.

I'm afraid it's difficult to exercise portion control when Max gives you that cute "any more dandelion leaves ?" look !
 

Wiebke

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I know the phenomenon! It is a bit easier to control when you have to rush around like mad to keep one or two dozen munching mouths from wheeking their hearts out... you run out of available handfuls and breath pretty quickly!

Just adjust your diet to it and reduce the frequency of other medium calcium veg you are feeding! My adult guinea pigs tend to put on about 50g of weight during a good lawn season in a summer with plenty of fresh green grass, but they lose that again afterwards.
 
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I have been buying " Readigrass" for my two boys. They find it delicious and like hay can eat unlimited supply. Its inexpensive too. :) Its dry with dust extracted.
 

Wiebke

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I have been buying " Readigrass" for my two boys. They find it delicious and like hay can eat unlimited supply. Its inexpensive too. :) Its dry with dust extracted.
Please be aware that Readigrass is too rich to feed unlimited; it should be handled more like a treat, in small quantities to prevent overweight. And it is NOT a preparation for rich, fresh grass!
 

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Thanks for this -they have it on a Monday & the following Sunday ( Every other week) ....a handful for both. Is this OK? This is why such forums are good as we learn. The exotic vet I WAS with said it was OK to feed unlimited .... I have changed now to Simon Maddock at advice from a member here. Sounds like that was a good choice!

As for the fresh grass we are very limited around here there isn't a lot of it and where there is I would never trust it due to the areas being dog walking territory and they use A LOT of pesticides/weedkiller. :(
 
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The other thing I have to watch is my OH - he makes out he's not bothered about the piggies but I've seen him sneaking dandelion leaves into their run when he thinks I'm not looking.
Glad it's not just me with this problem. My OH enjoys going out to raid the veg. patch for weeds to feed the boy(s). He's been trained in what's safe.....

My Dad is the one who always pretended not to be interested in the pigs when they've been staying with my parents for holidays etc. However I know he enjoys giving them tip-bits on his way through the garden to his shed.
 

Veggies Galore

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Thanks for this -they have it on a Monday & the following Sunday ( Every other week) ....a handful for both. Is this OK? This is why such forums are good as we learn. The exotic vet I WAS with said it was OK to feed unlimited .... I have changed now to Simon Maddock at advice from a member here. Sounds like that was a good choice!

As for the fresh grass we are very limited around here there isn't a lot of it and where there is I would never trust it due to the areas being dog walking territory and they use A LOT of pesticides/weedkiller. :(
I have the same problem. Max has always loved Readigrass and I was giving it to him in unlimited quantities until I joined this forum and realised it should be rationed . He now has it as a treat and we had a little evening ritual where he would run up his ladder into his balcony area and I would give him a pinch of Readigrass. He is not so bothered now he has 2 females to keep him company. Their new evening ritual is me hand feeding them Timothy Hay . I weighed them all this evening and Max has lost a bit of weight so I think he has benefited from changing his taste to Timothy Hay.

and, as for fresh grass, they're not out on it yet but I hand pick a bit occasionally. I have to inspect the lawn very carefully for deposits local cats may have left.
 
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