Separating bonded adult & babies for feeding?

acefebreze

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Hey all,

I have 3 bonded guinea pigs (1 adult and 2 babies) currently in a 3x4 C&C, so space isn't an issue for them.

In order to feed the babies alfalfa pellets and make sure the adult doesn't eat them, I'm planning to split the space into two 2x3's to separate the adult and the babies.

To prevent the adult from feeling lonely by itself, the dividing panels between the two cages won't be lined with coroplast. This is done to make sure that the adult can still smell/sniff the scent of the babies and vice versa, so they won't lose their bonded relationship.

Each 2x3 cage will have its own timothy hay, hideouts, fresh vegetables, water bottles, enrichment, etc.

Lastly, I've read online (and tried myself) to simply feed the babies the alfalfa pellets when they are out for floor time instead of separating the babies and adult permanently, but they are simply not eating enough alfalfa pellets and I'm worried they aren't getting the calcium they need.

I've also thought about giving the babies high-calcium vegetables like parsley instead of the alfalfa pellets during floor time to encourage calcium intake, but I still have a giant bag of alfalfa pellets left and it'd feel like such a waste of food to not use them and throw them away.

I've also thought about separating the cages only during feeding time. However, this method wouldn't work since the babies need unlimited pellets while the adult needs a fixed amount of pellets, and having them separated temporarily would be too much of a hassle as it would need to be done multiple times in a day to ensure that the babies have constant/unhindered access to their alfalfa pellets while the adult doesn't.

Any and all advice on my separated cage idea would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

Piggies&buns

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The most important factor is How old are they babies? If they are under weaning and the adult is their mum then they all need to be eating well and following the pregnancy and nursing diet. If babies are over weaning age, then they can be fed more of a normal diet

Unless they are tiny newborns, then they don’t need alfalfa pellets. Once weaned, then normal adult pellets are fine -
They also don’t need unlimited pellets if they are over weaning age - babies only need one tablespoon of alfalfa (young piggy pellets) pellets per day, but they can have two tablespoons of adult pellets (because the baby piggy pellets contain adjusted levels of nutrients so they need less of them) until four months of age and then reduced down to one tablespoon of day
What they need is unlimited hay, some veg and a limited amount of pellets

There simply no need to separate them at all and not for feeding time - they just need lots of hay and everything else kept to the normal limited proportions.

Long Term Balanced General And Special Needs Guinea Pig Diets

You could handfeed the pellets to the babies as a bonding exercise during floor time as a way of them getting them (it isn’t important though) but otherwise feed the adult pellets to them all together in the cage as part of the normal feeding routine. Scatter feed the recommended portion around around the cage so that also encourages natural foraging behaviours. As long as everybody is filling up on hay more than anything else, then they will be fine

As an aside, I assume they are all sows?
If they are all boars then you are likely to end up with problems as boar trios have a very high failure rate
 
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Swissgreys

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Excellent advice from @Piggies&buns and I can only agree.
When we added a baby to our adult group some years ago we never fed special pellets and we never separated them for feeding.
Honestly unless there are diet issues due to other problems they will be much happier being left together.
 

micblackwood

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Thank you so much for opening this thread! I have the same problem here where I just got a baby boar for my 3 1/2 year old boar (actually my daughter's, they both moved in with us 6 months ago). I read that they have to have alfalfa pellets (unlimited) and unlimited alfalfa hay along with the timothy hay. So I ordered 9 lbs. of timothy, 9 lbs. of alfalfa, and 5 lbs. of alfalfa pellets. And the adult can't have the baby food. I have not read anything about any exceptions to this rule. But then when I asked on another forum what I am missing here as far as when and how to feed this baby, I didn't get any real answers. Someone said to give it to the baby when I could watch. Okay, so what am I watching for? And another said to mix the timothy hay and the alfalfa hay together. That also doesn't answer it. I thought that maybe I should separate them during the day (where they could see and hear each other) but let them be together at night, but I got an answer of no, they would have to go through re-introduction every time I put them back together. I am so confused and frustrated because I spent A LOT of money getting the best quality pellets and food that I do not now really need? I wish that every place you go to for advice would just say that we don't HAVE TO feed the alfalfa pellets in teh first place, because now as a new guinea pig stepmom I am very disheartened, and watching money go down the drain. I know a lot of people say they will donate it, or that they don't mind spending the money on their piggies. I don't live in an area where there is a guinea pig rescue, and if I continue to waste money like that, my whole family will need rescuing.
 

micblackwood

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I can't hand feed him either, because he is skittish still and runs away, but Buddy, the adult, would run over and wolf them down. I have used the US forums until now and there is so much talk of you must do this, and they need that, or you are a bad piggie parent. There is a lot of shaming. But this is the first time I have seen anything about them not actually needing the pellets (and I am guessing don't need the alfalfa hay?) No one says what will happen if we don't provide the extra calcium, but I am guessing now it is nothing. But if I do give the extra calcium to my adult boar, he will get stones and need an expensive surgery. I should probably assume I know enough and stop seeking any further information because there is no way to separate the relevant advice from the hysteria.
 

Piggies&buns

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I can't hand feed him either, because he is skittish still and runs away, but Buddy, the adult, would run over and wolf them down. I have used the US forums until now and there is so much talk of you must do this, and they need that, or you are a bad piggie parent. There is a lot of shaming. But this is the first time I have seen anything about them not actually needing the pellets (and I am guessing don't need the alfalfa hay?) No one says what will happen if we don't provide the extra calcium, but I am guessing now it is nothing. But if I do give the extra calcium to my adult boar, he will get stones and need an expensive surgery. I should probably assume I know enough and stop seeking any further information because there is no way to separate the relevant advice from the hysteria.
Young piggies (between weaning and four months of age) will get all the nutrients they need from a normal adult diet - they do not need young piggy pellets (the alfalfa pellets) and they don’t need alfalfa hay. Certainly by 4 months of age, you would want them off of young piggy pellets (If you have been using them) altogether.
If you are going to give young piggy (alfalfa containing) pellets, then definitely don’t give alfalfa hay as well as it’ll simply be too much.
But if you do have a mixed age pair, then I would definitely just use normal adult pellets - as explained there is no need for the baby to be on a different diet - but it also means you don’t have to worry about the older piggy eating alfalfa
 

micblackwood

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Hey all,

I have 3 bonded guinea pigs (1 adult and 2 babies) currently in a 3x4 C&C, so space isn't an issue for them.

In order to feed the babies alfalfa pellets and make sure the adult doesn't eat them, I'm planning to split the space into two 2x3's to separate the adult and the babies.

To prevent the adult from feeling lonely by itself, the dividing panels between the two cages won't be lined with coroplast. This is done to make sure that the adult can still smell/sniff the scent of the babies and vice versa, so they won't lose their bonded relationship.

Each 2x3 cage will have its own timothy hay, hideouts, fresh vegetables, water bottles, enrichment, etc.

Lastly, I've read online (and tried myself) to simply feed the babies the alfalfa pellets when they are out for floor time instead of separating the babies and adult permanently, but they are simply not eating enough alfalfa pellets and I'm worried they aren't getting the calcium they need.

I've also thought about giving the babies high-calcium vegetables like parsley instead of the alfalfa pellets during floor time to encourage calcium intake, but I still have a giant bag of alfalfa pellets left and it'd feel like such a waste of food to not use them and throw them away.

I've also thought about separating the cages only during feeding time. However, this method wouldn't work since the babies need unlimited pellets while the adult needs a fixed amount of pellets, and having them separated temporarily would be too much of a hassle as it would need to be done multiple times in a day to ensure that the babies have constant/unhindered access to their alfalfa pellets while the adult doesn't.

Any and all advice on my separated cage idea would be appreciated. Thanks!
Did you ever decide what you are doing for your cage? Honestly, I love the advice given here with the exception that I am not about to let 15 lbs. of alphalpha based, Oxbow brand food and hay sit and collect dust.
 
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