Tell me more about Faszination Meerschweinchen

Hath

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Came across the link with group of pigs scenarios with the link to the above page. Ich spreche nicht, so I want you all to tell me about this! Are they out in all weathers? There seems to be area which keeps them away from elements. Is she feeding them seeds and sweet potatoes? I want to know everything, I am obsessed....
Is it normal to be jealous of this gorgeous grass?
 

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Merab's Slave

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Thanks @Hath .
I just tried but without creating an account I can’t get beyond the first page which has a New Year wish on.
Sorry can’t help with grass but the New Year Wish is something like:

If one door closes another one will open.
May you step into a room full of joy, happiness and health.
That‘s all I wish for you for the New Year
 

Swissgreys

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They are a pretty well known group in the German speaking part of Europe.
Their enclosures are incredible - absolutely huge and filled with enrichment, fully enclosed with sun and rain protection, and additional indoor space. They are mostly known for their successful keeping of very large groups of piggies (including males) together.
The grass is pretty standard for rural areas, and I think they not only have farm access but proper grass cutting tools (a scythe which are still commonly used here) and a large barrow to transport it. I believe they also have volunteers who turn up with grass for them too.
To be honest if time wasn't an issue I could harvest similar amounts myself a couple of times a week during the peak growing seson in a good year. If I could use a scythe of course - a local farmer tried to show me once (he was fascinated by my cloth bag and scissors collection method) and it is MUCH harder than it looks - it's all about angles and I don't think I managed to cut a single blade!
@Wiebke probably knows more about them, as I know she maintains a close relationship with many of the German rescue and piggy groups.
 

Wiebke

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Came across the link with group of pigs scenarios with the link to the above page. Ich spreche nicht, so I want you all to tell me about this! Are they out in all weathers? There seems to be area which keeps them away from elements. Is she feeding them seeds and sweet potatoes? I want to know everything, I am obsessed....
Is it normal to be jealous of this gorgeous grass?
I am not in direct contact with them but have followed them for a little while some years back when before the original lady who owned the piggies fell ill and was offline for quite a long time. They have a large walled off enclosure that was also secure against predators coming over the roof and birds of prey. They have an outbuilding for all piggies to go during cold weather with plenty of hay to stay warm in that also serves to house piggies that need regular medical care and feeding support.

When I followed them, they had about 60 piggies living in their own little groups in various areas of the enclosure, which is large enough to allow several mini-territories to allow them as close to a setting as they would have if left to their own devices, keeping in mind that our pet piggies are Not wild but are an outbred farm species (happened ca. 3000-6000 years ago in South America) with quite a few of their social instincts still intact.

The enclosure always looks very nice in spring but when you follow them over the year you will see that it is quite grazed down/brown in a very hot summer and that there clear paths that the piggies use to get from their territories to the feeding places. You will also notice that piggies tend to turn up in clusters they obviously associate with as it is always the same piggies turning up together.

I can't comment on what they are feeding; insights into diet have changed in recent years and there are also cultural differences from country to country. Some long term owners do keep some long term quirks. Anyway, the lady also supplements with fresh forage that neighbours and friends bring her - that is what is in the boxes (pictures dating from May 2017).

The outfit has now obviously been reorganised and is now run by a group instead of the original owner due to health reasons.
I would love to being able to keep my own piggies like that but having had as many as 31 indoors piggies at one point, I can assure you that it is A LOT of work to keep housing areas clean, the enclosure tended, the piggies checked weekly (or immediately if they do not turn up at feeding time), tending to ill piggies that need feeding up etc. and the cost (especially vet fees) are considerable, even if a lot is free forage or garden weeds. I am not surprised that it is now run by a group.
 

Hath

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They are a pretty well known group in the German speaking part of Europe.
Their enclosures are incredible - absolutely huge and filled with enrichment, fully enclosed with sun and rain protection, and additional indoor space. They are mostly known for their successful keeping of very large groups of piggies (including males) together.
The grass is pretty standard for rural areas, and I think they not only have farm access but proper grass cutting tools (a scythe which are still commonly used here) and a large barrow to transport it. I believe they also have volunteers who turn up with grass for them too.
To be honest if time wasn't an issue I could harvest similar amounts myself a couple of times a week during the peak growing seson in a good year. If I could use a scythe of course - a local farmer tried to show me once (he was fascinated by my cloth bag and scissors collection method) and it is MUCH harder than it looks - it's all about angles and I don't think I managed to cut a single blade!
@Wiebke probably knows more about them, as I know she maintains a close relationship with many of the German rescue and piggy groups.
I can use scythe. Or at least did! I've seen some sweet potatoes on the pics. Was it just to show harvest rather than what she feeds? And some grain/seeds. Again, unsure if she feeds that...
 

Hath

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I am not in direct contact with them but have followed them for a little while some years back when before the original lady who owned the piggies fell ill and was offline for quite a long time. They have a large walled off enclosure that was also secure against predators coming over the roof and birds of prey. They have an outbuilding for all piggies to go during cold weather with plenty of hay to stay warm in that also serves to house piggies that need regular medical care and feeding support.

When I followed them, they had about 60 piggies living in their own little groups in various areas of the enclosure, which is large enough to allow several mini-territories to allow them as close to a setting as they would have if left to their own devices, keeping in mind that our pet piggies are Not wild but are an outbred farm species (happened ca. 3000-6000 years ago in South America) with quite a few of their social instincts still intact.

The enclosure always looks very nice in spring but when you follow them over the year you will see that it is quite grazed down/brown in a very hot summer and that there clear paths that the piggies use to get from their territories to the feeding places. You will also notice that piggies tend to turn up in clusters they obviously associate with as it is always the same piggies turning up together.

I can't comment on what they are feeding; insights into diet have changed in recent years and there are also cultural differences from country to country. Some long term owners do keep some long term quirks. Anyway, the lady also supplements with fresh forage that neighbours and friends bring her - that is what is in the boxes (pictures dating from May 2017).

The outfit has now obviously been reorganised and is now run by a group instead of the original owner due to health reasons.
I would love to being able to keep my own piggies like that but having had as many as 31 indoors piggies at one point, I can assure you that it is A LOT of work to keep housing areas clean, the enclosure tended, the piggies checked weekly (or immediately if they do not turn up at feeding time), tending to ill piggies that need feeding up etc. and the cost (especially vet fees) are considerable, even if a lot is free forage or garden weeds. I am not surprised that it is now run by a group.
Thanks for that info. It does look incredible and definitely a lot of work! I was wondering how they clean with all that foliage and such a high numbers.
 

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Thanks for that info. It does look incredible and definitely a lot of work! I was wondering how they clean with all that foliage and such a high numbers.
There is a walkway with slabs at least on one side. The various dens are mostly located along the perimeter and therefore more easily accessed by humans for checks and cleaning. The grass area is safe for piggies and will be grazed down over the course of the summer. The piggies are usually kept off it in winter and early spring for repairs/maintenance and to allow the grass to grow back.
 

Wiebke

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The problem is that with climate change and more extreme weather outdoors keeping will become more and more challenging.

I would also strongly recommend that if you want your own group or herd, you need to build it up slowly so you can grow with it and with the changes in work. Don't keep any more than you can cope with work-wise and money-wise and always be honest with yourself at all times. You also have to plan for group dynamics to go wrong; it is by no means quite as serene as it look for an outsider. Piggies are every bit as complex socially as humans if you ask me. It is best to not go into this without experience and without giving yourself any wiggle space in case things don't work out.

Of course, all boars at Faszination Meerschweinchen are neutered.

PS: I have to be good over the coming 3-4 years and only replace piggies if absolutely necessary when my next strong generation reaches old age as my current set up with mostly pairs (one difficult customer and companion pig) is much more cleaning work than the same number of piggies in medium-sized or larger groups.
 

Hath

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The problem is that with climate change and more extreme weather outdoors keeping will become more and more challenging.

I would also strongly recommend that if you want your own group or herd, you need to build it up slowly so you can grow with it and with the changes in work. Don't keep any more than you can cope with work-wise and money-wise and always be honest with yourself at all times. You also have to plan for group dynamics to go wrong; it is by no means quite as serene as it look for an outsider. Piggies are every bit as complex socially as humans if you ask me. It is best to not go into this without experience and without giving yourself any wiggle space in case things don't work out.

Of course, all boars at Faszination Meerschweinchen are neutered.

PS: I have to be good over the coming 3-4 years and only replace piggies if absolutely necessary when my next strong generation reaches old age as my current set up with mostly pairs (one difficult customer and companion pig) is much more cleaning work than the same number of piggies in medium-sized or larger groups.
No way I could keep such a large number. Just jealous and makes me happy to see piggies well looked after.
I am struggling to build my herd as always take in boys because they're struggling to find homes... Now all but one are above 5yrs old, so won't be getting more in hope I can have neutered male with females, eventually. It's so much easier to have one group rather than multiple...
 

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No way I could keep such a large number. Just jealous and makes me happy to see piggies well looked after.
I am struggling to build my herd as always take in boys because they're struggling to find homes... Now all but one are above 5yrs old, so won't be getting more in hope I can have neutered male with females, eventually. It's so much easier to have one group rather than multiple...
It is all our dream come true until you realise just how much effort is going into it. And then you wake up with a bump. But I felt the same like you when I discovered Faszination Meerschweinchen on Facebook

I currently have got 10 pairs, two trios and an unbondable single older lady who prefers her own territory. However, two thirds of my piggies will be 4-8 years by the end of this year, so I doubt I will get another blessed year without losses like I had over the last 12 months (for only the second time since I started the Tribe in 2009).
 

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I can use scythe. Or at least did! I've seen some sweet potatoes on the pics. Was it just to show harvest rather than what she feeds? And some grain/seeds. Again, unsure if she feeds that...
The German approach (in German speaking parts of Europe) does vary a little from that in some other regions/countries.
This is more noticeable when it comes to hamster care, as I truly think the German style of keeping is world class. Their ideas and standards are so much higher than anywhere else in the world.
I have had some interesting conversations with piggy keepers about diet here, and they raise some interesting points, although my personal preference is to follow the diet outlined on the Forum as this simply makes more logical sense to me.
But many German speaking piggy keeps believe seeds are important, but the key point is that they must be specific seeds. Plus because animals kept outdoors in large enclosures year round will naturally burn a lot more calories, foods we often think of as fattening are often necessary to maintain weight and condition.
So whilst I wouldn't base my personal choices or keeping style on someone who has a very different set up to me, they do raise some interesting questions about different approaches.
 

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The German approach (in German speaking parts of Europe) does vary a little from that in some other regions/countries.
This is more noticeable when it comes to hamster care, as I truly think the German style of keeping is world class. Their ideas and standards are so much higher than anywhere else in the world.
I have had some interesting conversations with piggy keepers about diet here, and they raise some interesting points, although my personal preference is to follow the diet outlined on the Forum as this simply makes more logical sense to me.
But many German speaking piggy keeps believe seeds are important, but the key point is that they must be specific seeds. Plus because animals kept outdoors in large enclosures year round will naturally burn a lot more calories, foods we often think of as fattening are often necessary to maintain weight and condition.
So whilst I wouldn't base my personal choices or keeping style on someone who has a very different set up to me, they do raise some interesting questions about different approaches.
I always find it strange how with some pet care the gold standard seems to be to make life cosy and safe as much as possible while with other animal's like reptiles, hamsters and fish the gold standard is to replicate the natural world where possible and provide an abundance of enrichment even if it's not always used by the animal. But then for other animals like birds space and freedom are the priority.
 
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