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Grain mix or no grain mix?
What are the dietary benefits for feeding grain mixes? Are they healthy?
I am in two minds about this. From what I can gather, the only purpose grain mixes have other than being a "filler" in their overall diet is to provide fiber.
Does the quality of the mix affect whether or not it should be fed? Probably yes, but what would you call a good quality mix?
Pellets or no pellets?
I feel strongly that pellets should be provided but should be the least important in a pigs diet. Though unfortunately the only high quality pellet currently available is Oxbows Cavy Cuisine - which is apparently quite high in calcium compared to Kleenmamas Hayloft Timothy Based Pellets (not available in Australia), some say this has something to do with stones occuring in their pigs (though I think it is a matter of what and the amount of certain veggies they are getting).
Oxbows Cavy Cuisine can be pricey, and so in the past I have combined this with a lower quality pellet from the vets with no ill effects.
I do believe that pellets are healthier than grain mixes (what do you think?) and the following paragraph copied off Oxbows site sort of backs this point up -
Guinea pigs are designed to eat and digest fiber found in plant material. Timothy hay provides the fiber necessary to maintain intestinal health, and makes Cavy Cuisine the veterinarian's number one choice for your adult guinea pig.
Pellets made with timothy grass meal provide a lower level of protein, calories, and calcium than traditional alfalfa pellets. Cavy Cuisine's optimal calcium to phosphorus ratio also helps maintain a healthy urinary system. Pellets also provide balanced nutrition in every bite and prevent selective feeding behaviors.
Hay or no hay?
Hay is a big big part of a pigs diet, and helps with their teeth and digestive system. I think the main question here is, what kind?
The quality and variety of hay is limited compared to that of other countries. As far as I know Australians have a choice between
- Timothy (oxbows)
- Botanical (oxbows)
Both Timothy and the botanical hay by oxbows are alot greener and softer then any other hay I have seen, but again are very pricey. So I wonder whether a mixture of different types of hay would benefit the pigs as a pose to just one kind?
Lucerne is high in calcium, so calcium levels in veggies need to be watched if fed. Though it is sweet and generally the pigs love them.
Oaten is quite stemmy, but if you get a good batch, there is yummy seed heads and the hay quite green.
Timothy hay I can only say good things about - very green, soft, leafy and fresh smelling.
Botanical is apparently a big hit and smells beautiful but as of yet I have not tried it myself.
I myself, feed unlimited quantities of Oaten Hay but supplement this with Oxbows Timothy hay every other day. I also occasionally purchase bundles (I have talked about this before - the bundles are about as thick as the tip of your middle finger, on the tip of your thumb and arched out) of lucerne hay as a treat.
Veggies or no veggies?
I believe a good veggie diet is essential. And it should be quality and variety of quantitiy. What do pigs get out of veggies? The big one is vitamin c, which they can not make themselves.
My girls get a some of the following veggies twice a day - cucumber, cherry tomatoes, parsley, mint, basil, cos lettuce, spring mix, bok choy, carrot, apple, watermelon, corn husks and silks.
If veggies are not provided, vitamin c supplements should in my opinion.
Overall what would you call the perfect diet -
Grains or no grains
Pellets or no pellets
Hay or no hay
Veggies or no veggies
Buttercup - March 2007 - August 2008
Toffee - June 2007 - December 2010