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There are many types of dry feed available on the market, many of which use as a good selling point that they are very high in protein. These are usually more expensive than the lower protein ones. Another selling point is that they are a complete food with vitamin C added. As far as I am concerned these are the very products that should be avoided by guinea pig owners.
High protein is not a good idea for this is not what they get in the wild. They have to work for their food, which means they have to eat a great deal of roughage, which is low in nutritional value. As for the claim that dry feed is a complete food if it also has vitamin C added, what nonsense. They should get this very vital vitamin for guinea pigs from the green food they eat.
The feed manufactures and veterinary authorities seem to forget the fact that the guinea pig digestive system has evolved over thousands of years and there is no way that it has altered in the three hundred odd years since they have become domesticated. They are grazing animals and I believe that the act of grazing is vital for the good health of their digestive system and for maintaining healthy teeth. We are not doing them any favours by supplying huge quantities of protein in dry feed.
The feed I use has only twelve percent protein, which is definitely at the lower end of the scale. It also does not have any animal products in it or E colorants, two other items to check out on the labels of the feed you buy.
I also use goat feed, which I mix in at about a four to one ratio, and a long fibre mix for horses. This I just use as an extra that I simply throw into the pens about twice weekly. The particular long fibre mix I use is Dodson and Horrel’s Fibre P, not only because my guinea pigs adore it but because the herbs in it leave a lovely scent in my flat!
In a well-known vet’s column in one of our national newspapers he stated that boar guinea pigs are not fertile until they are three months old. I wrote to him and challenged him to repeat this ridiculous claim to any owner or breeder of guinea pigs then listen to the howls of laughter.
I take my boars away from their mothers when they are four weeks old. By that time they have had sufficient milk and they are more than up and running into life. My concern is that not that they will catch their sisters, for they do not have their first season until about six weeks of age, but that they might catch their mother. This is not anecdotal, it actually happened to one of my sows. Well, she hasn’t got a label round her neck saying ‘I’m your mother, son’ and anyone who has seen the early sexual purring and bottom wriggling of very young boars knows that they are definitely interested!