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Thread: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

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    Cavy Slave MuffinsMom's Avatar
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    Question Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Hi everyone,

    I just posted in the new members thread, so you can check out my background there but I wanted to ask this question in a more appropriate setting.

    My hubby and are currently serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in the island nation of Cape Verde.We don't have access to things like pellets and hay. Here they feed the critters basically whatever they can find...table scraps, corn husks. What about pellets and hay, if we just don't have them here, can they flourish on veggies alone?

    Okay now before i get slammed for getting a piggie without being able to "properly" take care of her...I'm pretty sure here piggies are raised for food. So when we came across a piggie coop that a friend of ours has, and saw how freakin' adorable they were making all those cute sounds, and the living conditions they were in anyway...I don't think we made a wrong or selfish decision, I think that the life of Muffin has greatly improved AND she won't get eaten. She has tons of cuddle time and floor time and toys and clean fresh food instead of just scraps.

    Please remember that Peace Corps is a volunteer position and we simply don't have the money to both buy AND ship food/hay here (we considered it). It's heavy and expensive (not to buy but to ship).
    Thanks in advance for advice!

  2. #2
    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    You can maybe get away with hay and veggies only. But hay or fresh grass should be a staple.

    There aren't any horses or cattle or such there? No source of hay at all?

    You can may be get away with feeding unlimited veggies daily but they should have a pile of veggies at all times and a great variety of it. They are grazing animals.That's why they need hay.

    But you should weigh them regularly and monitor their poops in case they have issues.

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    Cavy Slave hueyeats's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Pick grass & dandelions for them, mine loves them... but be sure they free of any contamination (dog poops, spray chemicals etc..) & is all natural!

    Mine also has taken quite a liking to roses & rose hips (good vit C source)... I give them as treats.

    Actually Ly&pig has a great colored very easy to follow when & what to eat & how often chart here:

    http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/...arts-info.html

    Forage thread here:

    http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/...r-forages.html

    And diet discussion thread here:

    http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/...on-thread.html

    Plus, on the 3rd thread, you can ask opinion if "something" is safe for your piggies!

  4. #4
    Cavy Slave MuffinsMom's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Quote Originally Posted by rabbitsncavyluv View Post
    You can maybe get away with hay and veggies only. But hay or fresh grass should be a staple.

    There aren't any horses or cattle or such there? No source of hay at all?

    *snip*

    But you should weigh them regularly and monitor their poops in case they have issues.
    Cape Verde is an island country with very few natural resources. It is very poor and very dry, needing to import nearly all of it's food, and is nothing at all like America with regards to treament of animals, especially livestock. I haven't seen any horses but there are very skinny cows and donkeys. The livestock we saw on the island we originally were living on grazed on what was available, but we also lived in the "fora" ie countryside there, where as on our new island we live in a "big city" ie 5000 people. There is no livestock in the city at all though I am sure there is some in the fora that probably grazes naturally. One major issue is transportation - we are not allowed to drive nor do we have money to take a taxi beyond the city to search for forages. We plan on checking around about hay and seeing what they do feed horses etc.

    We're trying!!

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    Cavy Slave MuffinsMom's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Quote Originally Posted by rabbitsncavyluv View Post
    *snip*

    But you should weigh them regularly and monitor their poops in case they have issues.
    Oops, I meant to respond to this as well. I'm not sure how you weigh a piggie, but we don't have access to scales here either, or vet services. Ugh.

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    Cavy Slave hueyeats's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Quote Originally Posted by MuffinsMom View Post
    Cape Verde is an island country with very few natural resources. It is very poor and very dry, needing to import nearly all of it's food, and is nothing at all like America with regards to treament of animals, especially livestock. I haven't seen any horses but there are very skinny cows and donkeys. The livestock we saw on the island we originally were living on grazed on what was available, but we also lived in the "fora" ie countryside there, where as on our new island we live in a "big city" ie 5000 people. There is no livestock in the city at all though I am sure there is some in the fora that probably grazes naturally. One major issue is transportation - we are not allowed to drive nor do we have money to take a taxi beyond the city to search for forages. We plan on checking around about hay and seeing what they do feed horses etc.

    We're trying!!
    No grass??? There has got to be at least some grass... no?

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    Cavy Slave MuffinsMom's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Quote Originally Posted by hueyeats View Post
    No grass??? There has got to be at least some grass... no?
    Not trying to be difficult ...Cape Verde gets on average less than 10 inches of rain a year. The other side of the island where we live has a bunch of forage, but the area we are in is flat and dry - my friends say we live on Mars. Right now we're just ending the rain season and it was one of the rainiest we've had in years, and no, there is no grass anywhere near the city. Everything is dust and sand and rock. This is West Africa. Our side of the island has had one rain storm in the two months I've been here. It's like the clouds over the mountain dry up by the time they hit the coast.

    I have no idea how the piggies that are still running around my hubby's bosses place survive, but they seem to do so. I'm sure on the times that they drive out of the city into the fora they pick up some grass up in the mountains, which of course we will do too if given the opportunity!! I was just hoping for other regular options besides hay/grass. Keep suggestions coming though, I appreciate it, and we will always have our eyes open for forage.

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    Cavy Slave 5guinea5pig5's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    To weigh a piggy just put it on a regular kitchen scale(I prefer it weighs in ounces).

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    Cavy Slave MuffinsMom's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5guinea5pig5 View Post
    To weigh a piggy just put it on a regular kitchen scale(I prefer it weighs in ounces).
    That makes sense, I'll have to see if someone can mail me one here (they still use balances and weights here, no kitchen scales like we're used to). Is there a link on this site that could tell me how much she is supposed to weigh at each age? I have no idea how old she is, she's pretty tiny now, maybe the size of a really really big hampster, or maybe the size of my hubbys fist. And the cutest thing in the entire world. Guinea pigs here are different I think, their ears aren't floppy but rather upright like a mouse. We weren't sure at first if she really was a guinea pig, but I've read posts from people in South Africa who have piggies with similar ears.

    What about corn cobs? Is that something that could take the place of hay/grass? I know they can eat them, and the husks...will the cobs help with her fiber/filing her teeth down?

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    Cavy Champion, Previous Forum Moderator Ly&Pigs's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Nothing will take the place of fresh grass or hay. Do you have relatives/friends in the states that could ship you hay and pellets? Corn husk and silk can be fed daily but not corn on the cob itself and corn cobs won't help with anything.

    If you can't get a continual supply of fresh veggies to ensure vitamin C then the pig will most likely end up with scurvy. No grass or hay can mean the molars won't be worn properly and the pig could end up with overgrown molars.

    Pigs can survive on bad or limited diets but most often they don't live to be all that old.

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    Cavy Slave MuffinsMom's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ly&Pigs View Post
    Nothing will take the place of fresh grass or hay. Do you have relatives/friends in the states that could ship you hay and pellets? Corn husk and silk can be fed daily but not corn on the cob itself and corn cobs won't help with anything.

    If you can't get a continual supply of fresh veggies to ensure vitamin C then the pig will most likely end up with scurvy. No grass or hay can mean the molars won't be worn properly and the pig could end up with overgrown molars.

    Pigs can survive on bad or limited diets but most often they don't live to be all that old.
    That's unfortunate. I had hoped someone would have an "outside the box" idea on what sorts of things she could chew on to help with the teeth. I thougth maybe the corn cob would help with this. Veggies are imported, so they are expensive but available so I'm not concerned about vitamin C.

    Having family mail hay is simply not an option due to the cost. We are Peace Corps Volunteers. The cost to mail a very small box (a little bigger than a shoe box) up to 20lbs is $50. The cost of mailing bigger boxes gets up into the hundreds. We tried to have a box that weighed 30lbs shipped but who's dimentions were about 2.5ftx2.5ftx1.5ft, and it would have cost $500. Volunteers don't get paid. We get a stipend to cover the basic cost of living at the level of the people we work with. Over half the population of Cape Verde lives in poverty...so you can guess what we have to work with.

    I would imagine that even her shorter life will be better than the life she had in the pen we found her in, and then ending up as dinner on someones plate.

    If anyone has any other thoughts on things Muffin can gnaw on please let me know!!

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    I had an idea - can you grow your own grass and vegetables? I assume there must be some water there, from wells or something, or the people couldn't survive there. If you could come by a few pots and manage a one-time import of some seed you could grow your own grass and veggies for your girl. If your worried about her teeth getting too long you could give her something like wood to chew on. Applewood is safe - here's a thread from a quick search I did to find safe woods for them to chew on. http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/...ight=wood+chew

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    Cavy Slave MuffinsMom's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jitterbug View Post
    I had an idea - can you grow your own grass and vegetables? I assume there must be some water there, from wells or something, or the people couldn't survive there. If you could come by a few pots and manage a one-time import of some seed you could grow your own grass and veggies for your girl. If your worried about her teeth getting too long you could give her something like wood to chew on. Applewood is safe - here's a thread from a quick search I did to find safe woods for them to chew on. http://www.guineapigcages.com/forum/...ight=wood+chew
    Awesome I will check out the link. Wood I should be able to find or ask about. They use wood to cook on in the fora so they have to get it somewhere. Good idea on growing grass...can I turn grass I grow into hay? Hmm...now I have to find soil...

    Thanks for the suggestion!

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    Cavy Slave starshine123102's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    You can also grow wheatgrass.

    Make sure that the wood that is available is safe for them to ingest.

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    Cavy Slave Haley0489's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    It's not the front teeth that need to be worn down, it's the back molars. That's why we feed hay, to grind down the molars. I really doubt a pig would pay much mind to wood, let alone chew on it with their back teeth and ingest it.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Quote Originally Posted by Haley0489 View Post
    It's not the front teeth that need to be worn down, it's the back molars. That's why we feed hay, to grind down the molars. I really doubt a pig would pay much mind to wood, let alone chew on it with their back teeth and ingest it.
    Actually my pigs chew on the wood in their cage all the time. I think it depends on the pig; I have had some ignore wood chews and some that loved them. And the front teeth are just as important as molars to make sure they get worn down. If they get too long they can prevent the piggy from eating at all and would require a vet's attention. It's true hay helps wear down the molars, but without a reliable source of hay to do the job, I was trying to think what else could be used to wear teeth down and the wood came to mind. I have no idea what else could be used for the molars tho.

    MuffinsMom - Hay is just dried grass - Hay - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. There's probably more information there about hay than you ever wanted to know. I've never made hay myself so I'm not sure how you'd do it. Just wait till it gets long then cut it and leave it somewhere it can dry I guess. Well, good luck! Hope it works!

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    Cavy Slave MuffinsMom's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Thank you so much, I really appreciate it. I went out into the fora yesterday and we had to drive for about 30 min up the mountains before I saw any signs of grass, and after hiking around town there are only some trees and bushes, no greenery on the ground. So I think growing it will be a good option for us!

    We have put the call out to other volunteers on the island (there are 9 others) to see if they can help us out, especially the 4 that live in the mountains and fora. Keep your fingers crossed, they may be able to find some host country nationals who want to make a little money from the "branca" by picking a bag of grass once a week.

    I also had a meeting with my boss yesterday and told him I got a "Chiklinda" or "Porku de India" which is what they are called here and he said he has 33 of them. I told him I only had one and he offered to give me another - a boy - so I could have lots of them. My fears are confirmed, they do use them for food here. I asked him if they have hay here and he sort of laughed at me (it is kind of a ridiculous questions, living in a place where people starve due to lack of food, this stuipd American who is keeping a couple of guinea pigs as pets and wants to feed them specalized things - not sure if Americans realize what a privilege it is to have "pets" or even to have options when it comes to sources of protien). He also said he feeds his rice and fish. I tried not to drop my jaw and just said that Oh in America we're silly, pet owners only like to feed their friends specifc foods that we think will be best for them (how to remain culturally sensitive while explaining American culture is tricky sometimes...). Ahhh, Peace Corps.

  18. #18
    Cavy Slave dra&pigs's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Oh, I feel rather bad for his piggies. I do understand that there just isn't the same abundance of goods over there, piggies are strict vegetarians and lactose-intolerant. 0.0

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    Cavy Slave MuffinsMom's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Quote Originally Posted by dra&pigs View Post
    Oh, I feel rather bad for his piggies. I do understand that there just isn't the same abundance of goods over there, piggies are strict vegetarians and lactose-intolerant. 0.0
    Me too. I think part of it is just not knowing what "should" be fed to animals in general. Dogs and cats get scraps here too; rarely have I even seen dog or cat food in the store and its usually just those of us living abroad here that purchase it. Again, the whole concept of a "pet" or of an animal as a friend isn't a familiar one here. It is very difficult to be an animal in Africa - if you are not food then you are protection or something to catch mice. And you are not treated very well regardless.

    Except Muffin! And her new friend...who we're not naming until we know what it is and if we're gonna keep him.

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    Cavy Champion, Previous Forum Moderator Ly&Pigs's Avatar
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    Re: Hay and Pellets not available! Options?

    Fish and rice. A lovely diet for a herbivore. You can tell they feed them these things only to fatten them up.
    Last edited by Ly&Pigs; 11-09-08 at 12:23 pm.

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