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Wood Pellets/Chips 3 full weeks of wood pellets

livelifelow

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After reading this thread and needing something that controls odor better than the Uhaul pads (boyfriend is very sensitive and complaintive about guinea pig urine) I switched to wood pellets under my fleece last night. Is it normal for in the first day or two for a guinea pig to be sneezing and itching her nose? One of mine sneezed several times in a row last night and this morning was rubbing her nose on a couple occasions. Is she just getting used to the smell and possibly the initial dust, or could she have an allergy?

Also, I'm building a new C&C cage (2x4, 2x5 if I have enough grids) and was wondering if anyone was using this over a stand made from grids and if this was enough support for the weight of the wood? I'm also hoping to put the pellets in a 2x1 loft, will it be too heavy?
 

bpatters

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My last stand was of grids, and it supported the pellets just fine. But the bottom of my cage is closet shelving, which is very sturdy, and in longer lengths than grids. I also had three columns of support under a five-foot cage.

You'll probably have to put something under the loft. You can get lengths of 2x2 (which are actually 1.5x1.5 inches), and they'll go through the holes in the grids just fine. You can adjust as needed to support the loft.
 

frNzR4evr

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I think that if you haven't started assembling yet, you should err on the safe side by building a custom stand out of something other than grids. Mine began as a large wooden work table, and a friend sawed off the bottoms of the legs to lower it to the perfect height (my opinion = equal to about a grid and a half).

Not only would this give you peace of mind regarding the sturdiness, all those grids that you would have used to create a stand can be repurposed for better things! One example is creating a really large playpen for floortime. It sure comes in handy for those rooms that aren't fully "pig-proofed" (eg. exposed wires, hidey spots that are TOO effective, to the point where you have looked all over only to conclude the wheeker in question has either vanished into thin air or has somehow escaped the ROOM, and is running loose all over the HOUSE effective).

The reasons behind my claim that 1.5 grids' height is right are: You can lean into the cage comfortably for cleaning without back strain; and the REAL reason {that is the height that puts my guys at eye level next to my bed, so we can "sleep together", and the first thing I see when I wake up is usually an alert, hungry, excited face or two that know it is soon time to perform our Kibble in The Morning ritual}
 

frNzR4evr

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Regarding the sneezing and itchy nose, if it is only ONE of your wheekers, there is certainly not an unsafe level of dust or fumes, or else it would be affecting all of them. Either she is more sensitive than the others, ie. "allergic", or there is a coincidence between your cage changes and the onset of a respiratory problem. If she's not particularly in distress, I would give it a few days to resolve, but you will know if it reaches the point where you need to get her straight to a qualified small-mammal veterinarian
 

frNzR4evr

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I just yesterday bought two 40lb bags of hardwood pellets at Lowe's for well under $20, and according to the recommendations on this thread, I'll probably use 50-60lbs for a deep layer on the bottom of my cage. I'm thinking of using a very thin layer of U-Haul blanketing under the top layer of material, to provide a modicum of cushiness while my guys transition to the new normal. This feels like a major undertaking, I don't plan to rush headlong into a setup that I might later realize would have been more optimal a differnt way
 

bpatters

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They don't need the u-haul pad. I just put two pigs in my cage who'd never been on pellets before, and they never paid a minute's notice to it. I do have a thin layer of fleece.

If you put the u-haul pad in, you won't get the same degree of odor control.
 

lissie

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If you put uhaul pads under your fleece, it defeats the purpose of wood pellets. Urine would get absorbed by the uhaul, and won't get through to the pellets.
 

mamaduck71

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Pellets absorb the urine and controls the odor. The fleece is what gets the urine away from your pigs to the pellets. If you put uhaul between the two, the uhaul pads will stop the urine from getting to the pellet and will get stinky fast.

Your pigs will be fine walking in the fleece. It's not harsh at all.

Fleece and wood pellets = awesome!
 

blessedmom

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I feel so great! I took my old coroplast and lots of extra grids and built a C&C for my sister's piggies! I took some wood pellets also and got her all set up! Her piggies loved it so much and so did she and her husband. They loved how much more active their piggies seemed.

I want to start a charity where I donate a C&C cage and wood pellets and fleece to GPig owners that think it's too expensive or too much work and let them see how great it really is. The piggies are so much better!
 

SardonicSmile

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I have used fleece and wood pellets for four weeks now and I think I will be sticking with this set up.

Sweeping poos is a bit more annoying as the fleece bunches up when I use the brush, but that is quickly put right again. I have the fleece partially 'clipped' to the sides therefore taking out the fleece and shaking it is not a good option.

My piggie has no trouble with the fleece when doing zoomies and she hasn't burrowed once.

I think I should be able to go another four weeks, maybe even longer, before there aren't really enough whole pellets anymore for the set up to work. At that time I will sift out the good pellets, dump the sawdust, clean the cage (clean fleece does get provided every week) and start the cycle again.

So far this is working for human and piggie!
 

bpatters

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Sifting the sawdust doesn't really work. It's easier just to stir the pellets and bring the fresh ones up from the bottom. But even the sawdust absorbs urine very well. I only stir where they've peed enough to make big clumps.
 

SardonicSmile

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I only sifted out some of the dust so I could stir better. My cage isn't massive so there was a decent amount of dust already and it made getting the whole pellets properly dispersed again a bit annoying.

This way I can also see how many whole pellets there still are. The sawdust may also absorb, but at some point new pellets will be required and just adding them to the sawdust and still good pellets all the time is not really workable. You'd end up with a very thick layer of bedding!

Removing the dust every once in a while isn't a hardship for me. I think it will work better than having to do it at the proper cage clean that will have to come eventually...
We'll see how it goes!

:)
 

mamaduck71

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I normally did a full wood pellet change, however I purchased a long hand kitty litter scoop from Walmart and let me tell you something, it's working pretty darn good. When I change out the fleece, about 3-5 days, I will only scoop the 'pee piles', shake the scoop over a garbage can, and throw the good pellets back in, then will do a full mix and put down new fleece. My last full wood change was Nov 21, 2015. I started sifting cuz I have to move the cage, but the dust is getting bad. I had to find a way to extend the pellets so that way I can hold out. I don't want to do a full change, and then move them to do another full change. Yea it's a little dusty but I do my best not to be very aggressive with the sifting. Just light taps on the palm of my hand.
 

bpatters

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I don't want to belabor this point, but I will say that just stirring the pellets very gently doesn't cause much dust at all -- not nearly as much as sifting.

Also, what is the purpose of sifting? The sawdust is just as absorbent as the pellets, unless it's very wet. As soon as it dries, it's absorbent again.

And if you've got a couple of inches of pellets in the cage, that's plenty to last you for months.
 

blessedmom

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I agree that sifting is more work than it's worth. I tried it once and it was so time consuming and got dust everywhere in the room. As cheap as the pellets are, I'd rather throw good ones out than bother sifting.
 

bpatters

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We can't tell because we can't smell them. Get them to poke a hole in one bag and see if there's a strong pine smell. If there is, don't buy them. If there's no odor, they're fine.
 

onefutui2e

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I had a question on what kind of smell I should be looking for (I have no idea what pine or cedar smell like, or rather, I can't tell what it is). I bought a 40 lb. bag of wood pellets from Lowe's and I took a few pellets out and they didn't smell, but as I unloaded the bag into the cage, there was a noticeable wood smell, not unlike the smell of sawdust at a mill. Is that the odor I should be watching out for?

Once I spread them out and tossed the fleece over it, the smell was gone unless I pressed my nose up against the floor.

I have one of my pigs set up with the wood pellets now and will follow up with the other cage assuming it goes well.
 
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