Gizzards are considered a muscle meat, and they're highly recommended as an occasional meal/treat. They're really great for building jaw strength. Just make sure to never try to blend them, or you'll be buying a new blender lol.
As for taurine source, it is an absolute must in their diet, you can order or buy some taurine powder as a substitute but only for a few months at most to use, eventually you will have to be giving them heart or tongue for their taurine. Heart is the best but tongue can be used instead if you cannot get heart, they're both acceptable. And remember, heart is considered a muscle meat, but we feed it as a separate type because of it's important role it plays in their diet. This is copied and pasted from an answer Gfountain gave on the question of taurine.
"Taurine is vital for eye, brain, and heart health. Ferrets cannot manufacture this amino acid, thus MUST get it from their diet. Taurine is found in muscles that are used A LOT, which is why heart is a good source - it beats constantly. Another good source of taurine is beef tongue which may be easier for you to find than heart. But if you use tongue, it must be the tongue of a cow, as taurine values of other animal tongues have not been confirmed. If you absolutely cannot get heart or beef tongue, the amount of supplement is 500 mg PER DAY, but this should be a temporary measure until you CAN locate heart or tongue. Heart/beef tongue should be 10% of the total diet so if you're feeding frankenprey, that is equal to about 1.5 meals per week."
If you cannot find any heart or tongue locally then I would consider ordering from somewhere like HareToday/ReelRaw/MyPetCarnviore. My tip is if you do order online, order in bulk if you can, it'll save you money in the long run. But also make sure you have the freezer space before you do.
I'm going to Toronto to "Chinatown" for heart, and other organs bright & early Saturday morning. They still eat some Orijen Cat & Kitten to help intro new foods & provide taurine until I get hearts.
I got 6 chicken backs. 1lbs medium ground beef 1lbs of gizzards 1lbs of liver 1lbs ground venison with bone 8lbs of beef cut up (some for my dogs, some for the ferts) Chicken breasts cut up
I portioned everything out into ziplock bags at what I ball park think a weeks worth is. I'm ordering 2 boxes of surprise meat from work (its HQ, organic meat, but as employees we get whatever didn't go to clients, so its never the same). The boxes from work feed my husband and I (the good stuff like steaks), and my ferts & pups (like tough beef cuts).
Beef lung is also pretty high in taurine and a decent source of it if in a pinch. As for how much whole prey well that is easier determined when you know how many ounces a day they are eating. Like @julesalot said gizzards are considered a muscle meal and can be included as often as you like really, once a week or twice is a good plan when they are first building up jaw strength for bones and then keep them in the rotation. Love the pictures! They a beautiful!
Yes as fireangel said the amount of whole prey can be determined about a month or two after they're off kibble and on raw exclusively, I saw a little over a month (maybe even 2-4 months) because a lot of times when ferrets are first starting raw they will eat A LOT more than they normally would, they do this to make up for the nutrients they had lost while on kibble. Mine did this for a couple months, my girl ate a good 6-8 ounces of raw a day for 3 months when the normal amount for females is 1-3 ounces. She is now eating about 2-3 ounces a day, a good amount for her weight. But for ferrets you don't limit their food, you feed them until they are full, they self regulate and it won't affect their weight in a bad way or their health at all. When feeding them if they lick the plate clean then add more until they start leaving just a bite or two, then that's their amount. Each ferret is different when it comes to how much they eat.
I do not know a lot about feeding whole prey, I've never tried it before but I do know that as with frankenprey you must feed the minimum of 3 proteins (different animals) per week, more is better though. And if it is a staple in their diet then the whole prey must be adult as juveniles/babies are not nutritionally complete, but they are great as a snack or treat.
What you have got so far is good, you have some bone in, some muscle meats, some grinds, and liver. Liver is 5% of their total diet so I make sure to stock up on it if it's ever marked down or I see it from a different protein.
One side note, when feeding frankenprey, as you know you need 3 proteins per week, but the protein that any organs come from do not count as a protein with frankenprey. It only counts if it is a muscle meat. I will ask and see if it counts with heart and get back to you on that. But to clarify, lets say that in a week you feed:
Chicken Thigh Pork Loin Beef Steak Goat Liver
Then in that week you would have only fed 3 proteins and not 4, because what came from the goat was an organ and not muscle meat. Hope that makes sense. And I'll double check on the heart for you to make sure.
They are just starting to eat raw this week, when do you normally add other protein sources? They are at 2 : chicken & beef (muscle meat only atm). Mice will only be meals 2x a week, and I will rotate what the third protein source would be once I figure out what they will eat, but probably Cornish game hen, Rabbit, and venison.
My magic bullet is my ferrets best friend right now I put out some chicken liver with their regular chicken over night, however they didn't eat any. This morning I put some liver, bone in chicken & beef, plus ground kibble with some water. Both gobbled up 2tbsp each, in 10 minutes. My shopping trip to Asian markets can't come soon enough!
Your fuzzers are doing very well! Next time see if you can get them to eat it without any kibble or with just a little bit maybe sprinkled in. Kibble and raw has shown to cause stomach upset in ferrets when it's fed at the same time so we try to avoid that, adding in a little bit is okay but too much and they can get an overgrowth of bacteria/diarrhea.
If you can I'd like you to try something with them, get some meat (like chicken thigh, this is a good starter) and cut it up into little tiny slivers, about the size of your fingernail crescent (super tiny), add a little water or crush up some kibble and mix it together, maybe add some salmon oil, sit in the floor and pick up Bear or Trixie, offer it to them from your hand and see what they do. If they don't want to eat it, you can try scruff-n-stuff. This method may sound harsh but it's completely fine to try, it worked wonderfully on my guys and can really help to move them along. You hold them in your lap, scruff them gently and when they yawm pop a sliver into their mouth. If they spit it out then just keep trying a couple times and see if they'll eat it. They may accept it very well or they may be stubborn about it, but it's a great way to see what they're willing to eat.
As for the whole prey I will leave it to FireAngel to help you out with that since she feeds whole prey also, I don't know much about balancing frankenprey and whole so it'll be a great learning experience for us both
Thanks! They eat chunks of muscle meat happily, just not the liver. When I make them soup (its more like goo, its thick) I add some chunks. They even eat bones without encouragement. But that liver, they thought I was poisoning them, Bear even hissed at the bowl, lol.
Tonight I'm going to beat a chicken back with a hammer and put it out for them, since I will have lots of time to watch them closely.
Tomorrow when I make soup, I'm going to blend the hearts & liver, and half the muscle meat. Then add the other half of muscle meat in chunks on top. I have Trixie and Bear separated right now anyways, so if Trixie refuses to eat I will just sprinkle hers with a bit of kibble.
I know I need to cut the kibble I leave out raw all day, and only use kibble for coaxing when adding new stuff (ie: liver). Trixie was just starting to eat the soup when her life long friend Rocket passed & she started to push the meat away so I broke out the kibble again. She has the bad habit of refusing new things, then turning around refusing everything for a day or two. It's a tough time for her, and I don't want her diet to backslide, so I keep the kibble for intro new things, since I don't think she has imprinted on the chicken yet (which of course will take longer as long as I offer kibble in some form :$).
She has been picky & stubborn before Rocket, and now she is grieving and I will give anything to make sure she doesn't stop eating.
Totally understand about the kibble dusting. Sometimes the end does justify the means though as far as I'm concerned lol. I'm pretty sure I read a post where either Sherry or heather knew of a woman that had to put one piece of kibble on her ferrets food for its life otherwise it just wouldn't eat it. One piece was all it took and if it makes them eat the good stuff one piece isn't the end of the world.
If they're eating bones without fuss that's wonderful!! It's been months for my two and I'm just now getting them to eat small pieces of bone so you are doing very very well. You should be proud, you're doing a great job :thumbsup:
Okay so since they're eating chunks so far, we will try and skip through the soupy stage, when you get the hearts and etc you can make a batch of the soup recipe but make it like thick pudding, then cut up some slivers of whatever size they're comfortable with and mix them in with it. Every 2-3 days add more slivers and less soup, keeping adding less and less soup and more slivers/chunks until they are eating no soup at all and just chunks. Also add in some pieces of bone for every meal and try to get them eating them well. I'd say you'll be able to get them completely switched in a couple weeks/month or so based on how they're doing so far, which is really great. You can also mix the chunks with grinds too if you want, but try and make sure they're eating those chunks of meat and bone every day, sometimes if a ferret goes too long without eating something they can get super picky about it.
Sprinkling in a little kibble is definitely okay if it helps them to eat better, but try and cut it down as much as you without them getting upset/noticing. We for sure want them completely off of it but it's completely understandable and rational to use it if it helps them switch over. For my two I used salmon oil, it took several weeks to wean them off of it but it was the only reason they were off kibble and on the soup within 3 days of introducing it so it was a very helpful tool.
And I understand about Trixie's grieving, when my Jules passed away my Caillou was so depressed, he stopped playing a lot and didn't really want to eat, he moped around for weeks. After almost a month the stress got to him and he had ulcers and pretty severe gastric bleeding just because he missed her. He's okay now, it only took him a week to recover completely (with meds and lots of attention) but ferrets grieve hard for their lost buddies, I think Sherry's girl Lucrezia grieved terribly for a year and still isn't the same after losing her friend. Of course we always hope for the best when things like this happen, and I know exactly how you feel about doing anything to get her to eat, it's why it has taken mine so long to get off of the soup is because them being so sick, I had to do anything and everything to make sure they would eat and that meant backsliding a lot in their switch.
So with Trixie, push her but don't push her too much. You need to be consistent with her without making her stressed, so just take it a little slow with her and I promise she will do just fine
Last Edit: Jul 17, 2015 14:25:51 GMT -5 by Deleted
Thanks! I'm sewing a sling tonight so I can carry Trixie around the house with me while she naps, to help her along & getting some RR after work. The saving grace is the kibble is Orijen Cat & Kitten which is pretty much as good as kibble can get.
The soup is so thick it can't be poured They took to the bones as soon as they got used to the raw chicken, its ground up and I could listen to them gnawing on the little bone pieces. its so nice to come back to empty dishes!