Our two almost 3 month old fuzz-butts are currently on an only Orijen Cat and Kitten dry kibble diet. We are looking forward to switching them to a raw diet only here very soon because of the amazing benefits and outcomes of ferret longevity and total health.
Rosita has already taken a liking to egg yolk as a treat, though Charlotte has no interest. Both had no interest in the chicken heart we tried introducing over the weekend (which I'm glad neither ate at the time because I have heard it is much gentler on their stomachs to avoid feeding raw and dry kibble within at least three hours of each other (is this correct?).
We currently have found a local butcher/meat market (Herrell's Market) and also have a secondary butcher location (Oakville Butcher Block). We did discover that Herrell's can special order quail, veal, venison, and other game type product (including quail eggs) per request.
We purchased whole chicken cuts, hearts, gizzards, and livers that are currently frozen and patiently waiting, lol, to be fed to our girls.
I have read that starting on soups is best when beginning the transition from kibble to raw and that patience/encouragement is a must throughout the entire process. As I have already mentioned above, Charlotte is super picky and will more than likely need a little more time and patience through this process. I have also been reading through others experiences, menus (varieties/mixtures of raw diet items), and tips already to help me start understanding this process.
I will be signing up for the mentor program later today and am very excited to learn how to provide the best diet and care for our girls.
If you haven't yet seen it, here is a thread that lists a bunch of information on feeding ferrets a raw diet. All of this information is also available on our website.
Here is a fun little graphic I put together that outlines the basic steps to a full raw diet.
Some ferrets take straight to raw no problem, while others are just SO fussy and picky. The first time I tried to introduce egg yolk to my little girl Mocha she acted like I was trying to poison her! Liquids (egg and soupies) are definitely the easiest things to introduce compared to chunks. The reason is you can dab a little on their noses (gently) or gums so they are forced to lick in and taste it. Once they taste a bit and realize it's good you can then move to finger/spoon feeding, and then to them eating straight out of the bowl. If you can both addicted to eggs or salmon oil (most ferrets go nuts for both after they realize it's "food") it become a very handy tool for bribing them to eat meat chunks later on
We have introduced egg yolk to both girls and Rosita is the only one who currently is interested (she'll get in about 5-6 small licks a sitting and then is no longer interested). We have tried this on Rosita about 6 times now with success each time. Charlotte on the other hand really has no interest at all, even when encouraged by placing a small dab on her nose. She did lick once, but immediately ran off).
I really like the two different variations of transitioning with the soups on the picture graph you shared.
They both love coconut oil now (Charlotte again needed an extra week of coaxing) as a treat. We are waiting on salmon oil I purchased off Amazon (should be here next week).
That's an amazing idea about mixing the oil with the egg, would have never thought of that myself. Brilliant! :-D
Question: The soup, when storing left overs in the fridge...How long is it safe to keep? I know the times for leaving it out of fridge, but was curious on if we were to refrigerate left overs when first starting out.
Probably 3-4 days, but it really depends on how old the meat was when you bought it and how long it was in your fridge before you made the soup. Grinding/blending it down creates more surface area and room for oxygen/bacteria to get in - if you still had the package I would say to look at the "best before" date listed there. Ferrets have very good senses of smell though and can tell if/when meat has gone "off" so you don't need to worry about them eating spoiled meat.
One thing many people do is freeze soupie in ice cube trays and take them out to thaw as needed. For example, all of my heart/liver/kidney meals I blend in 6 lb batches and then portion and freeze in silicone ice cube trays before storing in bags. I just take out a cube the night before an organ meal and let it thaw in the fridge over night. That way if you make a batch you don't need to worry about it spoiling before you go through it all.
(This method also works with freezing boneless and bone-in chunks of meat in pre-portioned meal sizes in the future.)
This Friday we will be starting our journey of transitioning the girls to raw. Have all the meat and organs thawing in the fridge starting today (have whole cut chicken, chicken hearts, gizzards, and livers). Our bone meal supplement (human grade) and salmon oil will be in tomorrow and have tons of ground up eggshells as well.
Both of the girls now have taken well to coconut oil and raw egg yolk. Charlotte took longer to finally come around as assumed.
Will post again on 5/6/16 with updates on their first experience with the soup.
Thank you all again for the great advice and tips! Very excited for this weekend and journey. I waited this long to start since signing up for a mentor because I wanted my fiancé to be here when they begin the process. He will be off with me Friday through Sunday.
Putting my son on the bus this morning delayed me in making the soup in time for the girls to try in the morning. The soup is now made though and was very easy to make with the food processor (we will need to buy a better set of knives, the ones we have aren't the greatest at cutting up meat).
Heisenberg, our new addition (we got him on 5/4, he was born the same week as the girls - Feb 7-13) started to act like he was hungry immediately after I fished making the soup and he knew I was making it (I knew he could smell it as I was preparing since he was by my feet practically the whole time).
I took a tablespoon of the soup and introduced it to H and he took to it immediately. He ate another tablespoon by hand and then one more tablespoon in the bowl (so total of 3 whole tablespoons his first try). We are so proud of him!
Charlotte peaked out about this time (Rosita had already passed out underneath the couch) and was curious as to what H was eating. I tried a TBS by hand with her, nothing...placed it on her nose and she absolutely did NOT like that at all (she had recently ate a little of kibble 30-45 min before, but wanted to try anyway). We will try again after her nap along with Rosita (kibble is put up completely so they don't have access to it at the moment).
So 1 out of 3 down...2 more to go (I am pretty sure the girls will take a few days to gain interest, but we'll get there).
Mid afternoon - Charlotte LOVES the raw (she preferred it out of the bowl than spoon fed, which is fine by me)!!! Taking away the kibble and a lot of coaxing did the trick. She prefers the soup not right out of the fridge and waited about 45 min after being taken out.
She ate 6-7 TBS...YAAY CHARLOTTE!!!
Rosita is still a work in progress. She went on playing after trying to coax her many times and then hid in our couch and passed out. Stinker!
Heisenberg ate another 2-3 TBS. His bowels are much looser too I noticed. I'm assuming this is normal when transitioning to raw and it being in a liquidy form?
Heisenberg ate a whopping 9 TBS for dinner (gave him 3 TBS @ a time and he kept licking the bowl clean).
Charlotte ate a total of 6 TBS for dinner (3 TBS @ a time until full).
Rosita ate kibble after I posted the previous update for today (mid afternoon snack) until full. We tried placing on her nose again, spoon feeding (w/ a little bit of coconut oil to spark more interest, and placed kibble in the raw again without any luck). She did watch her siblings smash their raw though (I'm hoping this helps intrigue her the more she sees them chow down). We wound up having to place her in a separate room and she ate kibble again until full. We will try again tomorrow sweet girl. We are still so proud of her for being the only one fully litter trained now and understanding simple hand commands. She's one smart cookie, just pickier than expected. We'll get there.
Morning - Both Heisenberg and Charlotte took to the raw soupie like champs! Heisenberg ate 10 TBS and Charlotte ate around 7 TBS (had to make another batch of soup after she ate her first 4 TBS).
Rosita is still in the 'she would rather starve than eat the soup' mode. I tried enticing her with some salmon oil (which she stuck her nose up to by itself). I then placed her kibble directly into the little that was left from Heisenberg's bowl (which she ate the kibble, but was very careful about picking around the raw). I know she got the taste in her mouth a little when eating that kibble, but still showed no interest. I gave her straight kibble about 15 min later after she had stopped eating from H's bowl. We will try again this evening.
I've noticed their poops have been changing. More liquid based. Keeping an eye on it to make sure there are no issues. Noticed today after Charlotte pooped that she rubbed her butt on our door mat right after (any ideas as to why she might be doing that?). That poop was a little more runny. I should have taken a picture, but slipped my mind. Her anal area (as well as H's) looks normal (no swelling or redness).