Post by cayenneknight on Jan 5, 2021 12:19:33 GMT -5
Hello, I am starting to heavily research raw feeding in preparation for adopting or rehoming two or three carpet sharks (hopefully) later this year. I’m still collecting sources and doing reading, but I have a quick question that I can’t seem to find an answer to: are there any differences between feeding ground meat for muscle meat vs unground, nutrition-wise of general health-wise? My roommate (who has been very supportive) has requested I try to limit how much raw food they will stash, and I heard that is less likely to happen with ground, but I have not found much else posted on the subject.
Post by cockneyferret on Jan 5, 2021 15:45:44 GMT -5
Hi, welcome to the forums. It's certainly my experience that ground will result in less cases of stashing than chunks. However, a lot can be done by where they are fed, I have a feeding den made from a storage box which I feed our two in. This creates a dark safe place for them to eat, so they are less likely to stash food. I still get a bit, but not nearly as much as before I installed the den.
The den is connected to their main cage with a section of heavy duty extractor hose and a trap door fitted into the bottom of their FN cage to allow it to be isolated for cleaning etc.
Post by Corvidophile on Jan 5, 2021 18:15:53 GMT -5
There is no difference in nutrition, but there is in speed of eating: they’ll eat grinds faster, which can sometimes lead to vomiting if the ferret gets too excited and eats too much or too fast. This is a behaviour they generally learn not to repeat after the first few mistakes, but it can happen. Grinds are definitely less likely to be stashed, though.
Post by abbeytheferret6 on Jan 6, 2021 12:29:46 GMT -5
Here is the way to feed your ferret----they require more bone in meats. They need the calcium. As for teeth, my little girl passed away at 6.5 years old (lesion on her liver--I meant pancreas) the vet always commented on how good her teeth looked.
Of course you can do an alternative style of feeding that includes grinds with the bone in meats( the grind should include bones and organs) There is a chart for that which you can also throw in some frozen mice or other whole prey too.
Wait, now I'm confused. I thought ferrets only needed 10-15% of their diet to consist of bone? Do they need more than that?
Not all the meals will have bone in. I don't use grinds but out of 14 meals (2 meals a day) I feed my ferret in a week, 3-4 meals don't have bone. My ferret gets a combination of a frenkenprey diet and whole prey in there too. So with 3 meals as whole prey he only needs 2 meals with organ as opposed to just the frankenprey diet which has 3 organ meals and 1 or 2 meals with just muscle meat. The rest of the meals all have bone in them.
So in a grind there is bone but it doesn't clean the teeth like it would if the ferret actually chews on the bones.
Post by abbeytheferret6 on Jan 8, 2021 7:04:13 GMT -5
This is an old post from my mentor who helped me switch. Good reading.
Welcome to the world of raw feeding. Since you’re here, you already know that raw feeding is the healthiest and most natural way to feed your fuzzbutts. There are several types of raw diets that are commonly fed. Many ferrents use a combination of these methods to provide a balanced diet. Obviously, the MOST natural way to feed would be to let your ferrets hunt for themselves like they do in the wild, but what kind of pet owner wants to just turn their pets out into a field and tell them to ‘go find dinner’! Controlled live feeding is a great way to mimic this behavior and can be used to supplement any raw diet. While it is a personal preference and must be done with caution, IF the ferret is a good hunter, and provided the live prey is no larger than a mouse, controlled live feeding is great enrichment for a ferret. The biggest downfall to feeding live (besides owner squeamishness) is the limited prey options that are small enough to be safely fed live.
Pre-killed whole prey is the next closest to ‘all natural’, and is probably the easiest way to feed a ferret. Each whole prey meal is completely balanced in and of itself, so there is no need to measure and weigh (and worry about) what they eat when feeding a whole prey diet. In addition, whole prey poops are awesome - they are complete little fur- or feather-covered packages that are easy to clean up. However, whole prey can be expensive and some of us can’t feed anything that still has a face attached.
A commercial grind or mince is another type of raw food that is available. The company simply takes a carcass and grinds it all up together – meat, bones, and most organs (usually not fur or feathers). Grinds are packaged in many different ratios and you must rely on the company to accurately report the contents and percentages of organs, heart, etc. in the grinds. Many grinds include added plant material (veggies and fruits), so careful research must be done to provide a completely balanced diet. Also, there are no “dental hygiene” benefits with commercial grinds so teeth must be brushed frequently, and again, it can be very expensive.
And that brings us to frankenprey, a big word that simply means feeding a balanced diet with “grocery store meats”. It is possibly the most complicated method of feeding in the beginning, because it requires thought on the part of the owner, but once the initial learning curve is mastered, it is no more difficult than any other type of raw feeding. With all of these options, it’s easy to choose a method, or a combination of methods, of feeding that works for you. And once you understand the basics of ferret nutrition and establish a routine, you’ll discover that it is very simple to feed your ferret a balanced, healthy raw diet.
One thing you must remember is that with ferrets and their food, we have to speak in generalities - feeding raw is not an exact science. Our goal in feeding raw is to replicate as closely as possible what a ferret would eat in the wild with the correct balance of meat, organs, and bones, but how can we determine EXACTLY what that balance is? Because the difference in bone mass and the size of organs even between two animals of the same size and the same species can vary tremendously, we cannot set a DEFINITE ratio for our prey model and say “This is it; this is the exact amount of meat/organ/bone my ferret must have to be healthy.” Even if every single prey specimen were identical in proportions, who is to say that every single wild ferret would eat every part in exactly the right amount, especially with larger prey that cannot be consumed by a single ferret in one meal. So we get as close as we can to ‘natural’ by using a prey model that has been used for decades, a rough average of many species of prey animals - 80% meat, 10% organ, 10% bone. This prey model was originally geared toward dogs and cats who generally do not need as much bone in their diets as ferrets, which is why we say ferrets need 10-15% bone, depending on their poops. (This will be addressed later.)
Because of the different vocabulary used when discussing the different kinds of diets, there has been some confusion regarding the correct balance of a raw diet. Whole prey is easy. Each prey animal is a completely balanced meal, so there’s no need to think about numbers. Commercial grind companies use a ratio to determine the amount of meat, organ, and bare bone in their foods. (An ideal commercial grind would be approximately in the ratio of the prey model, or 80:10:10.) Frankenprey feeders don’t just toss a bare bone to their pets, but rather give them bone with meat attached, what we call edible bone-in meat. This terminology is where the confusion lies. Because the bone is served with meat, the percentage of bone-in meat is about 50-60% of the total diet (as opposed to the 10% of bare bone in the prey model). This SEEMS to be in conflict with the prey model ratio, but if you were to pick apart a frankenprey menu and weigh and measure every single thing separately, you would find that the ratio of meat to organ to bone would be very close to 80:10:10.
Below are a few of the things you will need to know as a raw feeder no matter which method of feeding you choose to use. All of this information is located in various places on the forum, but I’ve tried to condense some of the basics here for reference. This seems like a lot of information, but believe me, once you get into the actual planning and feeding, this becomes second nature.
First, raw food MUST be served RAW. I know that sounds like a really obvious statement, but I’ve heard from several people that they feed raw meat, but they cook it. (I know. I don’t understand that statement either, lol.) Cooking destroys many natural vitamins, minerals, and proteins in the meat and bones. In fact, cooked bones are extremely dangerous because they can splinter and perforate the stomach or intestines. Raw bones do not splinter; they break cleanly. They pass through the intestinal tract safely and the clean edges are actually smoothed by the stomach acids. They come out the other end a little rubbery feeling, and rounded with no sharp edges. (This video shows the effect of a stomach acid on bones. holisticferret60.proboards.com/thread/14397 )
Raw meat is safe for ferrets to eat. A ferret’s digestive tract is very short and bacteria doesn't have enough time to set up camp in there. And, surprisingly, raw food can be safely left out for several hours at a time, depending on the ambient temperature: “Soups” - 6-8 hours (for soup recipe, see below) Grinds - 8-12 hours Chunks - 10-24 hours depending on the size (larger chunks last longer) Bone-in meats - 12-24 hours, again depending on the size Whole prey - up to 48 hours
With soups and grinds, in general, trust your nose - if it smells off, it likely is and should be tossed. You will find that the bigger chunks of meat typically go through a few stages. During the ‘safe’ hours it will dry up and the surface may feel tough or leathery; it is still safe to eat at this point. Then it goes through a stinky, greasy phase during which most ferrets will not touch it. This is usually when it gets tossed because it smells awful, but occasionally a piece or two will get stashed well enough and missed. These pieces continue to dry out and become fairly odorless, making what we call ‘ferret jerky’. Most ferrets can’t resist this and will eat really nasty looking stuff with relish. If they’re eating it, it’s either not too far gone, or it has been successfully stashed and jerkified.
Raw soup recipe 8 oz raw skinless/boneless chicken 1 oz raw chicken liver (about half a liver) 1 oz raw chicken heart (about 2 hearts) ½ tsp. eggshell powder Water to thin Blend all ingredients until soupy. Freeze in ice cube trays (rubbed with olive oil for easy removal) to make easy-to-serve portions and reduce waste. Chicken is the most common protein to start a switch with, but any protein can be used.
The amount of food your individual ferret eats will depend on gender, age, season of the year, and his general mood. It can differ dramatically sometimes and until you become familiar with his eating habits, you will have some waste. In general (and with ferrets and their food, we ALWAYS speak in generalities), adult males eat 2-4 ounces per day, adult females 1-3 ounces per day. Kits of either gender eat 2-3 times MORE food than an adult. They all eat more when they are in the fall and winter mode, less in the spring and summer mode. In fact, ferrets can lose up to 40% of their body weight in the spring. Other factors can play a role in their eating habits also, such as stress, excitement, temperature, or attitude (“I just don’t feel like eating chicken today, mom”). Being familiar with your ferret’s eating habits at any given time of the year is important in keeping track of their health. This is one of the reasons we always recommend that you keep a food journal to track appetite, poops, activity, and weights. MOST ferrets are self-regulating and will eat only what they need. This is not to say that there are NO obese ferrets, but as a rule, they eat what they need to survive and no more. A good guideline when feeding is to try to make sure there is always a bite or two left over when you feed the next meal.
Ferrets, whether they are fed whole prey, grinds, or frankenprey, or some combination of the three, must have a minimum of 3 DIFFERENT PROTEINS in their diet, preferably including at least one red meat. Examples of different proteins are chicken, turkey, quail, beef, rabbit, pork, venison, lamb, goat, frog, fish, etc. Some common red meats are beef, bison, venison, goat, and lamb.
Post by abbeytheferret6 on Jan 8, 2021 7:06:39 GMT -5
Taurine is an amino acid necessary for heart, brain, and eye health. Taurine is found in muscles that are used A LOT. This is why heart is a required part of the diet. The heart is constantly working, therefore it is very high in taurine. Heart can be ordered online if you cannot find a local supplier. Other good sources of taurine if you cannot find heart are brain and tongue. Brain is VERY difficult for some of us to find, but cow tongue can sometimes be found in grocery stores in locations with a large Asian or Hispanic population. If for some reason, you absolutely cannot get any of these sources of taurine, you can use a taurine supplement (500 mg per ferret per day). The NOW brand is a good one to use because it has no fillers in it. You can get taurine in capsule form, which you can break open and empty onto a meal, or pure powder form. (500mg of taurine is equivalent to ⅛ teaspoon.)
Eggs are a very healthy addition to a ferret’s diet and help in the prevention of hairballs. Generally speaking, a ferret can have the equivalent of one chicken egg per week. (I say the equivalent of a chicken egg because quail eggs, for example, are very small and it takes 2 or 3 of them to equal one chicken egg.) A whole egg is basically a completely balanced meal, designed to provide complete nutrition and waste removal for a baby bird. Therefore, ferrets can be fed the entire egg, shell and all. Whether you want to serve the egg all at once or spread it out (a little bit several times a week) is up to you. Some ferrents choose to only serve part of the egg. In this case, it MUST be the yolk - do not feed egg whites without the yolk. During shedding season, eggs can be fed 2-3 times per week to help prevent hairballs from forming. One thing to be aware of when feeding eggs is that they can create slimy, stinky poops.
And speaking of poop, poop patrol is going to become a fact of your life. A raw fed ferret’s poop is NOTHING like a kibble poop. Their poops change from meal to meal depending on what they last ate. Here is a link to the ‘poop chart’ for reference. holisticferret60.proboards.com/thread/2469/poop-chart
You will likely become a little (or a lot) obsessed with your fuzzy’s litter box for the next few weeks at least, and very likely you will soon be able to tell what your ferret ate for dinner just by looking in the litter box. (You can brag about this talent to your friends if you want, lol.) In addition to his activity level, a ferret’s output is the best indicator of his health. It is also how we determine if your fuzzy needs more or less bone in his diet. As mentioned earlier, the diet should include 10-15% bone. Sometimes they need a little more bone, sometimes a little less, depending on the poops. If the poops are loose, they need more bone. If the fuzzy is constipated, or poops look dry and hard or chalky, they need less bone. Blood-rich meats (hearts, organs) will cause dark, looser poops; heavy bone meals (like chicken necks) will cause drier, more formed poops that often have tiny bits of partially digested bone in them. Another thing to expect during the first few weeks is STINKY poops! Your ferret is basically on a detox from the nasty things that are in kibble. While his digestive tract gets used to processing the raw, his stools will be stinky and odd looking most days. This will all clear up and you will have smaller, less stinky raw poops before you know it!
WHOLE PREY Whole prey meals are completely balanced. The main thing to remember with whole prey is VARIETY - at least 3 different prey animals each week. Adult prey animals are a more complete nutritional package than juveniles, so you want to offer mostly adult prey. Juvenile prey is not considered a good source of bone, because their own bones have not finished developing. Of course, as with everything, you want variety, so offering juveniles once in a while is a good idea.
Examples of whole prey: mice, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, frogs, lizards, quail, chickens, other birds
COMMERCIAL GRINDS Mince or commercial grinds are essentially a ground up version of whole prey that should include all of the important meat, bones, and organs (often called offal) of the desired animal. The hair is not typically added in the mince, but it can be found included at times. You can order mince in different size grinds, as well as variations like hearts only, minced offal, or combinations of different proteins mixed together. While a balanced mince meal should contain the required 80:10:10 (meat:offal:bone) ratio, remember that this model is geared toward other carnivores, like cats, who do not require as much bone in their diets as ferrets do. When feeding a mince diet, stools should still be watched and if they are too loose, steps must be taken to firm them up. Mince can be a convenient way to feed, but like everything else, there are many pros and cons to consider before feeding mince:
Pros: Can come in pre-packaged servings. It is easier for ferrets to eat Can be ordered online and delivered to your door!
Cons: Don’t always contain enough bone to keep healthy stools Teeth brushing is a must Some argue that the amount of taurine in most minces is lacking, so a supplement or meal of hearts may be needed weekly Sometimes hard to get certain proteins that have a 'season' Can be more expensive to serve Many grinds are not complete, balanced meals so depending on your grinds, a commercial raw diet may require more work to balance properly
The best way to successfully feed a mince diet is to offer as many different proteins as possible in the weekly menu, with the minimum still being 3. Because minces can be out for 12 hours, it is normal to feed 2 meals a day. Often times ferrets will not eat it as willingly if it dries out, so a small amount of warm water can be mixed in after a few hours to refresh it. Others prefer to simply feed 3-4 smaller meals a day. Trust your instincts and nose and never refresh or offer a mince that has a bad smell or seems off.
Another thing to consider is it is important to contact the supplier of your grinds to get an idea of what exactly is and is not included in each variety you plan on ordering. This tends to vary from supplier to supplier and even each type of grind. If you find that the supplier only includes a certain offal or an uncomplete mixture of offal, it is wise to consider feeding a whole meal of what is lacking. For example, some suppliers only put in two different organs in each mince mixture. This is completely random and they are usually unable to tell you which one has what organ included. This is fine for some of the organs, but the heart and liver are important to include in the menu, so many ferrents that feed a mince diet will include a meal a of just hearts (for the taurine benefits) and a meal of liver every few weeks to make sure their ferrets are getting a more complete diet. This is also the case with the bone content, it is lower in some grinds so a BI meal or supplements can be added to the weekly meal. This is easier to notice because the ferrets poops will be loose if they are lacking the needed calcium.
Minces tend to bind with back teeth and cause plaque, some worse than others. Because you lose the tooth brushing benefits of feeding whole bone, you have to utilize other methods of dental hygiene. In general, teeth should be brushed a minimum of every other day on a mince-only diet. More frequent brushing and/or a professional cleaning at your vet’s office may be needed if you can not remove all of the plaque. Another option for cleaning teeth is to offer a bone-in meal 2-3 times a week. Gizzards are also a good organic tooth brush. Even with feeding bone-in meals or gizzards, teeth should still be checked regularly and brushed or professionally cleaned if plaque starts to build up. Feeding a bone-in meal can also firm up loose stools if they should occur on a mince diet, but mixing in powdered eggshell or a good quality bone meal with the mince will also work.
FRANKENPREY The goal with frankenprey is to mimic what a ferret would eat in the wild, with the correct balance of organs, muscle meats, and bones, using foods that you can find at your grocery store. Each part of a prey animal has a unique combination of vitamins and minerals that are essential to the health of your ferret. A long term imbalance in their diet can and will cause serious health issues, so it is critical that you plan your meals in advance to ensure that your little friends get the nutrition they need for a long and happy life.
When feeding frankenprey, there are 4 main PARTS of an animal that we need to feed to meet the diet requirements: muscle meat, heart, organs, and edible bones. Remember that at least 3 proteins are required for complete nutrition. Those 3 proteins should be in the meaty part of the diet, not in the organs. However, you should also have a good variety of sources for organs, not all chicken organs, or all beef organs.
Muscle meat is fairly self-explanatory. It is any kind of meat that is NOT an organ, including hearts and gizzards. When discussing muscle meat, however, we are typically referring to skeletal muscle.
While heart IS a muscle meat, it is a cardiac muscle rather than a skeletal muscle, and it is in a category by itself because it is a vital source of taurine in a raw diet.
Nutritional organs are considered to be any part of the body that SECRETES a hormone. Examples are liver, kidney, thymus, pancreas, reproductive organs, lungs, brains. Liver is the easiest organ to find and should make up at least half of the organ requirement. Other organs can be very difficult to find except directly from a butcher, cultural markets, or online sources. Neither hearts nor gizzards are organs. This is a very common misconception, so be aware of it when shopping for organs. Many meat department personnel and butchers commonly call hearts and gizzards organs, but they are NOT. They are muscle meats, AND heart is a separate requirement in a ferret’s diet (see above). Edible bone is any bone small enough for a ferret to eat. Generally, these are non-weight bearing bones of poultry or small animals. Because we do not feed a bare bone, but rather one with plenty of meat attached, we sort of combine this category with muscle meat and call it “edible bone-in meat”. When I (or others) refer to “bone-in”, this is what we are talking about. If we refer to “muscle meat”, we mean meat that has no bone included (chicken breast, beef roast, etc.) Examples of edible bone-in meats are poultry wings, necks, backs, ribs, sometimes thighs, whole quail, whole Cornish game hen, rabbit, mouse, guinea pig. Sometimes you can find smallish bones from a larger animal that are small enough for a ferret to eat. One example is pork button bones, or pork riblets. Some of those bones are too dense, but occasionally you can find some small enough. Although the bone requirement is only 10-15% of the total diet (remember that we use the poops to determine the bone content), because the bone is attached to muscle meat, edible bone-in meat makes up the majority of a ferret’s diet. It is critical that your fuzzy learn to eat and enjoy bones, for healthy teeth as well as to meet the calcium requirements.
Now, moving on to the basic frankenprey menu:
Raw fed ferrets are generally fed twice a day, 12 hours apart, making a total of 14 meals per week. The basic weekly menu should include:
Post by abbeytheferret6 on Jan 8, 2021 7:11:37 GMT -5
Raw fed ferrets are generally fed twice a day, 12 hours apart, making a total of 14 meals per week. The basic weekly menu should include:
1 ½ meals of heart (~10% of the total diet) 1 ½ meals of organ, at least half of which must be liver (~5% liver, 5% other organ) 7-9 meals of edible bone-in meat (~50-60%) 2-4 meals of muscle meat with no bone (~15-30%)
When building your menu, you want to consider the effect a particular meal will have on the poops. For example, remember that blood rich meals (liver, other organs, hearts) cause looser poops, so to combat that issue, you want to feed at least one bone-in meal between them. It is best to spread organ/heart meals out as much as possible throughout the week.
This is easier than it looks at first glance. Below is a sample menu (in the format I will want yours to be, when we get to the menu making part, once your ferret is eating all kinds of yummy stuff).
Sun AM: organ meal (½ liver, ½ other organ) Sun PM: edible bone-in meat
You will take this basic menu and rearrange it to suit your needs, making sure to include at least 3 different proteins, and adjusting the bone-in meals depending on the poops. It is important to be flexible with your feedings. If you notice runny poops and have hearts planned for that meal, you can give a bone-in meal instead, and save the hearts for the following meal if their poops have firmed up. Don’t worry about not having something defrosted if you have to make a last minute change. Ferrets are perfectly content with ‘meat-sicles’. Some ferrets will require the full 9 meals of bone-in, while others only need 7, and this can vary from week to week depending on different factors. It won’t take long for you to figure out what YOUR ferrets need.
The easiest way to prepare meals is to have your meat separated into serving size portions (once you learn the correct amount for your business) in your freezer. Once you have your menu planned, it’s easy to grab one bag or container per meal. When you serve one meal, you can put the next meal into the refrigerator to thaw. It’s good to keep an extra bag or container of bone-in and muscle meat available in case you need to make a substitution, or your fuzzies beg for a snack.
It can be a mix of things. Read across chart. For example, if you just feed one meal of mice to your ferret, then you follow the frankenprey menu the rest of the meals for the week like this. 8 bone-in meals 2 muscle meals 1.5 hearts 1.5 organ meals
Post by cayenneknight on Jan 8, 2021 10:10:58 GMT -5
Thank you for the post, abbeytheferret6. It will give me a lot to think about and plan for going forward. As I said in my original post, I’m just getting started studying nutrition and am still a few months away from starting any kind of adoption process. Apparently I will need that time
Post by cockneyferret on Jan 9, 2021 6:34:29 GMT -5
You're doing it the right way, planning first before adoption. We often see it the other way around and people simply not having the required knowledge before homing a ferret. Keep up the research and ask as many questions as you like. Remember, there's no such thing as a dumb question.
Post by cayenneknight on Jan 9, 2021 20:57:13 GMT -5
Thank you, cockneyferret. I have wanted ferrets for over 10 years, and I can't express in words how excited I am to finally be able to adopt a couple.
As a follow up question, can I still retain the dental benefits of bones if I include 4-5 bone-in meals a week (about every other day), while using whole prey grinds for the remainder bone-in meals? I am currently looking at Hare Today, which offers bone-in and whole-prey grinds. (I have a few whole prey questions, but I want to look through the forum further first before asking them.)