A diet without Pellets - your input for my project.

Knee Deep

Post   » Mon Aug 02, 2004 11:21 am

We have to do a research project this quarter and I'd like to do something with guinea pigs so I chose to use two groups of my pigs and do a normal diet of free-fed pellets, unlimited hay and water with a daily ration of some veggies or other vitamin C suppliment. Another group, I'd like to do a diet with unlimited hay and an ample amount of fresh grass and vegetables - no pellets.

Can those of you who do this instruct and/or share your experiences? I'm guessing that the pigs that go off pellets will lose some weight at first, but how long until the weight stablizes, how much did your pigs lose, etc.

I have about 4 weeks until it's due, do you think this will be enough time for me to collect data for a presention or should I seek out another topic? If so, any ideas?


Knee Deep

Post   » Mon Aug 02, 2004 11:26 am

Oh, I'd also need some sort of resources to back why I chose this. So, if you know of any websites that go into any sort of detail about no-pellet/limited-pellet diets for pigs and/or rabbits please do post them. I asked her if the forum information and personal accounts from members would be sufficient and she prefers that I get other sources as well.

Knee Deep

Post   » Mon Aug 02, 2004 11:47 am

Just doing some searching and posting links for myself to go back and read tomorrow.


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E's Moriarity

Post   » Mon Aug 02, 2004 12:14 pm

That is interesting. I believe E has her bunnies on a no-pellet diet, but she is *so* awol right now!

You have 4 weeks, but do you think you'll keep up the experiment for longer? I would think that long-term effects would be very interesting. Good luck.

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Post   » Mon Aug 02, 2004 1:44 pm

If you have lots of tasty fresh grass, I predict you won't see any weight loss. It would be cool if you could get a measurement of their teeth before and after the experiement to see if not eating pellets wore their teeth down more.

Sounds interesting. My only concern would be that I doubt you will find observable differences in the two groups. You could also experiement on weight vs. cage set up -- i.e. lots of shelves, things to climb over, water and foods put in different locations. You'd have to make sure they had precisely the same foods.

I think getting your pig active is a big plus. Might be hard to randomize the subjects (perhaps you could toss a few pigs in the air, bounce them off a wall, and see if they end up in test housing #1 or test housing #2).

spikes mom

Post   » Mon Aug 02, 2004 2:15 pm

Hi Erin, for a research project, generally you need to keep all things equal other than the one being tested. It would be a good idea to keep track of the piggies water consumption (both groups) as well as the amount of pellets consumed by your pellet group. The more measurements the better for comparison purposes.

Make sure the piggies are kept in the same area so the environmental conditions are the same for both groups, use the same bedding etc.

Sorry, if this is too much, I was a biology major and worked in a lab. Probably using only 2 groups will not be very indicative of "significance differences", but it isn't a bad place to start.

spikes mom

Post   » Mon Aug 02, 2004 2:19 pm

Also, animals that may initially lose weight because they miss their pellets may eventually gain that weight back when they start consuming more of the food that is available - this is called the "Rebound Effect".

...what, what, what?

Post   » Mon Aug 02, 2004 3:40 pm

I'm thinking this might be too short for many of the benefits of a pelletless diet (isn't better teeth one of them?) to start showing up.

But you have our attention! You could do this experiment for us.

Because we love you so.

You would have to track (for years) what pig got what illness, who needed teeth work, and make sure that you don't make any other major changes for at least a year.

This is the kind of project I love! But I cannot have the numbers of pigs necessary to do.

Knee Deep

Post   » Mon Aug 02, 2004 4:48 pm

Yes, I can definatly see that the 4 weeks time period I have to work with probably won't be enough to collect data. I'll probably nix this idea for now and move on to something else, I'm open to some ideas. Doesn't have to do with nutrition - the basis of this quarter is animal nutrition, reproduction and life cycles - so something along those lines outside of breeding some animals ;-)

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Red Blur
Chocolate Giver

Post   » Mon Aug 02, 2004 5:03 pm

Does your project have to include some sort of experiment or can it just be pure research?

I was never good at coming up with my own topics. Tell me what to research and I can go to town. Make me think of something to research and my mind goes blank.

Knee Deep

Post   » Mon Aug 02, 2004 5:10 pm

No, I don't believe it needs an experiment. I'd have to look over my syllabus again, which I don't have on me.

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Red Blur
Chocolate Giver

Post   » Mon Aug 02, 2004 5:26 pm

I'm curious as to why gps don't produce their own Vit. C like many other mammals (not including us humans).

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Me, too!

Post   » Tue Aug 03, 2004 8:53 am

What if you did something really basic-- there's not much out there on guinea pigs. You have enough that you could break them into 2 pretty nice groups. You could do look at a diet with one kind of hay versus another, or fruits and vegetable supplementation versus vegetable only, or you could give one group a 1/2 cup veggies once/day, and the other 1/2 cup twice a day, or . . . .

I think 4 weeks might be long enough for a pellet-free diet. I think I still have some stuff from Dr. Breitweiser in Indianapolis about pellet-free rabbit diets. I'll try to look and see. It's either where it's supposed to be, or I have no hope of finding it.

Could you do fresh grass, hay and pellets versus other veggies, hay and pellets? I wouldn't embark on that one unless your pigs are pretty used to grass to begin with. Ours love to gorge on it when we mow the yard, and Rufus got bloated one time, so now we limit how much we put in a make sure they get some grass at least 3-4 days/week.

Indicators to measure: you could do teeth in mm-- did they grow, get more worn, less worn? I'd do a weekly measurement

weight: daily, you could plot a trend, up, down, or consistent

I don't know how you could accurately measure water consumption or pellet consumption, but weight and teeth would certainly be enough.


Post   » Tue Aug 03, 2004 1:48 pm

I havent used pellets on my pigs since October. Rocky has been off pellets since Dec (he was only 4 months old).

Prior to stopping the pellets, I had 2 UTI in a matter of 8 months and some other health issues with Smores. And my pigs are young too. Since stopping the pellets, I have had no health problems. each pig gets 2 or 3 cups worth of veggies a day and unlimited orchard grass. All of my pigs (except Rocky) dropped 100-200 grams in the first 3 months but has since steadied. Roxie is still very obesed but always has been. I think thats just her. Piggie is about 1050 and Smores is 950 (has always been small). Both are nice and lean. Rocky is 1100 and still growing. Also very lean looking. Roxie is 1200 and a big gooby blob. Always has been.


Post   » Tue Aug 03, 2004 2:00 pm

I haven't used pellets for several months now - I just feed unlimited hay, piles of grass & a few veggies. So far all five pigs are doing really well! They didn't lose any weight as I reduced the pellets gradually & increased grass. They are very lively, sleek & well. They have access to fresh grass all day as they are in an outdoor enclosure. In the summer, grass contains all the nutrients needed & alongside ad lib hay, they don't really need pellets or loads of veggies. Winter feeding is more of a problem.


Post   » Tue Aug 03, 2004 2:02 pm

YOu guys gotta keep in mind that pellets were invented so that labs could have something to feed their subjects that were easy and clean to deal with. They only needed their animals to be alive for a good few months.

spikes mom

Post   » Tue Aug 03, 2004 3:12 pm

Erin - if you are doing a project on nutrition, you could use different brands of pellets for your project.

You can compare the nutritional information (if included) on the bags of pellets and see if there is any difference between groups.

It would probably be best to use at least 3 groups consisting of one control group that feeds on the pellets they are used to, and 2 other groups being fed 2 other types of pellets.

Just a thought.

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GL Junkie

Post   » Tue Aug 03, 2004 3:48 pm

I'd be interested in seeing a study involving pellets vs. no pellets.
I've been toying with the idea of taking my boys off pellets, but Joey loves them so much that I haven't been able to bring myself to do it yet. I may give it a try after my move back east.
If you do decide to do this, Erin, definitely post your results here!

Knee Deep

Post   » Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:04 pm

The more I think, the more involved this is for this type if little 3 page project. However, just getting back from the vet with a pig filled with stones, I'm really thinking of switching at least this one cage of pigs to a no-pellet diet. There went another $250 to the vet just for diagnosis, now to wait to see what sort of candidate we have for surgery. *sigh*

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4 the Angels

Post   » Wed Aug 04, 2004 3:55 am

I have decided I'm going to switch to a pellet free diet for my gps. I'm gradually cutting back on their pellets and adding more vegetables. They already get an unlimited amount of hay.

I weigh them once a week so it will be interesting to see if their weight changes once I have them completely off the pellets.

The two sows I adopted from the SPCA won't eat the pellets anyhow. They haven't touched them since I brought them home two weeks ago. They seem to be doing just fine without eating them though. I finally just stopped putting the pellets in their cages because I was just throwing them out the next day.

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