Oh those little buggers! Can you set up a box or something where they're stashing and see if they'd use that?
Runny poo is par for the course right now. Eating bone or eggshell will help. Also you may want to consider adding some cooked pumpkin or squash purée to their diet plan. It acts kind of like a bottlebrush for the digestive tract. If they were eating whole prey the fur and feathers of their prey would serve this function. Squash is an insoluable fiber so it passes through basically. Helps with diarrhea and constipation. I add some to my critters' twice weekly soups.
Ya know it's funny. Ellie was the most reluctant to start but now that she has I think she's the most enthusiastic about the chunks. XD I'm not sure who's eating what but tonight is the first time I offered them a bowl of meat without NV mixed in. It's just ground chicken, chicken chunks, and ground beef heart.
I haven't left kibble out for about... a week now? I do sometimes leave out freeze dried though when I know I'm not going to get home on time. I don't have the ability to weigh them but I have noticed just about everyone is starting to pack on the ounces for winter, mostly on Riley and Ellie. Everyone else feels pretty normal and the ones I haven't seen adding winter weight I've seen really chow down on the food when it's set out. I think they're all doing very well.
A week's worth... well here's what I've managed to work up to. There is hardly any ground meat anymore other than the NV which has been in almost every bowl. I've managed to be able to include chunks of chicken About as big as the last joint on my thumb. I'm not 100% sure if everyone is eating the chunks but I know I've seen Izzie, Ellie, Penny and Toby nomming them. I'm not sure about Riley and Ollie. Today I threw in a few sliced slivers of beef heart instead of ground heart, I'm still waiting to see if those disappear or not. I may have to give them their organs ground up but I'm sure I need to work on getting different varieties as well as the right percentages per week. I'm also working on getting all of them to eat jerky. Penny (who keeps climbing the cage to steal it) Izzie and Riley all eat both beef heart and chicken gizzard jerky... I'm working with the other three. I keep having them lick Vivify off of it in the hopes that eventually they'll eat it. That's how I got Penny to eat N'bones. I haven't been able to save up many egg shells but I'm hoping to have a small stock pile by next week. (I'm having my grandmother-in-law save me hers.) Just a question but would bone meal powder work as a substitute?
I think I may be ready to start working out percentages and trying to give them a more balanced diet other than chunked chicken breast. I don't want to cut out the NV but it would be nice if they could skip it for a few meals.. like only get it once a day instead of twice or something. If it wasn't so darn expensive I would just feed them that and get them all eating jerky to keep their teeth clean.
Bone meal- I asked the other mentors about this since I have no experience with it. The concern is that it is cooked and therefore changed nutritionally from the raw bone state. There is also a concern with unwanted chemicals being added.
Runny poo- Try canned pumpkin. It works miracles. Try mixing a heaping spoonful into their food. If once a day doesn't help enough do it twice a day.
Yes, NV has ground bone, I've seen little pieces in it before. Ollie loves to crunch on the itty bitty pieces. I guess as long as I'm giving them those then perhaps their bone requirements are being at least partially fulfilled?
How am I doing so far? Is there anything I should be doing different?
Yes I think as long as you're feeding the NV patties you're probably okay with bone though we will eventually try to get them to eat bone-in meats.
So far you're okay. I think introducing another meat would be a good idea. Pork or turkey perhaps. And start reducing the amount of the NV you're giving them.
Just so I can have a quick frame of reference... Are you feeding exactly the same thing for every meal right now? How much meat is being consumed each day?
Let's get going on introducing another meat and if you've got takers on the beef heart keep feeding it. We need to build up their jaw strength and heart is nice and tough but still kind of spongy. If you do introduce a new meat keep your pieces the same size as the chicken and/or grind it into the NV. if they take to that well enough we'll increase the size of the pieces. As for organs... Those are ground into the NV too, yes? (you'll have to excuse my ignorance as I've never fed commercial raw) We don't want to go overboard with the organs as they can definitely cause some pretty horrific poop and there is also a concern about feeding too much liver because vitamin A is fat soluable and can build to toxic levels. It would be difficult to feed enough liver to reach that level, but there's no need to overdo it if it's already in the NV.
For each feeding each bowl (there are two) gets about two NV patties and an equal part of chicken chunks with a sprinkling of beef heart. Usually these bowls are either empty or just about empty when I get home. For their evening meal they get about three patties with the chicken and beef heart. I haven't given them any ground chicken for a few days.
Sounds good! I'll be going to the grocery tomorrow and I'll pick up whatever meat they have available that isn't chicken. Maybe I'll be able to find a big nonseasoned pork loin. <3