Using not so conventional animals for food.. UPDATE - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 51 Old 03-22-2011, 10:39 AM - Thread Starter
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So I'm not homesteading or living off the grid but this is something that I feel we can start now and get more accustomed to.

 

I watched an Anthony Bourdain show the other day (I have a crush on him) where he was in South America and was talking about how Guinea Pigs are a delicacy there and extremely common to eat. Apparently they are absolutely delicious as well..

 

Ok, so I have owned the little fur balls as a child and I know the basics of raising them. I am curious if anyone has ever raised them or something like them, rabbits maybe and used them for food.

 

I feel like this is something that we could fit into our lives right now (rabbits or guinea pigs or both) as a source of food and to get more accustomed to killing our own animals. I don't have a problem with slaughtering my own animals for food, never phased me (used to help slaughter the chickens at my aunt's every autumn) but DH does...I am thinking we could get some guinea pigs or even just 2 for breeding and keep them outside in a hutch (heated in need be) with an area they can run around in on the grass..Then periodically we can slaughter one or two for a meal, once they had breed and there were more to replace them...

 

Is this a totally crazy idea? I feel like someone would freak if we said we were eating guinea pigs. These are generally pets in America. I think it would be a great way for DH to get used to the idea of eating what we raise. Would rabbits be a better starting point, I have grown up with those as well and know how to raise them too...

 

Thoughts anyone? Would you eat guinea pigs?

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#2 of 51 Old 03-22-2011, 11:06 AM
 
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Guinea pigs would not be your best choice for this, IMO -- they're fairly expensive to buy and to feed, because they need lots of fresh produce to stay healthy (in South America this is not a big deal because everyone has fruit trees and garden byproducts -- maybe you would too). They can't stay healthy just eating fresh grass, they need the vitamin C from fruits and vegetables. They also need a LOT of room of scamper around, and you need at least one hiding place for each pig, so you'd need a large enclosure if you're going to have more than two or three at a time -- heating an enclosure is gong to be expensive. You would need a minimum of one guinea pig per diner per meal, because they are not particularly large or meaty animals (unless you really have huge ones, I've seen a few that were almost rabbit-sized). If you watch that Bourdain episode again, look at the size of the cooked animal on the plate -- most of the bulk of a guinea pig is all the intestines it needs for digesting hay, so once those are out there isn't a whole lot left.

 

They are also ADORABLE and highly social toward people, and I think they'd be harder to slaughter than something like a meat chicken, which does not have such a winning personality (laying hens are much more sociable and pleasant, meat chickens are pretty dumb).

 

Rabbits, chickens, pigs, turkeys, ducks, guinea fowl, and goats are probably better choices in the States. IMO Guinea pigs are popular in South America because they're adapted to the climate, so don't need special care or protection from the weather, and because it's easy to feed them on windfall fruit and so forth, so it basically costs nothing to keep your little herd going and producing.

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#3 of 51 Old 03-22-2011, 11:25 AM
 
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If your goal is to get your DH used to it, I'd start with a bird of some sort (like chicken).

 

Starting with a warm and fuzzy mammal is a little tougher for the squeamish :) (Ask me how I know).

 

Is space a huge issue? I think even with limited space you could raise a half dozen meat chicks to slaughter size, though.

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Wouldn't you better off to start hunting/trapping on your own? I see you are on the Cape.  I grew up near there. Plenty of deer, raccoon, skunk, muskrat as well as plenty of water fowl. All perfectly edible if you know what to do or have butcher experienced in wild game.

 

It not like guinea pigs are indigenous to your area so I would assume you would get them at a pet store? Like puppy mills there are a lot of not so nice places who are just pumping them out. Not sure how viable the meat would be.....

 

Plus as another poster noted they can be expensive to take care of and feed, even if you didn't pay routine veterinary care. So I would look at the average price per pound you would be paying.  

 

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/small-pet-care/guinea-pig-care.aspx


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If your goal is to get your DH used to it, I'd start with a bird of some sort (like chicken).

 

Starting with a warm and fuzzy mammal is a little tougher for the squeamish :) (Ask me how I know).

 

Is space a huge issue? I think even with limited space you could raise a half dozen meat chicks to slaughter size, though.


Eh, that is part of the goal. He will have a hard time with any animal we own because he sees every animal as "pet"...I'm not so sentimental I guess.

 

It isn't so much a space issue as a curiosity (for the guinea pigs anyway)...Apparently they are delicious and very very high in protein although as the first PP said, there isn't a ton of meat on them. In fact I am certain we'd have to have 1 for each person at mealtime. 

 

As far as keeping goes, Thalia I feel like that is almost more complicated than it needs to be. I had at least 4 guinea pigs at once as a kid and their upkeep was quite simple. Yes lots and lots of fresh veggies were a must but as far as space goes apparently they really don't need all that much and from what I've read breeding seemed to be pretty self explanatory. The babies didn't need any special treatment although sometimes parents would eat the young (yuck)...This is common in a lot of rodents though.

 

I was thinking guinea pigs or rabbits because I have experience with both on a pet level. Well the rabbits were pets until the dog broke into the hutch and killed them all, another story though...I feel like with chickens we would have a much much larger start up cost, although I am dying to get some. We just can't afford building a coop, buying all the stuff they need to be happy and healthy, I would want a middle of the road breed that could lay decently and be a good meat bird too. I have been doing extensive research on chicken breeds and chickens just aren't going to happen right now..

 

I do feel bad for DH and maybe not starting with guineas ( a pet he used to have) would be better. I am leaning toward rabbits the more I think about it...I would love to meet someone who actually has raised guinea pigs for food just to get their perspective...Time to google it!

 

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Wouldn't you better off to start hunting/trapping on your own? I see you are on the Cape.  I grew up near there. Plenty of deer, raccoon, skunk, muskrat as well as plenty of water fowl. All perfectly edible if you know what to do or have butcher experienced in wild game.

 

It not like guinea pigs are indigenous to your area so I would assume you would get them at a pet store? Like puppy mills there are a lot of not so nice places who are just pumping them out. Not sure how viable the meat would be.....

 

Plus as another poster noted they can be expensive to take care of and feed, even if you didn't pay routine veterinary care. So I would look at the average price per pound you would be paying.  

 

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/small-pet-care/guinea-pig-care.aspx


there are very strict hunting laws on Cape and very specific seasons..I come from a family of hunters ironically, deer season is very short and in the fall and I am not confident enough in my hunting skills yet to shoot a deer, field dress it, drag it back to the truck and not screw it up...Although there are a ton of deer on Cape...

As far as fowl goes, there are very specific hunting seasons for them as well. I am actually going turkey hunting in May in Maine with some family (DH wants to come along so that will be interesting) but I don't know about on Cape Cod...I don't own any rifles of my own and I find trapping to be incredibly cruel and inhumane. Trapped animals don't die, and some will chew off their own legs to get out of the trap...ick..

 

This was all fairly hypothetical as far as guinea pigs go. They just looked so tantalizingly delicious!

I don't think DH would let me kill them though as he would get attached, name etc...No guinea pigs I guess, rabbits possibly.

 

Hehe, I was just thinking, I wonder if there was ever a muskrat on Cape Cod...probably...I don't think I could eat a raccoon primarily because they eat trash around here and if you have ever tasted an animal that you know was living off trash, let me just say they aren't the greatest tasting...

 

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#7 of 51 Old 03-22-2011, 12:19 PM
 
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We work around the hunting season here. This where a freezer really pays for itself! A single deer is enough to feed my family for a year. Ducks I need at least 6-12. I don't hunt myself but have friends that do. They are so plentiful that they are happy to bag me a deer and ducks and I pay for butchering. 

 

I haven't eaten skunk or 'coon since I was kid (30-40 years ago) so I imagine that with the huge population increase on the cape and islands their diet has gotten a lot worse but they were yummy back then-strong and gamey in flavor but when stewed well? yummy.gif


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I feel like with chickens we would have a much much larger start up cost, although I am dying to get some. We just can't afford building a coop, buying all the stuff they need to be happy and healthy, I would want a middle of the road breed that could lay decently and be a good meat bird too. I have been doing extensive research on chicken breeds and chickens just aren't going to happen right now..

 

I do feel bad for DH and maybe not starting with guineas ( a pet he used to have) would be better.

 


I know. I don't actually HAVE chickens for this reason. I have the place. I have the inclination. I have the guts. But I'm cringing on the start-up costs, which I know can be about nil if you are scroungy and handy enough, but I'm not too scroungy or handy.

 

My DH also had a guinea pig as a pet, when he was a kid. I don't think he could handle me slaughtering one, and I seriously doubt he would eat it. It took me a while as it is to get him used to me slaughtering chickens (though now he's come around).

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 as far as space goes apparently they really don't need all that much and from what I've read breeding seemed to be pretty self explanatory. The babies didn't need any special treatment although sometimes parents would eat the young (yuck)...

 

Many people do keep guinea pigs in tiny cages, but this is a cruel practice and stresses the animals tremendously. The recommended MINIMUM is four square feet PER ANIMAL. That's why your adults were killing the babies -- that's not a normal behavior in guinea pigs, it's a reaction to crowding and stress. I would think one of the goals of raising your own meat is to avoid the inhumane treatment that commercial meat animals receive, so I hope your stocks (whatever animals you end up choosing) would be given a good life before slaughter.  

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We work around the hunting season here. This where a freezer really pays for itself! A single deer is enough to feed my family for a year. Ducks I need at least 6-12. I don't hunt myself but have friends that do. They are so plentiful that they are happy to bag me a deer and ducks and I pay for butchering. 

 

I haven't eaten skunk or 'coon since I was kid (30-40 years ago) so I imagine that with the huge population increase on the cape and islands their diet has gotten a lot worse but they were yummy back then-strong and gamey in flavor but when stewed well? yummy.gif

OH man I am dying to get a chest freezer, I keep an eye out on craigslist for any and once in a while there is one but always when we are broke...Sigh...

 

I love love LOVE venison and most game animals actually so this autumn when hunting season comes around I am going to try bagging my first buck...I am excited, nervous etc...I really want to be able to provide meat for our family (we eat a lot of meat mostly because I think I was a carnivore in another life) and hunting is a great way to do it! Turkey hunting this spring will be very interesting, especially if DH comes along (he is still debating)...

Hehe like I said I wouldn't eat a raccoon or skunk around here only because there are A LOT of them and their diet, as evidenced by watching them eat out of my own trash is primarily garbage...NASTY tasting meat from that...

 

seashells! Hello again :)...I feel like the start up for chickens COULD, could be cheap but I am feeling like I don't think I could make it cheap enough for us this year...I desperately want our own chickens. Fresh eggs are the absolute best but it just isn't in the cards for now... I wish..At least you are desensitizing your DH now..

 

It's not that I don't care about animals because I am a huge animal lover. I love all animals I just don't feel guilt about killing an animal I am going to eat when I KNOW it has had a decent life. DH doesn't really get that yet but I am hopeful he'll come to understand that POV...Plus I am not squeamish with blood or guts or anything. Ok I know this is horrible but we were kids, when I was around 10 and my aunt would kill all the chickens and turkeys at the end of the year, me and my brother plus our cousins (3 boys) would all "help" and my Aunt would cut some chicken's heads off without tying their legs so they could run around and we would all crack up...Gross kids but I mean I've been exposed to it for a long time...nut.gif

 

 

 

 

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Many people do keep guinea pigs in tiny cages, but this is a cruel practice and stresses the animals tremendously. The recommended MINIMUM is four square feet PER ANIMAL. That's why your adults were killing the babies -- that's not a normal behavior in guinea pigs, it's a reaction to crowding and stress. I would think one of the goals of raising your own meat is to avoid the inhumane treatment that commercial meat animals receive, so I hope your stocks (whatever animals you end up choosing) would be given a good life before slaughter.  



Ok just to be clear I am not saying I have kept guinea pigs in tiny cages and I have never bred them. I have only owned neutered or spayed guinea pigs.

 

Rodents kill their young for many many reasons..space being one of them. They will kill a baby if it gets too cold or doesn't smell strongly enough of mother and a host of other somewhat bizarre (to us) reasons. 

I have hand raised rats and mice and sometimes mothers kill their babies for no apparent reason. 

 

I'm not saying I would keep guinea pigs in tiny cages but in our case 4 square feet per guinea pig would not be that hard for an outdoor run and yes they could sleep in a smaller place. The bottom line is please don't draw the incorrect conclusions to what I am saying...the goal is to give the animals I own a good life no matter if they are used for food or not.

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I have been dying to get chicken and have the perfect place for them but my husband is a country boy.  He grew up on a working farm and has zero interest in them now.   It is one of the few places he has put his foot down on and not been open to negotiation!

 

Even so I am tempted to spend the $100 bucks and "rent" a coop for two weeks this summer hoping to change his mind!

 

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2010/10/13/rent_a_coops_put_farm_fresh_in_suburban_yards/

 

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In addition to getting flavorful eggs with vivid yellow yolks, owning chickens has its advantages. The chicks produce great lawn fertilizer and can be fun. But becoming a suburban chicken farmer takes a pretty serious commitment. Enter Land’s Sake Farm, which offers a chicken rental program — sort of a “risk-free trial,’’ says education director Douglas Cook. Now in its second year, the program runs from spring through mid-November (depending on the weather). Rentals come with two chickens, a portable coop, and organic feed. For $100 you can be a farmer for two weeks and call for help when you need it.

 


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I have been dying to get chicken and have the perfect place for them but my husband is a country boy.  He grew up on a working farm and has zero interest in them now.   It is one of the few places he has put his foot down on and not been open to negotiation!

 

Even so I am tempted to spend the $100 bucks and "rent" a coop for two weeks this summer hoping to change his mind!

 

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2010/10/13/rent_a_coops_put_farm_fresh_in_suburban_yards/

 

this is so cool. For 100 bucks I will totally try this! I know DH wouldn't mind either. He wouldn't mind chickens, but like we've talked about, the start up seems so expensive.
 

 

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hm.. we ended up eating our cockrels, which we had so many of b/c of buying a straight run.  however, moneywise, it didn't seem to save much at all and was a much more expensive option.  chicken food is kind of pricey and (depending on the breed) it took ours a while to get big enough.  there are meat breeds that might work better than what we had, though.  we have buff orps b/c they are dual purpose, and their eggs are awesome, but the meat.. is ok, just not worth the price of feed vs. buying local organic in the store.

 

rabbits are a great option, though.  they don't have the sweet pet-like characteristics of the guinea pigs, plus they make super compost!  their feed is cheap. 

 

i would totally be willing to try guinea pigs, but i would imagine it would be a lot of work for that little bit of meat.  of all the options, i'd choose rabbit if it were me...just cause it seems like a lot of work.  


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We work around the hunting season here. This where a freezer really pays for itself! A single deer is enough to feed my family for a year. Ducks I need at least 6-12. I don't hunt myself but have friends that do. They are so plentiful that they are happy to bag me a deer and ducks and I pay for butchering. 

 

I haven't eaten skunk or 'coon since I was kid (30-40 years ago) so I imagine that with the huge population increase on the cape and islands their diet has gotten a lot worse but they were yummy back then-strong and gamey in flavor but when stewed well? yummy.gif



we love deer.  my dad also grew up rurally and poor and said that to eat a possum, you had to pen it up and feed it grain for a few weeks.  is that the same for the skunk or raccoon?


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hm.. we ended up eating our cockrels, which we had so many of b/c of buying a straight run.  however, moneywise, it didn't seem to save much at all and was a much more expensive option.  chicken food is kind of pricey and (depending on the breed) it took ours a while to get big enough.  there are meat breeds that might work better than what we had, though.  we have buff orps b/c they are dual purpose, and their eggs are awesome, but the meat.. is ok, just not worth the price of feed vs. buying local organic in the store.

 

rabbits are a great option, though.  they don't have the sweet pet-like characteristics of the guinea pigs, plus they make super compost!  their feed is cheap. 

 

i would totally be willing to try guinea pigs, but i would imagine it would be a lot of work for that little bit of meat.  of all the options, i'd choose rabbit if it were me...just cause it seems like a lot of work.  


I am thinking we are going to try getting a couple of rabbits for the summer, maybe they will be male and female and breed, maybe not...I have had rabbits babies before so I'm not phased by that. I have heard from people who have tried it that rabbit is absolutely delicious. Also as you said hildare, they are pretty easy to care for. We can have a hutch for them that is comfy and spacious and then we can set up a movable pen for them that they can go in during the day to forage around and scratch around and stuff. 

 

I feel like rabbits are a much much lower start up cost than chickens (I just am having a hard time getting past the initial cost with chickens) and they are easy to care for. If you get them young they can be pretty easy to handle, although I have seen rabbits that will attack and you think they look cute but man do they have claws and teeth and know how to use them...

 

I just would love to supplement our meat purchases with our own raised meat. I can barely look at the "meat" in the grocery stores anymore it makes me feel sick on numerous levels. The way those animals were raised/slaughtered, the actual nutrition of  the meat, what it has been chemically treated with to kill diseases etc....So bad on so many levels. 

 

I really was curious if I was the only person who theoretically would raise/eat guinea pigs if it were a feasible thing...shrug.gif

 

Oh, the possum thing? That sounds like a lot of work for 1 critter to eat. Not to mention catching a wild possum and keeping it penned up isn't the nicest thing in the world, seems like the possum would just be super stressed the last few weeks of its life.

 

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We work around the hunting season here. This where a freezer really pays for itself! A single deer is enough to feed my family for a year. Ducks I need at least 6-12. I don't hunt myself but have friends that do. They are so plentiful that they are happy to bag me a deer and ducks and I pay for butchering.

I haven't eaten skunk or 'coon since I was kid (30-40 years ago) so I imagine that with the huge population increase on the cape and islands their diet has gotten a lot worse but they were yummy back then-strong and gamey in flavor but when stewed well? yummy.gif



we love deer. my dad also grew up rurally and poor and said that to eat a possum, you had to pen it up and feed it grain for a few weeks. is that the same for the skunk or raccoon?


You know I have no idea. Our neighbor would just drop them off when he caught too much or would use as barter for my dads cider. I can't imagine he would have kept them like that tho, seems wasteful.


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Rabbit is so good!! I do have to say that wild rabbit is very different than what you would eat in, say, a French restaurant or what you would buy at the butchers. I imagine that any rabbits you buy to raise as meat would be similar in flavor to that which is milder and less gamey. This would due to breeding and a controlled diet.


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Rabbit is delicious! A lot like eating a flavorful poultry variety, like guinea fowl. I've only had farmed, though. And I suspect guinea pig is also delicious in a similar way.

 

With rabbits, if you go into it on a largish scale, I believe you can also sell the skins so nothing is wasted and there's an additional income stream.

 

BTW, I have a crush on Tony Bourdain too! In a wild-weeklong-fling-in-Singapore way, not in a relationship way, because I think he would be exhausting to actually live with ...

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Rabbit is delicious! A lot like eating a flavorful poultry variety, like guinea fowl. I've only had farmed, though. And I suspect guinea pig is also delicious in a similar way.

 

With rabbits, if you go into it on a largish scale, I believe you can also sell the skins so nothing is wasted and there's an additional income stream.

 

BTW, I have a crush on Tony Bourdain too! In a wild-weeklong-fling-in-Singapore way, not in a relationship way, because I think he would be exhausting to actually live with ...


hehe, he drinks too much for me, smokes cigarettes which I couldn't abide, but I love him for his wit and his cooking ability...Sigh, traveling with him would be a blast I imagine...

 

I have been poking around online (what did we ever do before google?) just checking out info about rabbits and I think rabbits is where I am most comfortable starting as far as raising livestock for food. Chickens are just too much right now...

 

I have never had rabbit but I am happy to have it confirmed that it is delicious! Also I was thinking about the pelts...If we only had several rabbits and obviously we won't be slaughtering all the time I was wondering what I could possibly do with the pelts to not waste them? Make mittens or a hat for DD...OMG I think everyone in our family would die if they saw DD running around with rabbit fur mittens from our own rabbits... Also the cats would love love love the organs etc...I was just checking out Polyface Farm's info, I had no idea they breed rabbits for meat, apparently they can't breed them fast enough they get snatched up so quickly.

 

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I would eat guinea pig if served to me, I don't think they are the least bit cute or "pet-like"  Maybe I never met the right guinea pig?

 

We ate wild rabbit, squirrel, game birds of all sorts when I was growing up and I remember all being tasty.  My family was pretty "country" but they definately drew the line at groundhog, possum, raccoon or anthing else that ate "garbage"   They will still make bear stew if someone gets a bear but they all admit it is more for the novelty than the taste.  They don't put too much effort into bear hunting.


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#22 of 51 Old 03-23-2011, 10:27 AM
 
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Also wanted to add that I know at least five people that raise rabbits for food and they seem to like it.  The one wife said it sort of bothers her a little bit because they do run up to the hutches when she is out in the garden so she gets a little attached.


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#23 of 51 Old 03-23-2011, 10:31 AM
 
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Caneel, why do you hate me so???

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ROTFLMAO.gif

 

Ok, so Caneel I had 2 guinea pigs several years ago and honestly they sucked. I am not a huge fan of them in general, fidgety rodents. I would eat them all!

 

The more I am reading about rabbits the more into it I am...Poor DH, I haven't really talked to him about this, he is going to be upset. He gets VERY attached to animals and is a sucker for the cute and cuddly anything. I on the other hand can be attached and then dispatch! Nice rhyme eh?!

 

There are literally hundreds of wild rabbits that visit our yard, the dog loves to chase them in the mornings/evening when we let her out...I would shoot one and eat it but we are too close to neighbors to legally use a firearm and I cannot trap animals...that is just something I won't do..I wouldn't mind eating one of those little buggers though. DH hears that every time we see one.

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#25 of 51 Old 03-23-2011, 11:39 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Thalia the Muse View Post

guinea pig.bmp

 

Caneel, why do you hate me so???


Ha!  Probably because I never knew anyone that had you as a pet until I was an adult.  Then all you did was try to bite me, scratched me and then peed on me!

 

In all seriousness, do they make good pets?  I know a few people that got them for their kids and sadly, they seem to just go slowly insane in their little cages.  Can they be socialized into companion animals like a cat or dog?

 


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#26 of 51 Old 03-23-2011, 12:05 PM
 
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They are highly social animals, and if you keep one alone, in a small cage, I think it will get kind of insane. People keep thinking they're like a big hamster (solitary, unsocial, and kind of violent by nature), but their needs and personalities are very different.

 

We have two girls we got as babies, living in a two-story palace my husband built them, and they are terribly sweet. They never bite or scratch (on purpose, they can't retract their nails), and after we'd had them a few months they would go to great lengths not to pee on us -- they hold it in until put back in their cage, then make a mad dash to the corner! They "talk," beg for treats, stand on their hind legs "wheeking" when you come in the room, and love to be petted.

 

They're great little pets if their needs are met! I'd never keep a guinea pig without a cage mate, and I think that's where a lot of people run into problems. I honestly think that the guinea pigs kept for food in Peru, who get to live in big sociable groups in large enclosures with lots of hidey holes then meet a quick violent end, are much better off than an American "pet" guinea pig left alone in a cramped cage with little attention and no room to run for its entire natural life.

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#27 of 51 Old 03-23-2011, 12:22 PM
 
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Thank you, I learned something today!


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#28 of 51 Old 03-23-2011, 01:36 PM
 
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If you were able to check them often, could you use tomahawk/havahart style traps?  I've never caught rabbits in them, but I worked for a squirrel research project that (of course) wanted to keep the population they were studying alive, and they used humane live-traps like these.  I know a bunny research project nearby did the same thing, but with bigger traps.  winky.gif  The majority of the squirrels would just kind of sit hunkered up in the traps - not exactly happy, but not hideously stressed either.  We checked the traps at maximum every hour (if I remember correctly, it was quite a while ago).  Every once in a while we would catch one that would bash itself around, but not very often.  Compared to leg-hold traps, which you were referring to earlier, and which I agree are nasty things, they're practically a kind way to catch something.  Anyway, I don't know if that's an option, or if that would still violate your principles, or how you would kill them without making the trap smell like blood, but I thought I would just mention it.

 

I've heard that raising rabbits for meat is a very sensible option - they produce more meat per unit feed than any other critter, and it's very low-fat meat.  Tasty, too.  We used to keep rabbits (angoras, for the hair) when I was a kid, and the non-fuzzy ones we would cull and eat.  I was too young to be bothered, but my parents didn't like killing them, because they are cute.  They had no problem with killing chickens, though.

 

I think it will be easier for your husband if the plan is to kill and eat them, and you make sure (and he makes sure) that he keeps that in mind from the start.  Like, name the rabbits Tasty, Yummy, and Stew, or something.  I have a bit of a hard time with this myself, but so far it hasn't kept me from eating our lamb or chickens.  I just don't like to be the one who does the actual killing.  I think partly that's because I do most of the care and feeding, so I feel more like I'm betraying their trust - my husband is gone all summer so they aren't as trusting of him.

 

I'm not really clear on what these large chicken start-up costs are?  I guess the birds themselves are kind of expensive unless you start with chicks, and then you have to wait a pretty long time for eggs or meat . . . and a coop can be pretty expensive, but it can also be a small, mobile A-frame chicken tractor made out of a couple of sheets of plywood.  Hm.  Except that maybe it needs to be predator-proof?  So you don't share with the raccoons.  Anyway, I believe you and you don't really need to tell me about it, I just am not clear on how rabbits are cheaper.


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If you were able to check them often, could you use tomahawk/havahart style traps?  I've never caught rabbits in them, but I worked for a squirrel research project that (of course) wanted to keep the population they were studying alive, and they used humane live-traps like these.  I know a bunny research project nearby did the same thing, but with bigger traps.  winky.gif  The majority of the squirrels would just kind of sit hunkered up in the traps - not exactly happy, but not hideously stressed either.  We checked the traps at maximum every hour (if I remember correctly, it was quite a while ago).  Every once in a while we would catch one that would bash itself around, but not very often.  Compared to leg-hold traps, which you were referring to earlier, and which I agree are nasty things, they're practically a kind way to catch something.  Anyway, I don't know if that's an option, or if that would still violate your principles, or how you would kill them without making the trap smell like blood, but I thought I would just mention it.

 

I've heard that raising rabbits for meat is a very sensible option - they produce more meat per unit feed than any other critter, and it's very low-fat meat.  Tasty, too.  We used to keep rabbits (angoras, for the hair) when I was a kid, and the non-fuzzy ones we would cull and eat.  I was too young to be bothered, but my parents didn't like killing them, because they are cute.  They had no problem with killing chickens, though.

 

I think it will be easier for your husband if the plan is to kill and eat them, and you make sure (and he makes sure) that he keeps that in mind from the start.  Like, name the rabbits Tasty, Yummy, and Stew, or something.  I have a bit of a hard time with this myself, but so far it hasn't kept me from eating our lamb or chickens.  I just don't like to be the one who does the actual killing.  I think partly that's because I do most of the care and feeding, so I feel more like I'm betraying their trust - my husband is gone all summer so they aren't as trusting of him.

 

I'm not really clear on what these large chicken start-up costs are?  I guess the birds themselves are kind of expensive unless you start with chicks, and then you have to wait a pretty long time for eggs or meat . . . and a coop can be pretty expensive, but it can also be a small, mobile A-frame chicken tractor made out of a couple of sheets of plywood.  Hm.  Except that maybe it needs to be predator-proof?  So you don't share with the raccoons.  Anyway, I believe you and you don't really need to tell me about it, I just am not clear on how rabbits are cheaper.

First, thank you for all the info..I hadn't considered the have a heart type traps for rabbits in our yard...There are so many I know I could probably catch one...interesting...When I say many, on spring evening before dark there can be 20 hanging out in the yard eating...

 

I always joked with DH that when we had chickens and would eat them, there would be, "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc..." Not that we would eat a whole chicken every day...not so much..

 

Anyway as far as chicken's go, I am very familiar with the simple A frame coop and while they would be awesome there would be 2 problems. The first problem would be the predators, coyotes come within 20 feet of our front door at night, tons of foxes and raccoons are in the area as well. We are located in a narrow strip of land between 2 ponds and it is basically a highway for wild critters, which is actually pretty cool....Second, I am not sure how this would work but we get enough snow that an A frame would be buried right? Also it isn't really appropriate winter shelter is it? The ones I have seen never looked like they would be suitable for winter anyway....So we'd need to build a decent coop (DH is a carpenter, not a tough task for him) that can keep them safe in winter...Also the chickens themselves, the waterer, the feeder (although they would be pastured as well), the feed itself....Rabbits are a much cheaper start up cost. DH builds a hutch and an outdoor pen we can move, get some feed and soft bedding for in the hutch etc. and bam rabbits are good. In my head it seems like a big difference, maybe in reality not so much...Hehe I know you said I didn't have to explain myself but it got me brainstormingshy.gif
 

 

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#30 of 51 Old 03-24-2011, 07:05 PM
 
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Seriously, if you are considering building a large outdoor run for fuzzy little piggies, why do you think chickens would be harder or more expensive?  If it's meat on your table and in your freezer that you are looking for get a dozen Cornish X chicks from your local feed store (sometimes they give a dozen away free with a 100# feed purchase!) and raise them up for six or seven weeks and be done with it.  You can pasture them in a make-shift tractor a-la Polyface built with scrap supplies you have lying around.  A few bucks for a feeder and a waterer and you're done.  Or if you want something sustainable, get some Jumbo quail.  They mature out at 8 weeks then you can keep a good handful of girls and a couple of boys to fill your incubator full of eggs as often as you wish.  I've heard that they are easy to dress, delicious and are prolific layers of small but tasty eggs.  Mmmm, pickled quail eggs, delish!  They are supposed to be very good at feed to meat/egg conversion.

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