Guinea pigs are among the most interesting animals in the world. In the US, many people keep them as pets. Elsewhere (particularly in South America), guinea pigs are actually delicacies.
The other problem of these animals is their susceptibility. They can die for no reason at all. They are more susceptible when they are pregnant.
Do you know you can raise guinea pigs and use them to cache at your retreat in the wilderness? If you are able to breed them, you will have a healthy, delicious and organic source of protein to survive on in when situation moves from bad to worse.
This is great because you will enjoy fresh meat. Besides, you will not need to worry about picking an area where hunting is viable for retreat. You will also not worry about issues like shelf-life, price, and caloric load.
So, how do you raise guinea pigs for survival? What are the factors to consider? Our discussion will provide you with answers to some of these pertinent questions.
Best Breeds for Meat
Choosing the best breeds of guinea pigs to use for meat will ensure they are healthy. There will also be a continuation of good quality breeding stock. There are tens of different breeds of guinea pigs. Listing and discussing each of them is beyond the scope of this article.
However, there are two types depending on the size. The breeds normally used as pets are smaller in size weighing just 3 to 4 pounds. The breeds that are normally raised for food (usually referred to as Cuy guinea pigs) can achieve weights of up to 8 pounds.
Definitely, the best breed of GP to raise is one that can survive the odds and can achieve optimal weight. Cuy guinea pigs are native to South America where local use them for food. According to those who have tasted GP meat, the taste is somewhere between that of a rabbit and a duck.
Best Diets for Guinea Pigs
After choosing the right breed to raise, the next question would be the best diets to help them grow fast and healthy. Luckily, these delicious rodents are very easy to feed. After all, they are rodents. Their natural diet is actually grass. However, you can supplement them with some special feeds if you want your pigs to grow faster, heavier and healthier.
They love feeding on fresh hay. A good example of fresh hay that is good for guinea pigs is timothy hay. For better results, you can add some food pellets, always based on timothy hay. A good alternative would be alfalfa. All GPs love alfalfa and will feed generously on it when offered.
Besides grass-based feeds, experts recommend that you feed them of green foods at least once. This will protect them from developing constipation. The common green foods include spinach, clover, lettuce, green corn, celery tops, plantain, and dandelion. You can also feed them on lawn chippings.
Guinea pigs can also benefit a lot from diets consisting of grains such as oats, wheat, bran, and corn. The grains are a wonderful source of carbohydrates and vegetable proteins that will help them gain flesh and strength.
Sourcing for these foods may be daunting especially for survivors with busy schedules. If you belong to this group then your pigs can benefit from a diet consisting of commercially made foods. Currently, such commercial guinea pig foods are available in pet stores. However, you must be careful to buy only certified food for your GP. A wrong choice could harm your pig.
Guinea Pig Health challenges
Guinea pigs are notorious when it comes to health problems. If you do not take good care of them then you might lose them before you can even use them for your survival treat. Here are some of the major health issues these animals suffer from:
One thing you need to keep in mind is that GPs are extremely fragile when pregnant. The reasons for this are not clear. Experts have observed that early pregnancy among sows is a risk factor. From birth, sows will be ready to reproduce in just 5 weeks. The recommendation is that you only mate a sow with a boar when she is at least 4 months old. This will greatly reduce the risk of death.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) Deficiency
Vitamin C deficiency is common in guinea pigs. Like you and I, their bodies cannot synthesize vitamin C. therefore, they must obtain it from the diet. Pigs usually obtain this from fresh green leafy vegetables. However, their bodies may not assimilate sufficient amount of this vital hormone leading to a deficiency.
The signs and symptoms of vitamin C deficiency in a pig include hemorrhage into skeletal muscle, intestines, and other tissues. Swollen joints are also very common. The pig may also be lethargic, weak and anorexic. To prevent these symptoms, you can supplement with a small quantity of ascorbic acid rich foods such as kiwi or citric fruit.
Guinea pigs have a rather funny dental formula. Their teeth tend to continue growing throughout their life. This presents a myriad of problems that may impact negatively on the health of these animals. If you intend to breed them for survival then you must be aware of these dental issues so you correct them in time.
The pigs need to chew fibrous materials for a good amount of time daily. This will wear or slow down their teeth and eliminate the dental problems. Pigs with dental issues experience pain, discomfort, and irritation. Feed them on feeds rich in fiber that they can chew throughout the day. In their natural environment, guinea pigs eat lots of fiber each day and therefore such dental issues are rare.
Swollen and Ulcerated Foot pads
Guinea pigs in their natural environment enjoy cushion under their footpads provided by matted grass on which they walk. If you plan to breed guinea pigs for survival then it is possible they will walk on a hard surface such as concrete pavements or tiled floors.
Since there is no cushion for their foot pads, walking on a hard surface will make their foot pads swollen and ulcerative. This condition is referred to as Ulceration pododermatitis. This will spark an inflammatory response that could spread to the underlying bone and soft tissue.
The best way to prevent this health issue is to provide the pigs with a soft pad to walk on and soft bedding to sleep on. The suitable materials to use include grass hays and clover hays. You can also use shredded paper or straw.
Both wild and domesticated guinea pigs are susceptible to mite infestation. The symptoms include intense itchiness that warrants endless scratching. This can seriously compromise the health of your pigs. It can disrupt the ability of the animal to sleep or rest.
The good news is that mite infestation is perhaps the easiest of the guinea pig health problems to treat. You can contact the veterinary officer in your locality to recommend the best treatment for mites. You will also need to do your part by cleaning and disinfecting the guinea pig housing (hutch).
Guinea Pig Lifespan
Guinea pigs are small animals but they can survive for as long as 14 years. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Snowball holds the record as the world oldest guinea pig that ever lived. It died in February 1979 at the age of 14 years and 10.5 months.
However, the average lifespan of a domesticated guinea pig is 4 to 7 years depending on many factors. If you take good care of them, they might just surprise you how long they can live. They can multiply exponentially within this lifespan.
There you go. You are now armed to the tooth to start breeding guinea pigs for survival. As you might have learned from the resource, guinea pigs are relatively easy to raise. They require little space to keep and they have no special diet to talk of. However, you must take good care of them to be helpful to you when the situation gets worse. You have a good source of protein in fresh meat from these animals. Breeding guinea pigs is something every survivor needs to think about.