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Feeding time again!

Posted in: Animals1 Comment

Everyday over winter and part of autumn and spring, I have the same routine. At 7am and 4pm I feed up. It doesn’t matter whether it’s pouring rain, the wind is howling, I’m sick or tired, it is something that must be done. I don’t really think about it, it is as much a part of my life as brushing my teeth or getting dressed. Even as a child I had a multitude of animals and Mum always used to remark to her friends that “it keeps her off the street” when they expressed disbelief at how she coped with me and all my ‘friends’. In the last post I talked about some of the hurdles that I’ve faced with feeding the pigs so I thought I continue on in the same vein and give you an insight into the general feeding regime for all the animals.

Once a month I place an order with a local produce supplier. I am lucky that I can place my order over the phone, pay for it with credit card and they deliver and unstack it for me, so at least that part of the process is relatively simple. A typical order is:

40 bales of lucerne hay
4 bags of lucerne chaff
3 bags of dairy meal
3 bags of nutrarice veteran pellets
2 bags of Nutrarice versatile 
1 bag layer pellets
1 bag of scratch mix
1 bag of alpaca pellets
2 bags of pollard
2 bags of equestrian cool and calm mix

In addition to this I also buy/ source:

10 boxes of 1.2 kilo no-name wheatbix
Food for Marlee – meat, frozen veges and pasta
Food for cats – meat and biscuits
Fruit and vegetables rejects from local fruit stalls

The kids always look forward to the feed deliveries as we make a cubby house out of the hay. Sadly their cubby is slowly ‘eaten’ over the course of the next month but then happily rebuilt with the next delivery.

The hay house

Mixing the feeds is complicated and is difficult to explain to people as I am aware of all of the individual animals’ needs and instinctively know how much to feed them. It does vary but a rough guide is:

1. Nina (enormous cow) has 1.5 biscuits of hay in the morning and 2 biscuits of hay at night.
2. Hamish (not so enormous cow) has 1 biscuit of hay in the morning and 1.5 biscuits of hay at night.
3. Alpaccas – 1kg alpaca pellets and 1.5 biscuits of hay, morning and night.
4. Pigs – 2 scoops of softened grain mixed with water and 1 scoop of pollard mixed into a soupy consistency then 1 scoop of cool and calm equestrian mix added and mixed through plus 10 wheatbix – morning and night. Also mixed fruits and vegetables.
5. Kitty (fat Shetland pony) – one third to half a biscuit of hay morning and night (depending on how strong I feel and able to resist those gorgeous brown eyes)
6. Blaze – 1 good sized biscuit of hay in the morning then at night – 1.5 scoops of Nutrarice veteran, 1 scoop of dairy meal soaked in water topped up with 4 scoops of lucerne chaff.
7. Summer – 1 biscuit of lucerne hay in the morning then at night 2 scoops of Nutrarice veteran, 1 scoop of dairy meal mixed with water and topped up with 4 scoops of lucerne chaff.
8. Monty (will introduce you to Monty very soon) – 1.5 biscuits of lucerne hay in the morning and at night 2 scoops of Nutrarice Versatile and 1 scoop of dairy meal, topped up with 4 scoops of lucerne chaff.
9. Chooks – table scraps in the morning and scratch mix in the afternoon.
10. Guinea pigs/ rabbits- rabbit pellets plus a bucket of grass and or fruit/ veges.
11. Marlee, Oggie and Brodie are all fed at night in the house, so I don’t really include them in the routine.

You may think that it would be impossible for me to go away but I have a number of wonderful friends who are willing to come in, sometimes at very short notice and take on the job. Thank you Margaret, Kelly, Dimity and Sam.

Now mixing up and preparing the feeds is the first part of the process however there is a second and equally complicated part which is actually feeding. There is a certain order in which this must occur and there are specific guidelines which must be followed.

I feed the alpacas first as they are usually the closest and least complicated. I spread their pellets out in a long line on the ground to prevent them gulping them down and choking and then I break apart their hay nearby. I realised the other day that the alpacas are getting on in age (close to 10) and Troupadore is starting to act like an old man – sitting down to eat. Maybe he is starting to get a touch of arthritis in his neck.

Troupadore - this is much easier

Next are the pigs, mainly to shut them up as they get a little rowdy at dinner time. I have two feed troughs and I pour their food over the fence.

Monty is next – fairly simple – again over the fence into his bucket.

Then Summer, Blaze and Kitty. Kitty must be locked up in a small pen as she will scoff her food down and then pinch the others. So I put her food in the pen and then go into the paddock, open up the gate and shut her up. Blaze must be fed next and then Summer. Kitty stays in her pen for an hour and I have to remember to go back and let her out again.

The cows are the furthest away and are fed next. Nina must be fed first before Hamish and then the chooks are fed on my way back to the shed. Finally when I come back to the house I do a round trip and feed the guinea pigs, rabbits.

Now some of you may be asking WHY? Why would I do this? It’s simple, I enjoy it. The pleasure I get from looking after these animals and enjoying their wonderful personalities far outweighs the cost, the energy and the time that is required. They also provide a touch of reality to this often absurd world I live in. They help me to realise that there are other species that share this planet, that have the same needs and wants as I do and that they too have a right to be here. And if they can help even one other person find gentleness and compassion in their heart, then my efforts are not in vain.

Some people get enjoyment from shopping or sport or music. My passion is animals.

I feed them and they feed my soul.

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  1. sue lobsey said on 17/08/2011 at 1:13 am

    I agree 100% Diana, they feed my soul too. I would be so lost without my four legged friends, I love them like my children

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