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Making winter more fun for outdoor guineas

(15 Posts)
FauxFox Sun 28-Oct-12 11:54:41

My two girl piggies are outdoorers and have a large wooden hutch with a bedroom area and run. The whole hutch is carpeted with a thick layer of wood chip and the bedroom packed with hay to nest in. When the weather gets really cold i'll put them in the garage and I also use a heat pad under the bedroom area each night when it's very cold.

Following them having a bust up last week I'm keen to make it as interesting as poss for them, last week I added an edible wigwam hut, today i've removed the (remaining) roof off it and put in a big branch off our apple tree over it and a cereal packet tunnel in the bedroom hay. Other thoughts I have had are:
* Growing a shallow tray of cress as a 'field' for them
* a whole corn on the cob to gnaw
* a pot of growing parsley to eat like a tree
Any other tips for safe twigs/branches or playing stuff would be gratefully received. Also any new food tips? Currently they have dried cereal mix and fresh food which is usually grass/dandelions/carrot/apple/lettuce/broccoli/peppers/green beans...i was thinking of trying some thawed frozen peas/melon/kiwi/banana to give them a bit more variety? Are they allowed nuts? is there a guinea oat cake recipe or something i could make, like fat balls for birds but for piggies iyswim?

Love seeing them so happy when I give them new things to eat/explore smile

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sun 28-Oct-12 15:05:50

Hi FauxFox- are your guineas going to be out all the time?

They need to be protected from draughts and damp and extremes of temperature.
My boars are still out in their Pighouse (my DC old wooden playhouse) and when they come inside for a cuddle I have to keep them out of my son's room because it's too warm and I worry that they'll feel the difference.

WRT food:
no nuts
they mustn't have any sugar (I don't know what a guinea-oatcake would be, but the bird ones are lard/suet or something which wouldn't suit guineas). And oats might fill them up too much to eat their food.

Corn on the cob- mine love. If you can get the ones with leaves, peel them back and they get a green veg too. They eat the 'silks/thready bits' . It's good heating food .Beetroot too but the beetroot leaves are poisonous.

Cress or parsley pots they will wreck and you'll get soil everywhere grin
Branches- willow is fine as are fruit trees that don't have a stone. So apple, pear are good (there's loads of others, I'll google them but I've got a willow tree next door and a pear tree in my garden, mine eat the leaves too).

Frozen food is a bit too soft when it's thawed so they won't be impressed. Winter veg (turnip, parsnip, celery,beetroot,carrot, pak choi, kale, greens, sweetcorn,fresh beetroot) will be scoffed.

I give our boys lots of hidey spaces and I vary the boxes .
At the moment they've got their big wooden haybox, a wooden box and two rubber trugs with a door cut in.
I've put their cardboard,rubber mats, newspaper,wooden catlitter,hay in the haybox. Fleece in one trug, naice hay in the other.

They've got Snugglepads and Pet Hotties.
Mine don't tend to sleep together but they'll be in the same house at night.In the day they like peace.
They need a space to get some 'me time'

What about tunnels (Pet Shops have those plastic ones or you can get a wide plastic drainpipe or a carpet tube from carpet shops- like the middle of a toilet roll tube but huge) smile

In the winter I'm planning to set their rabbit run in the garage with cardboard and boxes to let them have a run somewhere different.

DD and I took them up to her bedroom for a cuddle, we put a cover down. They walked about 5 steps each then climbed onto our legs for a cuddle. So not much excercise (lazy boars) but TBF they were somewhere different so probably wary.

MummifiedBonkeyMollocks Sun 28-Oct-12 15:16:35

Ok, going over the thing you have mentioned.

-Cress - great idea but that will be gone in minutes! wink

-Parsley tree - I personally wouldn't put a whole plant in there. Parsley isn't really meant to be given in large portions. Iirc its high in calcium and should be limited to a sprig or so a day.

-Corn on the cob - great every now and then but high in sugar, so shouldn't be a regular thing.

Also I am sure that frozen and defrosted veg isn't recommended but fresh peas in a pod they will love. Melon, kiwi, and banana are all fine. Other favourites in this house are cauliflower leaves, coriander, living leaf lettuce (but not iceberg) , cucumber ... Look here for safe foods list!

Nuts are a no no due to being a choking hazard.

Homemade traets! - not personally tried yet but may do!

As a food, have you tried pellets? I use Burgess excel pellets and both my two love them, no chance of being picky and they get everything they need.

Other ideas:
-A sprig of parsley in a toilet roll tube stuffed in with hay
-Paper bags of hay to snuffle in (a LittlePig fave! He popcorns in the bag grin )
- Lots of things to hide under/in etc (Think stools, igloos, tunnels, boxes...)
-Things to chew, cardboard, tunnels made from grass type stuffs, a parsley bell is a fave here too, don't last long mind!

My two also love have in blanket to dig into, they find a 'entrance' and away they go. Even BigPig gets excited doing this and he is a lazy so and so!

Do you have a shed/garage they could go for a few hours everyday just for a change of scenery?

Lots of ideas here too!

MummifiedBonkeyMollocks Sun 28-Oct-12 15:18:03

Bit x posted grin

FauxFox Sun 28-Oct-12 15:22:00

Thanks 70 yes I might put them in the garage when it gets colder but they were out last winter with a silver insulator thing over their hutch and a heated pad each evening and they were fine. It's a shame to put them inside out of the sunshine whilst there still is some!

Willow is a good idea, i've got plastic igloos but they tend to turn them upside down and use them as toilets! Charming! Ditto tunnels so I tend to use cereal boxes etc so it doesn't matter if they are ruined in a day (those tubes from PAH are ££!)

I found some treat recipes online here and here - love the ideas for loo roll tube cakes and the kebabs too - such fun smile

FauxFox Sun 28-Oct-12 15:25:13

Thanks bonkey paper bags are a great idea! I might get a primark carrier and cut a load of holes in it then stiff it with hay - would make a cosy nest, no?

FauxFox Sun 28-Oct-12 15:25:46

Stuff not stiff obviously hmm

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sun 28-Oct-12 16:23:17

My hogs love Primark bags but take the handles off . My GP1 (who is a big boy admittedly) gave himself a heck of a fright when he got caught in one (I think his foot got stuck and he panicked).
The handles don't snap easily.

Last winter wasn't too bad was it? We had frozen water bowls in December (when the boys were in at night) .

FauxFox Sun 28-Oct-12 18:14:10

Lol to pig stuck in a bag handle! I'll be sure to cut them off - thanks for the tip. No last winter was OK, and the thermal hutch wraps are really good. My piggies also snuggle up to sleep so they help keep each other toasty smile

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sun 28-Oct-12 22:48:36

Mine had to go in our garage a month ago (emergency Sunday night, tipping down with rain, leak in Pighouse roof situation)
Our garage floor is concrete and a bit colder than the Pighouse.
I put loads of cardboard down, a big bag of straw, a bag of hay, a couple of cardboard boxes and fleeces in the boxes. (Everything in their rabbit run).
They loved it but they couldn't do it permenantly because I couldn't get into the run to clean it easily.

I give them a load of hay in their haybox (sometimes straw on the bottom to give it 'bounce'. The straw is soft barley straw).
They are lovely when they tunnel into the hay.Usually GP1 dives in first, like a little SAS surveillance officer. Then makes a really funny noise like he's having a fight with himself before his little pointy face emerges. Then GP2 dives in to the tunnel his brother has dug.

Hay seems to be the ultimate GP boredom breaker. They can burrow, hide,eat it and it keeps them cosy grin

MummifiedBonkeyMollocks Mon 29-Oct-12 10:19:52

Well i don't know whats got into my two this morning but they are mental !

BigPig (and this is the pig who only moves for food) is doing laps and bronco moves to lardy to popcorn properly wink .
LittlePig is doing laps and popcorning! Then looking at BigPig and squeaking! hmm

Ds is trying to eat a packet of crisps.....the noise is deafening!

Do you want too borrow them for a few hours to make life interesting? grin

No idea whats wrong with them! Are they sensitive to weather? My horse used to go loopy the day before a big frost or snow! confused

I'm actually dreading putting them for their run in the kitchen today. they LittlePig cause enough trouble when they are normal!

guineapiglet Mon 29-Oct-12 12:46:15

Yes please to borrowing them! But you may not get them back! They are obviously very pleased to see everyone and showing you how happy they are! I do agree that they can be predictors of the weather tho' - mine used to bomb around the run sqeaking mentally when it was about to rain, I used to lift the run up and they would all race, single file (!) into the shed like greased lightening! They are obviously more energised when the weather changes - good way of working out when your washing needs to come in!

DuffyMoon Mon 29-Oct-12 13:14:40

"popcorning" ?

70isaLimitNotaTarget Mon 29-Oct-12 13:48:11

Popcorning is guinea-pig jumping about.
Usually leap in the air like a little rodeo horse.
My GP1 popcorns. He throws his back legs out, his head down to the side and leaps down the outdoor run.
Looks like he's been tasered.
Squeaking/wheeking , maybe a purrrr.

It really is the cutest thing (especially as GP1 is a bit of a lardy boy) grin

FauxFox Tue 13-Nov-12 12:43:29

I just did a full clean out of the pigs and i've made them a 'cave' out of a cardboard box stuffed with hay. It's in the bed compartment of thier hutch and there is a sort of corridor of space between the box and the partition. The box has two 'doors' cut in it one at each front corner. They LOVE it! It is so funny hearing them rustle around and then a head pops out of one of the doors! I put some celery in for them and white pig was hogging the lot blocking the way so black pig cunningly went back through the box and out the other door to get at the other end of the stalk grin They are loons!

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