{RAW FEEDING YOUR FERRETS}

 

             Ferrets imprint on their food by the age of 6 months old. If your ferret was not weaned on a full, or even partly, raw diet then it can be a bit of a challenge to encourage your ferret to switch to raw feeding.... but it is not impossible! A ferret not imprinted on raw from young will take a while to understand that anything outside of a pelleted biscuit/kibble is food. Time, persistence, and patience is key to successfully switching your ferret to the diet their bodies are designed for.

            A balanced raw diet consists of meat, bones and organs. This is often seen referred to as 80/10/10 or 80% meat, 10% bones and 10% organs. This ratio is a general guide to follow and is the rough composition of a whole animal (Being 80% flesh, 10% skeleton, and 10% Internal secreting organs). Of course, feeding whole prey animals is the easiest way to achieve balance for ferrets... but it is often difficult to get a non-imprinted ferret to eat such a meal!!

Pet Minces can be purchased online or in Raw Food Pet shops, or even made from home using a mincer that can crush bones. Minces are a convenient way to raw feed.

{HOW DO I START?}

        To encourage your ferret to start raw it is often recommended to make "Raw Soup" to feed alongside their old food during transition. Raw chicken breasts with skin, and some salmon oil blended with water into a thin cream-like consistency is often a good start. Some ferrets may prefer this warm, or them may prefer this cold. Its worth smoothing this into the ferrets gums and encourage them to lick it from your finger or a spoon. Once your ferret is lapping at this "soup" the next step is to add more texture. Minced boneless meat such as chopped chicken/turkey or even minced beef/lamb in the "soup" is a good step. Slowly removed the amount of "soup" till you have your ferret eating pieces of the minced boneless foods.

        Once you have your ferret eating boneless meals is is worth cutting back the amount of old food fed. Kibble-fed ferrets need access to food 24/7 in order to keep up their blood sugar and energy levels. However with raw food, ferrets get long lasting energy that does not require them to "graze" and therefore two meals a day is plenty for an adult.

        If you are successful with minced boneless it is worth adding a little ground eggshell to the raw or moving onto a premade raw pet meat that includes bone. You do need to ensure your ferret is also eating organs and especially some heart meat long term (Ferrets cannot make their own taurine!).

You can prepare your meals each week/month in advance, just defrost, reportion, and refreeze the set balanced meals.

{HOW MUCH TO FEED?}

         The amount your feed your ferret varies on age, and especially on season! A young ferret aged under 1 year can very easily consume 10% (Or more!) of their body weight a day, that is 100g per 1kg of weight. An adult ferret in the lead up to winter can also eat this percentage in order to bulk up and ready their winter coat. An adult ferret in summer is likely to eat just 3% of their body weight and be much slimmer with a shorter coat. Feeding amounts vary greatly from season to season so it can be difficult to give a set amount to feed. As a rough guideline most ferrets generally consume around 60-80g in late summer, in autumn this can increase to 100-140g in preparation for winter. During winter the amount can drop to around 80g again, and then the lead up to spring will see a decrease again with some meals being as small as 50g during their shedding of winter coat and winter fat.

{HOW TO CORRECTLY FEED LONG TERM}

        Variety is key to raw feeding correctly! Poultry is usually the staple for ferrets as it is easily accessible and well liked. Complete raw mixes can be purchased with meat, bone and organ already ground together, and for those with only a couple of ferrets this can be much easier to feed! However ensure your complete-raw-pet-mince has enough heart! This is a vital part for ferrets having a raw diet. Poultry hearts are small and easy to portion, beef heart is often found minced from raw pet food suppliers. Feeding a variety of textures is also a great benefit to keeping teeth clean. Ferrets can tackle chicken wings, necks and other soft poultry bones very well. Chunks of meat such as lamb chunks and beef chunks are often tough to chew but is a great way to stimulate your ferret at meal time and works the jaw muscles. Whole prey such as adult mice, rats, quails, pigeon and rabbits are brilliant natural ways to feed and can keep your ferret very entertained. Juvenile prey such as Day Old Chicks, Day Old Quail and Pinkie Mice make good treats, however these all lack nutrition to be fed as meals. Try to feed at least 4 different proteins a week. Popular choices are chicken, turkey, rabbit and beef. If feeding a meal of 100g, ensure 80g is boneless meat, 10g is edible bone, and 10g is organ meat such as liver & kidney. Try to balance ferret raw meals daily, balance can be achieved over the course of a week, however feeding a meal of purely organs one day can result in some very unpleasant stool to have to clean up! Same as meals very heavy in bone can cause constipation. Trying for that balance makes things easier to digest for your ferret and for you too!

Buying online or from a local Raw Feed shop is much cheaper than buying from a supermarket. It also gives you a chance to buy lots more variety for your ferrets!

Complete 80/10/10  meals are a super easy way to feed raw. This product brand caled "EasyRaw" contains the correct ration of meat, bone, and organ to feed as a balanced diet. Just defrost and feed.

{WHAT IS "FRANKENPREY"?}

        Frankenprey is a term commonly seen in the ferret raw feeding community, but what does it mean? As explained earlier, a balanced raw diet consists of meat, bones and organs, often seen referred to as 80/10/10 or 80% meat, 10% bones and 10% organs. This ratio is a general guide to follow and is the rough composition of a whole animal (Being 80% flesh, 10% skeleton, and 10% Internal secreting organs). Of course, feeding whole prey animals is the easiest way to achieve balance for ferrets, but it can be costly or difficult to purchase whole prey animals, or simply some owners would prefer not to have whole animals in their freezers! Frankenprey is where a whole animal is pieced together, using various parts of other animals found in supermarkets/raw pet food suppliers etc. Things such as chicken wings can, for example, replicate the legs of something like a rabbit. You can easily create a balanced week-long menu by feeding "pieces" of various animals parts day by day.

Frankenprey Raw Feeding Ferrets

        Here we have the "ingredients" to make a 2kg Frankenprey animal. We have a selection of pieces from various animal parts and, importantly, from various animal protein sources. It is advised to feed a minimum of 4 different animal proteins to ferrets per week. For our Frankenprey menu, we have sourced turkey, pork, beef, duck, chicken, lamb and salmon. A variety of 7 different protein sources! 

        Firstly we have muscle meat (Far left) this includes turkey breast, beef chunks, pork chunks, poultry hearts and salmon cubes. All these pieces are BONELESS and count towards the 80% meat content. In the middle we have MEATY BONES, these are all pieces of meat that contain small edible bones. Roughly the overall bone content in this whole menu is 10%. The meaty part of these bones counts toward the 80% meat. We have used duck necks, duck on the bone, duck feet, and chicken wings. Lastly on the far right we have the all important ORGAN meat. this consists of lamb liver and beef kidney. Other examples of organ meats include brain, pancreas and reproductive organs. Liver MUST be part of the 10% organ content.

        Piecing these parts together we can make the rough composition of a Frankenstein-monster of a rabbit shape. The anatomy does not have to be completely correct as you are substituting parts for what is accessible to purchase! Here we have used the duck necks as our frankenprey's spine, chicken wings as legs, duck on the bone as skull and scapula, duck feet as ribs and pelvis etc. Heart is important to use and can not be substituted for anything else, same for liver. Kidney can be used as a substitute for brain, pancreas and other secreting organs if you cannot find them to use. Our turkey, pork, salmon and beef make up the bulk of our Frankenprey's muscle meat.

Frankenprey Raw Feeding Ferrets

        The Frankenprey menu made above weighs approximately 2kg. This could potentially feed three ferrets enough food daily for one week! This is based on two adult hobs weighing 2kg each, and an adult jill weighing 1kg (all eating 5.5% body weight). This would equate to roughly 280g of food being served a day between the three adults. This 280g serving can be halved into 140g meals, one served in the AM and one served in the PM. By the end of the week, the whole Frankenprey menu will have been eaten, and thus a complete balanced diet has been fed, spread out over 7 days!

       Below is an example of a feeding schedule, this does not necessarily need to be strictly adhered to, and you may tweak it to suit your routine better, however it gives a very good idea of how to get an all-round supply of meat, bone and organ into your ferrets each meal. The below photos show a full day's serving of 280g for 3 ferrets.

        Frankenprey feeding can seem complex, but the general idea is simple; feed enough pieces to make up a whole animal! Portioning depends on your own ferrets so tweaking may need to be done depending on your ferrets' ages and weights. Some ferrets may not be used to eating such large pieces of food, and if sharing between multiple ferrets it may be a good idea to cut the pieces up into smaller chunks. Try not to help too much by cutting up the food! Frankenprey is a great way to get ferret jaws working and it is fantastic for dental health. Ferrets teeth are designed to cut and tear at chunks of meat and bone, so try not to encourage your ferrets to be lazy!

Basic Feeding Schedule for dividing up your Frankenprey Menu. Further information can be sourced here:
 

Tuesday

Bone in: Duck Necks

Bone in/Muscle: Turkey Breast

Two hobs weighing 2kg each and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 280g of food a day between them.

Both AM and PM meal has been combined in this bowl. This bowl contains 280g of food.

Wednesday

Bone in: Chicken Wing & Duck Neck

Muscle: Duck and Chicken Hearts

Two hobs weighing 2kg each and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 280g of food a day between them.

Both AM and PM meal has been combined in this bowl. This bowl contains 280g of food.

Monday

Bone in: Chicken Wing

Bone in/Muscle: Duck on the Bone

& Pork Chunks

Two hobs weighing 2kg each and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 280g of food a day between them.

Both AM and PM meal has been combined in this bowl. This bowl contains 280g of food.

Thursday

Bone in: Duck Feet

Bone in/Muscle: Duck on the Bone

& Beef Chunks

Two hobs weighing 2kg each and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 280g of food a day between them.

Both AM and PM meal has been combined in this bowl. This bowl contains 280g of food.

Friday

Bone in: Duck Neck

Heart & Organ: Lamb Liver, Beef Kidney & Duck/Chicken Hearts

Two hobs weighing 2kg each and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 280g of food a day between them.

Both AM and PM meal has been combined in this bowl. This bowl contains 280g of food.

Saturday

Bone in: Chicken Drumstick

Muscle: Salmon Chunks, Pork Chunks & Beef Chunks

Two hobs weighing 2kg each and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 280g of food a day between them.

Both AM and PM meal has been combined in this bowl. This bowl contains 280g of food.

Sunday

Bone in: Duck Neck & Duck Feet

Organs: Lamb Liver & Beef Kidney

Two hobs weighing 2kg each and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 280g of food a day between them.

Both AM and PM meal has been combined in this bowl. This bowl contains 280g of food.

{HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?}

         The amount you spend on your raw food depends on various things; where you shop, what meats you buy, whether you buy pre-made raw, minced pet meats, or do Frankenprey.

           Purchasing from a specialist Raw Pet Food stockist will always be much cheaper than buying from a supermarket or butcher. Buying "common" meats such as chicken, turkey, beef and lamb will always cost much less than those that aren't as in such high demand such as venison, rabbit, zebra, kangaroo etc. Buying minced foods will also cost much less than whole prey. Buying Complete Raw Pet food in the 80/10/10 ratio will cost a little more than mixing up your own food, but this will save you lots of time! Whatever you choose, you need to make sure your ferrets are eating a VARIETY of different meats, so you can't solely feed chicken or beef alone!

         Below are some example of meals we feed the Fairoak Team. All our raw is purchased from Raw Pet Supplies. We aim to achieve the 80/10/10 balance ratio daily for our ferrets, as this works easiest for us!

Example Meal 1:

Happy Hounds Chicken & Beef 1kg

(20% Bone Content) £1.40 RRP

Happy Hounds Lamb 1kg

(Boneless Meat with heart) £1.45 RRP

These products mixed together make 2kg of minced chicken, beef and lamb mix with an overall bone content of 10% at a cost of £2.85

A hob weighing 2kg and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 165g of food a day between them. This meal would make 12 days food! (24p to feed 2 ferrets a day!)

Example Meal 3:

MVM Chicken Carcass 450g

(40% Bone Content) 62p RRP

MVM Mixed Offal 250g (I have refrozen into paw shaped moulds weighing 40g each)

(Minced Liver, Kidney, Spleen etc) 82p RRP

MVM Pork Chunks 1kg £4.35 RRP

(Boneless chunks of meat)

I combined enough of these products to make 2kg of food with 10% bone and 10% organ costing approx £5.38

A hob weighing 2kg and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 165g of food a day between them. This meal could make 12 days food! (46p to feed 2 ferrets a day!)

Example Meal 5:

Paleo Ridge Turkey & Pheasant COMPLETE 1kg

(80% Meat 10% Bone 10% Organ) £3.50 RRP

(This product can be fed ALONE without any extras. We like adding extras for variety but it is not neccessary for a Complete food.)

A hob weighing 2kg and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 165g of food a day between them. This product alone would make 6 meals! (58p to feed 2 ferrets a day!)

EXTRAS:

Bulmer Salmon Cubes 2kg

(Salmon meat and skin with bone) £6.15 RRP

Albion Heart Chunks 2kg

(Individually frozen chicken & duck hearts) £6.00

I combined enough of these products to the Complete Mince to make 2kg of food costing approx £6.53

A hob weighing 2kg and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 165g of food a day between them. This meal could make 12 days food! (55p to feed 2 ferrets a day!)

Example Meal 2:

Bulmer Chicken & Liver 450g

(30% Bone Content, 20% Liver) 67p RRP

MVM Economy Pork 450g

(Boneless Meat with heart) 93p RRP

These products mixed together make 900g of minced chicken and pork mix with an overall bone content of 15% at a cost of £1.60

A hob weighing 2kg and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 165g of food a day between them. This meal would make 5 days food! (32p to feed 2 ferrets a day!)

Example Meal 4:

MVM Duck & Lamb 450g

(20% Bone Content) 93p RRP

MVM Economy Beef 450g

(Boneless Meat with heart) 93p RRP

Kiezebrink Whole Sprats 1kg

(Whole Prey fish with skeleton and organs) £2.75

These products mixed together make 900g of minced duck, beef and lamb (10% bone) with 100g of whole sprats added at a cost of £2.14

A hob weighing 2kg and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 165g of food a day between them. This meal would make 6 days food! (35p to feed 2 ferrets a day!)

Example Meal 6:

MVM Chicken Carcass 450g

(40% Bone Content) 62p RRP

Happy Hounds Lung Chunks 1kg

(Boneless Meat) £2.05 RRP

MVM Mixed Offal 250g (I have refrozen into paw shaped moulds weighing 40g each)

(Minced Liver, Kidney, Spleen etc) 82p RRP

Albion Heart Chunks 1kg

(Individually frozen chicken & duck hearts) £6.00

I combined enough of these products to make 2kg of chunky meat mix with a bone content of 10% and offal content of 10% at a cost of £3.90

A hob weighing 2kg and a jill weighing 1kg (Eating 5.5% body weight) would consume 165g of food a day between them. This meal would make 12 days food! (33p to feed 2 ferrets a day!)