Grass is one of the main and cheapest feeds. With a sufficient and varied amount of natural and sown grasses, a minimum of concentrates can be dispensed with, giving them only to lactating females and young animals up to 2 months old. In order for green feed from spring to late autumn to be in the diet of guinea pigs in sufficient quantities, care must be taken to create a green conveyor. In early spring, winter rye can be used, from wild ones – nettle, cuff, wormwood, burdock, early sedges and young shoots of willow, willow, aspen and poplar.
In the first half of summer, the most suitable crop for the green conveyor belt is red clover. From wild-growing small forbs can be good food at this time.
The need for guinea pigs for green feed can be successfully covered by various wild herbs: nettle, burdock, plantain, yarrow, hogweed, bedstraw, wheatgrass (especially its roots), sage, heather, tansy (wild mountain ash), dandelion, young sedge, camel thorn, as well as rape, milkweed, sow thistle and field sow thistle, wormwood and many others.
Some wild herbs – wormwood, tarragon, or tarragon wormwood and dandelion – should be fed with care. These plants are well eaten by animals, but have a harmful effect on the body. Dandelions give up to 30% of the daily value of green food, and it is not recommended to feed wormwood and tarragon, or tarragon wormwood.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) is a perennial herb from the nettle family (Urticaceae) with a creeping rhizome. Stems erect, ovate-oblong, up to 15 cm long and up to 8 cm wide, coarsely toothed at the edges, with petioles.
Nettle leaves are very rich in vitamins – they contain up to 0.6% ascorbic acid (vitamin C), up to 50 mg% carotene (provitamin A), vitamins K (up to 400 biol. Units per 1 g) and group B. It is a natural vitamin concentrate. In addition, nettle leaves contain a lot of protein, chlorophyll (up to 8%), starch (up to 10%), other carbohydrates (about 1%), salts of iron, potassium, copper, manganese, titanium, nickel, as well as tannins and organic acids.
Nettle has a high nutritional value, contains 20-24% protein (vegetable protein), 18-25% fiber, 2.5-3.7% fat, 31-33% nitrogen-free extraactive substances. It contains a lot of vitamin K, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and others.
Its leaves and young shoots are used primarily for the prevention and treatment of vitamin deficiencies, which most often occur in late winter and early spring. The method of application is the simplest – powder from dry leaves is added to food.
Leaves are harvested during the budding and flowering of nettle (it blooms from May to autumn, the fruits ripen from July). Often the leaves are washed with a mitten along the stem from the bottom up, but you can mow or cut the shoots, dry them slightly, and then thresh the leaves on a clean bedding, and discard the thick stems. Usually, the tops of young shoots are torn off and dried, tied in bunches. Drying nettle raw materials should be carried out in ventilated rooms, in attics, in sheds, but always in a place protected from direct sunlight, as they can destroy some of the vitamins.
Young nettle leaves in early spring are especially nutritious. Fresh nettles must first be boiled in water for 2-3 minutes, then squeezed out slightly and, after grinding, added to the wet mixture.
Grass flour made from nettle also has high fodder qualities. In terms of the content of substances necessary for the body, it surpasses flour from a mixture of timothy and clover and is equivalent to flour from alfalfa. Nettle is harvested before flowering (June-July) – later it loses some useful properties. Plants are mowed or plucked and the leaves are allowed to wilt a little, after which the nettle no longer “bites”.
In winter, dry crushed leaves are added to the grain mixture or boiled for 5-6 minutes until softened in a container with a closed lid. After cooking, the water is drained, and the resulting mass is slightly squeezed and added to the feed.
Medicinal dandelion (Taraxacum officinale Wigg. Sl) is a perennial herb from the Compositae or Asteraceae family, with a fleshy taproot that penetrates deep into the soil (up to 60 cm). The leaves are collected in a basal rosette, from the center of which leafless hollow flower arrows 15-50 cm high grow in spring. They end in a single inflorescence – a basket 3.5 cm in diameter with a double-row brown-green wrapper. Leaves vary in shape and size. Usually they are ply-shaped, pinnately-spatulate or pinnately-lanceolate, 10-25 cm long and 2-5 cm wide, often with a pinkish midrib.
Blooms from April to June; fruits ripen in May and June. Most often, the period of mass flowering does not last long – two to three weeks in the second half of May and early June.
It grows in a wide variety of habitats: in meadows, forest edges, glades, gardens, fields, vegetable gardens, wastelands, along roads, on lawns, in parks, near dwellings.
Dandelion leaves and roots have nutritional value. The leaves are rich in carotenoids (provitamin A), ascorbic acid, vitamins B1, B2, R. They are used as bitterness, stimulating appetite and improving digestion. Dandelion roots contain inulin (up to 40%), sugars, malic acid and other substances.
The leaves of this plant are readily eaten by guinea pigs. They are a source of vitamins and minerals. Dandelion leaves are fed to animals from early spring to late autumn in unlimited quantities. The bitter substance contained in the leaves promotes blood circulation, enhances digestion and induces appetite.
The big plantain (Plantago major L.) is a herbaceous perennial that grows like weeds everywhere. Plantain leaves are rich in potassium and citric acid, they contain aucubin glycoside, invertin and emulsin enzymes, bitter tannins, alkaloids, vitamin C, carotene. The seeds contain carbohydrates, mucous substances, oleic acid, 15-10% of a kind of fatty oil.
Among the herbs there are also ** highly poisonous **, which can cause food poisoning in guinea pigs and even death. Such plants include: kokorysh (dog parsley), hemlock, poisonous milestones, celandine, purple or red foxglove, wrestler, May lily of the valley, white hellebore, larkspur (horned cornflowers), henbane, raven eye, nightshade, dope, anemone, poisonous sow thistle , wolf berries, night blindness, marsh marigold, meadow lumbago, samoseyka poppy, bracken fern, marsh wild rosemary.
As a green forage, you can use various ** waste of garden and melons **, leaves and shoots of some trees and shrubs. Good results are obtained from feeding cabbage leaves, lettuce, potato and carrot tops. Potato tops should be mowed only after flowering and always green. The tops of tomatoes, beets, rutabagas and turnips are given to animals no more than 150-200 g per head per day. Feeding more tops will cause diarrhea in them, especially in young animals.
A nutritious and economically viable forage crop is ** young green corn **, which contains a lot of sugar and is eagerly eaten by the guinea pig. Corn as green fodder is used from the beginning of the exit into the tube until the discarding of the panicle. It is given to adult animals up to 70% and young animals up to 40% or more of the daily norm of green forage. The best results are obtained with corn in combination with alfalfa, clover and other herbs.
Spinach (Spinacia oleracia L.) . Leaves of young plants are eaten. They contain a variety of vitamins, rich in protein and salts of iron, phosphorus, calcium. There is a lot of potassium in 100 g of spinach – 742 mg. The spinach leaves quickly fade from high temperatures, so spinach is frozen, canned or dried for long-term storage. Fresh frozen it can be stored at -1 ° C for 2-3 months.
Kale is an excellent food from late August to early winter. Thus, forage cabbage can be fed to animals until late autumn and during the first half of winter.
Cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. Capitate L.) – gives a large mass of leaves that are fresh for animal feed. Many varieties of cabbage have been developed. They are combined into two groups: white (forma alba) and red (forma rubra). The skin of the leaves of red cabbage contains a lot of anthocyanin pigment. Due to this, the heads of such varieties have a lilac or violet color of varying intensity. They are valued higher than white cabbage, but their nutritional value is almost the same, although red cabbage contains slightly more vitamin C. Her heads of cabbage are denser.
White cabbage contains in heads of cabbage from 5 to 15% dry matter, including 3-7% sugars, up to 2.3% protein, up to 54 mg% ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Red cabbage contains 8-12% dry matter, including 4-6% sugars, 1.5-2% protein, up to 62 mg% ascorbic acid, as well as carotene, vitamins B1 and B2, pantothenic acid, salts sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, iodine.
Although the nutritional value of cabbage is not very high, it contains amino acids and trace elements that are very necessary for the body, and most importantly – a large set of vitamins (C, groups B, PP, K, U, etc.).
Brussels sprouts (Brassica oleracea L. var. Gemmifera DC) are grown for the sake of leaf buds (heads of cabbage) located along the entire length of the stem. They contain 13-21% dry matter, including 2.5-5.5% sugars, up to 7% protein; it contains up to 290 mg% ascorbic acid (vitamin C), 0.7-1.2 mg% carotene (provitamin A), vitamins B1, B2, B6, sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, iodine salts. In terms of vitamin C content, it surpasses all other forms of cabbage.
Cauliflower (Brassica cauliflora Luzg.) Has a relatively high content of vitamins C, B1, B2, B6, PP and mineral salts.
Broccoli – asparagus cabbage (Brassica cauliflora subsp. Simplex Lizg.). Cauliflower has white heads, while broccoli has green heads. The culture is highly nutritious. It contains 2.54% sugar, about 10% dry matter, 83-108 mg% ascorbic acid, carotenes, as well as vitamins of group B, PP, choline, methionine. Broccoli is richer in calcium and phosphorus than cauliflower. The cut heads must be refrigerated as they turn yellow quickly. For harvesting for the winter, they are frozen in plastic bags.
Leaf lettuce (Lactuca saliva var. Secalina Alef) . Its main advantage is early maturity, it develops a rosette of succulent leaves, ready to be eaten 25-40 days after sowing. Lettuce leaves are eaten fresh and raw.
Lettuce leaves contain from 4 to 11% dry matter, including up to 4% sugars and up to 3% crude protein. But lettuce is not good for its nutrients. It contains a significant amount of salts of metals important for the body: potassium (up to 3200 mg%), calcium (up to 108 mg%) and iron. The leaves of this plant are a source of almost all vitamins known in plants: B1, B2, C, P, PP, K, E, folic acid, carotene (provitamin A). And although their absolute content is small, thanks to such a complete vitamin complex, lettuce leaves actively enhance digestion and metabolism in the body. This is especially important in spring and early summer, when there is more or less vitamin hunger.
Parsley (Petroselinum hortense Hoffm.) Has a high content of vitamin C (up to 300 mg%) and vitamin A (carotene up to 11 mg%). The essential oils contained in it have a beneficial effect on the digestive system.
Vitamin content in 100 g of root parsley (mg%): carotene – 0.03, vitamin B1 – 0.1, vitamin B2 – 0.086, vitamin PP – 2.0, vitamin B6 – 0.23, vitamin C – 41, 0.
From woody food, it is best to give guinea pigs branches of aspen, maple, ash, willow, linden, acacia, mountain ash (with leaves and berries), birch and branches of coniferous trees.
It is best to prepare branch feed for the winter in June-July, when the branches are most nutritious. Cut off branches no thicker than 1 cm at the base and knit into small loose brooms about 1 meter long, and then hang them in pairs to dry under a canopy.
Long-term feeding of guinea pigs with green feed in sufficient quantities provides them with vitamins, minerals and complete protein, which contributes to the rearing of healthy, well-developed young animals.