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First Mix incorporating Lab Blocks for 10 week old bucks

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:37 pm
by rhubarb04
Hi guys, so I just recently got my first rats - 3 bucks, who are going to be 10 weeks old this Sunday! I've had them for about a week now.

Before I got them, I did some reading and my research appeared to indicate that Lab Blocks were the most ideal for them, food wise, as they couldn't be selective about what they were eating and got all of the right nutrients. So I bought them Science Selective Rat Food, and it's so far went down really well! They seem to really enjoy it, and always finish what I give them. I generally give them around a tablespoon each in the morning, and then in the evening they get fresh vegetables and some leftovers - usually some grain or protein.

However, I've since discovered that Lab Blocks maybe aren't the best option long-term, since they don't offer enough diversity? Plus pair that with the fact that I also read I should start cutting down how often they're getting fresh food to 3 or 4 times a week now that they're approaching 10 weeks, and I'm looking to make a mix for them that still incorporates their Science Selective Rat Food, seeing as they do enjoy it, and I'd hate to waste it.

So far I was thinking:
- Rat Rations' No 11a Complete Mix x 40%
- Harrison's Banana Brunch Base Mix x 40%
- Science Selective Rat Food x 20%

I've also considered paring the Science Selective Rat Food down to 15% and adding Barley Rings for 5% in order to ensure they're getting enough copper in their diet.

Then I plan to supplement that with DailyRat3 alongside their fresh food 3 times a week.

Does this seem like a good mix? Or should I adjust the percentages a little?
Also, I read that rats should be getting roughly 12g dry food and 12g fresh food (each) per day, but how does that translate when it's a day when they're not getting fresh food? Should I just give them, say, 20g of dry food each that day? Or is it perfectly fine to give them fresh food everyday after all?
I'm also worried about over-feeding them, as my boy Garfi (who is the greedy one of the trio :roll:) appears to be getting a bit chunky. The other two seem fine though. I plan on introducing scatter feeding once I have a proper mix ready in order to try and combat his over-feeding (if that's what's happening). It's possible he's just a big lad (as the breeder did say he was, and he's noticeably larger than his brothers) and I'm just not familiar with how quickly young bucks grow, because Vesti and Murphy have gotten bigger as well, but they don't appear to be overweight?

Sorry for all of the questions - still a newbie here, but I'm trying, :)


Re: First Mix incorporating Lab Blocks for 10 week old bucks

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:49 pm
by [cub]
So first, it's not necessary to reduce the amount of fresh food your rats get as they mature. Very young rats (between weaning age and 10-12 weeks) need a higher protein diet than older rats, and it is this high protein content that should be reduced as they get older. Some people feed a special high-protein dry mix during these early weeks, and slowly switch over to a lower-protein adult mix. But most people just feed an adult dry mix from the moment they get their kittens, and supplement that with high-protein fresh food which is tapered off. Rather than tapering off fresh food as a whole, however, it's just the high-protein content that's reduced: the egg or fish (or whatever) is slowly replaced by vegetables instead. Not everyone feeds fresh food every day, but if you and your rats get on well with that, then I don't see any reason to stop; just switch to more vegetables and less protein/fresh carbs as your rats grow up.

If you decide not to feed fresh food every day, then on days without fresh food the rats could have a little more dry mix, but not that much more – maybe a gram or two more per rat at most. Fresh food is mostly water, and for adult rats should be mostly veg; dry mix has very little moisture content and in a rat mix will be mostly grain. So in terms of actual nutritional value, it's roughly a 10:1 swap from fresh to dry. To be honest, on the odd day when my rats don't get fresh food, they don't get any extra dry to make up for it. But I'm quite mean. :P

Incidentally, I wouldn't stick religiously to the 12g dry and 12g fresh; every rat (and therefore every group of rats) is different in how much food they need, and the only way to be sure you've got the balance right is to weigh them and check their condition regularly. Ambient temperature, activity levels, and quality/digestibility of the food also have a (quite remarkable!) effect on how much food is needed so you'll be making little adjustments as the seasons change and so forth.

You don't need to wait until you have a fully-fledged to start scatter feeding – although nuggets are easier to find than a muesli made of smaller grains, you can still force your rats to put in a bit of effort before stuffing their faces. :lol: Hide nuggets around the cage, pop them in an empty tissue box and then stuff it with crumpled-up newspaper, put them directly into balls of crumpled-up newspaper, bury them at the bottom of a digging box full of shredded paper, put them in some old socks and put the socks on top of the cage...

It could be that your Garfi is just a naturally large boy, but if he's actually looking chunky and the other boys are looking fine, it's probably just that they're getting a little too much food. Their breeder should know what's normal for their lines, though even within a line there can be quite a lot of individual variation. You could reduce the amount you feed slightly, or if the problem is Garfi eating all the food before the others can get at it, you could try splitting it into two feeds to give the others more of a chance. (But if they're not underweight, it's more likely that they're just getting more food than they need and it's all going into Garfi. :P Nuggets are very highly processed and easy to digest, and Science Selective has basically no filler in it, so you probably need less of it than you would a muesli mix.)

Your proposed mix looks fine to me; if you're supplementing with DR3 you shouldn't need the barley rings as well, though you can do that if you like. I may be biased as I'm actually quite partial to Science Selective Rat myself; though I make my own mix, I keep a bag of SSR in stock as well as it seems to be my rats' post-op food of choice. I wouldn't want to be feeding more than 25% nuggets, but as nuggets go Science Selective is pretty good.

Re: First Mix incorporating Lab Blocks for 10 week old bucks

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:04 pm
by rhubarb04
This was very informative - thank you for taking the time out of your day to respond, I really appreciate it! :D

I knew about the protein but wasn't sure about fresh food in general, so thanks! I'll probably just keep feeding them fresh food everyday, as I enjoy preparing their dinner in the evenings and it ensures (in my eyes anyway) that they get some variety everyday, even if their dry mix stays the same, :)

And ah, yeah, that makes sense about dry:fresh being 10:1. I thought 20g seemed a little much, ^__^;;.

My main problem with scatter feeding is that their cage is currently fleece-lined, but I'm planning on swapping to Finacard as soon as possible because while they were fine with their first fleece, Murphy has figured out he can tear holes into their second one and keeps getting under it, :roll:. I felt the fleece was a little limiting as far as scatter feeding was concerned, but it's possible, so I'll give it a try! :P

Garfi was definitely getting more food initially, but I think it's starting to become more evened-out now. The other boys are catching on now, ;). I'll try the scatter feeding and if that doesn't help then I'll cut down on their amounts, I think.

And awesome! I'll order it ASAP!

Thanks again for your help, it was extremely helpful, ^__^.