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Old 02-14-2018, 03:54 PM   #1
maxhanckel
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Default Homemade diets

Hello! I just created an account but I have been sifting through various forums for several weeks now. I am the very happy dad of three hamsters: a dwarf, a long-haired Syrian, and a Winter White.

I am very interested in making food for my little critters for a few reasons. It is very important for me to feed myself and my pets as much of an organic diet as possible (although my pets tend to get more organic food than I do!) and as of yet, there are no organic hamster foods I can find. I want more control over what they eat, and I personally believe they are better off receiving nutrients from whole foods rather than synthetically added vitamins and minerals that may or may not be readily bioavailable. Right now they all eat the new GMO-free Oxbow and they're used to getting a small portion of fresh vegetables every day and some freeze dried protein (chicken, shrimp) or some egg.

I see a lot of different recipes for 100% homemade diets and I'm just wondering what's ideal in terms of portioning out different foods. I understand that the bulk of the diet should be seeds and cereals: perhaps a mix of millet, barley, quinoa, oats, buckwheat, rye. I could definitely add in flax and sesame seeds and such too. As far as veggies, my little guys love broccoli, bell pepper, zucchini, carrots, and kale.
However, I see various suggested amounts for nuts. Some recommend only using nuts as treats, and some say small amounts can be mixed in every day. I also see varying amounts of herbs and things that can or should be added in (as treats vs. part of the daily diet.) My dwarf loves herbs, but I haven't tried parsley, mint, or anything like that with the others yet.

I read that hamsters actually eat a lot of grasses in the wild. Wheatgrass has a lot of great nutrients in it. Do people use wheatgrass much in home diets? I see a lot of people sticking with grass seeds.
Kale is chock full of great nutrients, too, but I don't see a lot of people using it?
Anyway, if anyone has any good general guidelines or recipes that I could try to follow, that would be great!

I'd like to add that I will not be making any drastic changes to their diets until I am comfortable with the knowledge I've accumulated, and I may even stick to 50% commercial and 50% home made if I'm not fully confident in the nutritional value of my homemade mixture, but I'd really like to get to the point where I can do 100%

Thank you in advance!
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Old 02-15-2018, 10:00 AM   #2
maxhanckel
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Default Re: Homemade diets

Also, I've been playing with the nutrition.data website. I was able to input a few custom vitamin percentages based on the current food, but not many. But, the mix I have in there now is based on what they would eat over a week and has an 85% completeness score. It's lacking a bit in Vitamin D and calcium but I think a couple of the treats I'm using have calcium and D but I just wasn't able to input them into the website.
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Old 02-15-2018, 12:37 PM   #3
cypher
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Default Re: Homemade diets

Sourcing organic ingredients for hams can be tricky, it's not always easy to find the things they need that are organically grown, it's well worth trying to find them if you can but you have to balance organic with appropriate & variety within the mix.
You've obviously given this some consideration already but some things you need to think about are protein, fat & fibre content of foods, species appropriate foods & nutritional values, Syrians & Russians need slightly different mixes ideally & Russians also tend to need slightly more protein, needs change with age too, particularly protein.
I would be a bit wary of following any recipes you find online, I've yet to find any recipes or guidelines for making mixes that are really that accurate or well considered.
Basically you need to decide which ingredients you want to include then work out the amounts of each to provide the correct nutritional values. It does take a lot of calculations!
We have had a long discussion on this before and you might find this thread helpful.
Has anyone ever made their own hamster food?
If you still have more questions I'd be happy to try & help.
You could grow wheatgrass for your ham, along with other things that can be sprouted or grown they can be a really useful nutritional addition to the diet but I tend to feed things like this more as extras than a part of the daily diet.
Veg I give daily but don't really count the nutritonal value as part of the daily mix, just small amounts of a good variety to give extra vitamins, minerals, fibre & enrichment. Things like kale are good but really when it comes to veg I think variety is key & only relatively small amounts.
Grass seeds are a natural food for hams but given the choice mine just won't eat it! Whilst trying to keep the mix natural & appropriate I think you have to remember too that our hams are quite far removed from their ancestors & some things are too different to what they've become used too although there are some close options like canary seed (actually a type of large grass seed) which they will eat quite readily.
If you do decide to give it a go I think the idea of beginning with part home made mix part commercial mix is good as your hamsters will need time to adjust to the change & it will also give you a chance to see what's working & what might need changing, that's what I did when I first started making my own mix.
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Old 02-15-2018, 03:39 PM   #4
maxhanckel
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Default Re: Homemade diets

Thanks for the response! Ive actually already scoped out a few local stores where i can buy pretty much all the grains, dried herbs, and fresh vegetables organic.
Thanks for providing that link too, Ive come across that one and checked out that German website! It had some great info.
Is there a reason you dont include vegetables into your nutrient calculations? Do you rely mostly on the cereals and grains when initially coming up with your mix? Variety is definitely something Im aiming for too. I feel that most animals in the wild (or people) dont get a perfectly balanced diet every single day, but the body knows what to do so long as it gets the needed nutrients within a week or so! So my veggies will be rotated
But I felt more comfortable including veggies in my calculations because the veggies offered a lot of nutrients I just wasnt seeing with only grains and such. And, as far as I can remember (Im at work) my protein, carb, fiber, and fat levels were all in the proper ranges. Since two of my hammies are young, I can add in extra protein too.
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Old 02-15-2018, 11:21 PM   #5
cypher
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Default Re: Homemade diets

I just don't think it's practical to include the nutrients in veg in the mix, I don't plan my hams veg in advance, what they have will depend on what's available & in season to some extent & I do give as much variety as possible, you can never calculate vitamins & minerals exactly as every batch of food varies depending on where it's grown, season, climate & how it's grown so you can only have an estimate at the best of times.
I think it's enough to base calculations on the farinaceous seeds, oily seeds, grains & protein foods & know that by getting a good variety of fresh veg they will be getting all the extra micro nutrients they need.
How you do the protein is a matter of choice really but I prefer to keep it on the low side in the mix then add in more or less extra depending on age & or any health issues that may arise.
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Old 02-16-2018, 08:18 AM   #6
maxhanckel
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Default Re: Homemade diets

So basically, I should play around and *aim* for all the right percentages with various seeds and grains alone, and my vegetables are the needed but extra nutritional boost.
I think I'm off to a great start but I'll be sure to post back if I come up with any other questions, which I probably will come up with a few :P
Thanks so much for your help. I really appreciate it, and so do all my little critters!
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Old 02-16-2018, 01:15 PM   #7
cypher
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Default Re: Homemade diets

That's about it yes, have fun creating a nice mix for your little ones
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Old 02-17-2018, 09:07 AM   #8
maxhanckel
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Default Re: Homemade diets

So I did a lot of math and came up with a really, really basic "recipe" based on some of the "recipe" ideas I found mostly on some of the German forums, and some I found on other forums too. It's got a whole mixture of things, including barley, buckwheat, rye, quinoa, rice, wheat, oats, millet, seeds, mealworms, a few nuts, and plenty more.

My protein level came out to 19.7%. I think that protein level is great but this can be easily reduced by removing some of animal/insect proteins. My dwarf is 1.5 years but extremely active - lives in a 40 gallon and never stops moving. My Syrian and Winter White are both less than 4 months old, so I like the higher protein level.

The fat is at 7.4%. I think that's just over the ideal range, but that can SUPER easily be reduced by limiting the nuts. My dwarf won't have a problem with it, my Syrian is very active, but I may limit the nuts for my Winter White because she's the least active of all of them. Either way, their current food is quite a bit lower in fat and increasing fat is harder on the body, so I plan to omit most of the fat content until I know they can handle the increase well.

Fiber - 8.92%. That should be perfect, based on the recommendations I saw, but I know what primarily contributes to the fiber and I can play with that really easily. Their current food is much higher in fiber, so it would be a slow transition to make sure they do okay with that. I play to add in extra fiber initially to help them along, but I also usually have some hay that they can snack on for extra fiber, too.

This leaves my carbohydrate content at 63.98%.

I feel pretty confident in moving forward - there's a good variety of at least 20 different ingredients which I plan to expand on when I can handle doing the math again :P I may mix this up and start offering it as treats.
I will try to come up with something that's a bit closer to their current diet, since there are some pretty big jumps in the fat and fiber levels, but right now I'm just really proud of myself for figuring it all out xD
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Old 02-17-2018, 11:31 AM   #9
cypher
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Default Re: Homemade diets

That sounds good, I wouldn't worry about the fat being high, it is quite difficult to keep it low without compromising on other things, that amount should be fine.
Protein is fine for the two younger hams but by 18 months you may want to begin thinking about reducing it very slightly, it's not about how active your ham is as much as it's to do with kidney function which can suffer from too much protein as they begin to get older.
If you do the change over slowly then it shouldn't matter if there is a fairly big change in some of the macronutrients.
I know what you mean about doing the maths lol! I've made small changes to my mix several times since I began & having to recalculate each time is a bit daunting!
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Old 02-17-2018, 02:41 PM   #10
maxhanckel
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Default Re: Homemade diets

Awesome, thanks for the feedback! I actually reworked it again and lowered the fat and increased the fiber a bit, so it more closely matched their current food and that should help the transition go smoothly. My oldest ham is about that age, so I will restrict protein a bit more for him
Thank you so much for all your help!
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