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Guinea pig dressout ratio

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Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Ghost » Tue Mar 27, 2018 9:05 pm


It is possible I will be getting another guinea pig for eating in the next week or two. One thing I noticed when butchering my first GP is that they seem full of guts. Even handling a dead GP used as a feeder they feel so floppy and not meaty like a freash killed rabbit. All this leads me to believe that GPs of European decent have rather poor dressout percentages compared to even a non-meat type rabbit. I'm guessing the fact that GPs can survive on lower calorie feed means they have a relatively longer GI track for absorbing nutrients.

It would be cool to see how good a landrace Andean GP would dressout too. Does anyone here here (Akane, Bgov) have any idea what a normal dressout ratio for guinea pigs is. The type of dressout would definitely make a difference. Western skin-off dress would be head, feet, organs and skin removed. Western skin-on dress would be scaled carcass to remove fur and then head, feet and organs removed. Traditional dress would be would be scaled carcass to remove fur then organs removed, head and feet left on.
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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#2  Unread postby akane » Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:59 am


Unfortunately I don't remember exact weights as my herd developed and eventually gained Peruvian cuy influence. It does make a huge difference to remove the head because you lose much of what neck there is. There is a surprising amount of meat keeping that head stable and capable of destroying plant matter all day long. That's why beheading is not typical of other countries using the Peruvian and 2 other strains exported for meat and many who try it have said they will always be leaving the head. The low meat ratio compared to rabbit probably has more to do with the lack of developed leg muscle and also why you lose so much without the head. Especially on the smaller guinea pigs it's all in the shoulder, neck, and jaw with none of the long thigh muscle of a rabbit. Even the sides and belly are not as developed for holding them up off the ground. All that middle part is just a thin layer holding the squishy parts like the belly flap on a rabbit but on too small of scale for most rabbit recipes to be as useful. Without the long legs you have far less area to develop muscle past the first 3rd of the guinea pig.

The 3 strains specifically bred for meat production have much longer legs, backs, and necks than an american or european guinea pig so it extends the area of muscle. You can easily see giant cuy influence in the crosses due to the longer, taller bodies. Some of the pics I've seen of meat cuy in cages in other countries don't even look like the exact same species with much more clearance from the ground, long bodies, and necks that can reach up to the top of the cages or block walls. They look more like their capybara or patagonian cousins. The 2 brown and white here are 10-12 week old cuy boars among 4-5month old american sows http://i1321.photobucket.com/albums/u54 ... 4jeau9.jpg Compared to compact, little american guinea pigs you get a lot longer strip of muscle down the back and as they mature they get a much bulkier shoulder to support the neck so that it starts to even out that long, lean look but they haven't actually lost any length. It takes a bit of digging to find pics that aren't just dishes of already prepared meat but these are more traditional raised south american cuy https://i.pinimg.com/564x/71/46/2b/7146 ... d89dfb.jpg http://www.kitchenepiphanies.com/wp-con ... C_0145.jpg https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/20 ... uinea-pigs The less refined meat animals unlike the bulk exporters also tend to have a slightly longer and rougher coat to the sleek pets and the 3 strains more commercially developed that you can find available for export from South America. Someone said they just brought over 5 more new breeding stock with plans for another small group but I think they are all still the same Peruvian strain as is already being bred here.
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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Ghost » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:08 am


Thanks akane for the quick and detailed responce!!

akane wrote:Unfortunately I don't remember exact weights as my herd developed and eventually gained Peruvian cuy influence. It does make a huge difference to remove the head because you lose much of what neck there is. There is a surprising amount of meat keeping that head stable and capable of destroying plant matter all day long. That's why beheading is not typical of other countries


The GPs definitely have well muscled necks. When I remove the head, I will be cutting as close to the skull as possible as to leave the neck attached to the body. I do remember picking much delicious meat from the shoulder blades and above.
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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#4  Unread postby GBov » Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:11 pm


I never bothered to weigh my before and after gp's but the dress out with skin on was pretty good from memory. I did take the heads off as my poor mum had enough trouble eating "pets" as it was, she didn't need the heads on too.

I was really happy with the amount of meat we got off of them, 4 gps for a dinner of fried gp served up to a family of 5 worked well and even though my strain was just a badly bred pet line, they bred so fast that even small they were worth it. Like quail really, so much smaller than chickens but oh so good!

If we get stuck where we are I will for sure be starting them again, the one we got for free though is a biter so my daughter wants it for her birthday dinner, all for her. :lol:

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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#5  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:45 pm


the best growing ones I had were "wild" -- and did not seem to calm down at all ,through several generations..
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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#6  Unread postby akane » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:24 pm


GBov wrote:I was really happy with the amount of meat we got off of them, 4 gps for a dinner of fried gp served up to a family of 5 worked well and even though my strain was just a badly bred pet line, they bred so fast that even small they were worth it. Like quail really, so much smaller than chickens but oh so good!


They may be a little slow to grow but no need to incubate the eggs, set up a brooder, and far less suicides and accidental homicides compared to quail. 200 quail chicks was an utter nightmare and the ways they can find to kill themselves and each other is surprising. To "incubate" guinea pigs you just need to feed the sow. :lol:
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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#7  Unread postby GBov » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:27 am


akane wrote:
GBov wrote:I was really happy with the amount of meat we got off of them, 4 gps for a dinner of fried gp served up to a family of 5 worked well and even though my strain was just a badly bred pet line, they bred so fast that even small they were worth it. Like quail really, so much smaller than chickens but oh so good!


They may be a little slow to grow but no need to incubate the eggs, set up a brooder, and far less suicides and accidental homicides compared to quail. 200 quail chicks was an utter nightmare and the ways they can find to kill themselves and each other is surprising. To "incubate" guinea pigs you just need to feed the sow. :lol:


:lol: Yep, and nothing goes wrong when gpigs don't have enough protein either! :roll:

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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#8  Unread postby Ghost » Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:18 pm


GBov wrote: :lol: Yep, and nothing goes wrong when gpigs don't have enough protein either! :roll:


I noticed a bit of ear nibbling and some cannibalism in the heard.
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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#9  Unread postby akane » Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:09 am


It would be pretty easy to supplement guinea pigs if you did see a problems and since the only hay here usually is alfalfa along with it spread through grazing pastures I never ran into an issue. If nothing else it is easy enough to supplement with rabbit pellets. I buy 16% rabbit pellets for rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and degus because the 18% manna pro formula is only sold for a few months in spring. I was getting organic alfalfa/clover mix the past few years that can be even higher than plain alfalfa hay so it really doesn't matter I get 2% lower pellets. Usually a guinea pig will grow and produce as fast as it's going to at 12% and I definitely wouldn't bother trying to feed over 14% as you are more likely to see negatives than benefits. They drink and pee enough as it is without having to flush excess protein out of the body. :lol: Oats are 12-14%, wheat up to 12%, and most other grains are 8-11% so wouldn't drop it much. Most greens are going to be around the 8-12% dry weight range already with some being higher. The only situation I'd expect any protein problem is if they are grazing on nearly pure grass pasture with maybe some cheap grains for supplementation. That's why my grazing area I was setting up is full of herbs, native edible wildflowers, some legume cover crop mixed in with the grain and grass seed, surrounded by berry vines and bushes, and includes 2 mulberry trees. There was a recent thread on using mulberry forage. They can be around 20% protein and are practically a weed across the US. A tree grows back to several feet high when cut to the ground in the fall so we extensively use the 3 trees on our property for the small animals.

Quail on the other hand do best at 20% protein or even higher but it's often a struggle to find even the 18% gamebird feeds. For tiny button quail many order a special high quality 28% protein gamebird feed online in smaller quantities. You pretty much have to use animal protein sources to achieve that cost effectively and without having to heavily balance the feed back out in other areas.
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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#10  Unread postby GBov » Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:38 am


I had to switch to a commercial feed for my quail. The protein needs were just too high for me to reach with field peas and my mealworms are not set up yet. :oops:

GPs seem to eat more than rabbits for less weight gain, has anyone else noticed that?

Just ran my hand down bitey pig and it's thin, despite being fed more than the rabbit gets, who is fat as butter.

When I had them before I kept feeders topped up daily but with just the one I can compare one to one, as it were.

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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#11  Unread postby akane » Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:55 pm


They are not bred to the pellet meals most rabbit raisers and especially large meat herds rely on. They don't do well without a constant stream of small amounts of feed but the total kcals, protein, and fat needed in that feed is less. If you feed them on concentrated rabbit feed they will go through a lot more than a rabbit. If you feed them on easily collected or inexpensive bulk low energy foods they often do even better instead of losing condition and eat the same as a rabbit. That's kind of the point of using not just guinea pigs but the other South American rodents as meat animals. The larger Paca and Mara are also food animals in South America but exporting these 20-30lb animals is less common. They are still mostly hunted instead of domesticated in south and central america and cost $1000s in the US.

If guinea pigs are getting illogically thin on what they are being fed try increasing vit c instead. A chronically borderline low vit c will not show obvious symptoms but will basically look like overall malnutrition with slow growth, poor weight, low muscle mass, dull coats, and a poor immune system. It can look like you aren't giving enough protein or calories even when you are. They might even appear to starve to death with plenty of food intake. Many don't like relying on the amount in supplemented pellets and even if they are on mostly forage you still might want to look at adding something that while not normally thought of as having lots of useful meat raising nutrients is higher vit c. People have looked everywhere but any estimate of the vit c content of grass has not been important enough to publish. :lol: Occasionally guinea pigs have had to be supplemented despite being out on a lawn of mostly grass all day. Since I also love berries I always surround my pens in them. Of course when specifically feeding fresh food for their daily vit c a better mix of lower sugar vegetables is suggested but garden castoffs are more than enough. Most of their supplemental diet in the mountainous areas of South America comes from root vegetable peels.
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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#12  Unread postby Zass » Sun Apr 08, 2018 4:58 pm


akane wrote:
They may be a little slow to grow but no need to incubate the eggs, set up a brooder, and far less suicides and accidental homicides compared to quail. 200 quail chicks was an utter nightmare and the ways they can find to kill themselves and each other is surprising. To "incubate" guinea pigs you just need to feed the sow. :lol:


High amounts of suicides and homicides can be prevented in quail.
If I remember correctly, when you had the 200 quail peeps, you hatched far more birds then you expected to. :lol:
I've hatched them in batches up to 50 without losing more than one or two as peeps, and one or two after feathering out to mysterious circumstances.

Feeding guinea pigs is still much much easier, as the ones I had were absolutely thriving entirely on forage and scraps. (Until the long PA winters shut me down. :| )

Common herbs like dandelion and chickweed are known to be high in vit c.

It's not something someone can just jump into though, I mean, it takes a while to learn identification and nutritional properties of their available forage, but with the internet the way it is now, it's INFINITELY easier than when I was teaching myself to ID and understand plants and herbs from library books as a youth.

__________ Sun Apr 08, 2018 5:58 pm __________

Even now, (as I still have a couple of pet piggies,) I don't actively monitor vit c amounts.

I have a hunch that they may need it more often then people do, as they are smaller and have faster metabolisms.
So, instead of tracking daily amounts, I've just always made sure to have something fresh and good with a decent amount of vit c available to them about every 8 hours.

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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#13  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:27 pm


If I still lived in Florida I would have guinea pigs , they were very easy to keep in , and even when they got out and roamed- they would come back to their "house" at night. In winter, they could roam free in the greenhouse just cleaning up weeds, and grass- [they didn't like Taro, or most of the other things I grew on the ground in there so -they were not a threat to anything .
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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#14  Unread postby akane » Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:43 pm


It's a good thing all the quail hatched because I've never found anything as creative at finding ways to die. :lol: Chicken chicks will learn not to step in water after a few times but quail and guinea fowl just keep getting themselves wet so it doesn't matter if it's shallow enough they can't drown. I had to load the water dishes with granite grit so only their beaks and toes could get wet. I had to put in 2 heat lamps per pen because they crushed each other far more easily than chickens. I had a trough feeder hanging by zipties that were strong enough to raise it slightly when near empty and would get pulled tight with weight. The couple inch difference ended up crushing the ones underneath the first time they all mobbed the feeder and climbed on it during refilling. Finally without heat and big enough not to die to each other's weight I then lost several because they could fit their heads out of otherwise safe pens and got beheaded by rats, cats, coons, and whatever else got into the coop day or night. My hatch rate was great but my survival from hatch to laying age was one long series of events. :fainting:


Zass wrote:It's not something someone can just jump into though, I mean, it takes a while to learn identification and nutritional properties of their available forage, but with the internet the way it is now, it's INFINITELY easier than when I was teaching myself to ID and understand plants and herbs from library books as a youth.

I think I still have a stack of various little ID books with hand notes by relatives over the decades. My family always had an interest in the wildlife and local plants. It is much easier with tree ID sites online and various native edibles blogs. Especially since the scientific name is rarely noted and nearly all of it is dated or local common names. Occasionally I do still have to post something for ID. My previous laptop harddrive has the extensive list of edible native wildflowers for my guinea pig grazing and pollinator support area at the end of my garden.

Zass wrote:Even now, (as I still have a couple of pet piggies,) I don't actively monitor vit c amounts.

I have a hunch that they may need it more often then people do, as they are smaller and have faster metabolisms.
So, instead of tracking daily amounts, I've just always made sure to have something fresh and good with a decent amount of vit c available to them about every 8 hours.


While usually I dosed the water causing them to get some throughout the day and night mine also did fine when having once daily feedings of vit c containing foods but vit c need varies by guinea pig, stress levels, pregnancy, etc... The body can be triggered to recycle vit c but there is a variable point at which the kidneys stop dumping current excess to avoid low levels between meals. The better response an individual has the less vit c and frequency of high amounts are needed. What works for some may not be enough for others so it gets a bit inconsistent in results when you compare diets across herds. I've culled a few from breeding because they always required daily supplemental vit c beyond what I put in the water over winter to not end every pregnancy scrawny with thin coats. Feeding more dry foods did nothing to help the weight and hair loss. If you are culling for meat so that you only keep the ones that grow fast and put on the most muscle you'll naturally cull out the ones that require the most vit c.
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Re: Guinea pig dressout ratio

Post Number:#15  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:10 am


I must have been lucky-- I didn't give any vit c to the guinea pigs, all I did was let them eat weeds, grass, veggie trimmings,food scraps, and a little rolled grain mix-- I gathered all the leftovers up and gave it to the chickens each morning--, then gave the g-pigs some more fresh feed... they didn't seem to have any health problems - and they were certainly productive...
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