Guinea Pigs in Orchard

Discussion in 'Breeding, Raising, Feeding and Caring for Animals' started by rickandem, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. rickandem

    rickandem New Member

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    We have an orchard that we want to keep the grass and weeds down in. We are contemplating fencing it with tight wire down low and letting guinea pigs mow it for us. We wouldn't be able to lock them up each night as we live about 3kms away but would have a water source for them and little hidey holes for them to live in. Does this sound ridiculous? I guess my concerns are that they would attract snakes and foxes and that they would breed like rabbits and I would go down in history as the people who "introduced" guinea pigs as a feral species!!! Thoughts??
     
  2. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Hi rick, what part of the world are you in?

    I'd be concerned about dogs too. It's an interesting idea though, as opposed to keeping them in big cages. I'm tempted to suggest putting them in large guinea pig tractors, but having the free range would be so much better. How big is the orchard? What kind of fencing would you put in? You could put in predator proof fencing if you have the $.
     
  3. rickandem

    rickandem New Member

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    Southern South Australia. We are thinking of fencing with normal fencing and then adding about 30 cms of 1cm gap wire to the bottom. There aren't many dogs around us as its not heavily populated.
     
  4. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    What about geese or ducks? They are good lawn mowers.
     
  5. teela

    teela Junior Member

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    Hello Rickandem. I had this same idea. We've already tried sheep. ducks and geese in our orchards without success. Sheep ringbark all the trees, Ducks ate leaves off all the newly planted citrus trees and killed them and geese did same. Foxes are always a problem unfortunately. The idea came to me after my kids had guinea pigs and we'd put the GPs in a cage with no bottom to chew the grass during the day, at the end of the day there'd be a little square patch of nicely mowed and fertilised lawn. I don't think GPs are nocturnal which is a plus cause then they are out when the foxes are hiding, but then you'd need to watch for hawks ect. The thing is you'd need heaps of GPs and somewhere they can hide that's safe from foxes, hawks and cats. What ideas have you come up with?
     
  6. floot

    floot Junior Member

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    Hello RickandEm,

    I think what you are trying to do is very possible with a few different strategies. Firstly though I would need a few questions answered.

    1. How many GP's do you currently have and how many do you want to end up with?
    2. Do you have permanent water or town water on the block?
    3. What is the approx size of the orchard?

    Just a bit of background as a child, many years ago, I assisted an Italian family's kids to care for and consume GP's which they ate once a week at least. This was in Sunraysia so a similar climate and issues were dealt with.

    Cheers,
     
  7. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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  8. insipidtoast

    insipidtoast Junior Member

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    This is an extremely delicate creature. Having said this, Peruvians and Ecuadorians have done the most breeding work and they have worked out how to acheive Guinea pigs ready for the table (about 1kg) in 3 months. Their breeding has also seemed to make them a bit less delicate than the North American bred Guinea pigs. North American treatment of Guinea Pigs seems hilarious when in comparison with Andean treatment of the creature. North Americans treat them more as pets and even have Guinea Pig shows where individuals are judged on grooming and phenotypical features. Although Andean culture has contributed to developing permaculturally significant qualities of this animal, Guinea Pigs still seem a bit more susceptible to health problems than other farm animals.

    First of all, Cavia porcellus is very low on the food chain. This is especially understandable when you consider how tastey cooked cuy is. Probably close to 100 times better than the best meat I ever had prior to my first culinary plunge into the world of small rodents. They are virtually the prey of everything. So protection from predators is very important. You can fence them, but predatory birds will get them if there's no roof.

    The only sensible way to raise them is in an enclosed "tractor" where they have a ramp leading to a very well-insullated room. I emphasize a well-insullated room because they are also susceptible to cold temperatures. This is a successful set up, and would probably be best followed by a chicken tractor to maximize the ground preparation. The Guinea pigs eat the vegetation and expose the soil, urinating and defecating, which allows the chickens easier access to the soil's macrofauna.

    Another consideration is that Guinea pigs don't mix well with other animals primarily due to stress, and are even highly susceptible to disease transferred from other rodents. That is also the reason why the Chicken tractor should follow the Guinea Pig tractor and not the other way around.

    Guinea pigs are voracious. Peruvians liken them to miniature goats, so thoroughly protect any plants that you wish to grow.

    They don't dig and they don't climb so they are very easy to contain.

    I made a power point presentation about this topic. If you can help me figure out how to upload it, then I will gladly share it with you all.

    Here are some resources (mostly in spanish) to get you started with your own research:
    https://archive.idrc.ca/books/reports/1997/33-01s.html
    https://historiadelagastronomia.over-blog.es/article-historia-del-cuy-49838097.html
    https://www.bensoninstitute.org/Publication/Thesis/SP/cuyecuador.pdf
    https://idl-bnc.idrc.ca/dspace/bitstream/10625/22151/1/112582.pdf
    https://cavyhistory.tripod.com/
    https://livesimplylive.com/tag/guinea-pig-tractor/
     
  9. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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    So how did this Guinea Pig experiment go? Setting up a run around the edge of an enclosed orchard might help with conveying them back to housing and running them between paddocks.
     
  10. aroideana

    aroideana Junior Member

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    Mate had several in his bird cages .. he gave them bits of water pipe to live and hide in .. pigs just loved all of the excess bird seed scattered ..
    he added lots of greens from his very large garden .. we tried several ways of cooking them , best was a soup .. though did not grill any
     

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