Increasing fibre intake - a practical guide

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Increasing fibre intake - a practical guide

Postby Tortoise Trust » Tue Oct 07, 2014 4:00 am

We know from multiple studies carried out on a range of tortoise species, that fibre intake in the wild is extremely high. Typically 30-40%. Captive diets, comparison, are generally much less, often as low as 8%. This is critically important as fibre intake is massively important to controlling excess growth, and to the general digestive health of tortoises. For a more detailed overview on this see our previous report:

http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/dietaryfibre.html

So, we know it is important... but how to achieve it? It is not actually easy. It can certainly also be inconvenient and very expensive. You can, for example purchase a range of products that will effectively increase the overall fibre content of the diet. For example:

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In general terms, the coarser and less finely ground the dried material is, the better, as more long fibres are preserved:

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Some foods are available as pellets. It is extremely important to understand the difference between suitable pellets and unsuitable pellets. There are only a very few that are really suitable on the market. Most are highly processed and contain entirely unsuitable 'fillers' based on grain by-products. These should be avoided. They are highly damaging. Carefully study the ingredients of anything you buy. More is not better... avoid those with poorly researched and unnecessary additives.

One company, AGROBS, has produced a range of genuinely high quality, suitable pellet-form dried food:

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We have tested these extensively and presently, they are the only pelleted food we can recommend as safe and effective.


Broken down, they look like this:

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One drawback with such products is availability and cost. There is, however, a method whereby you can produce some of your own dried foods... we have been testing this for 12 months and can report it does work. It is easy to do, uses very little energy (it relies on a low wattage heating element and a small fan), and is fairly quick. Unlike oven drying, it does not degrade nutrients to the same extent. Air drying of food has been used for thousands of years. It has a proven track record... but air drying is colder, damper countries has always been difficult.. until now..

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Look for a 'Food dehydrator' in a kitchen appliance supplier!

These are highly effective at removing moisture from plant foods. They produce a result similar to that achieved by sun drying, but in a fraction of the time. Here are a few examples of ours at work:

Fresh 'tortoise weeds ready for drying.

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A few hours later...

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The dried product can be mixed with fresh green leaves and flowers, or given as 'crisps' or 'crunchies'.

It will considerably improve the fibre content of your tortoise's diet. Make a lot while weeds are available and store it is sealed containers (we used 'Zip-Lok' type plastic bags). In conjunction with our proved WINTER DIET this can make a real difference to your tortoises. Try it!

http://www.tortoisetrust.org/enews/

Mix the dried with the fresh... the extra coarse fibres really help.

You can make your own... there are lots of ideas on the internet for solar powered versions too...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnI6EPvpN28

Just search for 'Solar food dehydrator'

We found several of the electric models shown on sale for at little as €20 each.... they are capable of producing enough for a tortoise or two, but if you want to scale up production, look at some of the self-build designs out there.


Let us know how you get on!
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Re: Increasing fibre intake - a practical guide

Postby Bigjoe » Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:10 pm

Excellent Andy ...never even heard of a food dehydrator.,I'll give this a shot.
Joe
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Re: Increasing fibre intake - a practical guide

Postby Bigjoe » Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:22 pm

Miss Paula has just ordered this one.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Charles-Jacobs- ... dehydrator

Now I sure hope miss Paula can't burn things with this...unlike our oven..
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Re: Increasing fibre intake - a practical guide

Postby Janed » Tue Oct 07, 2014 5:37 pm

I'm going to have a go at this! I've recently bought some of the Agrobs pellets and the girls seem to like them when they've been hydrated and broken up and added to dandelion or whatever. But the idea of knowing exactly what you're giving them is very appealing!
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Re: Increasing fibre intake - a practical guide

Postby Janed » Tue Oct 07, 2014 6:41 pm

Have just bought one via Amazon and thought I wouldn't copy you, Joe. But I don't know how to get a pic of it, now in Pictures on my iPad, to this post!! You wouldn't ever guess that I was in IT all my working life!

Jane
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Re: Increasing fibre intake - a practical guide

Postby Jonesy » Tue Oct 07, 2014 6:55 pm

Bigjoe wrote:Miss Paula has just ordered this one.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Charles-Jacobs- ... dehydrator

Now I sure hope miss Paula can't burn things with this...unlike our oven..



Same here it will save putting my hibiscus flowers in the oven to dehydrate, although they are all gone now. Bought one as well.
Be careful as there is other makes on amazon but read the write ups first as some have problems with the shelves breaking. This one seems the best from what I have read.
Thanks for the info Andy :)
Linda

Pre Alpin Foods, Seeds, Calcium, Hedgehog rescue http://www.tortoiselady.co.uk
Donation given to Jill Martin Fund for every sale of pre alpin
Holiday Bungalow at http://www.gullrockfairbourne.co.uk
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Re: Increasing fibre intake - a practical guide

Postby Tortoise Trust » Wed Oct 08, 2014 1:28 am

I would say that this method provides additional variety, and can be very successfully used in conjunction with the Agrob product, or by itself when that is not available. You will be astonished at how much a dandelion, for example, reduces in size/weight once dried....it's incredible! Really brings home just how much water is in most "soft" vegetation. I was planning on including a comparison between say, "soft" type weeds and "coarse" weeds but given we had no rain from May until last week, I was not able to find any! Normally, our own tortoises live on 100% natural, outdoor graze, but this year we ended up having to provide extra. First time ever. Still, that did give me the chance to compare "input" vs "output", as it were! :lol:

I did not want to hold off any longer as I know many will find this useful. I will add in a few comparisons later, as the vegetation is (finally) coming back again now.
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Re: Increasing fibre intake - a practical guide

Postby Tortoise Trust » Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:15 am

For the technically minded... one thing i have consistently noticed (having worked on tortoise diets both in humid tropical habitats and extreme arid habitats) is how much the digestibility of plant food varies according to the habitat type.

Tropical, humid - High digestibility
Temperate, arid - Low digestibility

This also applies to weeds you harvest yourself...so if you are in a damper, cooler climate, the digestibility of your weeds will be quite different than if you were picking them on the edges of a desert. Remember, for the effect we are looking for here (Testudo diets) we are actually looking for LOW digestibility...

Some of the reasons for this are explained in this paper, which although not directed at tortoise diets, the principle still applies:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1 ... 6.10421044

(Temperature and atmospheric humidity effects on cell wall content and dry matter digestibility of some tropical and temperate grasses)

Worth a read.
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Re: Increasing fibre intake - a practical guide

Postby Avatar » Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:26 am

Thanks for sharing! Food dehydrator....I have never heard about it neither!
Definitely save my money on buying dried herbs! Currently I am using this one to increase the fibre content (http://www.burgesspetcare.com/product/n ... den-herbs/). It's good but it's even better if it can be homemade :P
Another good thing is you can make natural dried snacks in home: dehydrated banana/Apple/kiwi.... :lol:
Regards,
Gloria

1 Sulcata
1 Testudo Graeca
1 Red Ear Slider
1 Chinese Striped-necked turtle
1 Reeves's turtle
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Re: Increasing fibre intake - a practical guide

Postby Tortoise Trust » Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:46 am

Avatar wrote:Currently I am using this one to increase the fibre content (http://www.burgesspetcare.com/product/n ... den-herbs/). It's good but it's even better if it can be homemade :P


I had not seen that before, but it looks like a good product. 30%+ fibre, 10% protein... that is really pretty good.

Results look very similar to what you get from a dehydrator as described above.

If you have never used one, here's a simple guide to to getting good results.

http://www.motherearthliving.com/cookin ... z3FX8ItsUQ
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