Within the animal keeping world you are going to come into contact with a variety of unique species, all of which have different dietary requirements. For an animal keeper it is paramount that you get it right. This is to ensure that the animal can get the energy and materials it needs for its life sustaining activities, which include maintenance/growth, reproduction, milk production, work and/or production.
There are three main feeder classifications: herbivore (species that consumes on only plant matter), omnivore (species that consumes both plant and animal matter) and carnivore (species that consume only animal matter). We ourselves are omnivores, with people having different dietary requirements. Some people are vegetarian/vegan and then you have me who can’t say no to a blue rare steak which is still mooing on my plate… I can see why I get referred to as Hannibal.
Most of our animals at the park are herbivores (goats, llamas, deer etc.) but we do have some omnivores such as the chickens and ducks. Diet is very important and we should mimic the natural diet where ever possible. It should be looked at carefully, as too much of one thing or the wrong things can have consequences – so giving the animal’s excess fruit and veg or human food is not the best idea. Special formulated feed, natural pasture and selected quantities of fruit and veg are all incorporated to the feeding regime. Therefore, a nutritionally balanced diet provides animals with all the known nutrients that they require without gross excess or deficiencies.
One of our goats enjoying his lunch.
But let’s not forget about feeding the natural wildlife we have at the park. It is always nice to see people connecting with nature and especially in the winter months when food can be scarce. But again what you are feeding them and what you should be feeding them are different things. I remember when I was young, harmlessly going to the park with a loaf of bread and feed the ducks. Although they all went crazy for it, they shouldn’t be eating it.
Tom feeding the hens.
With knowing what they eat in the wild you can tailor your feedstuff which will provide much benefit! As they normally feed upon natural insects, seeds, grains and plants you can provide them with chopped lettuce or other greens, mealworms, oats, birdseed (any type or mix) and even defrosted frozen peas! This also helps keep changes to the chemical and bacteriological content of water minimal.
So, food for thought!
Related post: Standing in the Keepers’ Shoes