Minerals and trace elements form an essential part of the diet of all living creatures. They act as co-vitamins, co-minerals and co-enzymes, actively affecting the transmission of signals between nerve cells and maintaining the electrolyte balance in the body.
Soil worldwide has been depleted of many minor minerals and trace elements through intensive farming and the use of chemical fertilisers, this means that the foods grown in these soils, including seeds hay, is also deficient in these minor elements. Although the main mineral of concern when keeping rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas is calcium and its relationship with phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, selenium and zinc, it is also important to ensure a supply of these minor minerals and trace animals which may not be present in commercial diets.
Galen’s Hedgerow Herb Blend was designed as a source of these minerals and trace elements. A blend of 20 different herbs and wild plants grown without pesticides on land away from other sources of contamination. A pinch a day is enough to provide these missing elements. Good meadow hay, especially organic hay, will also provide these elements.
Calcium is required by all animals to build healthy teeth and bones. There needs to be a proper balance between the levels of calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. The calcium to phosphorous ratio should be Ca 1.5 : P 1 for guinea pigs, Ca 1 – 2 : P 1 for chinchillas and Ca 1.5 – 2 : P 1 for rabbits.
The level of calcium in the diet should be roughly 1% with phosphorous in proportion. With this level of calcium and the correct balance of Ca:P, magnesium at 0.3% of the diet is adequate. More magnesium is required where the level of either calcium or phosphorous is low. Vitamins D and C are also important for the proper utilisation of calcium. Trace elements important for healthy teeth and bones include boron, silica and zinc.
Calcium and the other balancing elements are even more important for pregnant, lactating or young growing animals. Deficiency during pregnancy or lactation can lead to hypocalcaemia and in young growing animals to dental problems and deformity. Excess calcium is normally excreted but there may be occasions, such as in the case of urinary tract stones or calculus, where the level of calcium or its relationship to phosphorous needs to be reduced.
A good supplementary source of Calcium is Osteocare Liquid for humans. A rich source of calcium (30mg/ml) which also contains Vitamin D (15 iu/ml), magnesium (15 mg/ml) and zinc (0.6mg/ml) for effective calcium utilisation. Feed 0.5m1/kg bodyweight per day.