What makes Burgess different to other brands?
There are basically two types of feeding guidelines for rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas in South Africa:
- Traditional Muesli foods which constitutes 90% of diet and is supplemented with some hay
- New Excel 5 Step Feeding Plan which recommends fresh grass and hay as 90% of diet and supplemented with small quantity of pellets
The Excel 5-step feeding plan is supported by all animal welfare organizations such as PDSA, RSPCA and vets.
The pros and cons of each feeding plan. (Muesli Diet Versus Excel Feeding Plan)
The biggest problem with muesli foods, is that 90% of rabbit owners do not feed their pets enough grass and hay. This is because they do not feed correct proportions. For example, if you feed your rabbit or guinea pig a bowl full of muesli, it becomes 80-90% of the diet. It does not matter that you place hay in the cage, they going to eat the muesli first. If you fill the bowl with veggies, then the veggies become 80-90% of the diet. Because grass and hay is not as tasty as muesli or veggies, rabbits and guinea pigs will eat commercial food or veggies first. Too much veggies are also a major problem because they do not have enough fibre. Many pet owners don’t even know their rabbit is supposed to eat grass. Local exotic vets report that many rabbits and guinea pigs are presenting with diet related problems. They are simply eating too little grass or hay and too much commercial food that is extremely low in fibre. Fibre is the most important ingredient of a rabbit or guinea pig’s diet.
How much hay should be fed to a rabbit or guinea pig on a daily basis?
Look at the body size of your rabbit or guinea pig. Give them a pile of feeding hay that is equivalent to their body size. Each rabbit or guinea pig needs to eat this amount each day. You can give a little extra but never less. You need to make sure they eat all of it, by not leaving any commercial food in their food bowls. If they have access to fresh grass daily, then they will eat a little less hay.
Why is it important to measure commercial food and feed veggies as treats?
The biggest revelation came in 2013, when Professor Anne Meredith from University of Edinburgh released her two year study on 200 rabbits. The white papers of the research lead to the conclusion that rabbits and guinea pigs that are fed good quality hay and fresh grass daily, do not need any commercial food.
This is why animal nutritionists all over the world changed the feeding guidelines in 2013 based on research by Professor Anne Meredith. They said that when we feed our rabbits and guinea pigs commercial food, it must be strictly measured, for example an adult rabbit should only be fed 2-3 heaped tablespoons of high fibre pellets daily and a guinea pig or chinchilla should only be fed one heaped tablespoon of high fibre pellets daily. They should be encouraged to eat more grass and hay.
If a rabbit owner chooses to feed muesli food, then the same feeding guideline should be followed. Feed only 2-3 heaped tablespoons of muesli to make it 10% of the diet.
Burgess Excel Nuggets is not food! It is Complimentary Diet!
No other aspect of feeding rabbits or guinea pigs is more misunderstood than that of offering pellets. Pellets such as Burgess Excel nuggets should only be a very small part (10%) of their diet. A heaped tablespoon of Excel Nuggets for a guinea pig will constitute 10% of the diet. But if you feed a guinea pig a whole bowl full of Excel Nuggets, it now becomes 70-80% of the diet. They are not likely to eat hay when they are full on nuggets or any other commercial food.
Also, avoid mistakes when feeding vegetables. Veggies should not be iceberg lettuce or carrots, but rather dark leafy greens such as dandelion leaves, basil leaves, mint leaves, oregano, parsley, strawberry leaves, apple tree leaves, etc and you should feed it like a treat. A few parsley and mint leaves constitute 10% of a diet. They are there to add variety to the diet and it’s best to alternate each day with a different leafy green. But once again, if you exceed this proportion and offer a bowl full of veggies, then it become 50-80% of the diet, and the health of the rabbit or guinea pig may be at risk.
It is really difficult for pet owners to grasp that fresh grass and good quality hay should be the “Balanced Diet” or “Complete Diet” The small amount of pellets that you feed is there to supplement the diet of fresh grass and hay and not the other way round. Think of Burgess Excel Nuggets as vitamin tablets and not food.
We have care guide brochures available for guinea pigs, rabbits, chinchillas, rats, dog and cats to help educate your customers on proper husbandry.
What makesthe quality of Burgess Excel Feeding Hays extremely high?
Burgess obtains their timothy hay exclusively from New Hay farm in England. This farm has been winning awards each year for most nutritional timothy hay in Europe. Their hay is so good it is exclusively used for race horse industry. So how do they do it? Hay all over the world is made using traditional methods. When they cut the grass it is allowed to air dry outside in the field for a few weeks to allow moisture to evaporate. The problem with this method is that hay becomes very dusty, fungi may develop and nutritional content may degrade due to extended exposure to sun and other environmental factors.
New Hay Farm exclusively grows their grass for feeding purposes and every step of their harvesting process is designed to keep the hay as dry, fresh and green as possible. They have hundreds of custom designed machines built in Italy that dry the hay in special warehouses. The security is very tight on the farm, as no cameras or cell phones are allowed on the property. You can virtually see the steam rise from the hay as the machines are removing moisture, which takes only a few minutes. This whole process from the field to packaged product takes only 48 hours! No other farm or manufacturer is making hay this way. This is why Burgess Excel Feeding Hays (timothy hay) maintains its nutrients and rabbits and guinea pigs find it more palatable than any other hay. Many customers have told us their guinea pigs refuse to eat any other hay, other than Burgess. That is very good news. In every industry there is science behind every product. New Hay Farm has perfected the science of making the best timothy hay in the world.
What is difference between our local hays and Burgess Excel Feeding Hays (timothy hay)?
Teff and Eragrostis are perhaps two of the more widely used hay varieties in South Africa. Because of our weather conditions in South Africa, Teff and Eragrostis hay is a soft kind of hay, whilst Timothy hay from UK is long fibre hay with a dry, course, fibrous texture which is better suited for wearing down teeth. Whilst our local hay is also good to feed, imported Timothy hay on the other hand has the right combination of both long fibre and nutrition to prevent dental disease and digestive problems. This means your small furry will probably consume less timothy hay to get ideal maintenance, whilst you may have to feed a lot more of our local hay to get the same maintenance.
What makes Burgess Excel Nuggets different to other pellets?
All other pellet diets from other manufacturers are marketed as complete diets, whilst Burgess Excel Nuggets are labelled as complimentary diet. The formulation of Burgess Excel nuggets is different because it contains only essential vitamins, minerals, prebiotics and antioxidants that is needed to compliment a diet of 90% grass and hay, whilst other pellet diets are made as complete diet to replace a diet of grass and hay.
The standard rabbit pellets found in grocery stores were originally developed as substitute for hay. It does not contain any nutritional additives and is basically Lucerne compressed into a pellet. These pellets are extremely low in fibre because Lucerne is grounded into a powder during the pellet making process.
The main ingredient for most pellets is normally Lucerne (alfalfa hay) which contains too much protein and calcium. Burgess Excel Nuggets on the other hand uses timothy grass as their main ingredient.
And not all grass is the same. At Burgess, they believe in producing grass with the highest possible nutritional value. When you look at their Excel products for rabbits and guinea pigs, you’ll find that grass is listed as the first ingredient. This is because, in the wild, grass is what these small animals would eat. As pets, it remains the most important element of their diet. However, not all grass is the same. The grass used in Burgess Excel Nuggets is sourced from the UK to meet their stringent specifications and is exclusive to Burgess. No other pet food manufacturer has access to their grass.
Burgess is proud of their grass for a number of reasons:
- They have full traceability and know exactly which field each batch comes from and the date it was harvested.
- The field margins have been enhanced with wild flowers and rare plants are encouraged, such as yellow-wort, autumn gentian, dyer’s greenweed, clustered bellflower, pyramidal and man orchids, to encourage pollinating insects.
- The grass is harvested when it’s at its lushest to ensure the optimum level of nutrients and fibre, helping to ensure that Burgess Excel products delivers all the goodness pet animals require.
- To help reduce the impact on the environment, their grass is wilted (naturally dried) for 12 hours in the field, which reduces the energy required by machines to dry it.
- The gas used to dry their grass comes from an anaerobic digestion plant – where bacteria are used to produce natural gas – further reducing the environmental impact. The drying process is rapid, taking just 90 seconds, which helps to maintain the nutrient levels, so they are as close as possible to those found in fresh grass. The grass is then compressed into pellets for ease of transport before being delivered to their Yorkshire mill.
For Burgess, it’s all about the detail. The attention they apply to their grass is something that they replicate across all their ingredients. With Burgess, you know you can feed your pets with complete confidence.