Opuntia Frequency?

Tom

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This question is mostly for @Will because I know from previous conversations that he has looked into opuntia nutrition a lot, but I thought everyone could learn from his wisdom instead of just me asking him privately. I'd also love to hear from anyone else with insight.

I have A LOT of opuntia stands growing at my place and many of them have really matured and begun producing tremendous quantities of new pads in the last couple of years. I could feed out a bucket full every day in summer and still have more than I need.

My question is: How much opuntia is too much? How many times a week should I feed it to my tortoises. I'm feeding a bunch of 3-8 year old sulcatas and 6 year old SA leopards. Last summer I fed it to them 2-3 times a week for some weeks. Is that too much? They also have grass hay available at all times and they all eat it. A lot. Mulberry leaves, grass clippings, and Tyler's Testudo seed mix also make up large percentages in their summer diet. Mazuri, gazania and lavatera flowers, squash leaves, fresh alfalfa and many other odds and ends make up much smaller percentages of their diet.
 

Kapidolo Farms

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Hi All,

Yeah so as much as they want daily alongside other foods. Chickens, cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs are fed massive quantities of opuntia in farming operations all over the world, and the upper limits is 60 to 70% of all food stuff offered (no at will eating of other things, the opuntia is offered as a ration in a limited amount as the farmers are living on limited means (developing countries), so every bit of everything is measured.

What that means is feeding that amount in those situations the people are trying to maximize weight gain/animal growth with least costs inputs. In this situation the World Food Organization has promoted Opuntia in many places around the world.

For tortoises, I have not found an upper limit when offered along with escarole, romaine, or other food items. I typically tumble cut up chunks with dried mulberry leaves, moistened alfalfa/orchard grass pellets etc. I see larger tortoises will preferentially select it over most all other food items.

I offer no more than daily, no less frequently than weekly.

Recently @tortadise showed a wheelbarrow load chopped out just before feeding. @ALDABRAMAN is often seen feeding it out in some of his many posted images.

As long as it is free choice alongside other food stuffs, I don't think there is an upper limit.
 

Neal

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@Will, do you have any resources for nutritional details of different types of opuntia? Or, are all opuntia created equal?
 

wellington

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Just a little info from the tortoisetable.org. uk

Common name : Opuntia Cactus (Prickly Pear/Nopales)
Latin name : Opuntia spp.
Family name : Cactaceae

Opuntia is a large genus, ranging from tree specimans to ground cover, all of which are safe (both pads and fruit). In large quantities Opuntia can have a laxative effect, so don't overfeed. Opuntia ficus indica is one of the most popular varieties for tortoises, as it has fewer spines and glochids than some of the others.
 

tortadise

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That article is quite fantastic. Also it's specific for opuntia ficus indica as well. What I feed is opuntia variata. It's fantastic, even I eat it raw, smallest needles ever and I've never had any issues in my mouth. Just chop and feed. This is fed daily mixed with dandelion, mallow, thistle, pursalain, and a boat load of other weed species I can't remember from a seed mix harvested from the garden. The dandelion and collard greens are delivered by a local farmer twice a week 4 cases each.

Here's the photo Will was referring to,
image.jpeg
 

Neal

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Thanks Kelly!

Do you have a quick and easy method of chopping up all the cactus like that?
 

Kapidolo Farms

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@Neal I posted a few articles on another thread that you "liked". Those and other are online.

Read this and you'll know more than most. http://www.fao.org/3/a-y2808e.pdf

Neal you yourself stated that your tortoises preferentially ate some varieties over others. They are not all the same. Most work has been done with varieties that are spineless or near spineless for what I will presume we can leave at "for obvious reasons".

Ten of thousands of acres are used in opuntia production all over the world. It will become ever more predominate in a world with ever less potable water. It is alot of good in one plant.
 
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Neal

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I apologize Will, too often I "like" something and think I'll come back to it and completely forget about it. I've made an actual written note (vs. mental) and will go back to the other thread, but thanks for the reminder.

I did say that they preferentially eat some over others, but that didn't tell me they differ in nutritional content.
 

tortadise

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Thanks Kelly!

Do you have a quick and easy method of chopping up all the cactus like that?
But her knife. This variety of opuntia is very very soft and very easy to chop. We have a prep table where we wash the the dandelions and greens delivered by the farmers market that where we chop it all up and chunk it in the wheel barrel. I'm not sure how cold you get in Arizona where your at. But this variety may just be successful in your area. It cannot get cold. Max lowest temp is upper 30s for this variety. I can send you some pads if you'd like.
 

Neal

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Did you mean yours is opuntia variegata? I've heard lots of good things about that type, but don't have any yet.

Thanks Kelly, I'll take you up on that offer. I think I'm up to 8 or 9 different types now.
 

tortadise

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Did you mean yours is opuntia variegata? I've heard lots of good things about that type, but don't have any yet.

Thanks Kelly, I'll take you up on that offer. I think I'm up to 8 or 9 different types now.
Yep. It's awesome and has very very small thorns and is soft and easy to cut for food.
 

tortadise

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I think I'm going to be feeding more opuntia this summer than last...
If you'd like I can also send some variagata your way as well. Pads are cheap and on me. But I do have about 20 plants 7-8' in pots ready to roll if you'd pay shipping next day freight via airlines for. You can harvest numerous pads for future growth of this species of opuntia. It's quite a most spectacular species of cacti pad. Which any species that's larger than hatchling to yearling it's fed and consumed easily without preparation. But then again I'm very very conservative in my care keeping and quite "natural, survival of this fittest" status. Not sure how much it would be, but I can't check. I'll also keep poking my Botonist friend. It's a long, long, long story. But his care keeper is now working for us part time as well on the property in future preparations for the park to be open. His main task is removing invasive species and preparing native species(flora) to be repsrensted properly(apparently the property purchased is so Undisturbed it's a local botanists dream to "groom") blah blah blah. I'm here to help if you'd like additional succulent foods I have to provide.
 

Tom

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If you'd like I can also send some variagata your way as well. Pads are cheap and on me. But I do have about 20 plants 7-8' in pots ready to roll if you'd pay shipping next day freight via airlines for. You can harvest numerous pads for future growth of this species of opuntia. It's quite a most spectacular species of cacti pad. Which any species that's larger than hatchling to yearling it's fed and consumed easily without preparation. But then again I'm very very conservative in my care keeping and quite "natural, survival of this fittest" status. Not sure how much it would be, but I can't check. I'll also keep poking my Botonist friend. It's a long, long, long story. But his care keeper is now working for us part time as well on the property in future preparations for the park to be open. His main task is removing invasive species and preparing native species(flora) to be repsrensted properly(apparently the property purchased is so Undisturbed it's a local botanists dream to "groom") blah blah blah. I'm here to help if you'd like additional succulent foods I have to provide.

Thank you Kelly. I would love to get another variety going, but we have several below freezing nights here in winter, and I don't think it would make it. I have a few other varieties that get frost damage every year, but I cut off below the damaged point and they seem to come back strong every year.
 

Kapidolo Farms

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If you are going to start from the beginning and plan a food stuff garden, this variety might be a good choice. It is the one DeanS grows. I brought some lit here on the #4 post regarding it.

http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/some-nutritional-aspects-of-opuntia-with-citation.129949/

With a little web crawling it can be found. I have some from a couple of sources now.

I have a 7 varieties going right now. The one I sell as Kapidolo Farms Cactus Chips ( https://www.facebook.com/KapidoloFarms/ ) is most likely O. ficus-indica. The stand is so old the center part which is more or less inaccessible has substantive trunks and the pads have reverted back to being spiny. Both indications of a mother plant at least 40 to 50 years old.

I also have a few plants from Tom that are growing well. A few from Bob Thomas, his plants are a much deeper green than most, no blue hue to it. I am growing a few more spiny ones that have purple/red pads. I'm guessing it may just be a novelty for the tortoises or may indeed have a much higher quantity of betalain in it. This compound is what may make the even greenish looking pads (our eyes) seem pink or reddish to tortoises.

My garden is in flux, aside from the giant patch I harvest from, all these others are in pots until I can sort out a better in-ground location. One thing I have noticed is snails are fully able to take opuntia down. They are the first snails harvested for the hingebacks.
 

motero

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The ficus-indica Is my torts favorite food. Some will pass up mazuri and heads of lettuces to get to the cactus. I feed it sporadically through out the year but when it is cactus time it is alot. I have about twenty mature plants over six feet tall. I haven't noticed any bad effects of letting them gorge on it for days at a time.
 

Tom

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The ficus-indica Is my torts favorite food. Some will pass up mazuri and heads of lettuces to get to the cactus. I feed it sporadically through out the year but when it is cactus time it is alot. I have about twenty mature plants over six feet tall. I haven't noticed any bad effects of letting them gorge on it for days at a time.

This was the kind of first hand experience I was hoping to hear about. Thank you.
 

Len B

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If you harvest the fruit a day or 2 or maybe even 3 days after blooming, is it better (more nutrition) for the tortoises than waiting for it to ripen.and get red.fruit 3 lbs.jpg If I leave these on the plant they swell up and get bigger with the seeds getting large, right now when you split them no seeds to really talk about. Note, He didn't eat these all by himself, help was not far away.
 

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