Totoise Salad Dressing

Markw84

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I have been using a mixture of ingredients I put on top of their greens for some time now. I used to frequently put moistened Mazuri or Rep Cal on top as I tended to not just feed those things by themselves. It evolved into a mixture I came up with to try to be sure all the right vitamins, minerals, fiber, calcium, etc. was getting to them and they weren't able to pick the things they liked. I also cannot grow enough weeds and flowers, and grape leaves, year-round to keep up with the tortoises. So I do resort to produce. Although I most always can mix with weeds, etc, This time year, I end up with a lot of produce as the major part of the greens. Even though I go with endive, escarole, dandelion, kale, Green leaf, Romaine as the mix, I wanted to balance out the diet with the "right" stuff and get much more fiber, and ensure the right calcium / phosphorus ratios, etc, etc, etc.

I actually took a lot of this idea from a thread about 4 year ago or so by @DeanS he called Tortoise Meatballs.

So, here's what I've ended up with. This is normally served on top of their greens. Most of the year that is a mix of weeds, Grape leaves, petunia, gazania, hibiscus, coleus, and whatever else I can get growing in the yard.

Since a few have asked for what I do for this "salad dressing" I went ahead and took pictures as I made today's batch.

I start with these two 2 cup measuring cups, heaping with Mazuri. One of them has 1 cup of Rep Cal Tortoise food with the rest filled with Mazuri.

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I pout this into a LARGE bowl and add 3 of these cups totally full - so about 7-8 cups of water.

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I let this sit while I prepare the hay and cactus so the pellets become soft.

Next, I use a blender to chop up timothy hay or orchard grass hay. Today was Timothy Hay. I pack iti in well, and it is cut up pretty good, so that is really a lot of hay in there. 4 cups of this hay.

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I now throw in 2 cups of tortoisesupply's herbal hay just to get a good mix of all types of natural forage.

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Now I take about 3 oputina cactus pads. That's normally about 1 1/4 - 1 1/13 lbs of opuntia.

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I grate that up in a food processor. It makes about 3-4 cups.

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Now I just mix it thoroughly by hand...

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That normally makes about 6 1/2 - 7 lbs. Since I use about as pound every day, it lasts me a week kept in the tortoise refrigerator in a Tupperware container.

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The pellet food gives great vitamin and mineral balance - like their one-a-day vitamin! The oputia dramatically adds all the calcium they could use, and totally outweighs any phosphorus or oxalates any of the greens that day may contain. The tremendous amount of hay adds an extremely high fiber content to the mix, and gets even very young tortoises a lot of hay in their diet.

Here's a feeding a few months ago, with some topping spring mix. Spring mix would normally make me feel like I was feeding them 'junk food" quite deficient in many areas, but with the salad dressing - it is a great balance meal.
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And here's a few days ago, with a mix of escarole, romaine, dandelion, and kale for the greens.IMG_4543.JPG

It's amazing how much food they put away! That whole pile will be totally gone by the next morning.
 

wellington

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Oh, thank you, thank you. I will be trying this for sure. I basically feed most of what you mentioned, except the hay. I feed it, they don't eat it. I like the method of how you chop the hay. Will make things much easier.
 

Markw84

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Oh, thank you, thank you. I will be trying this for sure. I basically feed most of what you mentioned, except the hay. I feed it, they don't eat it. I like the method of how you chop the hay. Will make things much easier.
Yes, the hay has always been the hardest part. I found if I cut the hay with scissors into about 2-3" pieces and put just a handful in the blender at a time, it works quite well. Otherwise, the hay will simply bridge across the blender and nothing gets to the blades.
 

bouaboua

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Thank you Mark for share this recipe of yours.

May I have your permission to translate this into Chinese and share it with my Chinese Chelonian loving friends?

Thank you in advances.
 

wellington

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Yes, the hay has always been the hardest part. I found if I cut the hay with scissors into about 2-3" pieces and put just a handful in the blender at a time, it works quite well. Otherwise, the hay will simply bridge across the blender and nothing gets to the blades.
Do you think or know if a food processor would work better? I just got one earlier this month just for chopping stuff for my torts. My blender is crappy.
 

KevinGG

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Thanks Mark. Great info. Do you use this with all of the species you keep?
 

Markw84

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Do you think or know if a food processor would work better? I just got one earlier this month just for chopping stuff for my torts. My blender is crappy.
I tried my food processor, Barb, and it did not chop the hay well at all. The blender was what I had to go to. Let me know if yours works.
 

wellington

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I tried my food processor, Barb, and it did not chop the hay well at all. The blender was what I had to go to. Let me know if yours works.
Thanks, I'll try it. I was thinking maybe the bowl is too big and doesn't really angle to the blades like the shape of most blenders. If it doesn't work, I'll have to try the blender.
 

Markw84

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Thanks, I'll try it. I was thinking maybe the bowl is too big and doesn't really angle to the blades like the shape of most blenders. If it doesn't work, I'll have to try the blender.
Yes, that seems to be what I found. The blades would just catch the hay and spin it, not cut it.
 

Neal

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Do you feed it all after you make it, or do you store some?

I do something similar, but it takes a lot of time and I've always wondered about making a big batch of it and keeping it in the fridge for use over a few days or a week. My concern would be nutrient loss...I just don't know enough about that sort of thing to even know if that's a valid concern or not.
 

Markw84

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Do you feed it all after you make it, or do you store some?

I do something similar, but it takes a lot of time and I've always wondered about making a big batch of it and keeping it in the fridge for use over a few days or a week. My concern would be nutrient loss...I just don't know enough about that sort of thing to even know if that's a valid concern or not.
Neal

It does take about an hour for me to make a batch, so I make a batch to last about 7 days. In my indoor enclosures, I am feeding 14 tortoises with it. They total just over 8000g combined. As they grow, my batches keep getting larger. I like feeding them about 5% of their weight with this daily - so I currently use about 400g+ (a pound) of this a day. I have a dedicated tortoise food refrigerator in my tortoise room and keep it in there in a Tupperware container. I have had no problem keeping it a week. I just won't try any longer than that though. I often will go several days in between batches with no "dressing" on their greens for the day - depending upon the quality of the greens I have available.

I am no expert on nutritional analysis, but from what I've been able to find, refrigeration and a sealed container, goes a long ways towards preserving most of the nutritional value.
 

wellington

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Vacuum sealed would really do good here and should make it last longer and fresher. I used one for freezing cactus and tried it on some kind of leaf that I now can't remember which kind. It worked great, except I burned it out the first day doing so much cactus at once.
 

wellington

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Okay, a blender works better then a food processor. My processor has two dicing blades and one regular blade. None did well. My blender did better, but not good enough. It's also very old and has the container that is more narrow at the bottom, where the blade is then at the top. I think if any one has one of the Ninja blenders or a blender that is suppose to crush ice cubes and the container is just as wide at the blade as the top, it would be much better.
This is a project for outside though. No matter how careful you are with hay, it still gets all over the place, ugh. Oh well, I will continue to chop it up. I can easily mix it with Mazuri and they eat it! A first and that's great. I even mixed in grass clippings I saved for winter feeding and they are eating that too, another first. Well, outside of their own grazing they might do.
I haven't even added all the ingredients that's in Marks recipe yet. Figured I mix it up more seeing I'm more limited with winter snow and cold. Still, Some good winter feeding going on over her.
Thanks Mark for the great recipe share.
 
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