Totoise Salad Dressing

MichaelaW

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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.View attachment 195257

It's amazing how much food they put away! That whole pile will be totally gone by the next morning.
Have you ever substituted soaked pelleted hay from Tractor Supply for the ordinary hay?
 

Dizisdalife

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Have you ever substituted soaked pelleted hay from Tractor Supply for the ordinary hay?
I have used several pelleted hays and cubed hays. It saved cutting and blending the hay into small size for young tortoises. Usually I buy them from the local feed shops, but there is one from Tractor Supply, a mix of Timothy and Alfalfa, that I have been feeding recently. It happens to be hay cubes.
 

Markw84

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I have used several pelleted hays and cubed hays. It saved cutting and blending the hay into small size for young tortoises. Usually I buy them from the local feed shops, but there is one from Tractor Supply, a mix of Timothy and Alfalfa, that I have been feeding recently. It happens to be hay cubes.
The hay cubes are convenient, However, I would stay with the Orchard grass if possible. The timothy is usually pretty stemmy, so not as much tender leaf goes into it. The Alfalfa is over doulble the protein at about 17-18% protein vs. the orchard grass at 9% protein. Since I use the hay to up the fiber and lower the overall protein with the Mazuri, I like the orchard grass.
 

Dizisdalife

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The hay cubes are convenient, However, I would stay with the Orchard grass if possible. The timothy is usually pretty stemmy, so not as much tender leaf goes into it. The Alfalfa is over doulble the protein at about 17-18% protein vs. the orchard grass at 9% protein. Since I use the hay to up the fiber and lower the overall protein with the Mazuri, I like the orchard grass.
For young tortoises I agree that timothy hay is not the best. Or alfalfa either. Both have stems that are too large for the young ones. When my tortoise was under 3 years old he got orchard grass hay and bermuda hay. I would re-hydrate pellets and mix it with Mazuri as a salad dressing for his greens. The mix of Timothy-Alfalfa I have been using has a minimum protein of 12%, less than that of Mazuri at 15%, and of course has a max fiber of 32%. It is not stemmy like straight Timothy hay usually is. Probably during the processing it goes through to become a mix and a cube of hay the stems are softened up. It has a good gradation of very fine and easily digestible to coarser, less digestible, materials. Once it is re-hydrated it mixes well with Mazuri and sticks to all the greens that the salad dressing is added to. That's one of the things I like best about this particular feed mixture. Mostly I feed orchard grass or burmuda to my sulcata, so I am not concerned about occasional protein from alfalfa in his diet. There is both bermuda grass and orchard grass growing in his enclosure for him to graze on. I do feed Timothy grass hay in December and January along with orchard grass hay. It's the only time of the year we get good Timothy around here. Meaning it is less stemmy and more leafy.
 

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