We are fortunate to be raising an animal that is very low cost. When we entered the industry in 1967 we were told you could ‘feed a Chinchilla for a penny a day or so’. Even with today’s higher feed costs, Chinchilla can still be raised economically.
This is true because of their size. A 24 ounce animal cannot consume very much. A simple diet of a high quality commercial pellet, hay and clean water is all that is required. An adult will consume only about 15-20 pounds of feed per year. Usually two or three tablespoons of pellets a day is all that is required. Giving a small piece of alfalfa cube (or quality loose hay) a couple times a week is also good for them. Chinchillas will not overeat. They can be self fed. In other words, a feeder holding a 3-4 day supply can be used and they will self feed if you should be gone a couple days with no problem.
Even though quality genetics is the key to raising top quality animals, good nutrition helps get the best out of your animals. You will have faster early growth, enhancement of the overall coat of fur and mothers will have plenty of milk to raise much healthier babies.
The biggest thing is do not tidbit feed. Many people today give all kinds of treats and supplements that are not needed. Feeding a good quality feed, fresh hay and water is all that is needed. Giving extra things can unbalance their diet and may cause the animal not to consume enough Chinchilla feed which is formulated with all their daily requirements.
One adult animal will consume about 1˝ ounces of water per day. Using a pint water bottle and replacing it with a clean filled bottle when it is empty is the easiest system. A mother and babies or multiple babies in a cage when weaned will go through probably a couple bottles a week. Others will usually consume a bottle a week.
It is a good idea to have a few extra water bottles on hand so that you can take off the empty bottles and replace with a clean filled bottle. You can then wash the empty bottles thoroughly (in your dish washer if you wish) and fill and have ready for the next time.
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