baby chins wont eat alfalfa

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Agroeve

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Ok so fairly new baby owner but i know they are supposed to have unlimited alfalfa for calcium etc and timothy hay but when i fill their 'bowl' they chuck the alfalfa out to get to the timothy hay. The bottom of their cage is always full of alfalfa where they throw it out to get to the timothy hay, i have tried mixing it together, hiding the timothy hay under the alfalfa or just giving alfalfa in the morning and timothy in the evening but they just will not eat it. I am worried they are not getting what they should be. Any ideas on what i can do or an alternative?
 

tunes

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No, they are not supposed to have unlimited alfalfa, especially not babies. It can cause kidney stones and diarrhea. They can have unlimited timothy though. They probably just like it better, which is why they are choosing it over the alfalfa. If you are feeding a good quality chinchilla pellet, then they are getting the nutrients they need. The hay is more for keeping their teeth healthy.
 

Amethyst

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I wouldn't worry too much if they don't eat the alfalfa, so long as they are eating good quality alfalfa based pellets. I don't agree with tunes saying alfalfa shouldn't be given to kits though, but timothy should be the primary hay, with some alfalfa added. They need the timothy for their teeth, the alfalfa doesn't really do much for that since it's a softer plant, but it does contain a lot more nutrients, but if they are eating their pellets they shouldn't be lacking. I have never heard of a young kit getting kidney stones from eating alfalfa, but I have heard of some adults getting them from too much alfalfa since they don't need the extra calcium and protein once they stop growing. I've also not heard of kits getting diarrhea from eating alfalfa either, unless it's given suddenly. It's commonly suggested to give young kits (along with mother chins so the kits are introduced to it as soon as they start eating hay) unlimited pellets along with timothy and alfalfa hay until 6 months old.
I'm a bit surprised they don't like the alfalfa though, maybe a bad batch? Most chins seem to prefer alfalfa over grass hay. Do you know if they were being fed alfalfa before you got them? You can also try alfalfa cubes and see if they like those better.
 

tunes

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I wouldn't worry too much if they don't eat the alfalfa, so long as they are eating good quality alfalfa based pellets. I don't agree with tunes saying alfalfa shouldn't be given to kits though, but timothy should be the primary hay, with some alfalfa added. They need the timothy for their teeth, the alfalfa doesn't really do much for that since it's a softer plant, but it does contain a lot more nutrients, but if they are eating their pellets they shouldn't be lacking. I have never heard of a young kit getting kidney stones from eating alfalfa, but I have heard of some adults getting them from too much alfalfa since they don't need the extra calcium and protein once they stop growing. I've also not heard of kits getting diarrhea from eating alfalfa either, unless it's given suddenly. It's commonly suggested to give young kits (along with mother chins so the kits are introduced to it as soon as they start eating hay) unlimited pellets along with timothy and alfalfa hay until 6 months old.
I'm a bit surprised they don't like the alfalfa though, maybe a bad batch? Most chins seem to prefer alfalfa over grass hay. Do you know if they were being fed alfalfa before you got them? You can also try alfalfa cubes and see if they like those better.

I have had kits get diarrhea many times from alfalfa. I used to provide it for nursing moms regularly because it helps with milk production. I rarely do that anymore because of the issues with the kits. I would NOT give alfalfa to kits, but that is, of course, your choice. I don't know where it is commonly suggested that kits should have alfalfa, but I've never seen it. I also don't know of many breeders who do that. Again, could be a personal choice. The rule of thumb is alfalfa-based pellets, timothy hay. Most pellets are alfalfa-based, hence the use of timothy.
 

Amethyst

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Some just say alfalfa should be just a treat once the chin is over a year, here for example, Chinchilla Rescue | Forever Feisty Chinchilla Rescue | Care and Health | Hay which I would think would imply kits should be able to eat it as more then just a treat. Some actually say to feed chins timothy hay and alfalfa here for example Chinchilla Food, Treats, Diet & Nutrition

Here are some examples of sites specifically suggesting feeding alfalfa to kits.

Also recommended on FB pages here is an example
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As well as the feeding suggestions on bags of alfalfa themselves like Oxbow's Oxbow Alfalfa Hay

I'm sure I've seen it suggested on Youtube videos as well, but I don't really feel like searching those right now. I'm pretty sure at least one of the old books on chinchillas I have says to feed alfalfa, though I realize a lot of the info in those books is outdated (but still recommends it there regardless of when it was printed). I've even read on this forum in the past people saying they know breeders that only feed alfalfa and alfalfa hay/hay cubes no timothy and some claiming that breeders don't give chins any hay at all. There is a lot of varying opinions out there unfortunately making it confusing.

I realize these are not all creditable sources but showing some examples of how commonly it's recommended, I don't know, maybe all those places are wrong and kits shouldn't have any alfalfa. 🤷‍♀️ It makes sense to me that a growing chin would need more nutrients in their diet then an adult, but I'm not a breeder and only dealt with a few kits over the years.
 

tunes

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Interesting. No breeders up there. Just "chins as pets" folks. The sales website mentions young and growing chins. I would be okay with that, but not kits.
A kit, to me, is up to that 8-week mark, maybe 10 weeks. Once they are weaned, I would throw the occasional alfalfa in there. Again, it comes down to my personal choice from having had hundreds of kits and my experience with them. I go the safer route of throwing them unlimited timothy - then I don't have to worry.
 

Amethyst

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Ok, so I guess you use the term "kit" differently then I've seen others use it. I would consider a chin a kit at least until 6 months, similar to a dog is a puppy or a cat is a kitten until full grown not just until weaned. So normally when people bring a 8-12 week old chin home they are still called a kit, and from what I've seen they are listed as "kits for sale" online. Newborn kits could very well be a different story when given alfalfa though.
 

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