Winter feeding way up north.

Jodie

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Winter is a challenge. I live in Spokane Valley WA. Literally nothing grows November through at least February. I extend grow times as much as possible with greenhouses, but am still left with an expensive few months. I have an adult Sulcata, 65 pounds, 5 adult leopards, 8 to 25 pounds, a juvenile leopard, 6 babies, and 3.7.7 Russians, who are on their way asleep, so they don't count.
I have figured out a few things over the years, and wanted to share. Very open to suggestions that would improve the diet as well. Not grow inside. Can't grow enough to even matter, huge waste of space.
I buy spring mix weekly at Costco, and endive, escarole and something else that varies from grocery. Each day I chop a bucket of spring mix, a bucket of the other mixed greens up, and add a hand full of soaked grassland tortoise food, and a hand full of soaked Timothy hay pellet sprinkled with herbal hay. I feed this to the babies and Russians when feeding them.
I use a paper shredder, modified to unsafe standards to chop orchard grass hay. I fill a Costco spring mix bucket with hay and soak it in water. The adults and juveniles get the mix with the added hay. The Sulcata only gets a very large handful of this, and he gets additional orchard grass hay to eat all he wants. I ensure everyone has enough food that there is a bit left over. Usually hay scattered about.
I supplement calcium with D3 once a week and MinerAl twice a week. Cuttle bones always available.
Once a week I feed mazuri with cactus, pumpkin or something else unusual mixed in.
The modified paper shredder has been a hand saver and a game changer. I can chop a lot more hay a lot smaller.
 

Tom

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Man you've got a system going there. Sounds excellent to me. I don't think I would do it any differently than what you are doing. I think you've set a great example for people in frozen climates to follow!
 

Bambam1989

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Winter is a challenge. I live in Spokane Valley WA. Literally nothing grows November through at least February. I extend grow times as much as possible with greenhouses, but am still left with an expensive few months. I have an adult Sulcata, 65 pounds, 5 adult leopards, 8 to 25 pounds, a juvenile leopard, 6 babies, and 3.7.7 Russians, who are on their way asleep, so they don't count.
I have figured out a few things over the years, and wanted to share. Very open to suggestions that would improve the diet as well. Not grow inside. Can't grow enough to even matter, huge waste of space.
I buy spring mix weekly at Costco, and endive, escarole and something else that varies from grocery. Each day I chop a bucket of spring mix, a bucket of the other mixed greens up, and add a hand full of soaked grassland tortoise food, and a hand full of soaked Timothy hay pellet sprinkled with herbal hay. I feed this to the babies and Russians when feeding them.
I use a paper shredder, modified to unsafe standards to chop orchard grass hay. I fill a Costco spring mix bucket with hay and soak it in water. The adults and juveniles get the mix with the added hay. The Sulcata only gets a very large handful of this, and he gets additional orchard grass hay to eat all he wants. I ensure everyone has enough food that there is a bit left over. Usually hay scattered about.
I supplement calcium with D3 once a week and MinerAl twice a week. Cuttle bones always available.
Once a week I feed mazuri with cactus, pumpkin or something else unusual mixed in.
The modified paper shredder has been a hand saver and a game changer. I can chop a lot more hay a lot smaller.
I live a little south of you in Pierce county.
Great idea.
I'm still finding alot of weeds here but I am probably at a lower elevation. Winter rye is growing in the pasture so I have plenty of grass.
As my little one grows bigger I expect winter feeding to become trickier. I have frozen bags full of weeds that I will only use if I have to (Tortoise emergency stock pile). Since I didn't know how well some weeds would freeze I expect to find alot of wilted mush. Great way to find out what works is to experiment.;)
 

Maro2Bear

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Your modified paper shredder sounds interesting :) I know i make a bit of a mess when I'm chopping hay, mixing grass, adding in mazuri, dandelion, hibiscus flowers..etc
 

Jodie

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Man you've got a system going there. Sounds excellent to me. I don't think I would do it any differently than what you are doing. I think you've set a great example for people in frozen climates to follow!
Thank you very much!
 

Jodie

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Your modified paper shredder sounds interesting :) I know i make a bit of a mess when I'm chopping hay, mixing grass, adding in mazuri, dandelion, hibiscus flowers..etc
It is a very dangerous contraption, but works. I am very careful to keep my fingers away. It would not be good at all if it grabs them.


15114615822431053582043.jpg 15114615822431053582043.jpg
 

Jodie

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I live a little south of you in Pierce county.
Great idea.
I'm still finding alot of weeds here but I am probably at a lower elevation. Winter rye is growing in the pasture so I have plenty of grass.
As my little one grows bigger I expect winter feeding to become trickier. I have frozen bags full of weeds that I will only use if I have to (Tortoise emergency stock pile). Since I didn't know how well some weeds would freeze I expect to find alot of wilted mush. Great way to find out what works is to experiment.;)
Your climate is much milder. Good luck with the frozen weeds. I freeze pumpkin, but otherwise have not been successful with that or drying. The quantity I need makes it unfeasible.
 

Bambam1989

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Your climate is much milder. Good luck with the frozen weeds. I freeze pumpkin, but otherwise have not been successful with that or drying. The quantity I need makes it unfeasible.
Yes, you have quite the shelled herd. I hope to get a couple of different species later on once my little sulcata gets bigger. (Pancakes and a Star hopefully)
 

RosemaryDW

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@Jodie, would you be willing to post a link to this in the tortoise chef thread? We don’t have much on winter feeding in there and it is certainly needed. Plus the shredder is genius.
 

Kaliman1962

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i'm in northern burbs of illinois. a frozen tundra here too.
do you house them indoors?
 

Jodie

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i'm in northern burbs of illinois. a frozen tundra here too.
do you house them indoors?
My leopards have bedrooms indoors for winter, yes. The rest of the time they are outside and have a night box that is insulated and heated. My Sulcata has an outdoor greenhouse that is insulated and heated. He is outside full time. The Russians also have an outdoor shed in their enclosure that is heated. They hibernate though.
 

Team Gomberg

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I still don't quite understand the paper shredder mod...

@Will was looking into a meat grinder for chopping hay. Maybe the paper shredder would be up his alley?
 

Pia B

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I am trying something new this year so far so good . I bagged and froze hibiscus leaves and blooms pumpkin leaves cactus leaves and a lot of mixed grass/weeds from the local hay fields , dandelion too. I defrost some and add it on top of his hay . Today he had grass/ weeds and pumpkin leaves . Going to be buying some store bought greens soon to stretch my supply . I think for next season I have to buy a second small chest freezer just for his stuff . Your paper shredder idea is great wish I had thought of it when he was smaller I burned out a few blenders chopping hay and the dust in my kitchen oh man .
 

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Kapidolo Farms

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I still don't quite understand the paper shredder mod...

@Will was looking into a meat grinder for chopping hay. Maybe the paper shredder would be up his alley?
I have a wimpy paper shredder that I don't use any more, but it should be cleaned of paper lint first. I will look to try this soon. It would just be a proof of concept trial. no way to run a mini bale through it no matter how well the trial works. It is a good 'out of the box' idea.
 

Prairie Mom

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Hi Jodie and @Bambam1989
Just about every grass and weed can be frozen for winter food. Even a few surprising veg garden leaves can be frozen. Here is my thread where I first began experimenting. https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/t...-and-retain-good-texture.128563/#post-1198931 Now, I don't even test it. I just snatch plants and flowers and put them in Ziploc bags for winter treats throughout the summer.

I also dry my yard clippings of grass and leaves all summer long. Every time I cut my lawn during the Spring and summer, I bag it and store the clippings in mesh laundry bags that hang from the ceiling in my garage all winter long. I usually hydrate the clippings to moisten them a bit for my spoiled Sulcata. She's a little over 40lbs now.

Here's an example of a post I made (with photos) that shows an entire tortoise meal made entirely of preserved foods during the winter:
Recipe and food (tort version)

Here's how I preserve a frozen squash plant treat that my tortoise loves during the winter:
Recipe and food (tort version)

I also supplement with grocery greens, indoor gardening, and Mazuri.

To feed a Northern Tortoise during the winter, you definitely have to be busy and stockpile during the growing season, but it can be done.
 
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