New Guinea Pig Owner - Best economic bedding?

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CuteGuineas

Post   » Thu Jun 27, 2019 11:25 pm


Hi everyone, I just adopted two female guinea pigs from an animal shelter. I have them in a Midwest Guinea Habitat pen.

I have only had them two days but am realizing that the amount of bedding they are going through is going to be a huge expense unless I figure out another solution. I bought a pack of Carefresh natural paper-based bedding but have already used it up. Then I brought a huge pack (8 square feet) of Aspen shaving bedding because it is cheaper and a second Carefresh pack, thinking I will mix them, using the Carefresh mostly along the corners where they pee.

What do you all recommend? I have seen that a lot of people use fleece, but it seems like you would have to wash it about every 2 days to keep it from getting too smelly and pee-soaked. Also not sure if I like the idea of having that in my washer and dryer.

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Fri Jun 28, 2019 6:07 am


Others will likely weigh-in, but in the meantime you can do a forum search for "fleece" for more information on using it as bedding. I have used fleece in the past, and as long as I kept an absorbent material (such as thick towels) underneath, it stayed good for several days with daily spot cleaning. You *will* need to wash the fleece several times before use, to remove any residue on the material (I haven't had my first cup of coffee yet, so I can't think the coating that new fleece is often treated with). For fleece to work properly as a bedding, it needs to be able to wick moisture away, into a bottom layer, so that pigs aren't sitting on a wet blanket.

Again, more info bedding can be found here:
http://www.guinealynx.info/bedding.html

I currently use paper bedding. It's not as economical, but I hated brushing out fleece before laundering it.

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ItsaZoo
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:06 pm


I use fleece over washable incontinence pads and that works well for me. The pads wick moisture and the fleece stays pretty dry. I also use homemade pads in the corners that are a layer of fleece, a microfiber towel, and a woven fabric sewed together about the size of a placemat. GPs generally back into corners to go so I change these out daily. What really helped was adding a large rabbit litter pan and using that as a kitchen. I throw some Carefresh in the bottom, add a few kinds of hay, and that becomes a bathroom so most of the mess is contained.

There are some types of fleece, like the plush blizzard, that have a smooth texture and don’t hold hair and hay as much as the regular fleece. I just brush it off, shake it outside, and wash about every 3 days for one pig in an 8 sq foot pen.

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RavenShade
Thanks for the Memories

Post   » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:52 pm


Fleece over UHaul is what I use most. I bought thick fleece throw blankets from the thrift store - pre-washed many times and very useable. I like the throw size because it's easier for me to overlap two in my pen than to try to get one large piece just right. That's kind of fiddly. I keep an old trash can near the pen and sweep the fleece nightly when I feed them. The old hay, etc. goes to compost. I wash our fleece/underpadding weekly with vinegar and give it an extra rinse. Before washing I make Junior take it outside and give it a good shake on the lawn. I figure that it gives the grass some nutrients or something.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:12 am


Fleece over horse bedding pellets is what I use. It works very well for my piggies.The pellets break down into sawdust. Due to the situation with pairing, I have 4 boars in three of the 2 by 4 rabbit cages. My bedding bill would be astronomical if I used paper bedding. Cage cleaning happens every third day. It entails scooping out only the wet bedding pellets and replacing them with dry ones, stirring them up and spreading them evenly before replacing the fleece. It only takes about a quarter inch depth of the pellets to keep the fleece dry.

The horse bedding pellets are available at any ranch or farming supply store. I pay about $9 for a big bag of them and it lasts for about a month or so with the cleaning schedule I have my piggies on. As for the fleece, I have a ton of it. I got mine by looking in the clearance section of several stores that sell fleece by the yard. I also bought several fleece blankets at Walmart and Target. Each one was $2.50 and I was able to cut each blanket in half and still have it fit the cage bottom. All in all I think think I spent about $30 and I have enough fleece to do almost a month worth of cage changes for the three cages.

As Sef pointed out, make sure you wash and dry it at least 3 times before you use it. Fleece bedding isn't without its challenges. One of the biggest is keeping it in place and the edges down so the pigs don't get underneath it. 2 by 4's wrapped in fleece material with plastic sheeting underneath cut to a length which allows me to wedge them in tightly solved that. Being covered in fleece prevents the pigs from chewing it and the plastic underneath lets me hose them off without getting the wood wet. They dry very quickly too. Looks like this:

Image

Something else that turns some guinea pig owners off to fleece bedding is getting showered with pee, poop and hay when they shake out the fleece. It has to be done unless you want that stuff getting into your washing machine. I shake mine out gently and let it sit for long enough for the urine to dry. Then I shake it out thoroughly and put it in a special hamper I have to store the fleece in until I build up enough for a laundry load. I also shake it out again before washing it. This routine works extremely well for me.

Bookfan
For the Love of Pigs

Post   » Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:25 pm


We used aspen for years until one of our pigs got a terrible case of bumblefoot. Then we switched to fleece. Using fleece pads strategically placed, as ItsaZoo mentioned, lets you extend the days between changing the main fleece. My daughter sweeps up poops everyday, I think, and changes out pads every other day. The fleece gets changed twice a week. You can make you own pads if you're good at that. I'm not & bought mine from WindeSpirit who's a member of the forum. There are also other places to buy them online.

We do pig laundry twice a week & finish with a sanitizing run just with some bleach.

IssaG

Post   » Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:21 pm


The upfront cost of fleece is pretty high as you need to purchase the supplies first. There are many ways to do fleece, some make it themselves, others, like me, buy them from vendors. There is a ton of info online so you have to google it to see what way works best for you. You need to have enough where you can wash the fleece and still have the cage done unless you keep the guineas out for that period of time (not feasible for me). But once you have all the fleece, there is little cost other than what you spend for detergent and such washing it.

But it's a time commitment in cleaning the cage more often and brushing/vacuuming the hair and hay off the fleece.

My care regimen is sweeping the cage once or twice every day to remove poop and hay. I have pee pads in the places they like to urinate and under the water bottles and replace those every day or two depending on how wet and stinky they are. I change the big cage fleece once a week.

My fleece is very absorbable so I don’t have any urine dripping on me. But I take the time to brush the hay and hair off the cage fleeces and use rubber gloves or a vacuum to get the hair off the pee pads. The latter takes the most time. I have four cage fleeces, two for the main cage and two for the top level, so I can have the cage set up while I’m washing the other. I also have large number of pee pads that I can switch out during the week and have enough to use in the cage while I’m washing the dirty ones. I wash fleece once a week so I needed enough to last me the full week.

Buying online was a cost investment. I don’t know how much I spent. But since then I don’t spend anymore on it. In our house, paper or wood shavings would be too messy, we get hay everywhere as it is, so fleece was best option and I really like it despite the work.

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:45 am


I used fleece for maybe 2 or 3 years. In the end, I couldn't deal with all of the prep work involved in cleaning it. I'd usually brush and shake it off outside to avoid too much flying debris indoors (which aggravates my allergies), so I had to battle heat and humidity, wind, rain, freezing temps, etc. once or twice a week to get it all "washing machine ready." Occasionally I'd forget to let the fleece dry adequately, and would get a little shower in the process. I finally decided that it was worth it just to buy paper bedding. It's not inexpensive, but our local Rural King sells it for less than either Amazon.com or WalMart.

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ItsaZoo
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:50 pm


The biggest problem I have with fleece is all the cute prints! Our Joann Fabric store is right next to a Savers thrift shop. husband heads for Savers, and I just have to pop in to Joann and see what’s on sale. Pretty soon the dog has a new quilt, some new fleece toys, and the GP has a new coordinated cage theme.

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CuteGuineas

Post   » Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:31 pm


I was just now reading the post that said their pigs got bumblefoot from aspen bedding. Is this common? I am using mostly aspen (with some Carefresh in spots) because it is the most economical for me at the moment and I don't want soiled guinea pig laundry in my washer & dryer. Hope it is not bad for their feet; I guess I will just keep an eye out for it.

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Sef
Supporter in 2019

Post   » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:13 pm


I don't know if that's a common problem or not. I do know that when I used aspen many years ago, I was always finding bits of it lodged in their anal sacs. It's pokey and I can't imagine it's very comfortable to walk on.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:12 am


I've read that Aspen bedding is not the best thing for guinea pigs for the reasons Sef pointed out as well as the fact that it can splinter and cause problems in their mouths when they chew it. It also holds urine and is slower to dry it out than paper bedding, which means it stays in contact with their feet and fur. Fleece allows the urine to pass through to the absorbant underneath.

I've never used Aspen bedding. I have used the paper bedding and to minimize contact with urine, I scooped up the wet bedding daily and replaced it with dry. I changed the entire cage every third day. It worked well when they were in smaller cages, but it got expensive when I put them in the very large, new cages. Fleece bedding, while a bit more work was a very good decision. Far more sanitary and comfortable plus way more economical.

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mmeadow
Supporter 2004-2019

Post   » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:17 am


My two cages are 5x2 C&C (approximately 6 feet x 2 feet). I've used all the usual bedding systems except wood pellets.

Currently I use fleece in one, where I have a single elderly hospice pig; this lets me monitor her intake and output closely. I can go 3 days, since it's a big cage for only one pig. When changing the cage, I scoop and shake off the poops, hay, and food, but have stopped trying to remove the hair. Time will tell whether this will clog my washing machine.

In the other cage, there are two pigs. I use about 3/4 of a large bag of Carefresh on top of newspaper, and then I scoop out the wet spots and restore the bedding and newspaper every couple of days. CuteGuineas, was it a smaller bag of paper bedding? Otherwise I'm not sure how it lasted only two days. Granted my standards of cleanliness are not the highest, but I can go almost a week between full changes.

In the past I've had good luck with wood shavings. Economical and more absorbent than you would expect. I don't think this approach causes trouble with most pigs (except post-operative pigs or skinnies). The LA Guinea Pig Rescue has used wood shavings with most of their hundreds of pigs.

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CuteGuineas

Post   » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:20 pm


Fleece bedding, while a bit more work was a very good decision. Far more sanitary and comfortable plus way more economical.
I am going to think about fleece bedding. Certainly it would be more economical than paper or wood shavings in the sense that it is a one time purchase, but it would also be an increase in our hot water and gas bill, as I would be washing and drying it every few days. In addition, I wonder how sanitary it is to have them in the same machines where our clothes are washed; and several Amazon reviews of fleece bedding say that their washers have gotten clogged with bits of hair or hay.

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:28 pm


I used fleece for quite a while, and I never had a washer get clogged. But if you're worried about it, you can wash the fleece in a pillow case. Once it's dry, you can shake the hair out of the pillow case and off the fleece.

As far as drying is concerned, fleece dries very quickly. If you've got room to hang it on a drying rack, you won't have to use a dryer at all.

If you add bleach to the washing cycle, it'll be a lot more sanitary than your regular clothes that don't have bleach added.

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CuteGuineas

Post   » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:36 pm


CuteGuineas, was it a smaller bag of paper bedding? Otherwise I'm not sure how it lasted only two days. Granted my standards of cleanliness are not the highest, but I can go almost a week between full changes.
I think it was a medium pack of Carefresh? I don't remember exactly what size it was. I have a Midwest Guinea Habitat (so 2'x4'), and I used probably 2/3 of the bag just putting down a layer of bedding in the habitat for the first time. Then I realized that was going to be expensive, hence the subsequent purchase of the huge aspen pack. I also may have gone overboard in spot cleaning over the next couple of days, and that is why we burned through a pack so quickly. 😄

I still have a lot of aspen bedding left and don't want to waste it, so I am experimenting with other solutions. Today when I cleaned their pen, I put in aspen as the bottom layer but then put a layer of paper bedding on top so that it would be softer on their feet. I am trying a new kind of paper bedding, Uber from Walmart. It is a nice all-natural paper bedding, not made with sludge or any other harmful materials. It is very soft and more dust-free than Carefresh. On the other hand, it is also not as absorbent; it is a thinner bedding.
Last edited by CuteGuineas on Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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CuteGuineas

Post   » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:40 pm


I used fleece for quite a while, and I never had a washer get clogged. But if you're worried about it, you can wash the fleece in a pillow case. Once it's dry, you can shake the hair out of the pillow case and off the fleece.

As far as drying is concerned, fleece dries very quickly. If you've got room to hang it on a drying rack, you won't have to use a dryer at all.
Ok, that is good to know. More points in favor of fleece. 😊
If you add bleach to the washing cycle, it'll be a lot more sanitary than your regular clothes that don't have bleach added.
That doesn't hurt the pigs in any way?

bpatters
And got the T-shirt

Post   » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:57 pm


Not at all, as long as you rinse it all out.

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Renonvsparky

Post   » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:08 pm


I must have at least 2 dozen pieces of fleece. I accumulated it over a couple of paydays by visiting the clearance section of fabric stores and by getting the "cheapie" fleece blankets ($2.50 each at Walmart) and cutting them in half. This allows me to have a very efficient cycle. I have one of those covered hampers to keep it in until there is a full load of them for wash day.

The other benefit is the I can shake them out lightly to remove the droppings and hay and avoid the urine shower before I put them in the hamper. Then on laundry day the urine has dried, I shake and brush them off thoroughly and aggressively to remove the rest of the hair and hay to avoid having it in my washer and dryer. I also wash them twice; once with laundry detergent and again without.

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lisam

Post   » Tue Jul 23, 2019 9:59 pm


I have a rescue, and the most economical bedding is shavings over wood pellets. We buy large "bales" of white shavings (fir and spruce). Using this combo we are able to clean cages just once a week (for some cages we do spot scoop areas).

Downsides--it's dusty, and doesn't compost very fast.

Paper bedding is too expensive for the amount of cages I have, and fleece was too labor intensive.

That said, the pigs and I prefer fleece. Unfortunately my bank account and limited time don't.

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