(not your pet but a 7lb large Peruvian breed)
The high protein and high concentration of B vitamins found in meat make it an ideal part of the diet, very difficult to replace by plant foods, even with grain legumes that are nutritionally the closest plant foods to meat. Yet production of meat on the small farm almost dictates a way of life with several disadvantages. If small animals are raised in pens they usually require purchased concentrates or grains used for the family, at least as part of the diet. If allowed to roam freely they make it impossible to maintain a dooryard vegetable garden, and make good hygiene difficult. Furthermore, if the family cannot eat the entire animal at one meal, refrigeration is required or other preservation techniques.
The guinea pig or cavy, Cavia porcellus, is a rodent that was domesticated in the Andes as a source of meat. Because it is a small animal it can be eaten by a small family in one meal and does not require refrigeration. It is herbivorous and becomes accustomed to many sorts of feed. The meat is much like rabbit, and is low in fat content. Furthermore, the cavy multiplies rapidly, but not at the rate that folk literature would suggest. With breeding as recommended here, one pair of cavies could produce about 260 new pairs in 2 years. Because of these characteristics the cavy should be tried widely as a source of meat for the household as well as to sell.
Nevertheless, production of cavies requires a year-round source of herbaceous feed. To some extent the feed can be supplied as hay during the dry season or even as purchased alfalfa pellets (rabbit food), or stored roots and tubers can be used. The cavy does not normally eat cooked foods from the table but will eat some of the scraps from uncooked fruits and vegetables. More details of feeds for cavy are given later.
While the cavy is often produced almost by neglect, good housing is highly desirable. This includes provisions for maintaining cavies separated by sex and age (see later). Furthermore, cavies do have their parasites and diseases, best avoided by adequate housing.
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