THE PURPOSE OF BREEDING
The purpose of breeding is to improve your guinea pigs. Maybe you want to improve the health and eye appeal of your pet guinea pigs. Maybe you want to breed for better quality guinea pigs. Whatever the reason, breeding should be done very carefully.
Guinea pigs that look unhealthy but have no apparent signs of symptoms of illness are called unthrifty. Breeding unthrifty guinea pigs does not improve the health appearance of future generations. A fault is something that detracts from appearance of a guinea pig so that the guinea pig is not perfect. Small eyes or narrow shoulders are examples of faults. Breeding guinea pigs with the same faults does not improve show stock because their offspring are likely to inherit the faults. You should evaluate your breeding stock carefully in order to achieve the best possible outcome from a breeding
WHEN TO BREED
Guinea pigs are mature when about three months old, but it is wise to allow the sow an extra month or so, at boar is better when older because males mature more slowly, even if they are sexually adult at an earlier age. In fact, neither sex is physically fully mature until they are 12 or more months of age, and maximum weight is not reached until they are about 18 month of age.
Once the sow has had her first successful litter, she may be bred for as many years as she is fertile. Sow come into season, or estrus every 15-17 days ( every 3 weeks), and remain fertile for about 12 hours. Gestation is 59 to 72 days, with average of 68 days. Large litter usually have a shorter gestation
Technically, a sow could have five litters a year, but that would be very dangerous to her health. She should be rested for at least one month after the weaning of her babies before being mated again.
The breeding life of guinea pigs will be in the order of three or four years for sows and a little longer for boars.
REMOVE THE BOAR/MALE BEFORE BIRTH
Shortly after giving birth, the sow comes into estrus again. Therefore, the boar must no be present in the sow’s cage during or after birthing. This can be very hard on the sow. Also, the boar may trample the newborn pups in his eagerness to breed to the sow
LABOR & BIRTH
When the time comes for your sow to give birth, she will not make a nest or do anything special in preparation for this event. She will simply pick a spot in her cage, go through labor, and deliver her litter. The process of giving birth is called labor. Your sow should not need any help during labor. If you are fortunate enough to be there when this miracle occurs, you will notice that your sow seems to have the hiccups and that she keeps checking her genital area. As a pup comes out of the sow’s body, she will quickly tear the membrane sac away from the pup’s nose and mouth so the pup can breathe
After pup is born, the mother will remove the remainder of the membrane sac and eat it. She will clean and dry the pup as much as posibble until the next pup starts to come out. this continues until all the pups are born
While the mother takecare of the newest addition to her family, you may gently open the ears of the pups she is currently ignoring and smooth out the folds. Depending on the size of the litter, the birth process should take from 10 to 30 minutes
AFTER THE PUPS ARE BORN
As the pups are born, the placenta or afterbirth is also expelled from the mother’s body. The placenta is tissue that allows nutrients from the sow’s blood to reach the unborn pups and carries waste away. After all the pups are born, the mother usually eats some or all of the placenta. As soon as possible after all the pups have been born, clean up all the mess from the birth, including any remaining placenta
The new pups maybe sexed as soon as they are completely dry. A sow’s genital are looks like a Y and a boar’s genital area looks like an i
CARE OF PUPS
Newborn pups look like miniature adult guinea pigs. Within hours they will be running around the cage and nibbling at food. For the first 2 days after they are born, they get most of their food by nursing from their mother
If the pups look skinny and hungry after 1 day, you may need to supplement their diet by feeding with an eyedropper/tea spoon. For the first 5 days, use 1 part dry kitten milk replacer and 2 parts water. Starting on the sixth day, add a little high-protein baby cereal. Keep the mixture thin enough to use with the eyedropper. Do not force the food or milk into the pups. Hold the eyedropper in front of a pup with just one drop of milk or food on the end and let the pup take it on his own
Guinea pig pups wil be eating regular food when they are between 3 and 4 weeks of age. Introduce food supplements (alfalfa, vitamin C sources, treats).
Regular food and water should be available to the pups at all times!
CARE OF ORPHAN PUPS
Should your sow die giving birth or shortly after, you will need to care for the orphan pups. They will need to be fed by plastic eyedropper/teaspoon every 2 to 3 hours for the first week. Begin with the formula described above.
Also place a dish of milk sop in the cage twice a day. Be sure to remove the milk sop before it spoils. Regular feed pellets and water (from a water bottle) should be available to pups all the times
After the first week, you may offer the orphan pups feed pellets soaked in milk. Continue feeding with the eyedropper until the pups are on solid food
Weaning is the process by which pups stop nursing and begin to eat solid food. The sow will nurse her litter for about 3 weeks. Somewhere in the third week she will wean the pups. Weaning is the gradual decreasing of nursing until the pups are totally off the sow’s milk and eating only solid food.
Besure to introduce all the various food supplements (carrot, parsley, broccoli, etc) to the pups slowly, starting in the third week, so the pups can become accustomed to them. Too many new foods introduced all at once may cause diarrhea. To prevent mastitis, make sure the sow is no longer producing milk before you remove the last pup from the sow’s cage
A guinea pig’s diet is usually set during the first months after birth, and the guinea pig may later refuse to eat new foods that it did not receive early in life. That’s why it’s important to introduce your young guinea pigs to foods that are important sources of vitamin C!