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Heartland Blend

When to spay, food, treats, illnesses, grooming, parasites, odor, Teeth, other care as it pertains to health, etc.

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Heartland Blend

Postby Ash » Fri Oct 14, 2016 2:32 pm

Heartland Blend is what is commonly referred to as "Tiny Tracks food" on here or "TT food" because it is what Tiny Tracks feeds their foxes and sells to other fox owners.

Heartland Blend is manufactured by a fox farmer named John in Nebraska. I was able to give him a call and chat with him about the nutritional quality of the feed since we've never gotten answers direct from the source. So here is what he gave me:

Heartland Blend's primary ingredient is chicken.

34-36% protein
20-22% fat
3-4% fiber
B vitamins
Biotin
Thiamine

It has very low ash content. He explained that this is very important for foxes and this is the reason why pork is a bad food for them (high in ash). The fiber is wheat and is used as a filler to keep the kibble together.

The food is cooked twice, sterilized each time to destroy e-coli, staph, eggs, etc.

At this time, he charges 70 cents/lb. A bag is 50 lbs, so $35 a bag.

The feed does not sit around for months at a time, that it is always fresh since. It takes him 40 days before he uses it all up and then he orders more chickens to make another batch. The feed does not sit in a warehouse but is actually made fresh. If you want to make a large order or even just pick up a few bags, he needs a few weeks notice so he can make the proper amount.

John emphasized that high quality protein, fat, and B vitamins are what is most important to look for in a good food. If one is ever in a pinch and needs to feed their fox a commercial pet food, he said to always feed cat food that fulfills those requirements. Cat food is better for them than dog food. He explained about all the similarities between a fox diet vs a cat diet and why, but a lot of it went over my head. He was very knowledgeable about nutrition and answered all my questions.

He was actually excited to talk about it.

Another thing I'll mention in this post (because he talked about it with me for a while) is that at this time of year--the fall months--foxes are putting on a lot of extra fur and fat. This can make them moody because their body is suddenly changing so drastically and their appetite shoots through the roof. So it is important that a fox's diet is watched closely at this time.

I'm very glad I called him. John sounds like an excellent source to go to with fox questions, having worked with them since the 70s. Very nice man.

Anyway, I hope this clears up any questions people had about the feed. It sounds like a good food to me based on the information I was given.
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, 2 salamanders, 3 tarantulas
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby pat » Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:21 am

Ash,

thank you for that info. I am surprised at the price, very reasonable.
I also am surprised and confused about the cat food vs dog food.

In the past all I have read was feeding a fox "dog food" now cat food is recommended.

I am thinking of getting this food from Dave. what about the shipping? a 50lb bag would not be cheap to send.
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby Ash » Mon Oct 31, 2016 2:26 pm

It is very expensive to have shipped. I do not remember the price for shipping when I ordered it from Dave. If I do continue to use this feed, I will pick it up in Nebraska to avoid the fees.
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby TamanduaGirl » Mon Oct 31, 2016 2:44 pm

Cat or dog is debatable but bare in mind he is looking at it from a fur farm perspective, grow them fast, not from a pet perspective keep them alive as long and healthy as possible.

Even the info from "Nutrient requirements of mink and foxes" is from a fur farm perspective high protein and high fat will grow them fast.
https://www.nap.edu/read/1114/chapter/11
Now if you scroll down to the third table for foxes they suggest a maintenance protein of 19.7 which is closer to dog as most foods are 18 or more but higher was suggested while growing to get bigger foxes.

Also note how super low the retinol is. You'll never find that in cat or dog food but cat is much higher. The book suggest a max of 100IU, as 50-100iu is when it starts getting stored in the liver, meaning more than they need. In the book it actually say 2,410 per kg dry food, so again no cat food that low though it did note they didn't see symptoms of hyper vitaminosis till higher levels but I doubt they looked deeper like doing x-rays.

Cat foods do tend to be lower in ash because it was thought that contributed to urinary infections in cats, that has been proven to be false. PH of the urine does matter but ash has nothing to do with that. Ash is pretty much meaningless. The actual ratio of minerals do matter though.

You could compare an average cat food and an average dog food to the nutrition suggestions in the book. I just point out the ones I know the most about.

The Heartland however appears to be made to meet the requirements in "Nutrient requirements of mink and foxes" so would be a decent food.
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby Ash » Mon Oct 31, 2016 3:04 pm

Thank you for all your insight in the area, TG. That's very helpful. I've been meaning to buy a "nutrition for dummys" book so I can understand it all better. I've been learning a lot from you.

I wonder if farmers have done any studies to show the longevity of foxes. I know Dave claims to have foxes (I believe over ten) that are still producing. Obviously that's not saying that proves long-term health by any means, but it counts for something if true.

I'll ask the guy. I'm going to be giving him a call sometime this week anyway, so will ask how old his foxes are. Again, I know it will be biased since he''s the manufacturer, but worth asking I think.

I still feed a lot of whole prey regardless. My foxes were so excited for rabbit the other day. I think whole prey is very, very important for them.
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby pat » Mon Oct 31, 2016 3:22 pm

wow mary you are a walking encyclopedia :lol: Thank you for all the great info.

since Ash said the shipping is expensive, and Mary mentioned this food is to help them grow faster.
looks like I don't need it.

so far all my foxes are very healthy. Daryl will be 13 in March. Darla will be 11 in March.
and Donnie 10. All 3 are healthy.

I guess the food I have been feeding them is fine.
all I give them is cooked chicken, raw eggs, a little grain free dog food.
when I cook chicken, I debone the thighs, then give them the raw bones.
I was giving them giblets everyday, which they love. however, now I am having a hard time finding giblets at a reasonable price.

thank you Ash and Mary for the info.
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby TamanduaGirl » Mon Oct 31, 2016 4:41 pm

Do your foxes get any veggies Pat? I'd recommend some sweet potato at least. Foxes do eat some vegetation in the wild and orange and yellow veggies like squashes and sweet potato were shown to lower cancer risk in dogs so I've always felt that's a good one to have in the rotation for foxes too. But yes they are nice ages already so over all doing well by them.

Ash, yes if they are older and still breeding that's a good sign. The food does seem pretty good if just part of the diet and they are getting whole prey like rabbit.
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby Vata Raven » Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:17 pm

No, foxes in wild don't eat vegetables; if they do, it's because they were unable to to perform a hunt. Them hunting omnivore animals is their source of vegetation. Just like a dog, they have short digestive tracks and they will not benefit from eating such foods in their natural state.
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby TamanduaGirl » Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:45 pm

By modern definition of omnivore, meaning any species that eats both animal and plant matter for nutritional reason, vulpes vulpes is considered an omnivore.

And while I'm not a fan of using wiki I will because it's easy.

Red foxes readily eat plant material, and in some areas fruit can amount to 100% of their diet in autumn. Commonly consumed fruits include blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, persimmons, mulberries, apples, plums, grapes, and acorns. Other plant material includes grasses, sedges and tubers.

a few dozen plant species are known to be consumed by them.


I concentrate on the tuber aspect of that, with sweet potato, since it's the healthiest rather than sugary fruits but they do eat those more in the wild since they are easiest to get, but squash is healthy fruit since lower sugar. Though, as proven by their taurine need, upping the meat in the fall is actually best. Still they must get some nutrition from them or they'd die in the fall from not eating meat.

Also vulpes cana, since you disregarded any fox species ever eating plant matter unless starving, eats up to 80% of it's diet as vegetation in the form of mostly fruit at all times. About 60-80% depending on their range rather than season.

Yes vulpes vulpes ARE similar to dogs and studies have proven some vegetation like sweet potato and squash do help lower cancer rates and lengthen life in dogs. In fact dogs have even developed rudimentary grinding teeth for vegetation, unlike wolves. They are however not like cats and ferrets that literally can only benefit from animal matter and nothing else. Fennec foxes on the other hand are much more cat like in diet but actually fall a bit to the side of also eating a lot of insects(but technically is animal matter too) and only eat vegetation in the wild as a water source.

I've long been cranky at fennecs being called omnivores since even under the modern definition they don't count as they don't eat the vegetation for dietary reasons. Red fox do. Though I still am not fond of using omnivore that liberally and would not personally call red fox or dogs omnivores. But no matter if you call them carnivores or omnivores or some brand new term, vulpes vulpes do eat vegetation for dietary reasons in the wild and sometimes lots of it and it is better for them to have some, not huge amounts, but some.

PS, though I would give the sweet potato or squash as cooked. They will get more out of it that way. They likely eat a lot of these things in the wild partly decomposed/fermented. Pua once dug up a rotten tulip bulb and ate it. I didn't realize what she had. She had no ill effects though, I assume the fermenting of it into a gelatinous mess rendered it safe of the chemicals in it. Not a fox of course but a lot of carnivores who eat vegetation do eat it when it's gross instead of fresh. In human care cooking helps with digestibility in a similar way. (though simple cooking wouldn't make tulip bulbs safe to feed).
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby Vata Raven » Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:00 pm

I meant herbivore. Wild carnivores get their vegetation needs from eating herbivore animals.

Regardless, they can NOT digest vegetables in their natural state, you will see chunks in their feces. Same reason why you don't feed grains.

I don't even suggest cooking it to soften it for the animal. Why? Vegetation doesn't cook in the wild.

Also, all these claims about certain food lowering cancer rate, toss them out the window. Cancer all comes does two things: genetics and diet. If an animal has a poor diet to begin with, tossing in a carb heavy food into their diet isn't going to help.
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby TamanduaGirl » Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:22 pm

Vata Raven wrote:I meant herbivore.

Regardless, they can NOT digest vegetables in their natural state, you will see chunks in their feces.

I don't even suggest cooking it to soften it. Why? Vegetation doesn't cook in the wild.


But vegetation does decompose and if they eat it partly decomposed it's easy to digest since partly so already and cooking makes it similarly digestible. And they eat tons of vegetation in the form of fruit in the wild and that is probably mostly fresh and don't die from starvation so yes they do digest it though a lot of sugary fruit isn't good for them. Squash is a fruit and once cooked easy to digest so can give them some of the antioxidants and other nutrition that, yes, they would be getting in the wild because they do not eat only animal matter and yes they do get nutrition from the plant matter they eat.

I know of no one that suggest feeding vulpes vulpes only whole prey and nothing else. All the diets include some vegetation of some sort.
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby TamanduaGirl » Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:26 pm

Vata Raven wrote:Also, all these claims about certain food lowering cancer rate, toss them out the window. Cancer all comes does two things: genetics and diet. If an animal has a poor diet to begin with, tossing in a carb heavy food into their diet isn't going to help.


But food creates diet. If the right diet can lower cancer risks then the right foods in the diet makes for the right diet that can lower cancer risks.

Fact of the study less dogs got cancer when they were fed things like squash and sweet potato there for it makes for a good addition to make a proper diet with.
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby Vata Raven » Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:52 pm

TamanduaGirl wrote:I know of no one that suggest feeding vulpes vulpes only whole prey and nothing else. All the diets include some vegetation of some sort.

Have you seen a wolf eat? I'll take a guess and say you have not, not with the way you're talking.

They eat every bit that that animal they hunted. What that animal has eaten is now going into that wolf's system. That is how they get their vegetation; not by eating a damn potato in the wild.
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby TamanduaGirl » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:37 pm

We are NOT talking about wolves but you are wrong on that front too, they do NOT eat the stomach contents of their prey. That has pretty well been disproven. But pretend they did, people don't feed mice and rabbits that have been eating wild vegetation, they tend to feed cut up chickens. And even if they feed "whole prey" rabbit it is normally sold gutted. So they would need to get their vegetation back from somewhere, if it were true, but it's not.

But again this is NOT about wolves. You should not feed your fox as if it were a wolf. You really shouldn't feed your dog as if it were a wolf either though. Dogs and wolves came from a common ancestor, dogs did not descend from wolves. Dogs have developed grinding teeth specifically for vegetation that wolves do not have. Studies show they are healthier when not fed strictly animal matter. But we are talking foxes.

A fox will eat a whole mouse since it's bite sized though mice are omnivores so unlike wolves do get stomach contents. Wolves are pretty strict carnivores, dogs and foxes are not. Foxes are less carnivorous than dogs though. Studies on foxes in the wild show they DO eat vegetation though is mostly fruits. Unless you think all of science is lying I can not fathom why you think plant matter should never be fed to a fox. Vegetation is actually an important part of their diet.

Again no one suggests feeding a red fox a strictly carnivorous diet. I don't know where you're coming from but it's not from a place of knowing anything about foxes. I'm done with this. I just wanted to ask Pat a question. And you are not arguing from a place of facts or knowledge but just arguing.
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Re: Heartland Blend

Postby Ash » Tue Nov 01, 2016 12:14 am

I will try out the sweet potatoes and then let you all know how it turns out. I'm sure my foxes will love them. Fable had some blueberries the other day from a visitor, and he loved them. I was surprised since when I offered him other similar fruits in the past he didn't even eat them. But he loved those blueberries!

Pat, you can always call Dave and ask him if he could ship you some and just see what the cost is. :) I'm not saying it's perfect on its own, but from the ingredients and my experience with it for so many years, I think it's definitely up there.
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