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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
But here's one, since it's required.. :D

I'm just getting set up with mice and, although I've just recently learned the term, I suppose I'll be classified as a feeder breeder. From the little bit I've read so far, it seems most feeder breeders are feeding reptiles. I'm a bit different, because I'm breeding to feed my cats. They currently consume 80-90 a day of the large adult mice from a certain, well-known online commercial breeder, so it's quite a proposition!

In a perfect world, I'd like to breed all of my own feeder mice. For now, I'm planning to start small and work my way up. Any advice along the way (including estimates of how many breeding mice it takes to produce about 100 feeder mice a day) would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Interesting and a new concept to me.I would expect it to be very costly to produce a 100 feeder mice a day assuming you require adults.Rabbits might be cheaper and go further,for a small animal mice eat a lot.Is it the fact that it's a more natural diet that appeals.I feed my ferrets on mice.
 

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Hello and welcome! :)

I've heard of people who fed their cats mice but never as a main diet, always just a treat here and there. I agree with Sarah that rabbits (or cavies) might go a longer way in terms of the amount of food the animals eat.

I don't know how you could breed at a rate to produce 100 adults per day.
 

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gestation period for cavies would rule them out plus having to provide a constant supply of greens is a pain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
There's several reasons I've chosen mice over other prey animals.

I run a rabbit rescue, so breeding them as a source of food is a conflict of interest.

Aside from that, I don't believe that domesticated rabbit breeds provide appropriate nutrition. Their basic conformation has been altered so much based on human desires, that they no longer have the same nutritional values as wild rabbits that would be hunted as natural prey. Additionally, studies of feral cat colonies and free-ranging cats have alluded to the fact that rabbit's aren't entirely natural prey by showing repeatedly that cats will only choose to hunt rabbits if there are no other available options. When left to their own devices, approximately 70% of a hunting cat's diet is made up of mice and rats, 20% of birds, and the remaining 10% from lizards, frogs, rabbits, and other less desirable sources of nutrition. But that was probably more of an explanation than anyone actually wanted.. :lol:

I considered breeding rats, but my cats won't eat them. I've tried a variety of ages/sizes, colors, and different suppliers, but they're not the least bit interested in them. With rabbits and rats out of the equation, that leaves mice, baby chicks, and quail as the core diet, which is what my cats eat right now.

As far as it being possible to breed at a level of producing ~100 adult mice per day, it has to be possible to breed at that rate, because someone is already doing it for me. And from the expense standpoint, I'm already purchasing the mice and I know the unnamed commercial breeder is not selling them to me at their cost. In addition to the actual cost of the mice, I pay $240 a month in shipping costs alone. When I look at the amount of money I'm spending per month, it stands to reason that I can cut that cost dramatically by raising the mice myself, and in that process I can guarantee that the mice live in a clean environment, where they'll have plenty of enrichment and socialization, and will be treated with dignity and respect.

I don't deny it's a daunting idea, but it has to be possible. The thing I don't know is how many breeding mice it will take, because I've seen such a wide rage of estimates in litter sizes and healthy breeding frequency. So, at this point in time my plan is just to start small and work my way up, until I either hit the number I need or I run out of human energy, financial reserves, and/or space.
 

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varieties because they have been tampered with by selection vary widely in how many they produce in a litter.In fact the bigger mice frequently produce smaller litters.I would think that you could estimate a litter of 12 as an average for a bog standard pet shop type mouse.Then allow 8 weeks for growing on as a minimum.Don't know the maths in that .I was interested in your thoughts and statistics,not to much info for me.We all feed our mice on more expensive foods but I would think that your supplier uses a rodent pellet which would cut costs.Do you buy them live.It would seem if his have decent health and are prolific breeders then they would be the best bet.He's likely to be selecting for breeding performance.
 

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Okay, let me try this... 100 mice a day... To start, my mice litters have all been around 8-12, with 11 being the average, and I breed pet shop mice. So, assume roughly 10 pups per litter. So to start, for the first day (just bear with me, I have to type to think) you'd need 10 does, plus the bucks. How many does can once buck service? That I don't know. So assuming that each day you want 100 mice, you'd need 10 does to breed from, and you can rebreed minimum every three weeks, you're looking at... at least 210 does? Plus some mice don't rebreed at once, so you'd need more than that. If you put them on a 4-5 week breeding schedule, that would be 280-350 does, roughly 10 of them getting bred every day. As for the bucks, I'm not sure if anyone has ever tried to find out just how many he can "do" in a day...

So, are you sure you have the time/space/resouces to take care of maybe 400 mice in order to breed 100 per day?

Edit: Sorry, I realized my tone could have come across as accusing. I was just trying to be helpful in letting you know what you'd be in for. To start, I'd probably breed like, 5 does once a week, I think one buck could do it, and have them on a 5-6 week breeding schedule, so about 25-30 does to start with. Work your way up from there. Can I ask, but do your cats eat the mice whole, or do you butcher them first? I realize this could be sensitive, answer in a PM if you want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Autumn, not to worry, your tone didn't come across as accusing to me :) That's pretty close to what I came up with when I tried to do the math, but I wasn't sure I was correct.

I just assumed when I started exploring local resources for live mice, I'd end up with pink eyed little white "lab mice," just like the frozen ones I was having shipped in. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I came home with my first batch of mice, opened up the box, and this little rainbow of colored mice, with funny little hair-do's came toddling out! :lol:

Part of what left me unsure of the numbers was that I had originally been researching breeding lab mice and I was getting breeding and colony maintenance information from several of the university breeding programs. According to their documentation, the average number of pups per litter was 6-8. When I ended up with these cute little fancy mice, I started reading and I ran across many references with a pretty wide range of average pups per litter, so I couldn't really determine what would be a reasonable starting point. When I based my original math on the average of 7 pups per litter for the lab mice, I was expecting it would require about 800 mice, broken into colonies of 1 male to 5 females, to accomplish what I need.

As far as the time, space, and financial resources go, I realized when I was tidying things up around the house this evening that I may not have shared enough details about my life to make sense of it all, but at least I did remember to warn everyone that I stink at introductions. :lol:

I run a rescue out of my home, so I always have a higher than average number of animals in my care. I average 50-60 cats, dogs, and rabbits in my care at any given time, in a cage free environment. I have a strict quarantine period for new animals, and they are confined in a separate area, but once the quarantine period has passed and new animals are properly vetted, spayed/neutered, and vaccinated, they're allowed to integrate with the rest of the animals. All of my animals eat holistic, natural, homemade diets. The dogs eat a raw diet, I've already covered the cat's diet, and the rabbits eat a balanced diet comprised entirely of fresh salad and fruit. I don't feed any commercially manufactured pet foods on a regular basis.

As a person, I'm very meticulous, detail oriented, and very, -very- organized. It's the only way to maintain the number of animals I care for, without becoming Kim and Aggie's next target for an episode of How Clean is Your House? :shock: Along the way, I have learned a lot of little short cuts that will transition easily into caring for the number of mice I'll need, so I know I have the practical resources to make that part work.

From a financial standpoint, it costs $1,340 a month for 3,000 frozen adult mice each month. Even if I were to assume it would cost me the same to raise the mice (which I don't believe), I would still save the $240 a month that I pay in shipping fees - $210 of which is to pay for the shipping weight of the dry ice to keep the mice frozen in transit. With that said, I believe I can stretch my dollars further in raising my own mice and save much more than just the shipping fees. And in the process, I -know- I can provide a much higher quality of life to the mice I raise.

And to the last question, most of my cats take the mice, baby chicks, and quail whole. Generally, they consume 40-60 grams of prey per feeding and they eat twice a day, at dusk and dawn. It's quite funny to watch at feeding times, because when I get the prey du jour out of the refrigerator, I get mauled by cats climbing up my pant legs, howling and yowling at me. People usually think of cats as being more prim and proper about things, but my dogs have much better manners at feeding time!

A small proportion of my cats won't take prey whole, either because they're older and can't chew it well enough or just because the size is overwhelming to them, so they require a bit more preparation. I don't want to be too graphic, so I'll leave it there. I can go into more detail about the different options I use, if you're interested in that much detail, but it definitely needs to be in PM, just to be respectful. :)
 

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Wow, congradulations on all the animals you rescue! I've rescued 2 cats (have 3 in total) and 2 dogs (Also have three in total) and some day I'd like to run a thoroughbred rescue. What you do takes time and courage!
 

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Wow now thats some introduction!

Just wanted to say hello and welcome to the forum, hope you find some information on here to help you with what you are doing.

Sam
 

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Here is my estimate, rationale as below:

13 litters per day at 8 babies per litter (some litters will be larger but some smaller and you need to guarantee enough)
Does bred every 10 weeks (3 weeks pregnant, 4 weeks feeding babies, 3 weeks' rest)
Each doe therefore would be bred every 70 days

70 x 13 (i.e. approx 100 babies a day for 70 days until first does can be rebred) = 910 does
For the bucks it would seem that approx groups of 4 does to one buck would suit your needs. Allowing the buck to be with the does for a week to guarantee pregnancy (hopefully), then around 21-28 bucks introduced to a new group of does every 7 days should do it.

At first you would still have to buy frozen as by the size of mouse you will need you will have to grow them on to adult size if you are using normal pet type mice to get that weight. So for the first 10 weeks you wouldn't be able to make the switch to your own unless you bred more mice but used them at a younger age and gave twice as many. This may actually be easier for you and use less food and room (babies can stay with the mother until 4.5 weeks).

So my answer is:
910 does
21-28 bucks
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Dats alotta meece.. :lol:

I'll definitely have to continue purchasing mice for supplemental feeding and don't expect to go from purchased to home-bred mice overnight. It will definitely take some time, and I'm perfectly ok with that!

Autumn, I didn't mean to look like I was ignoring your question. I was off sorting out some unexpected problems. I didn't realize my cats would be able to get the locking plastic mousie boxes open! :shock:

I expect it will be at least a couple of months before I begin feeding any mice I've bred myself. In the meantime, I'll continue to purchase the frozen mice. If I can manage the numbers needed for the breeding colony, then I hope to be feeding home bred mice full-time within 6 months to a year.

I've read through several different "do it yourself" methods for euthanasia and I've looked at some commercially manufactured euthanasia chambers, but I haven't settled on a particular method yet. I've still got some time to make that decision, since I'm going to have to grow the mice to adult size for feeding. Also, I plan to return the does to the colony for breeding initially, so it will be a bit before I have a volume of bucks I want to put down. The main concerns for me are safety and that there's little to no chance of my messing it up and causing anything other than a painless, humane death, so I will be putting a lot more thought into which way I want to go with that.

At this point, I have 11 baby mice that I bought to use as "testers" of sorts. I purposely bought them too young to breed, so I'd have a few weeks of just taking care of them. Like I said, I'm very detailed oriented, so I wanted to get organized based on actual experience. I appreciate information and help from others, but sometimes I tend to see different systems in my mind, so I may decide to do certain things in a way that doesn't make the least bit of sense to anyone else. I decided to use the small group of mice to get a better idea of how everything would work for me, from housing the mice to storing the supplies to the daily care routine.

Here's a few snaps of my baby mice. Most of them are still pretty skittish, but the little brown and white one in the first pic is quite friendly and likes to run circles around my pinky finger :lol: These were taken over the first few days I had them home and they were in a 40 gallon aquarium. The set-up has changed along the way and it isn't as sparse, nor as populated now as it once was -



One thing I find somewhat sad is that while the baby mice are so skittish with me, they're absolutely social with the cats! They have it all backward.. they're running from me in favor of talking to the enemy! :lol: If you look very close through the mesh, you can see the little conversations going on -



After the first week with the young group, I added 3 does and 1 buck that are of breeding age, and those will the same type of "testers" for going through the breeding process, since I've never bred a mouse in my life. I've actually never bred any animal in my life; I'm a die-hard rescuer, so I'm used to spaying or neutering anything that comes through my doors! Assuming the first round of breeding goes alright, I'll start expanding the breeders more rapidly after that.

I don't have any pictures of the older mice, and they're from a different source with a little different look to them. The buck and one of the does can only be described as a "washed out" red color - it's sort of orang-ish red, and looks alot like my niece's hair looked after her red hair dye job went wrong and she washed it 30 times in the same day. :shock: One of the other does has a mottled brown sort of look to her and the other doe is white with brown splotches on her. I'm sure there are technical terms for all those colors, but I haven't learned them yet!

I spent the weekend working on some more practical things to get my current mousie residents set up comfortably, and getting an idea of what I'll need to accomplish in order to contain the large numbers - whether it ends up as 93 or 938!

I started off with some the plastic boxes y'all refer to as "RUBS" -- in my neck of the woods, we call them "totes," just in case I happen to use that term along the way.

I detest cutting hardware cloth, so I decided to use gutter guard for the vents. I figured anything designed to keep a squirrel out of something would keep a mouse in something! I also chose to use nuts, washers, and bolts to connect the cloth to the plastic, because I haven't had good luck with zip ties holding up well on past projects. I used a hack saw to cut the protruding bolts off and filed them flush with the nuts, so there's no chance of anymouse getting hurt by them.

Once I took care of locking the locked mousie boxes better (fortunately no mouse was injured or killed in the earlier escapes!), I set out to build my first mousie-box shelf, to hold the boxes. Because of the space availability in my home, I'll have to build multiple shelves, in multiple locations, so I have to make my construction plans match that. I've never taken on a project quite like this before, so please laugh with me, not at me! :lol:

This first shelf is meant to hold 10 boxes total, and has space for supplies on the top shelf. The facings on the shelves are hinged, so they fold down to allow the boxes to slide off of the shelves easily. The shelf isn't completely finished yet, but here's where it is right now. I still have to paint it and 2 of the facings aren't hinged yet, but it's pretty closed to being finished.



Well, I suppose that's enough out of me for now, so I guess I'll head off and be back through in a bit!
 
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