Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Guinea pig treat: fennel

fennel leaves guinea pig food
Fennel. You just need to paint some eyes and eyebrows on the bulbs and they look like Beaker from the Muppets.
A few weeks ago I wrote this post on making your guinea pig/s a salad and what to feed guinea pigs in general. Jennifer from Oxbow suggested I try fennel tops.

Fennel tops! 

I'm a simple girl, I only learned about fennel when it was on Masterchef and whilst I have sampled fennel cheesecake, a good old fennel bulb is something I consider more appropriate in a still-life (don't they look like a heart?) than the kitchen.

I asked where she gets them and she replied: 
They generally sell just the fennel bulbs for human salads at the shops so I bought a plant at Bunnings years ago. It went to seed even with daily picking and its seedlings are now available almost year round here in SE Queensland climate.  Oxbow’s original Critical Care is aniseed flavour because that is very popular with pigs.  Then I read somewhere that fennel is an aniseed (liquorice) flavour and thought I’d give it a go.  Well, the little ones here have definitely approved.  You’ll have to let me know if your little neophobes agree!
Well, Jennifer, lets see.
Exhibit A: A small arrangement of fennel leaves prepared for the boars.

Turns out I have been depriving them! They took to the fennel leaves like ducks to water.
cavies eating fennel
Radike Samo and Randy, who run in the other direction most of the time I present a new vegetable, go berserk over fennel.

Thanks for the excellent tip Jennifer. Its not something I would feed them every day, but if I do find myself with a fennel plant or whipping up a fennel cheesecake I will know what to do with those leaves. I also discovered that the bulbs make excellent objects to hide behind, although I didn't want to leave them with the boars in case they went on a fennel binge.
fennel guinea pig