What is a BARF diet?

The BARF diet consists of fresh meat supplemented with insects, vegetables, fruit and supplements as a more natural diet that may be closer to the natural diet of a hedgehog. In recent years, this way of feeding has increased in popularity, especially in Europe. KVV is actually the same, but with ready-made fresh meat, where BARf really consists of organs, muscle tissue and bone. Both are possible for hedgehogs, but it is still advisable to continue feeding kibble to prevent nutrient deficiencies.

The basis of BARF

Here's what you need to make your own meat mixture from raw ingredients.

  • 85% lean meat (inc. 100 grams heart and 8-10% fat)
  • 5% bone
  • 5% dietary fiber
  • 5% entrails

  • With a kilo of meat mixture, this is added:
    • 50ml blood
    • 50 milligrams of vitamin E
    • 1000 milligrams of EPA/DHA in the form of salmon oil
    • 2 grams of taurine
    • 200 micrograms of iodine

Supplements

Supplements are important to supplement the diet so that no deficiencies arise. Much is still unknown about the diet of hedgehogs, but due to the experience of many keepers, this guideline is a good one to follow. Each supplement has its own function and reason to add it to the diet.

Blood

Blood is an important supplier of iron and sodium.

Seaweed

Seaweed is a food product with a good dose of iodine. About 4 to 6 micrograms of iodine per serving is recommended. Iodine must be dosed fairly precisely to prevent the thyroid gland from swelling and causing chronic problems. Therefore, never use pure iodine and always check the dosage carefully when feeding seaweed.

Taurine

Taurine helps with vision, nerve function and heart function. A deficiency could potentially lead to infertility, reduced vision, malformations in fetuses and heart failure. Taurine cannot be overdosed, so rather a little more than a little too little.

Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids from plant products cannot be digested properly by hedgehogs, so using a fish oil is very beneficial in this regard. It often also contains a healthy dose of vitamin E.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found almost exclusively in plant-based food sources, but is also often added to fish oils. But feeding well-fed prey can also help to provide this vitamin to a cone. Vitamin E can be overdosed and is stored in the liver. So calculate carefully how much you give of this.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, like vitamin E, is a fat-soluble agent and is therefore easy to overdose. About 0.05 micrograms is more than enough, so be careful with the amount of fish in your diet and also keep a close eye on the rest of the foods.

Biotin

Biotin is essential for the growth, strength and renewal of the skin, coat, nails and spines. Biotin is water soluble and cannot be overdosed. Biotin is found in raw egg yolk, among other things, but disappears when it is cooked. However, proteins should always be cooked. This contains avidin, which inhibits the absorption of biotin. It is therefore best to separate the egg white and the egg yolk and feed them separately.

Recipes

With different ages of hedgehogs and hedgehogs with health problems, it is always a matter of keeping a close eye on how the diet affects them. That is why there are different recipes on the internet and everyone will have a slightly different recipe for their hedgehog. However, to give you a good base to start with, here are four recipes to experiment with until you find the perfect diet for your hedgehog.

Standard BARF diet

  • 700 grams of chicken fillet
  • 100 grams turkey heart
  • 100 grams of chicken necks
  • 20 grams of chicken liver
  • 10 grams of rabbit kidneys
  • 10 grams of rabbit lung
  • 10 grams of rabbit spleen
  • 50 grams lamb's lettuce
  • 50 ml bovine blood plasma
  • 3 teaspoons of fish oil
  • 2 grams of taurine
  • 0.5 grams of seaweed

For young hedgehogs

  • 700 grams of chicken fillet
  • 100 grams turkey heart
  • 140 grams of chicken necks
  • 20 grams of chicken liver
  • 10 grams of rabbit kidneys
  • 10 grams of rabbit lung
  • 10 grams of rabbit spleen
  • 50 grams lamb's lettuce
  • 50 ml bovine blood plasma
  • 3 oil capsules
  • 2 grams of taurine
  • 0.5 grams of seaweed
  • 1 teaspoon eggshell

For the dry skin

  • 700 grams of ground beef
  • 100 grams of veal heart
  • 100 grams of rabbit carcass
  • 20 grams of beef liver
  • 10 grams of veal kidneys
  • 10 grams of calf lung
  • 10 grams of veal spleen
  • 50 grams of cucumber
  • 50 ml of blood
  • 3 teaspoons of fish oil
  • 2 grams of taurine
  • 0.5 grams of seaweed
  • 1 tablespoon brewer's yeast

Without supplements

  • 200 grams of venison
  • 100 grams of pollock
  • 500 grams of chicken hearts
  • 100 grams of chicken necks
  • 20 grams of venison liver
  • 10 grams of deer spleen
  • 10 grams of venison kidneys
  • 10 grams of deer lung
  • 50 ml of blood

Ready-made fresh meat

Instead of the different types of meat, bones and organs, a variety of meat mixtures can also be used. In this case, replace all meat, organs and bones with 20 grams of meat mixture. Make sure there is as much variation in flavors as possible, so that all nutrients are provided. In addition to this 20 gram meat mixture, a wide variety of insects and prey can be given. A meal can then look like this:

  • 20 grams turkey meat mixture
  • 1 grasshopper
  • 1 cockroach
  • 3 crickets
  • 2 snails


OR

  • 20 grams meat mixture fish
  • 2 dubia cockroaches
  • 1 baby mouse


OR

  • 20 grams beef mixture
  • 3 wax moths
  • 6 mealworms
  • ½ day-old chick

Extra tips

Feed a raw egg yolk once a week to meet the need for biotin. In addition to the standard diet, there is room once a week for prey animals such as mice, day-old chicks, quail or others.

Risks of feeding raw diets

A BARF or KVV diet is very nice and has many advantages for the hedgehog, but of course there are also risks. An unbalanced diet that has not been properly calculated can lead to nutrient deficiencies that can cause health problems. Raw meat can also become contaminated. In Europe, the guidelines are very strict and the risk of infection with parasite eggs, bacteria and viruses is small, but in other parts of the world the risk is much higher.

For example, meat intended for human consumption is not suitable for feeding raw, these types of meat must always be cooked thoroughly first and are not intended as part of a BARF diet because of the processing of the meat.

Meat intended for animal consumption, such as CDV for dogs and cats, has usually been pre-treated against the growth of bacteria, viruses and has also been treated to kill any parasite eggs that may be present in the meat. However, BARF meat is not and is really raw meat. This meat is often frozen to reduce the risk, but the risk is always present. So always ensure good hygiene when you want to feed raw meat.

It is best to always freeze fresh meat, whether it is KVV or BARF meat, in the right way. This takes more time, but reduces the risk of infections.

  • Keep the freezer at -18 degrees Celsius to freeze meat.
  • Freeze the meat at home as soon as possible.
  • Thaw meat in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
  • Never thaw more than will be eaten by the hedgehog for the next 2 days.
  • Prevent fresh meat from coming into contact with other foodstuffs.
  • Never refreeze thawed meat.
  • Use a separate cutting board and knife for the fresh meat for the hedgehog and clean it thoroughly after each use.
  • Always wash your hands well after preparing fresh meat.
  • Always feed the meat at room temperature, otherwise the hedgehog may suffer from intestinal problems.
  • Don't let leftover meat sit for more than a few hours.