WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc.

Wild mammal nutrition resources


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Insolubility Issues with Milk Replacer Powders:  An Easy Fix

 Wildlife rehabilitators caring for young mammals prepare milk replacement formulas. Most rehabilitators, over the years, have dutifully followed the mixing instructions indicated on product labeling. Instructions generally say to add water, gently stir, and the liquid formula is ready to use. This paper discusses issues related to these products lack of complete solubility, laboratory tests performed to measure insolubility and minor adjustments to formula preparation that easily address these issues.

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Powdered milk replacer product tests - March, 2012

Discussion of test results on 8 recent lots of commercial powdered milk replacement products, including Fox Valley (6 products), PetAg (1 product), and GNC (1 product). Presents new information on solubility, mineral levels, adherence to Guaranteed Analysis, physical characteristics and labeling issues, as well as trends. Tests on additional recent lots expected in April, 2012.

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Milk Replacer update - January, 2011

This update discusses research on commercial powdered milk replacer products and issues in wildlife rehabilitation from 2010 though January 2011, as well as a few of the broader issues about milk replacers that have prompted a variety of results and opinions. It also reviews an example of a newly developed  ‘recipe’ that squirrel rehabilitators have found to be effective during 2010, including possible reasons for its success and implications for other ‘recipes.’ 

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Nutrition calculator - newly expanded functionality (May 31, 2013)

This expanded WildAgain Nutrition Calculator provides a tool to calculate the nutritional composition and kcal value for milk replacer powders used by wildlife rehabilitators. The dropdown list allows the user to select from and compare commonly used milk replacer powders from multiple manufactures as well as compose 'recipes' -- and then compare that information to research studies of the mother's milk for several common species of mammals rehabilitated in North America. The calculator also allows the user to add other other products or research studies for other species that are not on the provided lists. It's user-friendly and easy to use.  The Calculator does not suggest or endorse a specific or mix of product(s) for individual species; recipes or amounts of formula to be fed; or specific feeding frequencies. Those decisions must be made based on on the species and many other factors. A wildlife rescuer who wants to  raise a wild mammal needs to understand that there are many requirements to successfully rehabilitate and release wildlife beyond these calculations - and are encouraged to promptly contact a local rehabilitator.

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Updated      May 31, 2013

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Extensive Independent Tests on Milk Replacer Powders Used with Wild Mammals (Esbilac® lots HG1440E and HG2080E and FoxValley®20/50 lot 042160 added Oct 19, 2010)

Extensive tests have been conducted on milk replacer powders fed to wild mammals, including products by PetAg, Fox Valley Animal Nutrition, and others. Summary analyses and individual test results allow easy comparison of product composition, ingredients, weights, energy, solubility, mineral analysis, and more to facilitate analysis and decisions about product use with wild mammals. Information on storage, measurement error, solubility considerations, rancidity testing, and other topics are provided.

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Updated     Oct 19, 2010

Manufacturing Changes for Esbilac® Powder Affect Wildlife Rehabilitators - Questions and Test Results (April, 2010)

Some wildlife rehabilitators saw initially unexplained problems develop with small wild mammals such as squirrels, raccoons, and opossums, when they were fed formula made with Esbilac® powder in 2009. This extensive report describes recent manufacturing changes in Esbilac® powder as well as test results on 9 different samples from certified independent labs (PDFs), and 13 color photos of solubility comparisons of the Esbilac® powder in mixing containers and on microscopic slides. It has 14 graphs summarizing product tests and trends. While readers may select a specific topic heading and jump to a section, it is helpful to start at the beginning and read through the whole report. The 8 appendices include considerations to help reduce or prevent potential difficulties when preparing the ‘new’ Esbilac® powder for juvenile wild mammals. 4/10.

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Compete report (long version) PDF 2.7MB - 38 pages

Short version PDF 1.5 MB - 6 pages

Update on Milk Replacers (May 1, 2010)

PetAg acknowledged several ingredients in Esbilac® powder, including the addition of taurine, had changed concurrent with the manufacturing change in December 2008. Brief description of several tests conducted on common milk replacers fed to wildlife, including products by PetAg and Fox Valley Animal Nutrition. Recent analyses suggest that mineral levels may be critical to understanding the product differences and results.

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Update on Esbilac® Powder Lot# 3419

This new lot is significantly different from earlier 2009 lots in color, weight, texture and nutrient analysis.

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Quick Tips About Using Probiotics with Wildlife in Rehabilitation

This two-page handout explains that probiotics have many more benefits for wildlife than just rebuilding gut flora during or after antibiotic treatment or during times of stress. Research has shown that probiotics reduce development of infections (gastrointestinal and other); reduce intestinal inflammation; improve digestion; stimulate the immune system; and provide nutrients. It provides brief information on selection, mixing and storage, and administration. 4/10.

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Supplementing Commercial Milk Replacement Formulas with Whipping Cream for Juvenile Wild Mammals

This brief article describes reasons that some wildlife rehabilitators add small amounts of heavy whipping cream to supplement commercial milk replacer formulas prepared for young mammals in order to meet milk composition needs. The article also discusses and compares different types of creams. 10/09.

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Mammal Nutrition: How Cookbooks can be Harmful

Some wildlife rehabilitation publications make suggestions as to which formulas to use with certain species, even recommending very specific recipes.  Some manufacturers of milk replacer products also offer specific mixing instructions for their products for use with certain species, as well as frequency and amount of feeding.  Since many factors influence the relative success of one formula over another, these "cookbook" recommendations should be viewed only as a starting point when determining the best formula to use for a specific species. (This article is a reprint from the NWRA conference proceedings.)

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Good Wildlife Nutrition is Critical

Providing the proper nutrition to wildlife in a rehabilitation setting is a critical element to an animal's ultimate recovery and/or growth and development leading to a successful release.  Unfortunately, selection of the right substitute milk formula for infant and juvenile aged mammals can be a daunting task for both novice and veteran wildlife rehabilitators. This article discusses the selection of proper diets as a complex subject with many variables to consider which may, at times, involve using elaborate mathematical equations to calculate nutritional components and energy values.

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Ten Common Causes of Stool Problems in Juvenile Squirrels

Stool problems, unfortunately, are a frequent problem for young squirrels in rehabilitation. While the juvenile squirrel may be admitted to rehabilitation with diarrhea due to parasites or the rescuer’s actions (e.g., having been fed cow’s milk), problems also could develop due to rehabilitation practices, such as overfeeding or lack of quarantine. This short article highlights common causes of and solutions for squirrel stool problems. 2009.

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Factors Causing Gastrointestinal Problems in Juvenile Squirrels

Explains challenges of identifying causes of gastrointestinal problems. Describes early signs of problems in order to help wildlife rehabilitators correct them before they become serious. Lists over 75 potential causes of factors that can cause GI problems in juvenile squirrels. Many of these factors cause GI upset in other species as well. 9/09.

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Considering Aloe Vera with Wildlife

Many people are familiar with the more common topical and popular use of the Aloe vera plant to treat topical wounds. Aloe vera has also been found to be effective with a variety of other medical conditions, including gastrointestinal inflammation, bacteria, and viruses. This short article describes its use with wildlife, as well as safety, dosage and administration tips. 9/09.

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