Some– If not all– organs smell, look and feel just plain horrid, But they are essential for a healthy and balanced raw diet for our beloved ferrets. Regardless of our human diet choices, It is our responsibility to provide for our ferrets without biased views or specific feelings towards meat. Within this article we will discuss any organ related topics, including types of organs and how you can use them within your ferrets diet.
Organ’s Role In Ferret Nutrition
Organs, (also commonly called offal) or variety/organ meats, refers to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal. Some organs are even used in various meals for human consumption in certain countries.
Organs hold a role in balancing out a raw diet for ferrets. Organs are quite nutrient dense, and include large amounts of B Vitamins such as B1, B2, B6, folic acid and vitamin B12. They are filled with many minerals such as phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium and iodine, and are one of the main sources of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Each organ is unique and may vary in nutrients, thus a variety is crucial for the long-term health of a raw fed ferret.
Fun Fact: Organs from animals who were grass-fed contain higher levels of essential nutrients than their grain-fed counterparts.
Feeding Organs in a Raw Diet
In regards to the raw diet / frankenprey diet, you will need approximately 10% organs in your ferret’s total weekly diet. That is approximately 5% of Liver, and 5% of another organ. The reason as to why the liver is only 5% is quite simple. Liver contains vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, and if fed in excessive or too frequent amounts it has the potential to cause toxicity in ferrets. Don’t stress however if you feed a little more than 5% in the diet, as long as it does not exceed approx 10%, you shouldn’t have any issues. Toxicity in general takes excessive consumption along with it being fed over a period of time. The percentage mentioned above are a good base guideline that are taken into mind when considering wholeprey. The ferret would naturally consume a small percentage of liver in the overall diet.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
The fat soluble vitamins are soluble in lipids (fats). Organs are well known for their Fat Soluble Vitamins, Liver more specifically but others also do contain them to some degree. Fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamins A and E, are stored in body tissues. They are stored primarily in the liver and in fatty (adipose) tissues. The fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K. Within organs, they can a vary in amounts but generally it is the Liver which extra care should be taken with as it contains a large amount of Vitamin A. Extra care in general, must be taken to not let your ferret consume any of these vitamins in excess amounts either too frequent feedings, or in large meals because they stay in the body longer and can more easily lead to toxicity. A well-balanced diet should in no way lead to toxicity issues, but vitamin supplementation on top of a well balanced diet might. Unless you have sought veterinary advice or the advice from a professional or pet nutritionist, please avoid unnecessary supplementation of fat soluble vitamins.
It’s An Organ, But Not An Organ?!
Keep in mind that there are certain organs which are not considered “organs” nutrition wise when it comes to raw feeding. For the basic frankenprey diet, you want to feed secreting organs as part of your typical 10% organ meals. It does sound quite confusing, but don’t fret. It’s quite simple once you do your research and study!
To sum it down– a few things which are “not considered organs” are things such as Gizzard, Tongue and the Lungs. Gizzard and the Tongue are fed as a muscle rather than an organ. We will have another article with more in depth information on these at a later date.
Heart is also not considered an organ. It is fed as a muscle meat and is required in the diet on a weekly basis to ensure enough Taurine is in the diet.
Organs And Availability
As for organs which you can use, the most commonly found organs are Liver and Kidney, possibly even Pancreas. However, even though these are considered common where I am, it may depend on your location as to what is more common for you. For example, I personally cannot find anything other than Liver or Kidney where I live, however if I was to travel to the Markets in Preston (Australia) then I would find a good variety of other organs such as Spleens etc. You “Hopefully” should at least be able to find any two organs, if not then I highly suggest that you talk with your local butcher, supermarket or local meat market and enquire on if they are able to order any specific organs for you. If they cannot, don’t give up on your organ hunt, ask around. You may even be able to directly purchase from abattoirs or farms. If you’ve looked everywhere and still cannot find at least the Liver and one “other secreting” organ, then try ordering online and in bulk if you have the freezer space to do so. The more variety regardless of the meal, the more nutritious the diet will be for your ferret.
Remember, not all proteins, not all types of meat or organs will hold the exact same nutrition stats. Some will have vitamins and minerals in varied amounts. This is another reason as to why variety is the key to a well balanced diet. The more types of food fed, the more the ferret gets a variety of nutrients to help support life. We will cover different organs more in depth at a later date. 🙂
Nutritional Organs + Major Hormone-Secreting Tissues:
Major glands (thymus, thyroid, parathyroid)
Liver and Other Organ
I only use two organs currently, Liver and Kidney, Since that is all that’s available where I live. Liver is needed in small amounts for a base diet as seen in the typical Frankenprey menu. Liver is best paired with at least one other organ. You don’t necessarily have to use kidney, so use which ever other organs are available to you. Remember, the more variety you can include, the better for your ferret’s overall health.
The organs can be served in a variety of ways. If you have a single ferret, feel free to simply serve as it is or diced up. If you have 2 or more ferrets it would be wise to puree or blend the organs as a yogurt or soupie type consistency. Although its not essential, its a good option especially if you’re busy. It’s also incredibly convenient and balanced, so it ensures that no ferrets consume one organ more than the other. If you don’t wish to puree it, that’s fine, you may also feed one organ at a time. I sometimes do this when I’m home. So in the morning I may feed liver and at lunch time I will give them a kidney. Both times I will add some hearts along with it. You don’t have to worry too much about hearts since the Taurine in hearts are water soluble, meaning they can consume plenty of heart and simply excrete any excess nutrients VIA their urine. When I’m busy and cannot be home, I simply puree it and leave the hearts diced. It makes it kind of like a chunky organ soup. 🙂
If you are having trouble with getting ferrets to consume organs during a transition, be repetitive and dab some on their gum or lips. The more you do it, the more they will lick it and become used tot he taste and smells. Another method would be to blend an egg into the organ meals. I find that this something alters the strong odours or tastes, and ferrets may enjoy the extra taste. 🙂
Some organs are called by certain culinary names in various countries.
For example, Sweetbreads or ris are culinary names for the thymus (also called throat, gullet, or neck sweetbread) or the pancreas (also called heart, stomach, or belly sweetbread), especially of calf (ris de veau) and lamb (ris d’agneau), and, less commonly, of beef and pork. The “heart” sweetbreads are more spherical in shape, and surrounded symmetrically by the “throat” sweetbreads, which are more cylindrical in shape.
(Some other glands used as food may also sometimes be called “sweetbreads,” including the parotid gland (“cheek” or “ear” sweetbread), the sublingual glands (“tongue” sweetbreads or “throat bread”), and testicles (cf. Rocky Mountain oyster, prairie oyster, or lamb fries)
In Australia and New Zealand, lamb’s fry is specifically the liver; in the United States, “lamb fries” (q.v.) are specifically the testicles. In the U.K., it was all offal, though recently testicle has become rare.
Organs are essential for the overall health of your ferret. Some proteins and organs may contain more or less of various nutrients, so variety and balance is the key to maintaining your ferret’s health and diet. Organs may be known as certain culinary names in certain countries, but when in doubt ask a butcher and you should be able to “hopefully” locate the organ of your choice. If you can get a variety of different organs, I suggest you do so. Find your own way to serve your organ, and keep them as 10% of the overall frankenprey diet. That is 5% liver and 5% other secreting organ. For more information on organs, or if you have concerns or questions in regards to organs and or the species appropriate diet, please come and join us on The Natural Ferret where we can further assist your raw feeding journey.
We will cover Organs again in various articles, so if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. We will do our best to make sure all our content is helpful. 🙂
Ferret lover and enthusiast from VIC, Australia. Machan currently has 5 ferrets who are fed a combination of raw frankenprey model diet and wholeprey. She is a major species appropriate diet for ferrets advocate, co-creator/admin/writer for The Natural Ferret. Machan loves writing and research, her favourite topics being toxicology, infectious diseases & holistic veterinary medicine.
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