Our Milk Recipe
MULTI-MILK high fat milk protein powder. This is lactose-free, 55% fat and 33% protein dry weight, and contains all necessary vitamins and minerals.
FISH OIL We use a composite fish oil, mainly mackerel and herring oils. Salmon oil may also be used.
OILY FISH herring, mackerel, sardines. We usually use tinned sardines in brine.
ENZYMES to include lipases and proteases. We use Essential Enzymes (EE) (from Source Naturals)
We add the fish just to improve the milk texture (it can be rather gluey without the fish addition). We find that adding the enzymes increases the pups' weight gain, probably by making the multi-milk consituents - mostly of bovine origin - more digestible to seals. We find the the multi-milk based formula gives a trouble-free and consistent weight gain. If alternatives to multi-milk are used, the high fat, high protein, vitamin and mineral content needs to be made up from other sources, which should be lactose-free (Seals are lactose-intolerant). We have on occasion (when we have run out of multi-milk) used a combination of lactose-free baby milk powder and lactase-treated cow's cream.
Making up the milk
1. Add approx 16 oz (2 cups) dry MULTI-MILK powder to blender.
2. Add approx half small tin sardine (ca 60g) or flesh (no bones) from one mackerel or herring
3. Add warm water to make up to about 1 litre (or about 4 cups) of milk fluid.
4. Blend to smooth milk which will run through tube
5. Milk may be stored in fridge or used immediately.
1. Make feed up in baby's bottle or small measuring jug. We start with about 200ml feeds with newborn or newly arrived pups, and increase this gradually over next 4-6 weeks to about 450-500 ml shortly before release.
2. Add small amount of fish oil to empty bottle. This should not exceed about 10% of the total feed volume, but we usually start with about 5% with newborn pups
3. Add milk/fish blend to fish oil up to desired volume and stir well. Warm formula to luke-warm (as for baby's bottle). Make sure the feed is not too warm.
4. Just before feeding, add enzyme. We use half an EE capsule for a 200-250ml feed, and a whole capsule for a larger feed. Stir.
Feeding amount and frequency
We feed our pups five times every 24 hours. Generally the feeding interval is about 4 hours or slightly more, with feeding usually starting about 0800 and finishing between midnight and 0200. With small pups (between 6 and 10 kilos) initially receiving only 200 ml each feed, we may make the feeding interval about 3 hours. after about 3-4 weeks we sometimes reduce the number of feeds to four in 24 hours with bigger pups (from about 16 kilos) who are able to take 450-500 ml at each feed. We aim for pups to be taking 2000 ml a day by the time they are released. On this feeding regime, our pups have all gained on average about a third of a kilo per day, some a little more (Leo gained an average of 0.5 kilos per day). These feeding amounts have been developed for harbour seal pups. The feeding regime should be adjusted to meet the growth and devel;opment needs of pups of other species. The larger grey seal pups, for example, would need greater amounts, while the smaller ringed seal would probably need less.
It is important not to over-feed the pup. If a pup throws up, it may be advisable to reduce the amount of the next feed. There may be several reasons why a pup may throw up its feed. It may be that the pup is sick - Lora (2006) - regurgitated her feed when she was just developing pneumonia. This was treated with antibiotics, and her feeding resumed starting again with slightly smaller feeds. Emil (2005) used to throw up if he went into the water after a feed - we solved this problem by removing the water from the pool until he had digested! Evie (2002) threw up immediately after feeding when she she was very small. Having eliminated sickness as the problem, the solution was to use a narrow lamb feeder and reduce feeds to about 100 ml (and increase the frequency) for a few days. Usually, however, we have had little trouble with this feeding regime.
No Oral Rehydation Therapy required when using Multi-milk
Many seal pup rehabilitation centres initially feed newly incoming pups with ORT before starting to feed them. If Multi-mlk is available, dilute milk (with enzymes) may be used instead of ORT. Multi-milk also contains the necessary electrolytes, and has the added bonus of providing a very weak pup with immediate food as well. Multimilk should not be made up in ORT - this would double the concentration of electrolytes.
Source of Multimilk and Essential Enzymes
Multi-milk is manufactured by Pet Ag, Inc., 25 Keyes Avenue, Hampshire, Illinois IL 60140, USA. www.petag.com