How we Wean our Labrador Litters
Do NOT try this without the aid of a safety net !! … 😉
I can only describe how I go about this… everyone has a slightly different method.
Depending on the size of the litter and how mum is coping I start weaning at about three and a half weeks of age.
I start when all are up on their feet, eyes open and focused. I take each puppy and hand feed it a little defrosted but raw chicken mince in a small meatball. Maybe half a golfball size. I do that for two days, twice a day. On the third day I put four meatballs at each corner of a small baking tray and have four pups stand and eat them. Its messy but they love it! I do that twice a day for a couple of days.
I often get asked about raw mince. The problem with meat is when you start to cook it, and then either cook it till it has no taste and is rubbery, OR is underdone… that is when problems occur. Raw you are feeding it as nature intended without messing about with having to worry, just make sure it is fully defrosted and, ideally, room temperature rather than straight out the fridge ;-).
On the fourth day of weaning, lets assume here for a litter of 8 puppies, I soak up 100gms of dry puppy food in 3/4 of a pint of boiling water, and add some of the chicken mince the pups are already used to, into it (using a fork or hand blender to mush it down) ending up with a substance they have to chew. I then put it evenly on two flat baking trays, allow to get warm to the touch, and put them down and position pus, 4 and 4, around each to munch away. They should clear this in 5 mins or so…. throw away any they don’t eat and adjust portion size next time by a little.
I stick to that for about a week to ten days slowly going from twice a day to three times to four when they are about 5 weeks old. At the stage I switch to 3 meals a day I stop adding the chicken mince. In all reality its just a tasty addition to get them munching rather than being ‘essential’ or anything nutritious, so if you cut this out sooner, thats absolutely fine.
Then between 5 weeks and 7 weeks I dry up the food until its just puppy complete with a splash of boiling water in the bowl and it tossed about in it then put down when just about cool enough.
From about 5 weeks onwards, once or twice a day I make up a measuring jug of very warm puppy milk for AFTER their solid meal. This just tops up anyone who didn’t snaffle as much as the others, and puts a lovely bloom on them.
I use ‘The Animal Health Companies’ Nutrolac which i’ve found superb:
I like to use meat to start puppies because we are trying to teach them to chew, not lap milky foods such a rice pudding and sloppy puppy weaner foods. They KNOW how to suck and lap… its chewing they want teaching!
I like the uncooked chicken mince to start as it makes them keen eaters and they are familiar with it through mum as I feed it with complete food to her throughout nursing, and then through the meatballs they have to teach them to chew. It probably does unbalance the puppy food but I do it only for a short time to get them ‘cleaning up’ and it puts a nice big fat belly on them and they seem to love it! Its blended into the complete very well so they hardly notice once they get to the keen stage that I am slowly removing it!
At 7 weeks, for example, I would have 8 puppies on around 400gms per meal of puppy complete our times a day, then milk afterward the kibble a couple of times a day.