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Posted by chrish on January 27, 2003 at 18:42:26:
Thought I would throw my $0.02 up here, rather than embed my post in the 300th subthread.
While there are a number of reputable breeders (as Colby mentions) that powerfeed animals, I am not sure that implies that it is a good idea.
It depends on your goals I guess. I feed my mice ad lib and leave the male in with 4 females all the time. Yet research has repeatedly shown that continual breeding and ad lib feeding significantly shortens the life of mice (a calorie restricted diet and limited breeding result in the highest longevity). In this case, I don't care about the research. I am producing mice as snake food. I want maximum productivity and if, as a result, my mice only have 12 productive months of life, so be it. I will just raise some more to replace my breeders.
If I was producing snakes the same way, I would take the same approach (sacrificing the well being of the individual to maximize the output of the colony). Powerfeeding snakes is a way to do this, IMHO. That is often the underlying goal of breeders who do it. That's OK, as long as you admit they are breeder animals.
But I am not doing this with my snakes. I often give females a year off breeding. I don't double clutch snakes. I like my individual animals and so I do what I know prolongs their life. I also keep my collection at somewhere between 20 and 30 animals for the same reason. Even at this number, they don't get the individual attention I would like to give them.
Someone made the point below about checking some of these powerfed snakes in 5 years. That's probably a little too soon. But checking them in 12 years would certainly be valid. Most snakes probably have the potential to live 20-25 years in captivity, at least. I doubt many powerfed snakes make it that far.
One other downside of powerfeeding, particularly in Hogs. I have seen several cases of overweight female hogs becoming egg bound (I lost my biggest, fattest Prairie Hog to egg binding). So powerfeeding females may have a more immediate negative impact.