Author Topic: I'm switching to Harlan Teklad  (Read 2760 times)

Offline Michael C

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Re: I'm switching to Harlan Teklad
« Reply #25 on: December 21, 2016, 08:16:41 PM »
The following is a positive example of how to voice contrary opinions;

Dear Michael C,

Congratulations on the great deal you've found. I'm a very knowledgeable rat owner who researches a lot of things rat-related on the internet so I know how great that price is. I just wanted to let you know my opinion on Harlan lab blocks. Some of the ingredients used in HT are not as high of quality as the ingredients used in Oxbow Adult Rat pellets. It is my opinion that Oxbow is a better product.

Because I am very knowledgeable about rat care, I know that Harlan Teklad lab blocks are not only trusted by the scientific communities but are also widely used by rat rescues and reputable breeders around the country. I understand that Harlan Teklad lab blocks are recommended by the American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association as well as by the reputable resource, RatGuide.com. I understand that Harlan Teklad lab blocks are widely accepted as one of the best commercially available lab blocks on the market, but it is my opinion that the ingredients used in Oxbow are superior enough to be worth more than double the cost.

Now, because I am very knowledgeable, I understand that Harlan Teklad lab blocks are a perfectly acceptable, healthy staple diet for your rats. I would never do or say anything to belittle your informed choices as a rat owner, especially when it's so obvious that you are also very knowledgeable and care deeply for your pets, but I just wanted to let you know that I think Oxbow is actually worth double the cost of Harlan Teklad lab blocks.


Then it can just be left at that.


Offline Vonda Z

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Re: I'm switching to Harlan Teklad
« Reply #26 on: December 22, 2016, 11:25:04 PM »
My personal unprofessional opinion is that the ingredients of Oxbow are superior to the ingredients of Harlan Teklad, based largely on a lot of research I did on pet food ingredients when shopping for a commercial diet for my dogs, that I then extended to the rats.

That said, I also agree with the statement that our domesticated rats come from such a poor gene pool that they are not likely to live long enough to see the effects of lesser ingredients over the course of their lifetime. I go with the Oxbow because I feel more comfortable feeding it, as I do wish to give them every edge I can. But even though the ingredients in Oxbow are superior based on analysis of ingredients as available from the dog food ingredient analysis websites, they are still lacking compared with the quality foods available for dogs, for example. However, after trying a high quality dog food with supplementation to balance better for rats, I never felt rats on that diet were healthier than rats on Oxbow, and in fact, those rats had more health problems then the rats I have had since (with certain individual exceptions).

One of the major concerns I have with corn ingredients as found in HT is the risk of Aspergillus fungus (aflatoxins). The standards for aflatoxins in pet foods is much more lenient than in human grade food and so this has always been a concern for me with any animal food. Aspergillus is a big problem for birds and corn cob bedding is a major contributor to this problem when used with birds. Still, I have been on this forum and others for many years and I have never - not once - heard any stories of a rat being diagnosed with issues caused from aflatoxins. Many things go undiagnosed in rats, so it is likely underreported, but with the high quality of vet care that people on this forum seek out, if this were a major risk, it would be diagnosed from time to time. And even with the best possible ingredients, health risks abound in the pet food industry. When I was feeding high quality dog food to my rats, a batch of my dog food was recalled due to salmonella contamination and one of the rats that was eating it (along with my parent's dog eating the same food from the same lot) became very sick. Positive diagnostic testing was not practical, but both dog and rat were treated based on the possibility of salmonella and both recovered and I believe the contamination to be the culprit. In a situation like this, HT is probably a lesser risk because they have more invested in ensuring no outside contamination can effect their diets and thus effect laboratory results. Their standards/QA process is probably much more regimented than a strictly pet food company.

Seeking out quality breeders as a solution to genetic issues in the rat fancy is not likely to be very effective. What most consider a quality breeder is a caring individual with well cared for rats who have nice coloration/markings and no extremely bad obvious recurring health issues in their lines. But most rats (especially does) are bred well before major health concerns have a chance to surface and in order to truly breed for health, breeders must follow up on all of the prodigy and do necropsies on all deceased rats to track cause of death and what health issues are present if they want to have a chance to make even a dent on the gene pool when it comes to health. I don't know anyone who does that. There is a slight edge to rats produced by a decent rattery in that they won't propagate lines with obvious and severe problems that show up early and often, but there are still going to be enough issues that something is likely to take its toll before diet will. A better quality diet is a tool in the arsenal and every little bit helps, but in the end, the things that take most of our rats are going to take them no matter what we are feeding (assuming we are not feeding Ol' Roy and Captain Crunch).

I have also seen that most rats do prefer the Harlan Teklad to the Oxbow. Whenever I have gotten new rats that came with the HT and I have converted them gradually over to Oxbow, I have noticed that both those rats and my existing rats would eat the HT first, then the Oxbow. But I have only had one rat who would not take the Oxbow, so I believe either is an acceptable choice when it comes to taste/palatability. The Oxbow Young Rat/Mouse is, of course, a completely different animal altogether. The ingredients are terrible and I have never had a rat that would eat it unless it was desperate, so I would avoid the Young Rat like the plague. There is really nothing to recommend it.

So my thoughts are always if you are big on nutrition and ingredients, Oxbow is the way to go. But if you choose HT instead because of cost, availability, palatability, the different balance of nutrients/formulas available, or any other reason, I doubt very much that you will see any adverse effects from it. When you are talking about animals with longer life spans where the effects of lesser ingredients have more time to do their damage, then I think food ingredients play a more important role long term. I played a lot with diet early on trying to find anything that would help my rats live longer, thinking that diet could turn things around or at least improve longevity. I studied the soy/anti soy arguments and tried it each way. I looked into raw or homemade diets, dog food, commercial rat foods. I have not found anything that makes a noticeable difference in lifespan/overall health - at least not that was noticeable to me. Some rats are healthier, some have more issues or die young - but diet did not seem to be the deciding factor as I would have some of each no matter what I was feeding. Of course, my experiences are not scientifically significant, but in the end, if I can't see a difference in daily life despite being willing to try and experiment, then I just pick the solution that is the best fit for me. It is just too much stress to try to be perfect especially when there currently is no perfect rat diet.

Offline ILoveMyRatties

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Re: I'm switching to Harlan Teklad
« Reply #27 on: December 23, 2016, 05:03:21 PM »
I've been giving at least 1 healthy meal to my rats a day. It is made out of 5 to 12  different fresh veggies, greens, legumes like peas or beans or chick peas, a little seeds or nuts, some sprouted grains, and a little bit of fruits. Once a week I add a egg to it for 6 rats. I can't prove it scientifically that they will live longer that way, because to do so I would need 60 IDENTICAL rats in two groups: 1 group would only eat a given rat commercial pellet diet, the other would get both the pellets and the fresh foods. Obviously not feasible for the average rat owner. However, we know enough in nutrition;  and most of what we know in nutrition has been tested on rats and mice;  that you can say that adding WELL BALANCED healthy fresh human grade foods to a rat's diet will extend its life and decrease the chance of illness. Fresh  foods have thousands of nutrients (each food) on top of the vitamins and minerals- none of them are present in commercial rat food.

Now back to commercial rat food. No one has ever used 60 identical rats to test whether Oxbow or HT is better or comparable. But looking at the ingredients and knowing what I know about nutrition, I believe that rats fed Oxbow would life longer in that scientific experiment- that's all, and I apologize if I sounded like I was shaming anyone:)

Offline ILoveMyRatties

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Re: I'm switching to Harlan Teklad
« Reply #28 on: December 23, 2016, 05:24:21 PM »
I've been giving at least 1 healthy meal to my rats a day. It is made out of 5 to 12  different fresh veggies, greens, legumes like peas or beans or chick peas, a little seeds or nuts, some sprouted grains, and a little bit of fruits. Once a week I add a egg to it for 6 rats. I can't prove it scientifically that they will live longer that way, because to do so I would need 60 IDENTICAL rats in two groups: 1 group would only eat a given rat commercial pellet diet, the other would get both the pellets and the fresh foods. Obviously not feasible for the average rat owner. However, we know enough in nutrition;  and most of what we know in nutrition has been tested on rats and mice;  that you can say that adding WELL BALANCED healthy fresh human grade foods to a rat's diet will extend its life and decrease the chance of illness. Fresh  foods have thousands of nutrients (each food) on top of the vitamins and minerals- none of them are present in commercial rat food.

Now back to commercial rat food. No one has ever used 60 identical rats to test whether Oxbow or HT is better or comparable. But looking at the ingredients and knowing what I know about nutrition, I believe that rats fed Oxbow would life longer in that scientific experiment (on average, and everything else equal) - that's all, and I apologize if I sounded like I was shaming anyone:)

I meant to modify my post and add "on average, and everything else equal" in my last paragraph...instead I reposted by mistake.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2016, 05:28:40 PM by ILoveMyRatties »

Offline BigBen

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Re: I'm switching to Harlan Teklad
« Reply #29 on: December 24, 2016, 12:54:16 PM »
In my experience, rats do equally well on Oxbow and HT, and they've always liked both.  I've never tried Mazuri.  In my circumstances, Oxbow is a little easier to find and keep stocked.  I started out using HT, getting it from Mainely Rat Rescue, and I would certainly continue buying it to support them, but the shipping cost is very high, and I can't afford it right now, especially when I can run out to one of several local stores and pick up a bag of Oxbow.

I have been listening to the debate about corn products for many years now, and I think that a distinction needs to be made between high-grade, human-quality corn, and the field corn used by a number of commercial manufacturers who don't store it properly, let it get moldy, and use it anyway.  As I understand it, the corn itself is not the problem, it is the risk of improper storage before it's used.  Maize is a decent source of protein and lower in sugar content than many people seem to think.  As long as it comes from a decent source and is stored properly before being put into the lab blocks, I don't see why it should be a problem.  Up till now, Harlan's quality-control has met the highest standards; it remains to be seen how the new management will maintain those standards, but I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.  They certainly have a strong economic motive to keep up quality; a lot of money is spent on research, and one set of bad results conclusively tied to bad-quality feed would ruin them.

By the way, I'm surprised that no one in this thread has yet brought up the issue of soy in pet foods--shall we argue about that, now, lol?  :cheeky:
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Offline Been to the Mountaintop

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Re: I'm switching to Harlan Teklad
« Reply #30 on: December 25, 2016, 11:30:46 AM »
Our local pet store has changed from Oxbow Regal Rat to Oxbow Essential Rat. Is this just rebranding, or a lower quality? Does anybody know?
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Offline BigBen

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Re: I'm switching to Harlan Teklad
« Reply #31 on: December 25, 2016, 02:13:03 PM »
It appears to be the same stuff it always was.  For the past three years they've been calling it Oxbow Essentials Regal Rat.  Have they dropped the Regal Rat part now?
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Offline Kitsch Slapped

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Re: I'm switching to Harlan Teklad
« Reply #32 on: December 25, 2016, 03:00:46 PM »
As far as I know it is still the same, but I am curious as well if they dropped the "regal rat" part of the name.
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Offline Been to the Mountaintop

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Re: I'm switching to Harlan Teklad
« Reply #33 on: December 26, 2016, 10:23:00 AM »
It's now Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat. Go figure.
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