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Fleece bedding

Comments from the CavyMadness messageboard about experiences with fleece...

On GuineaPigCages.com: The Fleece Project (everything you've ever wanted to know about fleece).

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I've seen a lot of people who swear by washing fleece in hot water with detergent and bleach 3 or 4 times to get rid of any extra repellant. I did notice a drastic difference in absorbancy after I'd done mine 3 times in hot water.

I do have a couple of fleece pieces where the water would sit on on the fabric in puddles, BUT if I just barely touched the water it would suddenly get sucked up. These secondary fleece pieces that I use tend to smell faster, and the fleece feels moisture faster as well. I have to use lots of extra things on top when I use those particular fleece pieces. Things like hand towels and baby blankets that ARE absorbant have to be placed in heavy use areas like under hideys, and changed daily. These less effective pieces of fleece work okay, but if I could do it again, I would have been more careful in my initial choice of fleece.

You will KNOW when it's not working when

-the top of the fleece is wetter than the bottom absorbant layer,
-that the pigs feet feel cold and damp when you pick them up
-that the poops/stray hay pieces get soggy or dragged across the fleece to make a lovely poop soup, which leaves stains on the fabric.

Fleece is best used with large Cube and Coroplast cages.

Fleece must never be allowed to be moist for long hours. If you find your fleece has any moisture when you press your hand on it, on a consistent basis then you need to change something.

Things that have to be addressed depending on the problem are
-a bigger cage,
-more absorbant layers or more effective absorbancy
-finding or additional layers of fleece.
-removing poop more often such as twice daily
-changing the fleece more often
-changing out the absorbant layer between fleece changes.

Many people with smaller cages and/or more pigs find that they have to make 2-7 fleece changes a week, larger cages with less pigs can stay dry and odor free for as long as 7-10 days. As pigs get larger, adjustments often have to be made.

I have a couple of blankets for my own bed, they were marketed on the label as "micro-fleece". This is supposed to be a very asborbant type of fleece yet neither of them absorb anything, and I find myself sweating under them quite a bit, yet the blankets stay dry.

I've had these super soft blankets for over a year, and noticed them getting a little "pilly". So I tested them last week as I thought they would be good to retire to piggy bedding. Sadly, the water roolllled around all over the blanket, then I took a tissue and soaked up every drop off the top. Not a single hint of moisture drained through to the bottom. Even after 10 minutes. So just because it says it's "Fleece" or "polyester", doesn't mean it's the kind of fleece you need.( I guess it's like saying "vinyl" which can mean anything from thick textured plastic to thin sheeting.)

Any fleece that you can't get to absorb urine would really be a pain as bedding, because the entire reason that fleece for bedding works is because of the unique "wicking" action that no other fabric can provide. By placing terry cloth towels or other absorbant material under the fleece you are creating a 'System' that works together to provide a safe, inexpensive and unique bedding solution. The thinner and cheaper the fleece, the greater chance that it's going to allow the urine to run straight through it.

What you are going to need to come up with is a 2 or 3 layer system. The top layer of fleece drains the urine and stays dry to the touch, the second layer PULLS or SUCKS the urine from the upper layer and the third layer allows the urine to try quickly. Your top layer of fleece needs to smooth so that hay, hair and poop are easily vacuumed and/or shaken out one or two times a day depending on your cage size and amount of pigs.

The most popular by far it fleece, towels, newspaper. Myself, I found that towels seemed to grab odor faster, so I started putting the quilt batting in between the fleece and towels.

Whatever your system, it needs to be something that is easy to maintain with your cage. That is why I was determined to make sure my fleece was attached to the floor of the cage. Doing so allows me to run the special piggie wet dry vacuum over the whole thing and it sucks up hair, hay and poops quickly. With my gigantoid -mega -wide two story cage I just couldn't handle messing with a loose blanket. At one point I was getting lazy and not attaching it to the coroplast floor bottom. The time and energy to maintain it on a daily basis sucked out about 40 minutes every night instead of 5. In addition, my fleece got a horrible build-up of hair inside and washing it in the washer and dryer didn't help much. I had hair getting all over the place. I didn't like having hair all over my apartment.

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I use a Combination of fleece blankets, Washable puppy pads and corner litterpans.

I place the puppy pads down first then the fleece on top (i put the puppy pads so that the coroplast dosen't stay moist), Then i place the corner litterpans down (one underneath my ramp and one near the hay basket).

Then i just periodically sweep up any poop through out the day and change the litter boxes every other day.

With this cleaning routine i have, the longest i have gone without changing the whole cage bedding was a week and two days (i wouldn't recomend waiting that long unless you have alot of free time on your hands to keep up with the poop cleaning), and even when i went to clean out the cage, there wasn't any smell.

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I started using fleece last spring when I got some winter patterns really cheap at Walmart. I use 4 bricks - one in each corner - to hold the fleece down and also 2 in the middle which is where I put their food. A big heavy crock dish helps too. The bricks help to keep nails trim.

There are 2 corners that the piggies favor as a potty and I put an extra piece of fleece under those. ( face cloth sized that I cut out from extra fleece.)

Extra laundry but you save on bedding cost and mess....

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There are many different kinds of fleece ... microfleece is thin and allows wetness to soak through, while leaving the fleece feeling dry. This is well known in the cloth diaper world because the microfleece top layer allows urine to go through while keeping baby feeling dry. It must be used with an absorbant bottom layer though. You can always test scrap blankets you have laying around your house by putting it on top of a towel and then pouring a little water onto the fleece. If it puddles, rather than absorbs into the towel after a minute ... it may not be the best option.

I would recommend getting fleece from Joanns or Walmart like someone else mentioned. You can get the end of the bolts at a discounted price. Take it home and wash/dry it first because fabric is usually treated with chemicals and I'm not sure if that can be dangerous for piggies.

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I tried pine shavings, then fleece, back to the pine shavings and now I'm sticking with fleece. It's awesome! I make sure the fleece is bigger than the coroplast. I put a flannel-backed tablecloth on the coroplast, vinyl side up, then the fleece. My cage is inside the coroplast so the edges of the cage hold the fleece in place and the pigs can't burrow underneath. I have three fleece pieces so I always have a clean one available til I wash the others. It's been wonderful.

At least once each day, I sweep the cage with a whisk broom and dustpan. The piggies are used to it already and move to the other end of the cage til I'm done. Then when I go to the other side of the cage, they move away from me again--not in fear, but just to give me room. It's funny, and it shows that piggies are not dumb animals at all.

And the best part is: no more pine shavings mess all over.

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To see if fleece going to work, drop some water onto it. Does the water instantly go into the fabric or does it sit on the top and roll around? Does it sit for a second or two and then go into the blanket? If so, then wash it in very hot water at least 3 time and then try again.

The point is that it has to go into the fabric or it won't work well for bedding material. Is it large enough to line the entire cage bottom? Assuming it works then all you need to do is decide on what to use for an absorbant layer underneath.

Towels, Various mattress pads, quilt batting, disposable bed pads, crib pads etc.. lots of options are there but it needs to be nice and thick so that it absorbs all the urine fast, and dries equally fast between urinations

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The big thing about fleece is its wicking properties. Having the fleece on top, with something absorbent, will keep the top later relatively dry all the time. Other fabric, like terry cloth, will absorb the moisture from the pee, but leave it at the surface -- it would be wet. Depending on the finish they put on other types of material or if it has a tight weave (like sheets), you may get urine to puddle on the surface, and it takes a while to soak in. You end up with urine-soaked pigs.

I can imagine that sheets are easier to keep clean of debris, like hay and poo. Terry cloth towels would be terrible for that. Fleece is somewhere in between.

If you can always get them to pee in a specific corner, then other types of fabric may work well for you (it depends, too, if your pigs tend to sit or lay a lot where they pee).

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I am currently making the swap to fleece for my pigs' C&C cages and after consideration, I've not put anything in the corners to tack the fabric down. My boys aren't big on tunneling so I haven't had a problem. They each get a fleece bed and a Cavy Madness cozy in their cages too.

As for the fleece, I discovered that buying a fleece blanket is less expensive than fleece from the fabric store. However, the fleece blankets are not as thick and plush as the autumn fabric I bought at JoAnn's. I am doing the first-time test of the JoAnn fleece and will see if they appear to like it better than the fleece throws, which are 50x60 and I can fold it in half to lay in the 2x4 C&C cage.

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I wanted to chime in and say that fleece made me happier once I litter trained. My guinea now uses a rabbit litter pan she can climb into and feel safe in, where I place the food. It's a triangle shape, allowing for 3 corners she loves to back into and relieve herself. For the rest of the cage I rounded out corners or placed things, eliminating 90 degree angles and smaller, making the litter pan always the "latest and greatest place to poop". It's a much smaller part to replace daily (empty the pan, add carefresh) and the fleece looks and stays cleaner.

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We have a three tier C&C cage (2X5 on the bottom, 1X5 on the top, two 1X2s in the middle) for our four piggies. My first set of fleece consisted of two layers of batting with fleece wrapped all around and hand stitched up the bottom center (so no loose thread). One 10X10 stepping stone under each water bottle (to help wear down their nails, and keep the fleece from getting soaked under the bottles) keep the fleece in place. I made two sets so I could wash one set while the other was in the cage. This set shrunk up terribly, even after washing the fleece four times before I put the pads together. I swear it still shrinks. This was made of Anti pill fleece in a tiger/cheetah type print (looks great in the cage, hides the poop)

The second set of fleece, which I really love, I took one Queen size waterproof mattress pad, cut it in two and finished the edges (helps if you sew) for two bottom floor pads. Two layers of fleece go over the top, and tucked around the edge. With the stepping stones, everything stays in place, and the liquid (water/urine) wicks through to the mattress pad. The top layers are just four layers of fleece, because they don't get as much usage, and are easy to shake out. Depending on if the water bottles leak or not, I can go one to two weeks, no problem, with minor daily sweep up. This was made from Alpine (polar) fleece in tie dye green, which show every last poop. The fleece hardly shrank at all.

The disadvantage is that I have to brush the fleece off before I wash it (my piggies shed a lot). I wash the fleece in my washing machine, but always have to vacuum the extra hair out and run a load of piggie towels on "Sanitize" when I am finished to clean it out. Not everyone likes their piggie fleece in their washing machine, but the sanitize cycle works great on mine.

 

 
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