How are Hedgehog Precision diets processed?
We use the most common processing method for pet foods, which is extrusion. The other two options we considered were pelleting and freeze drying, but extrusion was the winner. The two most important things are choosing a method that provides all the nutrition they need, and that our hedgies will actually enjoy eating.
Efficiency and cost: We want our food to be accessible to owners. Extrusion is an efficient and accessible processing method. We considered freeze drying, which would be an excellent option, but if we went that route our foods would cost over three times as much.
Consistency: We know our hedgies like consistency, and it's especially important if we're expecting hedgehogs currently eating cat food to transition onto an insect based food. Extrusion allows us to have all three formulas (High Calorie, Standard and Weight Control) in a similar form so that if a hedgie has to switch from one to another, it isn't a huge change. We wouldn't be able to have our High Calorie formula if we had gone the pelleting route, plus - pelleting results in so many more crumbs. We know most hedgies don't like crumbs!
Palatability: Across extruded and pelleted foods, extrusion was the winner by far. One of the reasons hedgehogs like cat foods so much is because they're coated in chicken fat and palatants - natural flavors that are stinky and delicious to animals. That coating step is important to our ability to have a High Calorie formula, because in processing you can't put that much fat actually into the kibble. So it goes on the outside, making the kibbles extra tasty and it acts as a carrier for palatants and other topical supplements, like probiotics, which can't withstand the cooking temperature of the extrusion process.
Food safety: Ultimately, the cooking step in extrusion is what makes foods safe to feed. Many ingredients in pet foods are uncooked prior to processing, and can carry commonly occurring food borne pathogens. Extrusion ensures these pathogens are killed off, for the safety of our pets. Pelleting methods don't always reach a high enough temperature, and freeze drying doesn't kill off pathogens at all, which requires additional processing to make them safe to feed.