Barb’s Yum-Yum Recipe

Duck soup is the general term for any kind of liquid or near-liquid food fed to ferrets when they’re sick, recovering from surgery, or need to gain weight.

My duck soup (otherwise known as “chicken goo” or “yum yums”) is not the dry powder sold as Uncle Jim’s Duck Soup. I don’t like that stuff much and neither do my ferrets. I think it would be fine to add it to some kind of duck soup, but I don’t think you’ll get nearly as good results using just the Uncle Jim’s stuff as using my recipe.

There are many recipes for duck soup out there, some with all sorts of additives. I used to add a lot of things to my duck soup, too, but over the years I’ve found that a basic chicken-only recipe works quite well. It’s well-accepted by most ferrets (or not that hard to convince them to eat it) and it definitely puts on weight.

The basic idea is to take chicken (I use chicken legs and thighs) and cook it until the bones get soft. I’m lazy — I cook it in a slow cooker for 24-36 hours. Some people just cook until the chicken is done, then cook the bones longer (it even works in a pot on the stove if you cover the bones with water).

The key step is to scoop out the solids and chill them until cold. Save all the juice and fat.

Process the cold solids in a food processor until it makes a ball (similar to a dough ball if you’ve used machines to make bread). Then add fat and juice slowly, mixing thoroughly between additions, until it is smooth and creamy.

Scoop out the goo into a big dish and continue processing like this until done. Stir the goo in the big dish (thereby evening distributing bones, marrow, fat, etc.). Spoon into containers and freeze. Thaw as needed. If you only have a couple ferrets eating it, you might want to use baby food jars. If you have more ferrets, larger plastic containers might work better. The idea is to have a container that you can use up before it goes bad. It lasts about 5-7 days in the refrigerator. You’ll know when it’s bad. Your stomach will instantly clench up at the smell.

We give about 1/2 cup, warmed and with added water to make a soup. The sicker the ferret, the more smooth and watery they want it. If your ferret refuses to eat it due to lumps, you can run it through a sieve (pressing with a metal spoon) and try to get the lumps out that way. Most ferrets want it nice and smooth, but as they get used to it, they will often tolerate a few lumps here and there.

If you need to force feed your ferret, press the soup through a sieve. It will save you lots of frustration since the bone pieces plug up the syringes.

If a ferret is not eating hard food, they need to eat 60-90 cc (same as ml) a day to stay alive. More is better. After a ferret recovers, do not suddenly stop the duck soup as I’ve seen them relapse many times. Continue the feedings until at least a week after they are back to normal. It won’t hurt to give them a little every day anyway, since they most likely love the stuff by now. It’s a good treat — protein and fat with no sugar.

Barb Carlson

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