Raising Guinea Pigs can teach many valuable lessons

Two of my children each have a Guinea Pig as a pet.  We bought them almost a year ago from a friend of mine who used to raise them, and they were solely bought as pets.  After they were purchased we realised that we could breed them and allow my eldest son a method to make some cash for himself.  This was to be a project to allow him to learn about animal husbandry and to learn about economics.  I hoped that he would learn to appreciate the work that goes into earning money and it might help him later in life.

He started out by creating poster advertisements and placing them around town.  We only had one sale from this, as there are few people looking for Guinea Pigs in our little country town.  I recommended trying online, as that would ensure more eyes on the advertisement.  I explained the concept of more traffic could mean that more chance of interested people seeing the ad.  We used Gumtree for this, which is an online classified site.

Interest jumped rapidly, and he sold out within a day or two.  This was a great boost to his confidence and to his wallet, as he was selling them for around $10 each (making around $50 from a whole litter).  For a couple of litters he used this method, with me placing the ads online for him.  Yet, it did have drawbacks… mostly that we had strangers coming to our home.

On a visit to the pet food store to purchase some feed I noticed that they were selling Guinea Pigs for $30 each!  I was surprised, yet inspiration took hold and I asked the manager if she was looking to purchase more for her shop.  She said she was always looking for more, and she would pay my son $15 each.  This was great, and when I told him he was very enthusiastic as was I…. it would mean less people visiting the house.

After the first sale, I advised him that he would have to buy his feed for the Guinea Pigs, so he should put away $5 from each animal.  In this I have attempted to teach him about the expenses of running a business…. That is isn’t all money coming in.

This was all great until the last winter came, when the Guinea Pigs were taking a break.  After the cold season we mated them again, and all the litter died on the first attempt.  My son started to lose hope.  He put lots of effort into maintaining them, and they were not repaying him.  Bear in mind, these were not his pets… they were his sibling’s pets.  He just looked after them and was rewarded with the benefits of money.

I had to remind my son that sometimes, when you run a business, it doesn’t go well.  That is when you have to dig deep and try to get through the harder times.

On the weekend, his hard work has paid off, with the birth of three Guinea Pigs.  Sure, they aren’t the large numbers he used to get… yet it is still something.  He is already considering buying a couple more to act as breeding stock, with the intention of doubling the profit.  I really hope that he has learned something from this experience and that he will always remember the time we devoted to his first business.

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