Though macropod joeys may nurse for up to 14 months, they will eat more and more solid food as they grow and mature.
While joeys are still young, their digestive systems are monogastic – a simple type of digestive system similar to that of humans. As the baby matures, however, it becomes dependent upon bacteria to ferment the food it consumes in the stomach.
In order for this process to be successful, the bacteria must become established. This can be difficult for hand-raised joeys without contact with the mother or other adult macropods.
It is not uncommon for joeys to begin nibbling solid food at a fairly early age. You should encourage them to do so by placing small pieces of native plants in their pouch where they will find it.
If you live in an area where you have access to wild native plants, be sure to pick them from safe sources, not from the roadside where they may be contaminated with pesticides. Once your joey starts to show more interest in solid food you can introduce it to an adult feed.
The feed you offer young joeys should be made up of equal parts of alfalfa hay (Lucerne chaff), kangaroo muesli (available commercially), and kangaroo cubes (or pony cubes sometimes referred to as “cake.”)
While feeding your joey this mixture, continue to offer native vegetation but do not start to give the baby apples or green grass yet.
It is important to wait until your joey is used to a solid food diet and that he has begun to expel adult pellets – this is the sign that his body is ready to accept adult foods.