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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm new here. I want to get one thing straight right away. I don't believe there is anything wrong with feeding a dog a name brand kibble.


With that said, I do want to start my dog on a raw food diet, however due to my location, budget, and local market, the only way I could afford to raw feed would be to farm my own dog food. I have the space , equipment , and know how to farm chickens, and ducks on a relatively large scale and I have contacts that can butcher and pack them any way I like. I can and will hunt venison and share that , and I can catch fish and store them as well. Small game critters could go on the menu although they are very labor intensive for the small yield. I am able to get beef and pork affordably but no organ meat from those sources.


I want to find more information on this but I don't see anything around the interwebz.

My main concerns are what can I feed the dog that I wouldn't necessarily eat suck as the giblets, necks, skulls, feet, etc.

I'm also wondering if its safe for a dog to have at a raw quarter chicken? Are the uncooked bones safe? Fish bones?

When I'm butchering a deer should I save the fat?

If times get tough, can I supplement in something like rice along with raw meat?


I read somewhere online what I interpreted as someone is grinding chicken up with the bones and all, and feeding ground chicken meat, bone, and organ all mixed together. Did I read something wrong? That sounds like the easiest way to do it if I read that right.
 

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Disclaimer that, while I have fed prey model raw, it was several years ago at this point and some of the guidelines might have changed.

Raw bone (never cooked) and organ are 100% essential to a prey model raw diet - that's where most of the vitamins and minerals are. The general guidelines when I was feeding was 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, and 5% other secreting organ. Organs like heart and lungs are considered 'muscle meat' for the purposes of the diet, because they don't contain the same kind of nutrition as secreting organs like kidneys, pancreas, spleen, gonads, etc.

That being said, some bones - even when raw - are going to be too thick and dense to be safe to consume. Mostly these are weight bearing bones of larger animals, like femurs. Most dogs should be okay with most chicken bones, and maybe even duck if it's a lighter breed, but I know that some people won't feed turkey legs because they're too dense and hard. You dog will also need to learn how to chew bones well. It's very natural for them to try to swallow big chunks of food whole, but this can cause stomach upset and regurgitation - and sometimes injury - if they're doing this with big chunks of bone. Ideally, all bones you feed should be padded with some meat, not bare.

Wild meat should be inspected, and in some cases deep frozen for weeks or months before feeding (especially boar or bear). Research what illnesses and parasites are in your area that might make your dog sick, and how to spot issues and/or neutralized the problem. If you're on the west coast, be EXTREMELY careful with salmonid fish - pacific salmonids can carry a parasite that causes what's known as 'salmon poisoning' in dogs, even though it's completely safe for humans, and is deadly. Again, do your own research about what species are at risk of causing this in your area. It hasn't yet been found in Atlantic salmonids, so fish from Atlantic regions are generally considered safer.

Fat is the main source of energy in a raw diet, but you want to introduce it slowly to avoid causing pancreatitis or stomach upset. As far as I know, most people don't add extra fat unless they're feeding working dogs with super high caloric needs (think mushing, racing), but you also shouldn't be trimming every bit of fat off the meat and organ.

Rice is probably okay for bulking out the diet short-term, but is low in calories and nutrients and therefore isn't a long-term replacement for any part of the diet, unless you're also adding supplements (though that's more into the realm of home cooked dog diets and I can't help much there).

Some people do make or buy meat grinds, which may or may not be a complete diet (If you're buying, it'll tell you whether something can be used as a complete diet or if it needs supplementation, if you make your own you have to do the calculations yourself). They can be super convenient, but do not provide the enrichment or teeth cleaning benefits of chewing whole raw meaty bones. Some people chose to feed the occasional raw, meaty bone separately, or go with more mainstream chews. It should be noted that some dogs still need regular teeth brushing and dental cleanings even when eating raw meaty bones regularly, so it's up to you to monitor that and decide what works best for your dog.

Frankly, I have moved onto using commercial raw grinds because the time, energy, and money to source and maintain a prey model raw diet - and the freezer space to store it - reached a point where I wasn't confident I was providing a complete and balanced diet. My older dog has moved almost entirely back to kibble because he can't eat bone or bone-inclusive grinds without getting super constipated. Maybe some day I'll try again, when I have better and more reliable access to affordable meats and organs and the space to process and store everything, but I'm happy with my dogs' health and condition currently so I'm not in a rush.

Oh, and everything I've written is just bare-bones (pardon the pun), broad overview type stuff. I highly recommend continuing to research and diving into these concepts in details before jumping into raw feeding. A balanced and complete raw diet can be awesome for many dogs, but a poorly done one can cause serious short- and long-term problems. And always listen to your dog - if you try it and it doesn't seem to be working for them, don't feel you have to keep pushing. Some dogs do better on cooked or kibble diets (like my senior poodle), and that's okay.
 

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I don't feed my dog raw and don't know much about it, but I do know a bit about animal husbandry, and I know the cost of upkeep for the livestock is going to neutralize any savings you may get from raising your own unless you're also selling eggs or meat for human consumption. I raise chickens for eggs, and the amount I save on not buying eggs from the store doesn't even cover their feed, even with them free-ranging...even if I sold the eggs, I would maybe cover the feed and probably go in the hole over the winter when there are no bugs or vegetation to forage and I have to feed them more. And you're going to have to take into account the cost of procuring new poultry, whether you purchase chicks or hatch your own. Unless you have another way to make money on the poultry, raising them for your dog alone likely isn't going to be cost effective.

Hunting and fishing is a crapshoot, at best, not to mention the legal limits you have to adhere to. It's not cheap, either, with obtaining licenses and maintaining equipment. The amount of time spent harvesting wild game is not insignificant, either.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but you're probably not going to save as much money as you think and will probably end up spending more, really. I say this from experience, because I like to grow/raise my own food and I'm lucky to break even most of the time, and that's with selling some of my surplus produce! I don't do it for the cost savings, I do it because I prefer the quality and taste of my own fresh food, and I enjoy the work.

So, you totally can raise your own dog food...but if you're doing it exclusively to save money, it might not be the best option. I would do some in-depth research on the real cost of raising all this food and compare that to the cost of buying the product commercially. If you search through some chicken or poultry forums, I bet you can find someone who raises on a large scale and can clue you in to some of the costs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I don't feed my dog raw and don't know much about it, but I do know a bit about animal husbandry, and I know the cost of upkeep for the livestock is going to neutralize any savings you may get from raising your own unless you're also selling eggs or meat for human consumption. I raise chickens for eggs, and the amount I save on not buying eggs from the store doesn't even cover their feed, even with them free-ranging...even if I sold the eggs, I would maybe cover the feed and probably go in the hole over the winter when there are no bugs or vegetation to forage and I have to feed them more. And you're going to have to take into account the cost of procuring new poultry, whether you purchase chicks or hatch your own. Unless you have another way to make money on the poultry, raising them for your dog alone likely isn't going to be cost effective.

Hunting and fishing is a crapshoot, at best, not to mention the legal limits you have to adhere to. It's not cheap, either, with obtaining licenses and maintaining equipment. The amount of time spent harvesting wild game is not insignificant, either.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but you're probably not going to save as much money as you think and will probably end up spending more, really. I say this from experience, because I like to grow/raise my own food and I'm lucky to break even most of the time, and that's with selling some of my surplus produce! I don't do it for the cost savings, I do it because I prefer the quality and taste of my own fresh food, and I enjoy the work.

So, you totally can raise your own dog food...but if you're doing it exclusively to save money, it might not be the best option. I would do some in-depth research on the real cost of raising all this food and compare that to the cost of buying the product commercially. If you search through some chicken or poultry forums, I bet you can find someone who raises on a large scale and can clue you in to some of the costs.
I hunt and fish for recreation anyway, so those sources are additional to the base diet and are "free" in my mind as I was putting that time and money in anyway.

I don't know how you are not saving money growing your own poultry vs buying from the store at 6+ dollars a pound...??? I can have birds purchased, fed, finished, butchered, and bagged for 1.60 a pound average... I'm already set up for "human food"
 

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I hunt and fish for recreation anyway, so those sources are additional to the base diet and are "free" in my mind as I was putting that time and money in anyway.

I don't know how you are not saving money growing your own poultry vs buying from the store at 6+ dollars a pound...??? I can have birds purchased, fed, finished, butchered, and bagged for 1.60 a pound average... I'm already set up for "human food"
As I mentioned, I raise chickens for eggs, not exclusively for meat. I can buy 2 dozen eggs at Costco for about $4, which feeds us for 3 weeks, give or take a few days. A mid-quality commercially produced flock raiser feed is around $25 (it's a little high right now) which lasts a little over a month in the summer, and it will probably will last half that time in the winter. That doesn't include oyster shell supplements, they go through it at varied rates. Even if I bought eggs from the grocery store for around $3 for a dozen every week, I wouldn't be saving money. Even if I bought the organic, pasture raised eggs I would barely break even, much less save money.

Where are you that whole chicken is $6 a pound?!?! A whole chicken, commercially produced, is around $1.50 per pound, on average across the US, which aligns with current prices in my region. Even organic whole chicken is around $2-3 a pound. For context, I am in the U.S. Midwest in a relatively rural region and prices are in USD, so perhaps things are more expensive in your area, but I would imagine the cost of feed and other necessary poultry raising supplies would also be higher?

I hope you realize I'm not trying to discourage you or squash your idea or hurt your feelings. I'm simply sharing my experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
As I mentioned, I raise chickens for eggs, not exclusively for meat. I can buy 2 dozen eggs at Costco for about $4, which feeds us for 3 weeks, give or take a few days. A mid-quality commercially produced flock raiser feed is around $25 (it's a little high right now) which lasts a little over a month in the summer, and it will probably will last half that time in the winter. That doesn't include oyster shell supplements, they go through it at varied rates. Even if I bought eggs from the grocery store for around $3 for a dozen every week, I wouldn't be saving money. Even if I bought the organic, pasture raised eggs I would barely break even, much less save money.

Where are you that whole chicken is $6 a pound?!?! A whole chicken, commercially produced, is around $1.50 per pound, on average across the US, which aligns with current prices in my region. Even organic whole chicken is around $2-3 a pound. For context, I am in the U.S. Midwest in a relatively rural region and prices are in USD, so perhaps things are more expensive in your area, but I would imagine the cost of feed and other necessary poultry raising supplies would also be higher?

I hope you realize I'm not trying to discourage you or squash your idea or hurt your feelings. I'm simply sharing my experience.
I understand that you are trying to help. I know the eggs are not in any way a cost savings. I feed 15 hens and am lucky to use a dozen a day in the house, usually closer to 8 a day. But, they are better eggs than you will find at any store around here and better than most "farm" eggs in the area.

Similarly, I'm not comparing the chickens I produce with meticulous care to some grocery store birds. If you want to buy a broiler of the quality I produce you'll pay 6 dollars a pound or you'll work for years to produce your own (or become discouraged after a few years and eat grocery store chicken)




This thread wasn't about the economics. I am looking for feeding practices with "barf" diets.
 

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Just to clarify, BARF is Bones And Raw Food, and includes a vegetable grind as a major part of the diet. I am not experienced with BARF diets and can't speak much to them, only that I know that dogs can't process whole veg easily, so if you want to add veg expect to need to cook and grind them down/blend them up, or buy a premade veg mix for dogs.

Prey Model Raw is a diet that tries to imitate whole prey, and so is entirely based on meat, bones, and organs. Many PMR feeders do add green tripe to the diet regularly, which is the uncleaned stomach lining of ruminants like cows, so there's some pre-processed 'greens' added that way, but that's the extent of it. PMR is the one I have personal experience feeding, and my advice may not apply to BARF diets if you're more interested in that approach.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Just to clarify, BARF is Bones And Raw Food, and includes a vegetable grind as a major part of the diet. I am not experienced with BARF diets and can't speak much to them, only that I know that dogs can't process whole veg easily, so if you want to add veg expect to need to cook and grind them down/blend them up, or buy a premade veg mix for dogs.

Prey Model Raw is a diet that tries to imitate whole prey, and so is entirely based on meat, bones, and organs. Many PMR feeders do add green tripe to the diet regularly, which is the uncleaned stomach lining of ruminants like cows, so there's some pre-processed 'greens' added that way, but that's the extent of it. PMR is the one I have personal experience feeding, and my advice may not apply to BARF diets if you're more interested in that approach.
I guess I was a bit confused, I'm not going for barf here, but I thought bones and raw food meant literally bones, and raw food. I'm more inclined to do something akin to prey model raw. There will be bones. There will be no zucchini. Thanks for clarifying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I found a local butcher/meat packing plant that actually sells a ground meat Raw dog food for about 2 dollars a pound. It's mostly beef although I'll have to call the plant to see what parts but this seems like a very nice product at a really reasonable price.



What's the feed amount difference between kibble and raw? Like I I'm feeding a dog (just using arbitrary easy numbers here) a pound of kibble in a day, what kind of weight will that dog need raw per day?
 

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Yeah, BARF is a very specific diet designed by one veterinarian, kind of a branded feeding program thing, so it can get confusing when people use it to mean any kind of raw diet. You'll find more information specific to the kind of feeding you're interested in by googling Prey Model Raw specifically, so that's good to know!

Definitely check what's in the butcher's grind. At that price I'd assume that it's a muscle meat grind and would need everything else (meaty bones, liver, other secreting organ) supplemented, but they might surprise you. Sometimes those kinds of products are a little unpredictable because they're made from scraps that the butcher happens to have on hand, so that's worth keeping in mind, especially if your dog seems to be sensitive to changes in fat content or something similar.

There's no easy conversion to weight in kibble to weight in raw, partially because there's such a wide variety of kibbles with vastly different caloric densities. The rough starting point most people use for adult dogs (and what the raw grind company I currently use recommends) is 2% of their ideal body weight, then adjust based on your dog's condition. So if they start looking a little ribby, increase the portions a bit, and if they start feeling like they're getting too much padding, decrease. Some dogs wind up needing significantly more or less than 2%, it all depends on age, size, activity level, reproductive status, individual metabolism, etc. so there will be a bit of trial and error to find out the ideal portion sizes for your dog.

Again, please don't take any of this as the be-all and end-all advice for raw feeding, look into other sources so that if I have misunderstood or forgotten something you'll be covered! I am far from an expert and have limited experience as I've only fed one dog PMR for a couple years.
 
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