One of our most requested ‘recipes’ on facebook is the recipe for our raw dog and cat food!
Hard to believe isn’t it?
Making raw pet food doesn’t need to be difficult or fancy. It can be quite simple!
If you’re just beginning to make raw pet food, you can start out with the basics, one step at a time. Here’s how we progressed over the years and how we make our raw pet food now.
Our goal is to feed our pets the very best we can, but as a family with 6 kids, it needs to be for the least cost too. To achieve this for 6 dogs and 11 cats we needed to get creative.
When we first began feeding raw almost 14 years ago, we had one cat and one puppy. Two years later we added a second dog. During that time we simply purchased meat during sales. Ground chicken, turkey, ground beef, ground pork, anything that was on sale or on clearance because it was close to date or on date. We’d buy in bulk when possible, and freeze until it was time to make more pet food. My preference was ground meats so that I didn’t have to cut it all up and try to put it through my food processor. That machine saw a LOT of wear and tear in those years! I just received my second ever food processor at Christmas and will finally put my first one into retirement.
Now that we’re feeding 17 animals though, it’s just too costly to be buying meats from the grocery store. For a while we were buying pre-made raw pet food, Mountain Dog Food. Once we moved to the prairies we were unable to find meat at a low price in the stores. Buying it already pre-made through a raw food seller was the cheapest way to go, but it was costing us about 250.00-350.00 per month for just the 6 dogs, and 2 cats. Once we knew we would be adding lots of barn cats, we needed to think this through. If you’re not interested in making your own food though, or can not buy meat cheap, look into pre-made! It’s the next best thing and you’d be surprised by how many companies actually make raw food now.
Once I realized we needed a new tactic for finding meats, I had the idea to advertise looking for old freezer foods locally. I simply posted on our local ‘garage sale’ facebook page. I let people know I was looking for freezer burnt meats, fruits and veggies, especially wild game for pet food. If anyone had some, to please contact me and we’d happily pick it up and put it to good use rather then the old meats being thrown into the garbage! No one wants to throw away food, and this appeals to many people. It’s a wonderful form of recycling so don’t be shy about asking!
Since we live in a small town, word has gotten around and now we never run out of meats. There are LOTS of people who hunt around here and if they still have wild game in the freezer from last year, they give it to us to make room for their new game!
It’s been asked, how do I know if these meats are ok for our pets. I personally feel the better question would be, how does one know pre-made pet foods are ok for our pets? We have no way of knowing what is being thrown into kibble and processed pet foods. The regulations are so loose on pet foods. When I make my own pet foods, I SEE and handle every piece of meat I feed our cats and dogs. If something looks or smells ‘off’, I discard it but to be honest, I’ve never had to discard anything, or not use it in the pet food.
I opened a pretty white paper wrapped package and upon opening it I gasped and jumped.
Inside was the most colorful, complete, beautiful BIRD. I have no idea what kind it was, and it caught me off guard completely! I expected to open a package of raw meat, and here’s this complete bird ‘looking’ at me in this pretty white paper. I fed that one to the wild animals at the property line. lol I really don’t throw away anything. Ha!
Now I know to watch for those pretty white paper packages. I actually receive a few every so often and it’s become a treat for our barn cats to receive a whole bird. I’m no longer scared to open them, and maybe one day I’ll actually find out what these pretty birds are that people hunt and freeze, whole!
The only cost to us for these meats is picking it up, and keeping it in freezers. In our shop we have 3 freezers full of discarded meats JUST for the pets. We currently have goose, duck, buffalo, deer, moose, wild boar, lots of wild game sausage, beef, pork, chicken and turkey. Our pets are SPOILED!
About every 7-10 days we pull out one large tub full of meats. I like to mix a variety into every batch we make including organ meats. Once it’s defrosted enough to cut, we slice it up and put it through our meat grinder. This big grinder is new to us. For a long time we had to cut up our meats and then we upgraded to the meat grinder attachment for my kitchenaid mixer when I received a sears gift card. That actually worked quite well but was a little slow once we were feeding so many. If you’re just feeding 1-6 pets though, I’d say it should be enough for you.
We grind up ALL the slices of meat. It is a messy job! I was tempted to edit the photos to remove the bloody cutting board etc. but then thought better of it. It’s messy. There’s no way around it. If you’re squeamish about raw meats (you won’t be for long ha ha) then you can use tongs (I do) to handle the meat or even kitchen gloves. My husband just uses his hands. (He was never scared of diaper duty either… lol)
When my old food processor became too tired, and cracked, I began to use my blender for this next step.
I take a mix of fruits and veggies and put them through the blender (now I do this with my new food processor). I add in garlic and whole eggs, including the shells (we have chickens, so I usually give the dogs the cracked eggs etc..)
Often I’ll add in some flax oil, or cod liver oil, or anything else I feel is healthy for them. If I have old coconut oil, I’ll add that in.
We have found that icecream buckets work the very best for us. They are plentiful, free, easy, and we go through one a day for our 17 meat eating pets! My goal is usually to make 7-10 buckets each time. Now that we have the big grinder though, my new goal will be to aim for 14 buckets at a time so that we only have to make it once every 2 weeks instead of weekly.
If I only had a couple of pets to feed, I’d use yogurt containers. Then you could take one out every day or so. :)
(Ground meats awaiting the rest of the meats to be ground and added.)
You’ll also notice that I make the same food for the dogs and the cats. The ‘rule’ of thumb for a raw diet is 60% protein & 40% other for dogs, and then 80% protein and 20% other for cats. However, because most of our cats are barn cats, we expect that once they are no longer kittens they will find mice to eat. For now, they are also supplemented with kibble (just so they always have food on hand, since they are still growing) and we give them any and all fish, ducks, etc. that we receive with the freezer meats. The extra whole meats they receive up their % of protein intake. I also like that they are receiving the extra vitamins etc. from the fish. They will often receive an extra meal of salmon, trout, duck, a whole bird, scallops, and even crab and lobster some times!
One last addition I put into each bucket of raw food before we mix it all up, is DE, or also known as, food grade diatomaceous earth. This keeps our pets worm free, flea free, and disease free. We do not vaccinate our animals (or ourselves for the most part) except for those vaccines (rabies) that are a must in whatever area we live in.
We also feed our dogs (and some times the cats) lots of bones. LOTS and LOTS of bones. Every kind too. This week they’ve been chewing away on a deer carcass a friend gave to use, and some pork hocks.
What types of dogs are we feeding?
We have Teagan (shown in the photo with the kitten) who is a 2.5 pound long coat chihuahua (3 years old), Jasper is a 12 pound papillon (5 years old), Bentley is a 26 pound Corgi/Chihuahua cross (almost 2 years old), two 40 pound Shelties, Shiloh (almost 14 years old) and Levi (almost 12 years old), and last but certainly not least, our German Shepherd Scout who is just over 70 pounds and also almost 2 years old.
(*this isn’t Scouts usual meal, lol, that would be an appetizer. I just have her the small plate to snap her photo.)
Our cats range in age from Patches (Alesia’s cat) who is over 15 years old (we’ve had her since before her birth, as we also had her mother!) and who has moved from Ontario, to BC, and now to Saskatchewan! Then Cleo is Julia’s flame point siamese who is 2 years old. Bibble is Shaylah’s cat and he’s almost a year old and kind of the ‘boss’ of the barn cats. The rest all range in ages from almost a year to about 6 months old. They are all kittens, and barn cats in training. For now we keep all the kittens up in our barn loft with a heater and they are permitted to come down into the barn as each one feels ready to make that move. It’s a bit of a scary life though for barn cats here in the rural country. They are needed to keep the mouse population down (we’ve had them in the barn, the shop, AND even in the ceiling of our home this winter!) but unfortunately with coyotes, foxes, and lots of other wildlife around, I do prefer them all to grow up a little ‘scared’ of the great big outdoors. So far it’s worked well with the ones old enough, and brave enough, to leave the loft. They are brave enough to come about when we are working, but when we are inside, they tend to stay inside the loft as well. We had one adult cat given to us who was ‘too’ brave and sadly she disappeared. I know this is a part of farm life, but if we can raise them (train them) to want to stay CLOSE to the barn at all times, I’m certainly going to try my best to do so.
I figure once spring comes and things warm up, most of them will be ready to start exploring. By then they should be so accustomed to being in the loft for morning and night raw food feeding time that they’ll want to stay close to home. That’s my hope!
So there you have it! How, and why, we feed our pets raw. Our passion for raw food is reconfirmed over and over. In all the years we’ve been feeding raw we’ve only had two bouts with real sickness and both times we were able to pull the dogs through. I’m convinced both times were parvo.
We’ve had one bout of feline sickness (which showed up shortly after a stray adult cat started hanging out in our barn loft with the kittens), but with the kittens good diet, the addition of colloidal silver where and when needed, we pulled them through as well without much more then sniffles and messy eyes.
The only thing we couldn’t pull a cat through was when Elsa’s cat licked up a bit of antifreeze last winter that had spilled in our shop and she had gotten in. There was nothing that could be done that time. It was very sad for all of us, especially Elsa.
Our eldest dog (14 year old sheltie) has had some sort of very large growth on his chest for quite a few years now, (it was aspirated, but there was no conclusion as to what it is and it’s shown up around muscles so it can’t be cut out). It seemed to get larger and then in recent months it’s begun to shrink up. He’s old, and looks the part of Old Farm Dog, but he continues to follow all of us around whenever we go for walks or work outside. He’s the slowest of the pack, but still happy and playful!
My hope and prayer is that each of our pets will be able to live a long healthy life and die peacefully in their sleep!