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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I was researching how to feed raw, I had a few issues trying to find out what to do. The main thing trying to figure out menus, was hard finding sample menus, more people give guidelines.

The other is something I ran into a lot that said raw was cheaper. In my experience, it not and if anything, raw is costing me 8 to 10 times what feeding kibble cost. Kibble literally costs pennies a day, I was figuring it was costing me to feed Bailey (a 40-ish pound spaniel mix) 40 cents a day on kibble.

So one of the last times I bought raw, I sat down and broke down what I got and what it cost. I'm still trying new things and eliminating things that haven't been working, I'll make notes of that too.

I shop at 2 different stores, Food Town which is a regular grocery store with a slight Hispanic influence, and Viet Hoa, which is an Asian grocer. Viet Hoa has an amazing seafood counter and is where I can find some of the more exotic meats. Tho some meats I'll buy from either like the drumsticks and the pork chops. So anyhow.

This shopping session I bought oxtails, pork chops, beef heart, gizzards, pork ribs, beef ribs, and beef liver from Food Town.

Breakdown:
oxtails 1.47 lbs @ 5.49/lb = 8.07 - 4.36 (for Tango) = 3.71
pkchop 1.96 lbs @ 1.49/lb = 3.90
bfheart 1.04 lbs @ 1.49/lb = 2.07
gizzard 1.41 lbs @ 0.99/lb = 1.40
pk rib 2.09 lbs @ 2.69/lb = 5.62 *
bf rib .99 lbs @ 4.29/lb = 4.25 **
bf liver 1.29 lb @ 1.99/lb = 2.57

* I get the cross-cut "Asian style" ribs, cut into strips 1-inch wide
** Same with the beef ribs, cut into long thin strips with smaller bone pieces

Half the oxtails go into Tango's bag. I've given up on the neck bones, while they're nice and meaty, they're a bit too hard to chew and sometimes result in cut gums. Total from Food Town = $23.52

Viet Hoa Breakdown:

mackerel .89 lb @ 1.99/lb = 1.77 *
fish head .82 lb @ 1.99/lb = 1.63 **
pork tail 1.00 lb @ 1.99/lb = 1.99 ***
pk tongue 1.11 lb @ 2.99/lb = 3.32
pk spleen 1.34 lb @ 2.59/lb = 3.47 ****
drumstick 1.84 lb @ .99/lb = 1.82 *****
bf tendon 1.38 lb @ 3.99/lb = 5.51 - 3.89 (for Tango chews) = 1.62

* I've been having the butcher clean the mackerel till I discovered they were also cleaning the head, so now I get them whole and cut in half. Fish guts I'm learning to deal with
** The fish head turned out to be salmon and also cleaned. I stuck a thermometer in my freezer and found out it hovers between -6 and -14, plenty cold enough to kill parasites. The head was too large to be fed as one meal and difficult to cut into pieces not sure I'll repeat this, tho Bailey loved the salmon
*** First time I've tried pigtails, they were nice and bony and chewy but too fatty, not sure I'll repeat
**** spleen is the organ meat I usually get because it's what's always available. FT sometimes has sweetbreads. Kidneys weren't well received unless they were cooked a little and that was a bit of a mess
*****I can get chicken drumsticks cheaper at FT if I want to buy the family packs

Total at Viet Hoa = $15.52
Grand total $39.14
I ended up with 30 meals, so 15 days worth, comes to $2.60 per day for this shopping trip.

Here's how I bag. Two-percent to 2.5% of Bailey's body weight comes to between 8 to 8.5 oz per bag or 240-250g.

I'll start with a bony piece. Oxtail, pork chop, pork or beef rib, fish, or chicken drumstick. I'll add a small piece of liver and a small piece of spleen. Then I'll add muscle meat - gizzard, heart, tongue, pork, etc until it reaches between 8 and 8.5oz. Bag, repeat until food runs out.

Every couple weeks I'll feed a raw egg and a spoonful of coconut oil. He still gets biscuits and an occasional small handful of kibble, so he's not wanting for any vitamins or minerals.

He's doing fine on the raw, sparkling white teeth and tons of energy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Since I went to all the trouble to document what I had spent and on what, I've done another shopping trip. Didn't do the detailed breakdown, but here's what I got.

From Food Town:

Beef cross cut ribs
Chinese style cross cut pork ribs
Chicken drumsticks
Chicken gizzards (2 packs)
Beef oxtails
Beef liver
Beef heart

Total $32.80

From Viet Hoa:

Mackerel
Pork tongue
Pork spleen (VH calls it "melt")
Pork chops

Total $18.11

Took half the oxtails and a couple pork chops and some pork tongue for Tango, estimated this time I took out around $9 worth.

Total = $41.91. Got 34 bags this time so divide by 17 = $2.46/day to feed raw to Bailey.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
raw is costing me 8 to 10 times what feeding kibble cost. Kibble literally costs pennies a day, I was figuring it was costing me to feed Bailey (a 40-ish pound spaniel mix) 40 cents a day on kibble.
My math is a little off. More like 6 to 7 times.
 

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Part of it is where you live, prices vary. But prices have also gone up in resent years. It use to be much cheaper. Also depends on what brand of kibble you feed. Of course it'd be cheaper to feed some grocery store brand. I don't know how it'd compare to a high end kibble. But you don't feed just for the cost. I've been raw feeding over ten years and I will never feed kibble. I've seen health improvements from dogs and cats switched over. That is one of the reason many people switch. And more and more you hear of even 'good' kibble brands being recalled. As far as not being able to find a sample menu it's because there isn't any one way to feed, or what to feed. I decide what my dogs are eating as I'm pulling it out of the freezer. Every day, every week is different. I buy what is on sale mostly. Some some times we have more pork, other times it's turkey.
About the salmon and parasites. The only salmonids you need to make sure to freeze are wild salmon from the Pacific Northwest. The heads were probably Atlantic salmon, which are farmed.

Cutting salmon heads isn't hard once you figure it out. I normally cut the collar and bottom jaw off together. Good kitchen shears are helpful, or a sharp meat cleaver. I bought a Cutco meat cleaver years ago, it's so much better than even the Henkel knives I was using.
 

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The price of raw varies according to where you live, and what sources you have. During deer season, I get a good 90% of mine free. I get scraps from processors. I also just in the last few months got two whole cows free from a local farmer who had to shoot one, the other died in a pond when it got stuck. We brought them home in the back of our truck and butchered them ourselves. So, look into local farmers and hunters. Lots is free that way.

I have also used Craigslist, and gotten literally hundreds of pounds of older stuff out of peoples freezers they aren't going to use for free.

If you buy at grocery stores, look for whats on sale and about to expire. Those can be really good prices. You don't have to buy the most expensive cuts of meat. Lesser cuts are just fine. I don't often buy steaks for us to cook, much less for the dogs. You just have to be resourceful, and get a little creative with sources. Research and see what options are in your area.
 

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Definitely agree part of it is where you live, and part of it is being clever.

I made friends with everyone I could think of who would be willing to supply me with meat. My Mom and I live close to each other, so we split the cost of a case of chicken backs and divide it. My partner's old professor has livestock guardian dogs - He buys every bit of scrap he can get from the local butcher, and so I went in and said I was his friend and the butcher cut me a deal.

At our schutzhund club, there is a woman who makes very intricate veggie meals with her garden, and she sells them for cheap to me in the summer time.

I have a client who has goats. She will trade me goats milk for my work when I have puppies.

My partner's father is a fisherman. He sends us home with piles of fish every time we visit.

I have not bought any raw food from an actual grocery store in almost four years. Previously though, the kibble I would buy (Grudgingly, because I had moved to a new town and didn't have anyone to supply me raw yet) was $54 a 40lb bag, and it was the ONLY kibble I dared put near my dog's mouth, as I grew up feeding raw and I am very anti kibble for my own dogs. I used two bags a month give or take some. That's 108 a month.

When I calculated it and kept track, it was costing me $3.60 a day to feed both dogs.with the amount of kibble I went through. Now on raw, I will pay roughly 50-60 a month (Depending, sometimes lower - But that's my average. Higher on months of high intensity training) and I cut my dogs back to being fed once a day because they were gaining so much weight.

My observations is that there is a vast performance difference. Zico in particular is the only one who really has to work. He can train harder and longer when he is being fed raw than when he was being fed kibble. His focus is better. His coat is phenomenal. There is less stools in the yard. Overall, I wouldn't trade the raw diet back to kibble even if I did have to pay grocery store prices.
 

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I don't know if I would ever risk feeding raw salmon or steelhead heads to a dog. I live in Idaho and often dogs die from eating the heads of these fish.

I took a very quick look on the internet, because I knew steelhead was always an issue around here, but I wasn't sure about salmon (steelhead are related to salmon, btw).

Anyway, there's a parasite in the fish called the neorickettsia helminthoeca parasite that is the cause.

I wish I could afford to feed my dogs a raw diet, but with each dog weighing about 70 pounds, I know I couldn't afford it, after I looked into the prices.

I also looked into seeing if the butchers in my small town would help me out and they didn't seem interested at all in saving tripe and other innards they usually don't sell. I offered to buy what they usually tossed, and even volunteered to supply a lidded 5 gal bucket to put stuff in that I would haul out of there as soon as they called and told me they filled it - again, they just didn't want to deal with it.

So, it's kibble for my dogs.

Stormy

Stormy
 

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Depends on your location and how you source your meat.

I feed a 165 pound dog, a 75 pound fog and a 11 pound cat all raw.

I'm Saving money in vet bills, especially for my cat since switching.

I buy scraps, clear people's freezers off facebook, trade cases of beer for deer, elk and moose. And occasionally get trophy hunters kills for free since they only want the racks.

I refuse to pay more than $3/lbs at the grocery store.

Before this I fed a high quality kibble rotation.

Some months I come out even price with kibble and some months I get a free ride.

You do need to have a deep freeze and some time on your hands to do it this way though.


I'm also part of a raw feeding co-op which when pressed only comes out about $20 more than kibble but even then I'm actually saving thousands in vet bills for my cat alone.
 

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and I got a call a couple of hours ago to pick up scraps from 4 elk...they threw in the furs (which are awesome as I can tan them) for free.

some of these "scraps" I'm probably gonna steal from the dogs and cat for myself.

it cost me a 24 of beer and it'll last me a couple of months
 

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So ive changed company for Jessie raw food 80 10 10 and its hard to get used to after having it pre made! for example i didnt give organ with bone and missed bone in meal which resulted in 1-2 days diareha :( i think its fixed now as she hasnt been for poops yet. Still i beated myself up very harshly because i felt i messed up badly. So now planning monday and thursdays bone in meals! only thing is i keep measuring meat only at 137.5gm and i did 5 days worth forgetting that bone in meal so had to later on measure out bone in meals for her! i see where i went so wrong now though.

On plus side Jessie has hardly been to vets since starting raw! and she lost 200gm so 5.5kg now which is ideal as is 5.7kg. She seems happier goes mad for my labs acana dry food but she loves her food too!since she cant have dry food raw is the only option
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Something I've noticed is people who feed raw rarely give the breakdown. They go "oh it's much cheaper to feed raw" or they go (I think). Another thing I notice is a lot of people feed a lot of chicken. Not just chicken, bony chicken parts like backs and wings and turkey necks. That I find a bit disturbing. Another thing I've seen is people who don't measure out what they feed, they just toss meat parts at their dogs.

I could slash my costs quite a bit if I fed only chicken. But I'd likely also make my dog sick in the long run.

I have a friend who breeds show quality German Shepard Dogs. She occasionally receives sides of beef and deer carcasses from people. Must be nice to have connections. Though I was trying to picture, even if I did have the skill to butcher a side of beef, what it would be like to drag something in the back yard and cut it up myself. Probably someone would call the authories on me. :p

Other than not having the connections or inclination, I don't have the storage space. I just bought a little 4 cubic feet freezer to keep my raw dog food and frozen rodents (for the snakes). I spend enough extra time shopping and bagging I don't also feel like perusing Craigslist (and dealing with strangers and unknowns) nor do I feel like chasing potential leads or doing footwork. I also don't want to feed old food or leftovers or scraps or people's throwaways. If other people don't want it I don't think I do either. I don't want ground meat, it has to be on the bone.

I know there are people like me who just want to grab some stuff from the grocery stores. When I first started I was buying organic chicken from Whole Foods which isn't really that much more than the stuff I get from Food Town. I also bought a tiny lamb chop at $22/lb to see if Bailey liked lamb. Then later I found some marked down lamb at Randall's at 8.99/lb. I couldn't justify paying those kind of prices though.

These ethnic markets I shop at are pretty rock bottom in prices, the most expensive thing I get are the oxtails at $6/lb. These 2 places I go to are both within a mile of my house. I could go to stores in the Korean areas of town, or the Mexican areas of town or in one of the Chinatowns which is about 4 miles away from where I live.

The Asian market I go to is run by Asians for Asians (it's primarily Vietnamese). There is a language barrier. One thing I find amusing is you know how in your average grocery store there's the Chinese food aisle or the International food aisle? In Viet Hoa they have an American food aisle. :) Since Bailey hasn't died from eating the salmon head, I think I'll get some more and see if I can get one of the workers there to split it in half.

I feel more comfortable buying and proportioning the raw food the way I do. I know Bailey's getting a variety of meats and he's getting the organ meats in every meal. For the record, I was feeding him Eukanuba and Tango still gets that tho I've been pouring the meat juice from Bailey's bags over her kibble. It costs $50 to 55 for a 30 pound bag tho I usually get it marked down or using a coupon or both so I average more $30 to 35 a bag. Tango doesn't exclusively eat kibble. She gets meaty bones every other day or more, and I'm now starting to set aside a raw meal for her after I've gone shopping for Bailey which is twice a month.

So this is how I feed raw. I'm not saying it's the right way, it's a different way from some people and it's how I do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Anyway, there's a parasite in the fish called the neorickettsia helminthoeca parasite that is the cause.
Salmon poisoning is a little complicated. The actual parasite is a trematode (a type of fluke) named Nanophyetus salmincola. The eggs of the trematode are sometimes infected with a bacteria (well it's not exactly a bacteria, it's a rickettsia which again is getting sort of complicated) named Neorickettsia helminthoeca.

This rickettsia organism secretes toxins which are poisonous to dogs. But not cats or humans. But freezing below -4F for at least a week kills the trematode. So no worries if you freeze your salmon long enough and cold enough.

BTW, treatment for salmon poisoning is antibiotics, which kills the rickettsia and a dewormer, which kills the trematodes.
 

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anankae, thanks for the info.

I never really investigated it that much, but I know that since childhood it was always a known 'thing' that steelhead or salmon heads needed to be properly disposed of, because they could poison dogs. We have a river that runs right through town and it's not uncommon for steelhead to be caught within the city limits. It's a popular menu item for a lot of families in the area, so fish-heads could be a problem if people were not constantly made aware of the danger they can be to dogs.

Stormy
 

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I'm one of those that doesn't measure anything. Just eyeball stuff and keep track mentally of what I've fed. I follow the general rule to feed mostly meat, some bone and some liver and non-liver organ, and to vary as much as possible. I've been feeding this way for 8 years and they have no health issues. Blood workup, urine workup etc. all comes back normal. I don't see a need to overcomplicate it for myself.
 

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I do feed my dogs a little kibble, but they also get raw chicken that I buy at the grocery store, by the case. Another source of raw is your local meat processor. They often have plenty left over from processing livestock or wild game.
 

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Agreed with the overcomplicating. I've done the math, i've got my sources, but i am not out there measuring it down to the very last ounce and meticulously running through prices in my head. I obviously can afford it, and if i was so tight on a budget I had to do that it would be time to find my dog a different home because i wouldn't be stable enough to provide for his care.

I am not advocating totally overfeeding though, mind you - But I do think that it's just fine to grab some meat out of the fridge and toss it out to the dog by just eyeballing it. When I leave my SO in charge, I honestly have no idea what's going on. I know the dogs get something close to their originally planned meal, but I sometimes come home to one chicken piece missing when it shouldn't be or more liver than I thought I'd have. No one seems to suffer for it.
 

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im new to balancingit out and measure it to the exact amount eg 137.5gm meat most days twice a week she gets liver and kidneys and bone in and later that day rest is meat. i got it on a spreadsheet all worked out for the days bone in and organ. teh .5 is hard to get on the scales so its either 137 or 138gm a day she gets.

Today she got bone in rabbit 48gm, 6gm lambs fry, 9gm lamb kidney im working up to the 24gm of each because my dog is sensitive.
 

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I can't give a break down, cost vary time to time. I know good prices and normally pay less than $2/lb. I rarely pay over that and unless it's a special occasion wouldn't be paying $9/lb, let alone $22/lb. There are other benefits besides cost, if cost was all that mattered I wouldn't have a dog. I have in the past feed a lot of chicken, mostly leg quarters. I rarely buy backs and never wings. Turkey necks are another thing, I'd buy them if I could find whole necks at a good price. They go good with organ meals. I also don't weight what I feed. Everyone once in a while I'll weigh the food just to see what it is and I find I'm really close. So why do it? You get a feel over time and you learn your dogs. On days with higher activity I feed more, in the heat of summer they eat less. They are getting a bit chunky they eat less.

Storage: Until about a year or so ago I was using a five cubic foot chest freezer, completely full it held about a month of food for at the time three dogs, six cats and two ferrets. I now have an upright, it hold a bit more but not much, and some of those animals have since passed. I also use a shelf or so for human needs. Though with raw sometimes I steal some of the dogs food for us, or give them some of ours if needed.

I spend very little extra time shopping for them, and maybe two or three hours a month cutting and bagging food. But they are worth the little bit of extra effort. I rarely feed prepackaged food to my family why would I skimp on the dogs? I don't feed oxtails, never found them whole and they cost too much for just bone and a little meat.

One thing I like with raw is there is no one way to do it. It's what works for you. I was much more strict and weighed everything when I started. But you get a feel for it, know what works and what doesn't. Some dogs do better with more bone, some with more organs or less/more than the recommended 2% of the ideal body weight. I enjoy finding good deals for them. I do most of my shopping in grocery stores. I have so issues that keep me from looking on CL or joining a co op. If I could find whole animals up to about deer size I know I could cut them up myself. But I'm rambling now. I'm very passionate about raw feeding, I would never switch back willingly.
 
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Jessie

Twice a week

Bone in 10%) 48 grams (liver 5%) 24 grams kidney (5%) 24 grams Meat 41.5 grams
137.5 grams
Other days 137.5 grams meat


Per month need at 137.5gm
Bone in 384
liver 192
kidney/other organ 192
Meat 3,850

4618 grams/kg
i do it this way because Jessie loses weight fast and i like to get a feel for how much is right etc and i aim for perfection so i know its balanced.

bone in calcs

137.5(daily intake) x 10%bone = 13.75 so 13.75+7 =96.25 gm

96.25 divide by 2(as feed twice weekly) = 48.1 grams

organ (its 10% total but 5% liver 5% kidney)note feed twice weekly
137.5 x 5% = 6.87gm

6.87 x 7 =48gm now the 48 gram divide by 2 = 24grams so i use that for both liver and kidney

thought id share these calculations with you for my 5.5kg girl :) i do in grams not ounces so might need to convert to oz or whatever you use.

to get the top calcs i used 137.5- 48- 24 - 24 and what left over is how many gram meat needs :)

however this has taken more ten a month to work out and with help of friends :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I don't feed oxtails, never found them whole and they cost too much for just bone and a little meat.
I agree that oxtails are expensive! But the high amount of bone is exactly why I get them, that and the cartilage. My problem more is they tend to have a thick bark of fat and I tend to trim off excess fat.

Have yet to try turkey or chicken necks. So many people espouse them, I'll get there eventually.

The lamb was an experiment, trying to find out what kind of bones a medium sized dog could crunch. A little 4oz chop cost me what? Five dollars and change? Not going to break me. The $9 lamb was too tempting to pass up but a couple pounds of it still isn't going to break me and those little chops go a long way.
 
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