Like most people who provide the canine raw diet, you probably don’t raise your own livestock and need some ideas for meat sources that don’t cost an arm and a leg. And let's not forget raw meaty bones.
Sometimes to get a sensible price you have to think a bit outside the box when hunting for raw meat for dogs.
Let me explain.
When I first started the switch to raw in 2007 I did some internet shopping - and choked.
I found ground organic chicken or beef, or beef bones pieces, prepackaged for $4.41 to $6.28 per pound before shipping.
The problem? I had five pit bull dogs.
Although nicely packaged, it would have cost me $55.00 a day! That's ridiculous.
I started shopping my local grocery stores for my canine raw diet. I often found 10 lb.
bags of chicken leg quarters for between $4.00 and $6.00 a bag. That’s
40-60 cents per pound. It’s not organic but $5.00 a day beat $55.00 by a
long shot. My crew ate a lot of chicken.
I was also finding raw meaty bones from beef for 50 cents a pound until I cleaned out one of the stores and the price jumped to $2.00 a pound after that.
If I’m going to pay $2.00 a pound, I’d
rather buy a twelve pound roast on sale and divvy it up and add egg shells for calcium. Actually I did that several times but sometimes it backfired. Why?
Sometimes it looked so good after I divided it, that I stuck one in the
oven and roasted it for me! It was so yummy I horded it. Then I didn’t have enough for the dogs so I
froze the rest and had many wonderful roast beef sandwiches with the leftovers. Am I selfish or what?
Then I found a butcher to order raw free range
chicken backs (the perfect muscle meat/organ meat ratio) for 65 cents a
pound if I ordered a 40 pound box frozen. I was so excited, I ordered two
boxes. When my order came in, they were not what he showed me.
They were more like chicken breast bones with a few necks thrown in. Still, my dogs loved them, the price wasn’t bad. It was also entertaining for my daughter to see me breaking up frozen chicken parts with a big screwdriver.
I wouldn't have minded if the man had been
truthful. I called the supplier listed on the box because I was hoping to get it cheaper without the middle man. It turned out they
don't sell free range chicken meat so check your sources.
When I moved to Minnesota in 2012 I shopped meat sales at the grocery store and visited a dog deli in Minneapolis where my son shopped for his dog's raw meat. Lots of choices. Everything is ground with bones included.
Since my Bonz was nearing 14 years of age I thought the ground raw dog food stuff would be easier for him to eat. The ground chicken wasn't too bad. Between $2 and $2.50 per pound. Beef is higher and turkey, bison and duck are out of my price range.
I searched for co-ops when I was living in Georgia but didn't find any. Looking back on it, I probably didn't look hard enough. Try Yahoo Groups for raw feeders in your area. They may have a co-op or at least be able to give you ideas for local sources.
If they have a source that's far away they may take turns doing pickup or take your order and you can pick it up at their house. Expect to pay a bit more since they are taking their car, their time and their gas. It should still be far cheaper than other sources.
I found a group in my area which didn't seem very active but I went through old posts and found a place they were buying meat. I called and got prices. My daughter and I drove two hours each way but we got enough muscle meat, organ meat, raw meaty bones to last a month for half what the dog deli charges.
I'm thrilled to say we also found green tripe. Something so good and so healthy I felt like we hit the motherload. If you live near Minneapolis and are curious about prices, see raw dog food in the Twin Cities.
Last but not least, if you know anyone who hunts or fishes, offer to take the leftovers. Humans are picky about what parts they eat but dogs are not and often the most nutritious components of the canine raw diet are things people won't eat. (Like tripe.)
You can also contact the Dept. of Natural Resources in your state to check hunting seasons and then find local places like deer meat processors and contact them in the right season to get any leftovers, like small pieces of meat and raw meaty bones.
I’m not a hunter by any stretch of the imagination (I even put spiders outside instead of killing them) but I’m kind of excited about the prospect of getting a new variety of meat; not full of growth hormones and antibiotics; and especially if its going to be thrown out. I’m a firm believer that if you kill an animal, you should use it all. A win-win situation for everyone.
However you do it, remember there are lots of choices for the canine raw diet. Pheasant, duck, goose, rabbit, emu, ostrich, turkey, lamb, venison and elk. Be creative when it comes to your canine raw diet.
And don't be shy if you know anyone who hunts, to ask for any extras or leftovers. Sometimes they'll even have meat that's been in the freezer too long so won't mind parting with it.
People don't like freezer burn but dogs could care less.