Adventures in Raw Feeding Part 2 - Grinders

So what you feed depends on your grinder.  Let me tell you, there are 10,000 options out there.  When picking a grinder, consider the following:

  • Number of Dogs to Feed
  • Bone In or Bone Out?
  • How much do you want to spend

Number of Dogs to Feed 

This is a big one. If you have to make enough food for 3 dogs, think 2-3% of their body weight, that is a long of food.  Especially if you make a couple weeks worth or even a month.  My dogs weigh: 38, 40, and 55 pounds.  This means that with all of them combined I'll need at least 2.6 pounds a day (78 pounds a month.)  That is a lot of food to grind, especially if your grinder only does 1 pound a minute....and you have to chop everything before it goes into the grinder.....get what I mean?

Bone In or Bone Out?

If you are grinding bones with your muscle meat and organs you'll have several things to think about.  The biggest factor is whether the grinder can handle raw bones.  Even simple low end grinders can mangle bones, but this isn't without some frustration, annoyance, and eventual burn out of the grinder.  There are grinders on the market that are warrantied for use in ground bone/muscle meat and designed with raw food in mind.

How much do you want to spend?

Grinders can cost as much or as little as you want them to.  However, I've found that there are some happy mediums you can look at.

For example, if you choose to supplement with bone meal rather than grinding bone you can get a small beginner grinder on sale for about $50 at the local sportsman stores.  This wouldn't handle bones, or win speed awards, but it would get you started with some options.  The model I found was the CHARD #5 at a local sportsman store and it was on sale.  Grand Total: $40.  While you are there grab a couple big meat trays too ($10 a piece).

The next step would be to get a 450+ watt grinder that could handle bones.  You will still need to do some prep.  And you certainly can't just shove a whole chicken quarter down it and hope for the best.  You could also find these at the local sportsmans store or order online.  A good example is the WaringPro 885 models or STX internaltional 3000.  Both range from about $99 to $160 in price and could handle some bone in grinding.

The dream grinder for me is the Weston #32.  This is a 1.5 HP grinder that is warrantied for grinding up rabbit, turkey, and chicken meats with the bone in.  Grand cost?  $700. And the other factor (and I'll get into this in my next post), is that bone in grinding will save you some cash every month.  There is a huge difference in price per pound when bones are included :)  So overall I think what you save by grinding bone in would help you pay for that whopping $700 commercial grinder.

Picking a Dog Food

So you just added a puppy or dog to the family.  What the heck do you feed them?! 

Typically people choose based on whether a vet recommended it, a friend recommended it, or what they've always fed.  The problem is, when did you last turn over the bag and look at the ingredients?  They change constantly and dog food regulations don't hold up when it comes to quality food.  So ask yourself the following when you finally do flip that bag over:

  • What are the first 3-4 ingredients? 
  • Are they quality sources of protein?
  • What is the protein content (%)? 
  • Is the source of protein a meal, by-product, fat, or ...?  
  • Does this food have a corn, soy, wheat, brewers rice, beet pulp filler?

Good foods have 3 sources of protein in the first three ingredients, a high percentage of protein, and no corn soy, wheat or other fillers.  Fillers are deceptive because you'd think whole grains would be beneficial for dogs.  Trouble is, they're predators and fillers in food turn to sugar then fat.  Give a toddler cotton candy and vitamins for a month, then try to manage would that go?

I like to read dog food reviews at this website.  It is non-partial and they tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of your food choice.

The Truth About Pet Food also keeps a great log of current regulations, recalls, and facts about pet food production:

The best food currently available at the Helena, MT area health food stores:

  • Petcurean - Go!
  • Honest Kitchen
  • Nature's Logic
  • Northwest Naturals
  • Stella and Chewy's
  • Open Farm

If you are feeling adventurous you can also start feeding raw, or supplementing your dogs food!  We'll talk about this in the future, so stay tuned!