Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pet food: Extra mileage from chicken

I have done a lot of reading on the web about making pet food. I think the best site I have come across for cats is  

The best source I have found for dogs is my neighbor. She has championship dock diving dogs.

Both sources advocate feeding raw (or mostly raw) meat and I agree with them. The only thing is that I can’t afford $80+ a month to feed two dogs raw meat from the Greyhound Supply place - 5 pounds of meat a day for my boxers. It’s a lot more if they get raw chicken, beef neck bones, canned salmon, etc from the grocery store. Ditto when I’m feeding 5 indoor cats. I use Lisa’s recipe (Lisa Pierson DVM from the above link) when I can, but again, sometimes the budget just won’t allow it. Almost all of our animals are rescue critters - I never dreamed I’d have this many pets!

Is my recipe complete? Absolutely not. Is it better than just pouring dry chow into their bowls? I think so. This stuff drives Lisa and my neighbor nuts.  I am also not a pet nutritionist, so proceed at your own risk.

So, my bunch will have to suffer with Iams (for the cats) and Purina (for the dogs) plus whatever else I can add to help their diet be a bit better while not going broke feeding everyone. All their coats have gotten shinier, and even the ancient cat has perked up tremendously by the addition of homemade chow and occasional raw.

Yes, you can feed chicken bones to dogs. Raw bones don't splinter, they break into pieces. Cooked bones will splinter, but if you cook them with apple cider vinegar and water, they will turn to mush. See bone broth link.

Okay, here’s what I do to get extra mileage from chicken -
I picked up two whole chickens and a package of chicken thighs at the grocery store for about $13 (on sale). First I cut off the entire breast from both whole chickens and put them into the freezer (future meals for Bill and me).

I gave the raw wings to the dogs who were sitting there guarding me. A bit of raw thigh meat went to the ancient cat.

The thighs and hind quarters from the whole chickens went into the stock pot along with water to cover the meat. The raw backs and gizzards went into the slow cooker with water.

After some cooking time in the stock pot, I took the chicken out of the pot and ladled out five pints of chicken stock for cooking. I then added the chicken livers and cut up hearts. The remaining stock was hot enough to cook it. After the meat cooled a bit, I pulled it off the bones, put it back in the stock pot and mushed it up pretty good adding some water. This is the basic cat chow.

The bones were added to the slow cooker along with a bit more water and a glug of apple cider vinegar to make bone broth. This is the basic dog chow.

I divided the mushed cooked chicken into 7 containers and popped them in the frig. The next morning, there was bone broth in the slow cooker, so I added some of that to the containers, stirred them up a bit and popped them into the freezer. I add some bone broth to the cat food for some added calcium and liquid.
The bones in the slow cooker won’t be done yet (if you can mush up the end of the leg bone or cut it easily with a fork, it’s done). It usually takes about 24 hours in my slow cooker. About half way through or the next morning, I’ll add another glug of apple cider vinegar and more water if necessary. The dogs will guard the kitchen for you.

I used to mush it all up too, but now I just let it cool then ladle it all into two or three plastic coffee canisters. As long as the bones easily mush up when you squeeze them, there’s no harm in letting the dogs eat them as they are. They seem to enjoy the added texture. Anyway, then those go into the freezer.
I have added chopped green and yellow veggies sometimes. I used to add egg, a bit of barley or oatmeal, but usually don’t now. My cats seem to like it better without the egg.

Okay, for my $13, I got:
2-4 meals for Bill and me, depending on what I make with the breast meat.
5 pints of chicken stock for cooking
A month’s worth of chow for cats
2 weeks of dog chow - more or less.

If you really want to take it the extra mile, you can take most of the chicken fat, render it and use it in the pastry for chicken pot pie or frying. You can also season and fry the skin to make chicken crisps - like fried chicken, but without the chicken.

Please remember that I have dry chow out for the cats all the time. I offer homemade stuff on a separate plate, same with Lisa’s recipe when I make that. The hounds get fed twice a day, dry and homemade together, just less of the dry. It’s not a bad idea to give everyone a vitamin if you're going to use your own recipe.

One cool thing about adding homemade to the dry dog chow is that they eat every speck of it. If they have just dry, they usually are walking around with that last bite and there’s dog food all over the floor.

Barb, Blogger still has issues and I can't comment underneath your comment.  My neighbor told me to figure about 3% of their weight for raw.  I think it came out to 4.75 lbs daily, maybe a bit less.  Since both boxers are overweight, she said they'd still lose weight even eating large portions of meat.  And she was right.  Both started sliming down as long as I kept them on the raw.  With the chicken hind quarters, that's sure the way to get 'em!  I buy three bags when they have them here, about every three months.  But then the dogs get three hind quarters a day (could do two, I bet).  She does three for each of her dogs, but they aren't the couch potatoes that mine are.  My boxers weigh 75 and 85 lbs.  The dogs are starting to look like us.  No, it's the other way around.  :o)

1 comment:

  1. mmm...great post but I'm left wondering exactly how much do you feed your boxers? I have fed 2 dogs raw for years and I calculate on about 1lb of meaty bones daily for each dog. I have a 68lb australian shepherd and a 58lb lab-greyhound mix. The lab-greyhound eats more than the aussie so sometimes she'll get 1.5lbs just depending on how round or slim she appears on the day. The aussie often gets by on less than 1lb and he can quite easily be a chunky monkey if I allowed it.
    As for getting so much mileage out of your chicken, I think that's a great idea. I use apple cider vinegar in the stock, too, and when the bones are soft I feed everything except the broth to the dogs. That includes onion, carrot or anything else in with the bones. They love it. I work on a budget of $1 per lb of meat and I think I probably go over that as good deals are getting harder and harder to find. Though, having said that, I found a 10lb bag of frozen chicken leg and thigh portions for $4.80 last week. Yeah!! One leg-thigh portion equals one meal for my dogs. If the leg is scrawny I add a slab of beef liver to make up the difference.

    I don't have any cats though I wish I did :(