I order beef from a wholesale distributor (you can look ones up in your yellow pages). Some will sell to the public if you're buying large quantities (I purchase approx. 500$ per order...we feed our 3 large dogs only raw and we supplement our fosters). An example of what I order is a whole inside round. The entire solid piece weighs about 12-16lbs. I cut it up into approx 1 1/4 to 1 1/2lbs pieces. And yep, I feed it to the dogs just like that. Once a week, I may cut it into cubes if I want to add eggs and some juiced veggies. They chew and tear it apart with their teeth...well not always...our Penny has been known to swallow it whole only to throw it up....to swallow it whole...to throw it up again before she realizes she ought to chew it if she wants to keep it down
You may notice that your dogs don't chew the chunks you cut up for them. The point of feeding large pieces is so they use their teeth and jaws, just like they would if they were eating prey.
You're right, it's terribly expensive and, imo, so not worth what you're paying for. There is absolutely no reason why one should feed ground raw to their healthy dogs. I don't know about where you live but, here, the prepared ground meals for pets is not human grade and is of very poor quality. Feeding a piece of chicken with the bone and organs is much more economical and, you know exactly what you're giving your dogs. Remember, the makers of the prepared food try to do it in the cheapest way to get the best return. It's sold to the pet stores who also take their cut. Why bother giving them your money when it's more simple, healthier, and cost efficient doing it yourself.
All you have to remember...10% bone : 10% organs : 80% muscle meat. It doesn't have to be exact, just try to aim for those ratios. They should be fed about 2% of their ideal body weight. If you notice they're gaining, cut back a bit. If they're losing, increase the amount.
I refreeze recreational bones only one time. If we're talking about thigh bones, our dogs normally all the bits of meat and 1/2 the marrow out of them the first time I give it to them. The next time they get it, I let it thaw a bit and push the remaining marrow to the edges so it's easier for them to get the last of it. Once there's nothing left other than the bare bone, I throw it out. Our dogs get the recreational bones in their crates as well to avoid any scuffles. Everything else we feed outdoors as they go to their own spots and don't bother each other.
I get them frozen in a grocery store and feed it to them frozen as well. Two of our dogs will not eat thawed fish. You can have lots of fun with frozen sardines and mackerel in the Winter time. I bury them in the snow throughout the yard and they have to "hunt" their meal
Omd, I spent almost half a year asking the same questions before I began as well
. Now that I've been feeding raw over two years, I realize that it's so much simpler than what I initially thought.
I only feed chicken carcasses occasionally, usually on the days that the dogs only get meaty chunks of beef to make up for the bone proportion of their meal. I've never seen it sold at a regular grocery store. I get ours at a poultry store...sort of like a butchers but they specialize in poultry and game. I would imagine that butchers who sell chicken can also get you carcasses. I prefer to feed whole chickens cut in half. There's no need to calculate muscle/bone/organ ratios this way. For example, our guys weigh between 63 and 72lbs. For breakfast, they can get 1/2 a chicken each (minus the leg and thigh) which weighs approximately 1 1/2lbs per piece. At supper, I'll give them 1/2 a chicken liver, one heart, and 1/2 giblet each (sometimes chicken feet and/or a tablespoon or two of green tripe).
Do you have a large freezer? Cheapest way is to buy in bulk and freeze portions. Look through your yellow pages for distributors and retailers who'll offer reduced prices for large quantities. And if you have a really
big freezer, find farmers in your area that sell to the public as well. Another tip, I don't
recommend you say it's for your dogs. I did that once and received bad meat that our dogs got sick with
. You can also look for raw feeding yahoo groups. There are some members that get together to order meat at bulk rates.
If you're not afraid to read any more of my novellas
, feel free to ask as many questions as you like. That's what we're here for