Sourcing Meat for Raw Feeding

Hello! This is part 2 in our Raw Feeding Series that Nicole from WildCardMeela writes. If you haven't read the introduction post, quickly head over there and then come back to read this one! 

Now, one of the biggest blocks people have when approaching raw feeding is the price tag that comes with it. While it can be pricey and cost you more than an arm and leg, it can also be economical if you know where to go and what to buy to best suit your situation and your pooch. While meal prep day is the moment you put your hard work into little individual plastic containers, the prep should start a few weeks prior.

One thing you need to be aware of when raw feeding is the parasites that may potentially be living in the meat, particularly in the offal. When we as humans prepare and eat meat, we usually kill these parasites during the cooking process, hence why we often don’t give worms inside our lambs fry a second thought (Morgan joining in to say that eating worms out of lamb sounds grotesque)
However, as the name describes, raw feeding is raw, and the meat is not cooked so any existing parasites will not get killed. The best way for a raw feeder to avoid this is to freeze the meat for a substantial period. Most people I’ve spoken to recommend three weeks to be extra safe, however I’ve given Meela plenty of organ that has been frozen about a week and so far we don’t have any worms crawling out of her nostrils. This is up to you and what you feel best about, because after all it is a confident owner that will make or break the raw food diet.
I like to go out and buy the raw meaty bone on the day before/day of the prep, but I will freeze the offal for my next prep. I do this because I find it much easier (and much more enjoyable) to use defrosted chicken bones and muscle meats that I have just purchased, instead of trying with all my strength to pry apart half frozen chicken drumsticks.
The first part of my overall prep is shopping and sourcing all the meat that I use for Meela’s meals. There are three main places I go to get this meat: 
  • The supermarket (particularly Pak’n’Save because the stickman gives sweet deals)
  • Asian supermarkets
  • Online shops 

So, Pak’n’Save is usually my go to for the raw meaty bone that makes up the bone portion and some of the meat portion of Meela’s meal. You know you’re a raw feeder when $2.95/KG chicken drumsticks gets you more excited than 2 for 1 doughnuts. I find that Pak’n’Save have affordable meat (particularly chicken) so this is where I get all my chicken drumsticks, thighs, legs, wings and sometimes whole chicken carcasses. They can also have reasonable specials on other proteins, but I’ll only get these as a treat for Meela or if it’s on a big special. Something I’ve learnt to do to keep the costs down is trying to buy the raw meaty bone that has the smallest bone percentage for the smallest price. Smaller bone percentage = more meat. Since bone seems to be the cheapest part of raw feeding, I am getting a better deal if I’m buying chicken drumsticks (34% bone) at $2.95/KG rather than chicken wings (46% bone) which might be $7.99/KG. The chicken drumstick is the better option for my wallet because what’s not bone is muscle meat and skin, which I’ve found to be the most expensive part of raw feeding. 
Asian supermarkets are where I go for most of my offal. I find it’s the cheapest and you also come across far different cuts to what you see in at the popular supermarkets. Things like tongue, brains, spleen are cuts I’ve only found in Asian supermarkets or Asian butcher shops. I do sometimes wonder what some of the staff must think as I lug around a basket of tongue, spleen and brains, I can’t help getting child-like intrigued when I’m searching for the different organs. Probably should have said this before but DIY raw feeding probably is not for the faint-hearted. The prices are also reasonable at these supermarkets.

The third and final source for the meat is online shops. The one I have been using is petfoodsales.co.nz and it’s probably only suitable if you are crazy enough to have another freezer for your dogs because it all comes in 10kg or 20kg boxes. I get green tripe, minced chicken frames, minced heart as well as minced beef and mutton from this site because I find it to be the most affordable option. This is especially true for beef and mutton which can get pricey if you only buy it from the supermarket. Online is also where I get a couple of the supplements that I’ll discuss more in another blog post.
Those are my main sources for meat so I hope that helped a few of you out on where to find raw meat that is dog edible. The next blog post will be about my meal prep day, and how I turn the meat I have purchased into something that resembles a meal. 
See you next time, and happy meat purchasing!