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Closing the loop: make your own dog food

 
George Meljon
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It occurred to me tonight when talking with a student from China who is accustomed to boiling chicken raw until the bones and meat can be sliced and eaten together. If you are producing chickens and tossing the carcass, why not boil that thing and make it into animal feed? The marrow is very nutritious. There are various sales oriented websites promoting how to make your own dog food, but i think it can be very simple and profitable, closing that last loop of chicken waste and saving, in my case, lots of money on dog food.
 
Cj Sloane
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You're only supposed to feed chicken bones to dogs if they are raw. Cooked bones splinter too easily.
 
John Polk
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And the water the carcass has been boiled in can be poured over dry kibble to capture that last little bit of nutrients.
Don't forget that many small, independent butchers will gladly give you bags of free bones. They may sell the soup bones, but to them, the rest are just waste that they need to pay to have hauled away.

 
George Meljon
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Cj Verde wrote:You're only supposed to feed chicken bones to dogs if they are raw. Cooked bones splinter too easily.


True, I am slow cooking the cooked bones to test if they can soften, but in general it's all about boiling raw chicken in a pressure cooker to soften it. I will try this and report back.
 
George Meljon
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John Polk wrote:And the water the carcass has been boiled in can be poured over dry kibble to capture that last little bit of nutrients.
Don't forget that many small, independent butchers will gladly give you bags of free bones. They may sell the soup bones, but to them, the rest are just waste that they need to pay to have hauled away.



I may need a huge iron pot it this gets going.
 
Eric Thompson
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We have been boiling off chicken carcasses for years with good results!

Each carcass first makes a pot of soup stock for us: cook for 50 min in the electric pressure cooker (my favorite kitchen appliance!) Drain off the liquid for stock, and add the more meaty bits from the back. Before soup, we also skim the chicken fat off the top for frying breakfast.

After saving up to 4 sets of this, we add a little water and pressure cook for another 90 min to soften up the bones. If it's older chickens, the big bones may need two cycles. Just cook until leg bones are easily broken by hand and you know they won't be splintering. This makes a good supplement to beef offal and veggies in dog food, and our dog really loves it!

 
Julia Winter
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That sounds like a fine way to supplement beef offal and veggies, but if you're not feeding bone-free meat offal and veggies be careful not to give too much cooked bone in one meal--this can lead to an intestinal obstruction.

Raw bones are safest for dogs (surprisingly to many), but I can see why you'd want to get as much goodness as possible for your family from the chicken.

I love using my pressure cooker to extract all the yum from chicken carcasses--I get a lovely golden gel filled broth, with no cloudiness even after cooking for close to 24 hours. I usually gave the crumbly bones to my chickens (egg layers) mixed with other scraps.
 
George Meljon
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Julia Winter wrote:That sounds like a fine way to supplement beef offal and veggies, but if you're not feeding bone-free meat offal and veggies be careful not to give too much cooked bone in one meal--this can lead to an intestinal obstruction.

Raw bones are safest for dogs (surprisingly to many), but I can see why you'd want to get as much goodness as possible for your family from the chicken.

I love using my pressure cooker to extract all the yum from chicken carcasses--I get a lovely golden gel filled broth, with no cloudiness even after cooking for close to 24 hours. I usually gave the crumbly bones to my chickens (egg layers) mixed with other scraps.


Does this go for when it's gone from raw to boiled? My understanding from my Chinese friend is they put a whole chicken in a "steam box", or pressure cooker i think it translates to roughly, and he says they just slice it into pieces, bone with meat and all. I'm thinking if that's the case that a dog could eat the boiled bone no problem.
 
Julia Winter
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There are two potential issues with cooked bones:

1) bones become harder and more splintery when cooked. Chicken bones can poke the insides, larger bones can break a tooth if given to dogs. So handing over the bones after you've had some (western style) fried chicken is a risk. Thousands of dogs are able to get past that risk without actually dying, but there is a risk to cooked chicken bones if still hard-ish.

2) cooked bones, even if cooked so much they are not splintery, can block the intestine of a dog by making a sort of concrete. This is a matter of proportion. The point of my previous post was that it is important to mix the cooked bones with other foods (in the previous example the dogs are getting beef offal and veggies) in order to avoid the "concrete" problem.

If you (or your dog) eat the cooked bone along with the cooked meat I don't think there will be an issue. If the person eats the chicken meat and hands over a pile of cooked chicken bones to the dog, you could have problems.
 
George Meljon
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Julia Winter wrote:There are two potential issues with cooked bones:

1) bones become harder and more splintery when cooked. Chicken bones can poke the insides, larger bones can break a tooth if given to dogs. So handing over the bones after you've had some (western style) fried chicken is a risk. Thousands of dogs are able to get past that risk without actually dying, but there is a risk to cooked chicken bones if still hard-ish.

2) cooked bones, even if cooked so much they are not splintery, can block the intestine of a dog by making a sort of concrete. This is a matter of proportion. The point of my previous post was that it is important to mix the cooked bones with other foods (in the previous example the dogs are getting beef offal and veggies) in order to avoid the "concrete" problem.

If you (or your dog) eat the cooked bone along with the cooked meat I don't think there will be an issue. If the person eats the chicken meat and hands over a pile of cooked chicken bones to the dog, you could have problems.


Can't be too safe with a family dog, for sure. I'll get back on the difference between an oven cooked and pressure cooked chicken. If you skip the oven, you should be able to come away with a nice soft bone that doesn't splinter and cuts easy with a knife. This is what I'm told the Chinese are doing. They eat everything but the head and the heart. They eat the stomach and tongue even. It made me wonder if the food shortages there in the past have created a lot of no-waste food processes. I hope to learn more.
 
Cj Sloane
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George Meljon wrote:This is what I'm told the Chinese are doing. They eat everything but the head and the heart. They eat the stomach and tongue even.


The Chinese don't eat chicken heart? That seems odd.
 
Eric Thompson
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George Meljon wrote:[This is what I'm told the Chinese are doing. They eat everything but the head and the heart.


No heads?!?! China is the only place I have any documented proof of being served chicken head!

Eric and the chicken.JPG
[Thumbnail for Eric and the chicken.JPG]
Mmmmm - chicken head....
 
George Meljon
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Eric Thompson wrote:
George Meljon wrote:[This is what I'm told the Chinese are doing. They eat everything but the head and the heart.


No heads?!?! China is the only place I have any documented proof of being served chicken head!



Hilarious!

It seems my young friend was wrong!
 
Guerric Kendall
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Cj Verde wrote:You're only supposed to feed chicken bones to dogs if they are raw. Cooked bones splinter too easily.

Don't bet on 'supposed to'. My GSD/collie mix has been raised on cooked bones and food scraps mixed with his main dog food for the past 13 years. Wherever did this rumor come from?!
 
Cj Sloane
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Some issues are listed above by Julia.

I know some vets are opposed to giving any cooked meat bones to dogs - but chicken bones are extra dangerous because they more brittle. Others who are against giving cooked chicken bones to dogs would be proponents of a raw diet for dogs.

Anyone who ever had a dog injured by cooked doesn't consider it a rumor. Just because 1 dog hasn't had a problem in 13 years doesn't mean it's safe.
 
John Polk
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Anyone who ever had a dog injured by cooked doesn't consider it a rumor. Just because 1 dog hasn't had a problem in 13 years doesn't mean it's safe.


Amen to that. Not all dogs eat the same way.
Some will carefully chew their food. Others take one or two chews, then gulp down whatever is in their mouths.
A very hungry dog is more likely to use the one chew & gulp method. Some do it all the time.

 
Julia Winter
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I can second that! For example, my dogs ate raw turkey necks all the time, and they were terrific dog food (especially back when they were 19 cents a pound in a 60lb box). I call turkey necks "dental floss for dogs." We never had to have their teeth cleaned--they did it themselves.
However, I've heard of multiple dogs trying to swallow a turkey neck without carefully chewing it first, and choking (or nearly choking).

So yeah, a careful dog can eat things that would kill a less careful dog. But Java, my smartest dog ever, managed to break a carnassian (sp? the giant slicing molars in the back of a dog's mouth) on a cooked beef bone she found in an alley near where we lived.

Like so many things, "it depends." I always recommend directly observing dogs with possibly hazardous food.
 
Ryan Harp
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Has anyone thought of Quail? This might be a good case of stacking functions if you are breeding them for market. I wonder if being smaller their bones, cooked or not, would pose less risk? After a quick search I didn't find an answer to that but I did see that packaged raw processed quail is fetching a premium. Could be another market item if you don't have a dog yourself.
 
Cj Sloane
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Ryan Harp wrote:I wonder if being smaller their bones, cooked or not, would pose less risk?


Pretty sure uncooked bones are AOK.
 
W.T. Wilmont
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I cook my old deer /turkey or moose meat leftovers in the freezer and make "gravy" for my dogs dry food...no more can food cooking a BIG pot once a week.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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I'm having really good results by feeding raw ground rabbit, chicken and pork to my 6 month old Maremma. I break down an animal or 12 ( in the case of rabbits) and then sort through everything for best usage. The rib racks, necks and tails of chickens and rabbits get cut into pieces big enough to fit into my grinder and are mixed with livers, kidneys, hearts, lungs and scraps to make a nice ground sausage that I form into meat balls and then freeze for the dog (Higgs). When I butcher a pig I'll also grind up all of the offal and scraps for the dog. I like to grind it all up so that it's well mixed and also to avoid any issues with pokey bones. Large bones like pork thigh bones and shoulder blades are given whole and raw with some meat attached for him to gnaw on. Once the bone is small enough to fit into his mouth, I take it away to avoid choking.

Here's his menu:

Breakfast: 3 cups of dry kibble mixed with one raw egg (with shell crushed) and a meat ball or two.

Snacks/treats: Chopped frozen organ meats and chewing bones

Dinner: 3-4 cups of kibble and two meat balls


As time goes on, I'm reducing the amount of kibble in favor of the meaty stuff. Higgs' preference is for the meat and eggs anyway. I could leave the open bag of kibble on the floor and he won't touch it until somebody mixes in a raw egg or meat. Good dog.

His other favorite food is duck shit. No idea why, but he LOVES duck shit. He follows around the flock of ducks like kids chasing the ice cream truck.
 
Joellen Anderson
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We use scrap pieces of mutton from a local butcher. He gives it to us totally free! Usually it is a big skull, and we boil it to make a heavy broth. The dogs get this with rice, daal, and veggies. Makes dinnertime their favorite!

I never ever give the dogs the cooked bones (except the one time the oldest 11 year-old, three legged dog climbed a tree to get to them). Even the raw ones I don't totally trust, because there are 8 dogs here and they try to eat everything so fast that they don't chew. I keep trying to tell my partner "Just because you have never seen a dog have complications doesn't mean it won't/doesn't happen!!"....Try explaining such things to bull-headed men though (Just kidding, guys)

Love all the suggestions here! Does anyone think I can somehow incorporate the leftovers (bones and marrow) into their diet? Wish I had an industrial grinder which could go through goat bones for calcium powder.
 
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