Sunday, November 30, 2014

DIY Dog Food

One of our dogs is down to her last tooth and can no longer chew kibble so rather than pay $3 a can for the better quality canned dog food I decided to make it myself. Previously she was on Nutro lamb and rice. My original recipe used chicken and rice, but I decided to primalize her food as well as mine so I redid the mix. She's been eating it for a few months now and not only has her coat become like mink but her energy is way up and her chronic stomach issues (barfing, farting) are all but gone. 

The added bonus here is the cost. Half of this I grow in the garden (spinach/kale/pumpkins), plus I already have eggs on hand from our chickens. Chicken liver is almost always on almost-expired markdown at the store, and I can get a 10 pound bag of chicken thighs for $7, $5 if it's on sale. Use the skin, the fat, even the bone if you can grind it. Go fishing? Use the entire fish. Come next deer season I plan on scoring all the unwanted headless deer I can from our trophy hunting buddies and while my husband hates the taste of venison, I'm sure the dogs will give me two paws up.

This makes about 5 packed pints done like I do it.

2 pounds meat (deer, rabbit, chicken thighs, fish)
2 cups organ meat (liver, kidney, heart, gizzards)
2 scrambled eggs (I dehydrate a lot of eggs so I use the dehydrated powder instead)
1/8c olive oil
1c diced carrot, broccoli, or cauliflower
1c diced apples or cranberries or some kind of fruit
2c diced pumpkin or sweet potato, winter squash (or cooked rice if you want to go that route)
10 oz chopped kale or spinach or beet greens (my last batch I used chard)
1.5 tsp powdered eggshell (don't skip this, dogs have really high calcium requirements)
1 tbsp grated ginger or Ceylon cinnamon (helps digestion)
1 cup or so chicken/veg/soup stock
1 avocado (optional)

I have a commercial mixer with grinder/slicer/dicer blades that attach to the PTO so I run sweet potatoes and carrots through it to shred them. A salad shooter would probably do the same trick. Or just chop it up. You don't have to do that, but it makes it cook faster than if you just toss it in whole.

Put the meat into a crockpot set on low. A few hours later, add the chopped up cooked egg (or dehydrated egg), carrot, pumpkin, apple, and kale and pour your soup stock over it all. Let it cook on low until the meat is cooked and the rest is soft, about 3-4 hours. Normally I'm against feeding cooked chicken bones, but when you cook them on low heat they get soft instead of brittle. 

At this point I pull the crockpot over to the sausage grinder and run the horrific mess through, using one of the bigger opening plates so it isn't just pureed. Once it's all ground and in the bowl, I add the egg shell, oil, and cinnamon and mix well. If I have an avocado about to go bad I'll toss it in then as well. My last batch I tossed in a couple of black bananas. Then it goes into mason jars, loose packed to the bottom of the threads with a turkey baster's worth of juice from the crockpot added in, and into the freezer.

If you want to can it for storage, pressure can 15#@90 min, or whatever the recommendations are for the kind of meat you used.

For the powdered eggshell, put just cracked eggshells in the oven and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes to kill pathogens and also make the shells rilly rilly brittle. When you have enough baked shells, toss them in the food processor and whirl to a fine crumble. Then into the blender to pulverize to a gritty dust. I keep a quart Mason jar full of powdered eggshell around not only for dog food but for the garden. I've seen dog food recipes that said to toss the whole egg into the crockpot. Don't. Ever eaten a Dorito and had the corner stab you in the roof of your mouth? Yeah. Sharp eggshell does the same to your dog. Powder it.

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