I remember the first time my mum gave our Border collie some ground up, well, something. It was in the late sixties and I believe, roughly when dogs (and I guess cats) were first given 'kibble', as we know it today. I think the main reason was convenience, no more smelly empty cans of dog food, far less heavy when going shopping etc, etc. In those days I guess it was only the quality breeder who actually gave a second thought to what the constituents of this kibble might actually be. Of course these were the days when even human food no matter how many additives, was eaten unquestioningly. Margarine, but one example. Now I imagine the science behind the processed dog foods has in fact come a long way, but having become more involved in the world of dogs I couldn't help but wonder if these foods were as good for our pets as big business dog food companies would have us believe. Of course the answer is they are not, otherwise 'mother nature' would have bags of the stuff growing from trees! The problem is today, that by various means they have become the food of choice in this busy and financially driven world. I get it!
Now when my guys are being exercised correctly it would cost me about £45 per month to feed them. At the moment due to awaiting an operation on my ankle, probably only about £35 per month for two dogs one of which is about 55 Kgs and on a diet and the other a youngster who is about 41 Kgs and on considerably more food as she is more active. Now until recently I wouldn't even have had a clue as to what to feed them in terms of real food. Of course when my guys were pups I used to feed them on mincemeat until they were about 6 months old and then change them onto a kibble diet as we all know the cost of 750 grams of mince is these days, and that would be how much the pups would eat daily. So after talking with friends and what they fed or would like to feed their dogs, the best option in my mind was Ox hearts! Now I've heard of Ox hearts but never really occurred to me this would be an ideal food for dogs. Turns out it is perfect! The meat is very dense and they love to chew it, and the cost it turns out is not prohibitive either. Okay I cannot give a definitive answer just yet, but so far ONE Ox heart is giving me around three to four meals. So that is morning and evening meals for my guys!
So here's the breakdown; from the abattoirs, they charge around 70p per kilo. If you try to get them from your butchers they'll charge you around £1.50 a kilo! Okay I have an 80 mile round trip to my nearest abattoir, but I also have a 70 mile round trip to my nearest hospital (which doesn't cater for in-patients) as I live in the middle of nowhere. So my car does 50 miles to the gallon but to make the maths easy let's say two gallons, again to make things easy £7 per gallon. Let's round that up to £15 in fuel as I bought 30 Ox hearts which worked out to 75 kilos and £52. So £67 gives me 89p per kilo. Call it £1.80 each heart and divide that by four gives me each meal, blimey first time I've worked that out 45p per meal! Now I've just checked the price of a very well know can of dog food and it came out at 74p per can. My youngest would need at least two cans per meal. These foods are also the all the remains from abattoirs so not even anywhere near as good in terms of quality. Well so far my calculations say that I will use approx. 60 kilos a month for both dogs and that comes out to a staggering £54. Now I swear this is the first time I have done this calculation and to be honest I am staggered. My Billie has always been a fussy eater, but now there is no messing around as soon as it's put down it's gone. Max has always been a hoover so no difference there. Okay, yes I have a chest freezer so I can store about two months' worth of food, so that also brings down my monthly fuel calculation by half.
You can also see my 'bone broth cubes' which are an effectively free supplement that they get daily and also love.
Yes there is far more involved than just popping into the nearest shop for a can of food or bag of kibble. Freezing it, defrosting it, cutting it up which some won't like. The drive to collect it once every other month. I in no way would have a pop at anyone who feeds kibble or canned food. It's what most of us have done for decades now, myself included. But for me, and my dogs, that little extra effort and seeing how much they enjoy it is worth it. No we'll not be going back to kibble.