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A vegetarian goes to the butcher to buy her dog some meat

My 30 second cost analysis

One scoop/meal of Iams dog food weighs 3.6 oz and costs $0.26 (based on the cost of a 33 lb bag).  The same amount of an expensive dog kibble would cost approximately double – $0.51.  One ‘sausage’ of BARF food at Petco costs $6.00 and would supply two meals, thereby costing $3.00 per meal (11.5 times the cost of Iams, ~6 times the cost of ‘nice’ dog food).  Note:  All figures are calculated for a 45 pound Aussie.

In order to figure out the cost to feed raw, I needed to know how much meat I would be giving Trooper on a daily basis.  Most sources recommend feeding 2-3% of the dogs weight daily.  Because Trooper is not really active right now, I did all of my calculations for 2% and know that he’ll get a tad more via sparse training treats.  Two percent of his handsome 45 pounds is 0.9 lbs (14.4 oz).  One chicken thigh at the slightly high-end grocery store down the street weighed 10.4 oz (which equals 72% of his daily need) and cost $0.69.  Because I feed Trooper twice daily, a 10.4 oz slab of meat feeds for 1.5 meals and is therefore $0.46 per meal.

Based on the above analysis, it appears that the raw meat is $0.06 less than an expensive kibble.  So it’s cheaper and healthier to feed raw, when compared to expensive kibble.  The price is still much higher than the lower end kibble because the chicken thighs were purchased at a high-end grocery store.  The grocery store did not have the scraps I could have purchased from the butcher, nor did they offer about-to-expire, discounted cuts (which a dog would not turn down).  Thus, to do a true cost analysis, I needed to buy raw-meat-dog-food.

Adventures at the butcher

I went to the butcher for the first time in my life (I’m a vegetarian).  It was really neat!  It’s cool to see the parts of animal, identified by their cut and understand how they assemble together.  Because I’m still a novice at meats, I figured I would start with cuts I could understand and add scraps to the diet later.  I have often read about the ease of feeding chicken quarters, especially for dogs transitioning to raw, so I figured I would start there.  Side-note:  A chicken can be cut into 4 quarters – 2 leg quarters (thigh, drumstick and portion of the back) and 2 breast quarters (breast, wing and portion of the back).  A 10 lb bag of chicken leg quarters at my local butcher is $8.90.  Ten pounds (160 oz) of chicken equals about 11 (true value: 11.1) daily feedings or 22 meals.  The cost is therefore $0.40 per meal, another 6 cents cheaper per meal than the expensive dog kibble (a total of $0.11 savings per meal).  And this meat is not about to spoil, bought in bulk or in scraps; three ways to further reduce the cost.  Thus, the total amount I am spending to have the best food available for my wolf-dog is $0.14 more per meal than a very cheap kibble, or $8.40 more per month.  (That’s roughly equivalent to two drinks at Starbucks.)

Cutting up the quarters

I brought home a bag of 8.2 pounds of chicken 
quarters and cut them into manageable meal portions.  The easiest feeding system is to just give your dog the whole piece, but because Trooper is not very heavy, he needs smaller pieces.  Additionally, because he is used to 2 meals a day, I wanted to continue that routine and would therefore need to cut each quarter into 2 or 3 pieces.  I set up a scale, knife and cutting board, put on an apron and opened the bag.  Even though I watched a few instructional videos about cutting up a chicken, I did not demonstrate said knowledge during the first 5 quarters; maybe I was too excited.  Toward the sixth and seventh quarters, I became very comfortable with finding the joints and slicing efficiently.  Anyone can do this…If a vegetarian can survive the trip to the butcher and then figure out the cutting in a manner of minutes, anyone can.

Check out the video to witness the cutting of the first chicken quarter: