Pages Navigation Menu

Meaty Bones – Chicken Quarters or Variety

This is a follow-up thought to the recent post on Our Raw Meaty Bones Update.


Do Chicken Quarters have too much bone?

I highly recommend this book as a starting point for feeding your dog or other pet a Raw Meaty Bones diet. Work Wonders

When we initially started our Raw Meaty Bones journey, I read that it is common for dog owners to feed their dogs chicken backs or chicken quarters exclusively as the meat/bone portion (and then they add organ meat – often just chicken liver).  Given the price and ease of this approach, this is what I chose to do for my Australian Shepherds.

I’ve recently discovered that there seems to be some concern in the dog forum communities about the nutritional deficiencies that can be created from such a ‘limited’ diet.  I also dug up a few pages where chicken quarters are reported to contain ~35% bone…which would mean my dogs are getting about 20% more bone than they should be.

So who is right?  The ratio 80/10/10, the advocates for chicken quarters or the ‘more diversity is better’ crowd?


Meaty Bones – 80/10/10

The general rule of thumb for creating a balanced meaty bones diet is to give 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% liver.  So if you feed your dog 1 pound of food a day, that would be 12.8 oz meat, 1.6 oz bone and 1.6 oz organ meat.

Search “chicken quarters for dogs” and read the forums where many others have expressed the same concern about too much bone.  The responses indicate that lots of dog owners feed chicken quarters exclusively…which would mean they aren’t following the 80/10/10 rule.  Perhaps the ratio rule is more useful if you are building a more varied diet and incorporating different meats and cuts.

You may notice owners mentioning that their dog doesn’t tolerate a high bone percentage.  This does not mean they remove the bone from the cut of meat and feed just meat.  It means that chicken quarters or backs may not be suitable for their dog every single day.  Some owners supplement with a different cut of meat while others will add a boneless thigh to the meal, thereby reducing the percentage that is bone.


Diet of Diversity

Someone recently commented on one of our earlier raw meaty bones posts that they were feeding their dog an incredible buffet of a diet – veggies, fruit, egg, dog food, ground meat (no bone), organ meat, etc.  While I applaud his efforts to give his dog the most nutritious life possible, I am personally not worried about feeding the dogs a tremendous amount of variety.  Given what I’ve read about chicken quarter diets and raw meaty bone diets in general, I think my dogs are fine.

That being said, I have seen freeze-dried meaty meal options that are similar to what that man is feeding his dog and I find this option very compelling for camping and traveling.
As a bird owner, I often read up on parrots and their behavior in the wild.  Did you know that hyacinth macaws choose a diet consisting almost wholly of palm nuts!  That’s what they eat IN THE WILD.  Not from a lack of other options, but because that is what they have evolved to eat to suit their metabolic needs.

This freeze-dried option is offered by Nature’s Variety and it comes in both chicken and beef. It comes in larger sizes and offers a discount via their subscription program.

Based on the number of reviews they had at the time of publication, this option seems to have been available for longer. The package options are slightly smaller and they offer beef or turkey.

Evaluating your Dogs

For your own dogs, I encourage you to do your own research and study your dogs.

  • Are they pooping?
  • Are they straining when they poop?
  • Do they appear disinterested in their meat meal (after they have been successfully switched to raw)?
  • Are they sleeping well?
  • Are they active?  For Australian Shepherd owners, are they active enough?

When Trooper is fed his double meal of 2 chicken quarters (see our raw meaty bones update post for explanation), he will sometimes be bloated for the next 12-24 hours.  But this only happens if the double meal falls on a day when we don’t go on a big adventure.  If we are doing a mega hike that day, he never has a problem.  Activity is important for digestion.

Wrap Up

I once tried a variety of other cuts of raw meaty bones but the combination of the other cuts being more expensive and also needing to calculate new figures to maintain protein/bone ratios…it was just discouraging.  Dog meal prep shouldn’t be discouraging – I’m interested in a simple, easy routine.

Therefore, our dogs eat chicken quarters and chicken livers all the time.  We give them duck jerky or training treats as rewards.  They get frozen broccoli when we are cooking it for dinner.  (I have no idea why they like frozen broccoli but they do.)  If I drop spinach on the ground while cooking dinner, they may eat it.  I know a lot of RMB owners who feed some table scraps and that adds a little variety.  Our dogs sleep well, eat happily and hike with exuberance.

This is the hillside at our house where the dogs ate until we finished graveling the building pad.  In this photo, Sydney is returning to the lowlands after finishing her meal.

We even fed them up there when there was snow on the ground.