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Update on our Raw Meaty Bones Routine

Wow, it has been nearly 5 years since we switched to Raw Meaty Bones for the dog team!  Boy, time does fly.

Because we moved and embarked on a tiny house journey, it has been a few years since I wrote about our adventures on any sort of regular basis.  While feeding the dog team the other day, I realized our Raw Meaty Bones (RMB) practices were due to be updated.

Before we moved into our house, we lived in an apartment and had nowhere to feed them. So, we would pack their food and dump it out in new places during our evening hike. Here, Sydney is balancing on a rock.

Raw Meaty Bones Availability

We don’t have a butcher so no more easy access to 40 pound cases of chicken quarters.  Also, beef is big here.  “The West Wasn’t Won on Salad” is a common bumper sticker.  There are cattle ranches all over the southwest United States but remarkably few chicken farms.  Or maybe just few in our area.  Whatever the case, when we first arrived, I spoke to several farmers and was told that they don’t raise chickens for meat.

With no butcher or chicken farms to provide bulk and reliable availability, we had to look at the grocery store options.

  • Our local food co-op quoted me a 40 pound case of chicken thighs or breasts (or some other part commonly consumed by people) and it came in at some ludicrous price – like $8-10 per pound.  For a raw meaty bones diet for both dogs, that would be about $16-$20 per day for dog food.  hahahahahahahaha
  • Albertsons doesn’t carry big bags of meat and neither does our hometown grocer.
  • Walmart carries lots of small parts with bone-in (chicken legs, chicken quarters, chicken thighs, lots of beef parts, etc).  Additionally, I could get the quarters in 10 pound bags.

Thus, after moving to a small city in the middle of nowhere (~2 hours from the nearest big city), we were motivated to change our raw meaty bones cutting ritual to make use of the locally available resources – Walmart.  I know some people have beef with Walmart, but as you can see, there are times when it is the only store that comes through.

Walmart also has chicken liver available in 1 pound containers and they aren’t frozen.  Everywhere else freezes them for some reason.  Buying one bag of chicken quarters and one container of livers sets us up for a few days and I can get it all in one place.

While passing through Tennessee, we pulled over and fed them their raw meaty bones at an abandoned car wash.

Raw Meaty Bones Storage, Meal Planning and Prep

With only 10 pounds per purchase, there really isn’t any reason to freeze and thaw things anymore.  Instead, I dump the 10 pound bag of chicken quarters into a huge stew pot and keep it covered in the fridge.  The dogs go through it in 4-5 days and we buy another one.  It’s roughly $0.70/pound so about $50-$55 a month for both dogs, including chicken livers.

The dogs are now eating about 1.25-1.50 pounds of raw meaty bones each.  With the house build complete, the dogs are very VERY active.  They get a minimum of a mile long walk every morning and a 20 minute hike every evening.  Three to four of the evening hikes every week are actually field-trips to other hiking areas in a 2-hour radius from our house.  We pack food, drive somewhere we want to explore and then hike and mess around until it gets dark.  That’s how A Romp in the River came to be.  The dogs get sooooooo much exercise on those evenings that it makes the other 3 evenings (of 20 minute hikes) work out just fine.

So no more freezing/thawing and also… more cutting!  I initially weighed several quarters and found most of them to be about a pound or a little under.  Therefore, the simplest thing has been to feed them a quarter each for a few days and then they get a double-dinner of two quarters.  It averages over the week to be enough food.

You can check out our previous preparation routine for more details.  If you are new to the raw meaty bones diet or need a portion refresher, here’s how we work it out:

  • Feed 2-3% of the dogs body weight, depending on activity level.
  • The dogs are now both fed at about 3% and we’ll use Trooper’s weight as the example.
  • Trooper weighs about 45 pounds.  3% = 1.35 pounds a day
  • He only gets 1 pound most days.  Poor starving baby.
  • And then a few days a week he gets 2 pounds.  Bam!
  • He also gets ~2 ounces of liver each day and occasionally double that.
  • So ignoring the liver, if he gets 5 days of 1 pound and 2 days of 2 pounds, he is getting 9 pounds of food per week.
  • 9 pounds of food per week = 1.28 pounds per day
  • Add to that amount the 1 liver per day (~2 ounces), training treats and dog/chicken jerky (another dog snack that we use for exceptional behavior).

Sydney is actually 35 pounds but is fed the same because she is extraordinarily active.  I would cut back if she started putting on weight but the calories all seem to be utilized in her pursuit of panting, running, playing frisbee and hiking.

Sydney eating dinner on the hillside and Trooper eating on the path.

Where do we Feed the Dogs?

I’ve been asked this question a LOT and for some reason the answer surprises people.  I feed them outside, on the ground.  I learned fast that if you feed them a hunk of bone-in meat in a BOWL, they’re going to pull it out and eat it on the kitchen floor.  Then you have raw chicken cooties everywhere.  Just feed them outside.  They aren’t people (which they’re probably pretty happy about).

I used to stress a little about feeding them at the same time every day, and I used to always feed them on nice green grass – either our yard or if we were traveling, some other grassy zone.  But since moving to the land of little grass, our model of excellence has changed.  We now feed them wherever we are.  They have rock plates at home that we put the meat on so it isn’t in the gravel….but they pull it off and get gravel stuck to it anyway.  When we are out and about, we drop their meat meals in fun, new, challenging areas just so they can try something new.  When she can, Sydney always lays down, even if it’s in the snow.  Trooper will always remaining standing to eat.

If you want to adopt and maintain a raw meaty bones diet for your dogs, keep it simple, affordable and fun.

During our trip west, we stopped at the Texas Welcome Center and fed the dogs on leash. Fred bird got to go outside as well.

Here the dogs are eating in the middle of the Gila Wilderness.  Don’t they seem satisfied with life?

Our routine these days is to drop their meat and liver on big rock slabs. Sydney immediately takes it to the gravel to lay down.

Trooper will sometimes eat it on his rock plate, but a lot of the time he moves his around also.