Breakfast BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food)
· 10 lbs whole ground chicken (raw and deskinned)
· 2 lbs ground lean beef (raw) or get cheaper high-fat content but cook the fat out and drain/rinse
· 3 tsp ground eggshells (mash then bake at 350 F for 10 minutes and then grind to powder)
· 5 free-range eggs (rinse & save egg shells for future use)
· 1 oz fresh, peeled garlic
· 1 oz fresh ginger
· 1/3 cup organic sunflower seeds
· 1/3 cup organic wheat flakes, cracked wheat or wheat germ
· 1/3 cup organic rolled oats
Dash organic apple cider vinegar
· Dash extra virgin olive oil
· Dash organic black strap molasses
· 6 oz natural organic plain yogurt (lowest sugar)
· Shitake mushrooms, steeped in broth
· 2 pieces of fruit (apple, banana, orange, kiwi, apricot or whatever is in season)
· homemade broth (any kind)
· Handful of various vegetables, but mostly greens (e.g. collard greens or kale or mustard greens; parsley or cilantro, sweet potato, carrot, green pepper, cucumber, squash, celery, eggplant or whatever is in season)
· 1 cup cooked organic brown rice (optional)
Put ground chicken and beef in a giant stainless steel pot. Add eggshells and eggs. Peel and chop garlic and ginger and add to pot. Put sunflower seeds, wheat germ and oats in blender (an Osterizer works well) and pulse until ground, then add to pot. Next cut up fruit and put in blender with vinegar, olive oil, yogurt and molasses. Blend everything together (the container should not be more than half full of the fruit mixture or you are making too much). Add the fruit mixture to the pot. Last, wash and chop the vegetables then add to the blender. Use just enough broth/water to make the mixture blend. Your predominant ingredient should be the greens and then about ½ to ¾ cup of everything else. The blender container should be completely full before you add it to the pot. The vegetables should come from all different groups so that you don’t get too much of any one kind (e.g. starchy vegetables like carrots or sweet potato or cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower or broccoli). There are some fruits and vegetables you never want to use, like white potatoes, onions and grapes. Otherwise, you can experiment with whatever is in season, reasonably priced or leftover from your own cooking. I’ve heard that raw yams are toxic so if I use yams I peel them, cut them in small pieces and then boil them in water first until they are soft. If you need the food to last longer, you can put some rice in, but it is a filler and dogs do not gain any nutritional value from it.
Once everything is in the pot then mash it together. Then ladle the mixture into one-quart Ziploc bags or reusable containers and weigh each one on a 10 lb kitchen scale. Each bag should equal at least 1% of your dog’s body weight. My dogs weigh around 85 to 95 lbs, and I fill each Ziploc bag to weigh 1 to 1 ¼ lb. depending on whether it is summer or winter. Lay the filled bag on the counter and squeeze out the air and seal flat. The bags stack up well in old grocery bags and then freeze them immediately. Thaw them out the night before use. Serve Mo, Tu, Th, Fr, Sa and Su mornings.
Supplements to be mixed in with breakfast BARF: 3 squirts Bravo salmon oil, 1 tsp Norwegian cod liver oil, one tablet each of Vitamins B complex, Ester C (500 i.u.), natural E (200 i.u.), alfalfa and kelp (low dose). The vitamins and supplements must be adjusted according to your dog’s weight. Senior dogs get a Glyco-Flex tablet too. I do not feed these supplements on Wednesday and Saturday and on Fridays and Mondays I usually leave out Vitamins C and B. On Wednesday the dogs get fish food blend (see below) with evening primrose oil as their supplement.
Fish Food Blend: Same as regular Breakfast BARF but substitute 5 lbs of Costco tuna, 5 cans mackerel and 1 can sardines for chicken. Also substitute cottage cheese for yogurt and omit garlic. Increase eggshells to 5 tsp as the fish food does not contain any bones for calcium. Serve Wednesday morning.
Offal Blend: Take several packages of offal (e.g., 2 containers chicken livers, 1 package chicken gizzards, 1 package beef heart, 1 package beef kidney) and chop them up into cubes. Remove any excess fat. Put individual servings in reusable plastic containers based on 1% of your dog’s body weight along with a ladle or two of chicken broth. Serve Saturday evening. (One of my dogs hates chicken livers so now I just use gizzards and beef heart.)
Evening meal: One percent of your dog’s weight in any of the following raw meat: turkey necks, beef ribs, duck necks, pigs feet, chicken wings, drumsticks, thighs, backs, etc. If you feed chicken for breakfast, you don’t want to feed that much at dinner so turkey is better. A sample menu for my dogs is turkey necks Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; beef ribs on Wednesday (let them gnaw on them for a while to clean their teeth); and Offal Blend on Saturday. If a dog is underweight (i.e. you can see more than 2 ribs), then I feed him more than 1% of his body weight until he is at normal weight (you should be able to just barely see 2 back ribs). If a dog is overweight, then fast him for 24 hours on Saturday or Sunday and just give him chicken or turkey broth to make sure he doesn’t get dehydrated.
Notes: A vegetarian friend of mine joked that serving this dog food for her is equivalent to a Fear Factor episode. It is possible to just feed dogs a vegetarian diet of veggies, fruits, grains and legumes, but their health will suffer because they are carnivores and are much healthier with bones and meat in their diets.
My recipe is adapted from books by Ian Billinghurst, an Australian vet. There is another Australian vet named Lonsdale, who doesn’t advocate fruits and vegetables. But Billinghurst’s diet makes more sense to me and I have followed it since Feb. 04 with amazing results.
Among everyone who feeds BARF, I think their recipes and menus are like snowflakes -- no two are the same. For example, Billinghurst likes using ground flax seed for his Omega 3 but I find flax seed dries the dogs’ skin and makes it flaky. Also, I started using shitake mushrooms and broth when my older dog got a tumor and I think it helps it from growing and even sometimes shrinks it a little. Their coats and skin are much healthier looking with pure salmon and cod liver oil, but of course the oil isn’t just for their coats.
Another friend of mine follows a home-cooked diet for her dog and despite his diagnosis of cancer, she kept him going for 13 years! I steered away from the home-cooked diet because I preferred the benefits of BARF, but that is not to say that home-cooked has its own merits too. For one thing, you don’t have to worry that your dog will choke on anything. There is a slight risk of choking when you feed your dogs large pieces of raw bones/meat, but I have never had it happen with my dogs, and one of them literally gulps his food.
If you want some home-cooked recipes, a good reference is the book by Dr. Pitcairn. That is a book my homeopathic vet recommends. However, she feeds her dogs and the dogs at her kennel BARF and she is the one who originally recommended this diet to me.
If you want to start your dog on something healthier than kibble, you might consult with a holistic/homeopathic vet concerning your dog’s special needs. They do make higher grades of kibble, i.e. around $1+/lb. but because of my Winnie’s kidney problems, she could no longer tolerate any dry food cooked at a high temperature. I can’t explain it as well as the books do.
Winnie also had problems with incontinence before I put her on this diet and afterward it just disappeared for about 3 years. I can’t explain why and on that point neither can Billinghurst, he just knows that it happens. It took me a few phone calls to find sources for my meat. I use a local meat market for the turkey necks (~$26 for a 30 lb. box); the grocery store for beef ribs, ground beef and organ meat; and Hi-Lo market grinds whole chickens for me (grinding included in the price) so they are about $1/lb.
So for the majority of their food, the price is around $1 per pound.
The salmon oil I buy from a Bravo distributor and the only cost-effective way to buy it is in a gallon jug ($56!) but it lasts me all year. You have to be careful how you store it so that it doesn’t turn rancid. The other costs up front included a big chest freezer that we keep in the garage and a kitchen scale ($12). I already had an Osterizer blender and a huge stainless steel pot from Wal-Mart that I use to mix the BARF blend in.
You don’t want to feed with plastic bowls because they harbor bacteria. You have to use stainless steel bowls and wash them with soap and hot water after every feeding. It is best to buy the Ziploc bags at Costco because they’re much cheaper in bulk. I did start reusing plastic containers and that works good too.
So this entire process seems very daunting at first but once I got the hang of it I only spend 2.5 hours making it for 2 large dogs once a week, including cleanup time. With a smaller dog or only one dog, a person will spend much less time. If you just want to experiment, I would suggest starting with a package of raw chicken wings as they have very tender bones. If the dog is hesitant to eat it, try putting some honey on it. You will probably find that dogs are much more excited about this diet than eating kibble.