dog diets

Whole prey – love/hate/love

A few weeks ago Doug and I offed seven young roosters (NOT a great experience – and no, not the one in the picture; I wouldn’t do that to you!) and gave them to the dogs as soon as we knew they were deceased. Feathers-on, everything exactly as in life except that they weren’t in life anymore.

I sort of thought there might be lots of hemming and hawing and nosing around and feather-pulling amongst the dogs. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They ate those birds like it was the best thing they’d ever been given; every single bit was eaten except a few of the biggest wing feathers.

It was all they ate for about four days and they’ve been snacking ever since on the frozen-and-buried portions they have stashed in the snow.

Because of this I am forced to come to the following conclusions:

1) I hate killing things.

2) The dogs look intensely amazing.

Seriously, where they’ve always had great coats, typical raw-fed dense gorgeous hair, now their coats are PACKED, from the skin out. Juno looks like a fur seal; I have to dig hard to touch Clue’s skin. And they’ve all put on hard flat muscle over the hard muscle that was already there. Bramble combined his rooster experience with a crash diet (meaning “If you steal food from people one more time I’m going to crash you”) and he lost all the typical dachshund heft and looks like a teenager again.

The casualty of the diet was poor Ginny, who was so appalled that she was being offered something that had feathers on it that she went on a hunger strike and refused to eat anything even resembling chicken. I caved today and bought her Bravo and Orijen because she was looking decidedly wan.

So, aside from Ginny, we now know we need to keep supplying whole birds to the other dogs. There are two or three more that are heading in that direction thanks to a sudden fondness for crowing, and after that I need to figure out whether I’m going to buy and raise meat chickens for the dogs or whether I can maintain enough of my own production to give each dog a whole one every couple of weeks and keep the pullets for myself. I also need to streamline the “process.” Ick.

More to come as we figure out how to do this the right way.

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  • Reply Misti Prochnow February 5, 2011 at 6:50 am

    That’s fascinating! Do you worry that they will start helping themselves to the chickens you want to keep? I wish I could do that with Austin.

  • Reply Joanna Kimball February 5, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Misti – No, they seem to understand that live = herd it around and dead = eat it. Except Bramble, who has always had the philosophy that anything standing still long enough deserves to be eaten. Because of Bramble, the chickens are very securely fenced and gated off from the dogs, but the corgis don’t show any more interest in them than they ever have. But dead – wow. And MUCH increased pack-food-behavior. They normally pretty much ignore each other or all share a bowl. With the roosters Clue actively offered to share with her daughter but drove off the others; everybody snatched, ran, and ate at opposite corners of our huge dog pen. Talk about high-value foods.

  • Reply Misti Prochnow February 5, 2011 at 7:01 am

    oh, that must be so much fun to watch! it’s really cool how the herding dogs know better!

  • Reply Bruce McDowell February 5, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    My Cardigans are natural born killers , which is tied into their herding / controlled ability . I’ve seen the zeal they express upon seizing , killing , & gleefully devouring a hapless chicken .Within seconds , after 3000 years of domestication , they revert to their ancestral wolf .

  • Reply Sarah February 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Have you heard of the rabbit wringer? ( I know people who use it for meat rabbits and the rabbit basically just turns off. No fuss, no blood, the most humane way to slaughter I’ve seen. I’ve heard of people using them for chickens and the guy who makes them seems really open to questions and suggestions if you want to email him about it.

    • Reply rufflyspeaking February 5, 2011 at 8:55 pm

      Hi and thanks for commenting!

      I’ve looked at it a TON and I think it would be excellent for rabbits. I am not sure how well it would work for chickens – they keep going for a long time after the lights should be out (a lot of their movement, even decision information seems to be stored in the spinal cord and not their tiny brain) and the stories of chickens running away and hiding with their heads on backwards are numerous and awful.

  • Reply Jeri February 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Neat, neat, neat. My dogs want to come live at your house. 🙂

    I do find it fascinating how Nash is the only dog Lizzie will share her food with, ever. Any food. And believe me, she’s not a sharer! They will both gang up to try to keep Brady away from food.
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  • Reply Julie E February 5, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Sometimes I flirt with the idea of raising pigeons again expressly for the purpose of dog food. They’re pretty cheap to keep and easy to raise, and a good size for toy dogs. There’s the added plus of being legal to keep in city limits, whereas chickens are not. Pigeon itself tastes pretty good, but it can be tough and dry like most game meats.

    But I’m with you on the processing end.

    And poor Ginny.

    • Reply rufflyspeaking February 5, 2011 at 8:50 pm

      Pigeons would be perfect for toy breeds. That’s actually genius.

      Ginny’s always been iffy about food, and it’s hard to feed her good stuff because of her awful overbite (her lower jaw is only about half the length of her maxilla). It took us months to get her to eat raw pieces after we adopted her. And she goes into snits and carries grudges forEVER. It’s like living with a cast member from AbFab.

  • Reply TGIQ February 5, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I’ll be interested to hear how this works out for you, and particularly the economics of it. I’d love to keep chickens for my dogs, but I’m not sure if it’s feasable. Also, may I ask how you “off” them? I’m asking because I know it’s something I’d have to do myself but I also find the killing part a bit squidgy.
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    • Reply rufflyspeaking February 5, 2011 at 9:06 pm

      We gassed them with CO2. I researched exhaustively because I was serious about using a method that is humane but left them with their blood (didn’t want to use a knife, since they are for the dogs and the dogs benefit from the blood) It went very well for the littles, not as well for the bigger ones – just took longer than I wanted it to, though there was no struggle. I think our methodology was off – dry ice, or vinegar and baking soda (we’ve used both) are hard to control. You want it to go a little bit slow so they fall asleep and are asleep before the concentration gets to the point that it would be physically uncomfortable for them – we managed that, I think, but the distance between asleep and dead was too long for the bigger ones. Next time we’re using a paintball canister. The huge benefit of gassing them, besides keeping the blood, is that they just go down. No distress, flapping, running. It’s approved by all the major vet and university and wildlife organizations and it’s what raw suppliers like Hare Today use.

  • Reply Micaela Torregrosa-Mahoney February 5, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    this is awesome, especially the part about Clue sharing with her daughter & chasing the other ones away. Pack dynamics are so fascinating! Does that mean Juno is 2nd bitch, or do she & Friday hold that place interchangeably? And how does Ginny deal with this?

    I’m afraid EllieMae would probably do like Ginny and starve herself rather than eat something with feathers on. It’s still a struggle to get her to eat any form of raw poultry 🙁 That’s one of the reasons why I’d rather raise rabbits for meat someday.

    hey, BTW: I can’t comment on your blog anymore… ?

    • Reply rufflyspeaking February 5, 2011 at 8:56 pm

      Is it not working for you? I see your comment – I have been fighting behind the scenes with my plug-ins and I may have wrecked something.

  • Reply Emily~ DreamEyce February 6, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    For CO2 you’re better off checking a homebrew store for a tank, as paintball being a sport tends to charge higher prices. Brewers use more CO2, and generally pay much less.

    We use a plastic bin with a lid as our CO2 chamber. We have a hose running to it with some chauking around it through the box (used a dremel to cut the hole) The CO2 settles to the bottom so you don’t need a lid for the box, but the use that ours typically got was wild rodents caught in livetraps so we made sure it was secure.

    In the rodent world there’s some debate over prefilling the box before placing animals in or not, and observing feral rodents, I’ve actually not seen any difference. I would assume feral rodents would be much more candid about stress than pets would be. I got to the point where with pet rat emergencies I would prefill the box, simply because I found it went faster. I didn’t use the CO2 much on pet rats, but in some situations it was the best option since we were so far out from the evet, and vets with any experience on rodent euthanisa were few and far between. Rats are put down through stomach injection which is a total nightmare when done wrong so as much as I hated when I had to put down my own ratties, I never saw one struggle.
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  • Reply Robert Vaughan June 22, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    “Ick” factor aside, this is a perfectly natural and healthy way to feed the dogs! It answers something primal for the dogs. They know whats good for them!! Great Post! And a subject that doesn’t get much exposure even in the RAW community…Try IT, They’ll LIKE it!!
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  • Reply Christiane June 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    where do you live – you can have my “extra” roosters for the time being …..

  • Reply Janine August 17, 2013 at 3:01 am

    Yikes, I see the appeal but find I’m having flashbacks to a border collie who managed to off 70+ chickens and 5 turkeys in one afternoon. Apparently there’s secure and then there’s border collie secure – or not!

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