What is the BARF diet & raw feeding? Is it safe for my pet?
At Springfield Poultry, we rear Organic and Free Range poultry for human consumption. However, certain poultry cuts cannot be consumed by humans, for example our Free Range Chopped Chicken Carcass. Put simply, this is because the product is made entirely of bone.
Whilst it’s not fit for human consumption, it is ideal for working dogs, non working dogs and cats. This brings us on to the topic of BARF raw feeding. Our Organic and Free Range Chicken off cuts are ideal for raw feeding and BARF diets. It’s healthy, natural, high quality and is the only diet we feed for our farm dog Chester. However, we often get asked by our customers whether our raw meaty bones are OK for their dog or cats diet. The simple answer is of course! What did dogs use to eat before commercial dog foods were available?
So to answer your burning questions, we thought we’d cover the fundamentals of raw feeding & BARF below. What you should & shouldn’t do when it comes to using our Chicken. Then the decision is yours whether you make a swap to raw feeding! Please note all the information is regarding Springfield Chickens, not other brands or meats. Please read carefully.
What is the BARF diet and raw feeding?
BARF is an acronym which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or as Bones And Raw Feeding. The basis of this diet is on what adult dogs would have eaten before domesticated foods became available. For example, when animals were out hunting in the wild they didn’t come across kibble did they? We’re great believers of if you can’t find the ingredients out in the wild; it shouldn’t be fed to your dog. As natural ingredients are better for your dog and cat’s health and general wellbeing.
The BARF diet and raw feeding is based upon feeding animal’s raw meat and bones. It is completely natural and unprocessed. All the Chicken supplied by Springfield, whether it is Organic or Free Range comes in its natural form, apart from the Finely Chopped Chicken Carcass. This product is finely chopped so older dogs or cats with fragile teeth can still eat the raw diet.
The most natural diet your dog or cat could have
Many pet owners choose to swap to the raw feeding and BARF diet because it is entirely natural. This means the dog or cat is fed only raw cuts of meat. Whether it is Chicken, Pork or Beef. While some owners struggle with the idea of giving their working dog or cat a Chicken neck and carcass, the benefits of the raw feeding is tough to beat.
The potential benefits your dog or cat could reap from a raw fed diet are as follows:
- Shinier & healthier skin and coat
- Cleaner teeth and fresher breath
- Higher energy levels
- Smaller & less smelly stools
- Joint relief & increased mobility (after consumption of Chicken feet)
- Strengthened immune system
- While the Organic & Free Range Chicken cuts might seem expensive – you’ll definitely save cash on your reduced vet visits!
Most noteworthy of all is that Dogs and Cats naturally hunt for their meat. Therefore providing a completely meaty diet with raw bones is exactly what their ancestors would have thrived on. No cooked meat, just completely raw bones and meat.
Why you should never cook your Chicken bones
As mentioned above, cats and dogs in the wild would have eaten their meat raw. Never cooked. Whilst it is possible to cook some pieces of meat for your dog or cat, we would suggest not doing so. In terms of Chicken bones, YOU SHOULD NEVER COOK THESE AND ALLOW YOUR CAT OR DOG TO CONSUME THEM. Chicken bones cooked for dogs and cats are extremely dangerous. Cooked Chicken bones are extremely brittle. So feeding brittle bones to your animal can have disastrous effects. As the bones can splinter, break into sharp shards and pierce the mouth, throat or lining of the stomach.
The difference between our raw and cooked Chicken bones
Our Organic and Free Range Chicken bones are ideal for raw feeding your dog or cat. This is because our Chickens are classified as “Spring Chickens”, which simply means our birds aren’t fully matured when they are slaughtered. In comparison to a laying hen which is 6 months old traditionally before it starts laying. After 10 weeks of being reared the Chicken bones are still fairly young, soft and malleable. This means they are fine for your dog to munch away on as they won’t splinter. With the exception of the Chicken legs, which we do not suggest feeding to your dog or cat.
Cooked Chicken bones on the other hand, are NOT fit for feeding to your dog. First of all, feeding cooked bones does not count as “raw fed” as they aren’t raw. Secondly, as mentioned above, Chicken bones are brittle when cooked. Therefore cooking the bones is the difference between contributing to your dog’s welfare or damaging it.
The nutrients in a raw fed diet
Dependent upon which cut of the Chicken you choose, depends on the nutrients in the diet. For example, our Chicken feet are packed with collagen; therefore they are naturally high in glucosamine. An amino sugar which is used to treat arthritis and inflamed joints. So if you have an old dog or cat, which struggles with standing you’ll find these may just help. Our Chicken feet also have little or no urine burns unlike many intensively reared birds. This is because our Chickens are outside so often, roaming freely in the fields. But also because we litter our sheds frequently and if needed, sometimes every day. Frequent littering means our Chickens have a fresh bed indoors with less likelihood for nasties to build up.
Chicken Organs, for example gizzards, hearts and liver are dense with nutrients and vitamins. A natural source of goodness that you might not otherwise find in your dogs diet. Even with just raw bones, the diet will be lacking in vital nutrients. However, remember the saying too much of a good thing is a bad thing? Keep that in mind, as you shouldn’t really feed your dog or cat organ meat more than twice a week.
The raw feeding ratio
Many people often ask how to get started with raw feeding; many people follow the BARF raw feeding ratio of:
- 80% meat
- 10% bone
- 10% organ
Although that is only a guide! Do what works best for your cat or dog. Some like less bone, some like more meat! The ratio isn’t rigid; just ensure your fluffy friend gets plenty of variety. So as an example, the ideal complete raw dinner would include: our Free Range finely chopped Chicken carcass, liver, hearts and feet. As this combination provides a mixture of meat, muscle and organ.
So is it safe for my pet?
As long as you understand the concepts of raw feeding, briefly outlined above, the diet is harmless. As stated above, raw Chicken bones (as long as they’re young) are fantastic for your dog’s health. The issues arise when you give your dog cooked Chicken bones.
We don’t claim to be experts on raw feeding, so should you wish to seek additional advice from a vet or raw feeding forums please go ahead. We also only advise our customers on the benefits of using raw Chicken, as you could call us specialists when it comes to Poultry! Not so much for other meats though. So if you’re wishing to find out the benefits of feeding raw beef, pork or lamb we’d advise asking a raw feeding specialist.