Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Kona Raw Experience

A few months ago, I decided to share my knowledge of raw-meaty-bones and provide other Kona pet owners with access to wholesale meaty bones.  I formed a co-operative pet food group that buys meats and meaty bones from a local meat processor.  Co-op members put in orders online and pick them up at my farm.  Hawaii Beef Producers delivers beef, pork, and poultry to us weekly.  I compile orders and keep the books.  As we have gotten used to the schedule and procedures, orders and deliveries have become routine.

I have to remember that quite a few members were not feeding raw meats and bones to their pets prior to learning about carnivore diets through Kona Raw.  After they tried a few meaty bones, saw the pets' enthusiastic responses, they came back for more of the same and for more variety.  Even the most skeptical owners note rapid improvements in older pets' vitality and joy. 

I forget how hard it is to overcome all we've been taught about feeding pets exclusively on commercial pet foods and how hard it is to begin feeding raw foods to pets.  The fact that more and more pet owners are making that commitment is very rewarding.  I aspire to widen their choices of  meaty bones, and to eliminate ground meats, except for very young puppies and kittens.  But they will feed what they deem best for their furry children.

Every day I spend two to three hours feeding, running, swimming, and playing ball with the 10 Labrador retrievers currently living at Aloha Labradors.  The first task is to cut up bargain turkeys (see entry on seasonal bargains) to feed all those hungry Labs and a couple of other pets.  Dismembering raw turkeys is not for the weak or faint of heart.  These large birds have tough skin, strong joints, and thick bones.  I feed each Lab a drumstick, a thigh, half a breast bone and ribs, a back,or a wing -- with extra breast meat going to those with smaller pieces.  One turkey can be dissected into 10 meaty, bony pieces -- with considerable slicing, pulling, and swearing.  After turkey season is over, I look forward to feeding more beef, because many beefy bones come in suitable sizes that require no additional work.  Chickens are comparatively easy to dissect into halves and quarters.  Turkeys in November are cheap, but they are also tough work for the feeder.

After feeding, I ride my All-Terrain-Vehicle, and the dogs RUN up and down the hills on our 9-acre farm.  We dash in and out of rows of coffee trees, along woods, and through open areas, at a pretty good clip.  When their tongues hang out and they are happily panting, we end the run and go to the dog pool -- where all jump in immediately to drink and cool off.  They swim,  retrieve balls in the water, and some show off their great leaps, belly-flopping with huge splashes to get a ball.  When everyone is suitably exercised and happy, they return to their kennel yards for a rest. Usually two or three dogs are housed together in a 20' x 30' yard with roofed kennels for shelter from sun and rain.  They play and rough-house in their areas when I am not with them.  In the evening, everyone gets a good-night treat and settles down for the night.

 I realize that my dogs get more exercise than many house pets, who may get a leisurely walk once or twice a day.  Their diets reflect their need for more calories than many other dogs need.  I advise Kona Raw members to watch their pets' waistlines as the best indicator of how much to feed.  Not only do exercise regimes vary, but individuals' metabolism can be very different.  James, a large chocolate boy, gets 1 1/2 times as much food as two of the girls, who would be rotund on his diet. 

The most rewarding part of coordinating the Kona Raw Co-op is talking with other members about their pets and their concerns about feeding.  We all have to unlearn so much misinformation about commercial pet diets and learn how to feed healthy diets of raw-meaty-bones.  Having colleagues to share the journey is very rewarding. 

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