Cota Farms' Blog

March 3, 2014

Common Sense and Feeding Your Dogs Raw Meat – Part 3

While transitioning our dogs from having raw ground chicken in their diet and replacing that with leg quarters, we noticed a distinct rejection of the new alternative.  From some of what I have read they should have welcomed this new food.  Half of the dogs just could not seem to get the hang of it, one not even trying.   Our dogs are too important to us to just let this go; had we been thinking wrong?

I have to admit that when I offered this same chicken to the lot of them except this time I roasted it and striped the meat from the bones, they all gobbled it down.  I had even mixed in some old egg noodles.  The only difference from something I might prepare for myself was the lack of seasoning and mixing in the chicken fat.

I don’t know what this means but I am willing to employ a little dispassionate common sense to the problem.  You see the real problem is we tend to invest ourselves in a position we have chosen to take in the past and filter all new data thru the prism of not wanting to admit to being wrong, misinformed, not wanting to change.

In that spirit, I have observed from a number of different dogs, in different sizes and breeds, over several years’ time, that dogs do in fact prefer meat.  Furthermore, they do not as often as one might expect prefer it uncooked.  Also, I have noticed certain beneficial effects of feeding small amounts of cooked rice or pumpkin.  Additionally, there seems to be no ill effects from sometimes feeding macaroni and cheese mixed with a favorite meat.  I use these specific examples because of the enthusiasm in which the dogs eat those meals.

Of course roast chicken is not a balanced diet and we will continue to offer raw meat if for no other reason than to see if they eat it.  We will still feed organ meat as well but no longer ground, sliced instead.  We will offer it raw but if they don’t eat it we will cook it for them.  Our goal is to feed our dogs as best we can, see that they consume at least a minimal amount every day and if that means cooking for them, well, I would do no less for any farm workers we might employ.

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November 7, 2012

Common Sense and Feeding Your Dogs Raw Meat – Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cota Farms @ 8:37 pm
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Dogs can survive for a time on inadequate food, just like us.  What may be bad for dogs is certainly a matter of degree.  Our dogs get into things sometimes that is said to be bad for them and they suffer no ill effects.  That says nothing about a long term diet of chocolate chip cookies though.  Because there is so much information out there, much of it just plain wrong, common sense, personal research, and being aware of who is providing the information and why is your best approach to sorting through all the hubbub.

We have to look at what can be shown to be true and go from there.  For example, we know that a dog has a different digestive system than we do or sheep do and that means they can digest what that system was designed for.  We can feed other things and the body may be able to extract some nutrient from it but the system is then stressed and will fail long before its time.  We know that a dog has a relatively short digestive tract and so can best benefit from food that is more easily and quickly broken down.  Raw vegetable matter is not quickly or easily broken down.

Here is another opportunity to use our common sense.  When we examine what comes out our dogs and find clumps of grass it is apparent they were not meant to digest it.  I never find clumps of grass coming out of our sheep or geese and they consume much more of it than do the dogs.  If we are not scrutinizing what comes out of our dogs as much as  what goes into them then we will not have enough information to make rational decisions about what to feed our dogs or what to believe about what other people tell us we should be feeding them.  An analysis of what our dog leaves behind will upset the claims of many dog food manufactures.  If you have not yet proven to yourself that a commercial dry grained based food will produce much larger quantities of waste than a meat diet and what that means, then that is where you need to begin your research.  One of the first things you will notice when feeding raw meat is the change in appearance and quantity of your dog’s waste.

When we examine our dog’s mouth it is plain that it is not the same design that we have or other animals that chew their food.  Dogs do not chew they crush and tear so they need food that can be digested without first grinding it with flat teeth.  It is not merely a coincident that canine predators eat animals that do have teeth that grind their food; this is how they receive the nutrients of those things that their prey has eaten.  While it is true that domesticated canines (dogs) have adapted over the centuries to live with us they are still canines, they remain physically the same animal with the same biology.

October 30, 2012

Common Sense and Feeding Your Dogs Raw Meat

We at Cota Farms feed our dogs raw meat and we sell this same meat to others.  If you search the internet for information about feeding raw meat to your dog you will not find a simple explanation about this practice.  You will find opinions pro and con with lots of ideas about where dogs come from, what wild canines eat, similarities between the two, the dangers of bones impacting the colon, nutrition, bacteria, what nature intended, veterinarians opposed to the practice and so forth.  Unfortunately if you give a thought to what you are feeding your dogs and question it even a little you will be pulled into this mess and have to deal with it, decide what is right for you and your dogs.

I think it is important to consider the source of the information and how it may be biased.  Most important is to use a little common sense!  This may sound like a simple matter and maybe even a little patronizing but it certainly is not.  We have been trained to not think critically and to avoid questioning any figure of authority or commercial product.

Let’s take the issue of feeding bones for example.  I have no doubt that some veterinarians have had to help dogs that have been over fed bones.  I would bet however that they are far fewer than the number of medical doctors who have had to help people that have been over fed junk food. Raw meaty bones are not a meal and if you feed this to your dog every day you will eventually hurt your dog.  Because some people out there are negligent when it comes to feeding raw bones is not an argument against giving your dog a bone.  We sell bones to our customers, a variety of bones of high quality.  We do not present the bones as a meal for your dog!  Consider this choice, an occasional raw bone or a hunk of nylon in the shape of a bone.

And of course all dogs are not the same!  We have several dogs, most live outside on the farm; they are livestock guardians and have free access to 25 acres of pasture, wetland and ponds.  They are a lot like wild animals if you ask me.  They will at least taste almost anything and eat things so disgusting that the idea that clean raw meat is bad for them is laughable.  We also have small dogs that live in the house and sleep in our bed.  They are nothing like the LGDs and we don’t feed them like they are.  Here is an opportunity to use a little common sense, some critical thinking.  Because we don’t feed raw meat to our small dogs, nor subject them to things like Hurricane Sandy, is not an argument against feeding raw meat.  By the way, our LGDs did not take that evening off; I watched them run around in the storm doing their job without any indication that they were bothered by all the weather.  Since our small dogs would not have survived even one hour in that terrible storm am I then to deny the fact that my other dogs are better suited to that environment?

Our small dogs are quite partial to the same food we feed all our dogs it is just that they prefer it to be cooked a little and cut into tiny bits, tender pieces please.  Cota will choose my home cooked sliced kidney every time over commercial dog food.  Now if I were to feed him just kidney that would not be good for him and I would be negligent – again, common sense to the rescue.

I tell my customers that variety is key in feeding a raw diet.  Money is also a very important factor.  I have seen raw diet menus that no honest veterinarian could argue against yet they are not practical.  Still there is a lot you can do by being creative.  If you have a source for discount can goods that can be very helpful.  For example, fish is a good food to rotate into your dog’s diet, preferably cold water fish as they have the good oils in them.  A dented can of sardines or mackerel is just great.  A can of pumpkin or yams mixed in now and again is good too.  Raw eggs are an inexpensive item that should be on your menu.  Our dogs eat more eggs than most as they live on a farm and are not opposed to self-service.

We sell raw meat for your dog’s diet; it is not a complete or balanced diet but does make for some good meals.  We are pleased to offer a variety of basic food at a price far lower than any we have seen.  We encourage our customers to seek out additional foods for their dogs, as best as they can afford and if you find a good source for gazelle pancreas please share it with the rest of us.

October 10, 2012

Feeding Your Dogs In Winter

How you feed your dogs in winter is important if they are outside dogs.  Most of our dogs are outside and are true working dogs.  I consider them employees working security for the farm and account for them that way for business purposes.  They are better treated than most employees; in addition to enjoying a superior cuisine, they get free health care, housing, acres of recreational space, a healthy social life, and internet access.

Not all dogs should be kept outdoors in winter in Ohio; they are just not adapted for it.  Our outside dogs are made for harsh winter weather and in fact do better in the winter than the high heat of the summer months.  In summer we feed meat right from the refrigerator to help cool them down.  In winter we increase their rations by as much as 50% when the weather is particularly bad.  Interestingly this is the same thing we do with our livestock, something a farmer once told me.

Even in the snow and bitter cold they hardly ever take shelter but they do need good food and enough of it to keep warm and healthy.  In a natural diet they would eat fresh kill which would be warm.  Since we feed raw meat we don’t really want to warm it up in the microwave as that would defeat the purpose so we mix hot rice with it to take the chill off.  Some of you already mix rice with your food and that is fine and so the opportunity is there to give your dogs something warm to eat when it is freezing cold.  It is a little extra work to cook the rice before each feeding so that it is still warm but there are some things I do to make it a little easier.  I have discovered that if you use a crock pot to cook your rice, with some alterations in the amount of water to rice ratio and the different settings on the crock pot, you can start it in the morning and your rice will be ready at dinner time.  We go a step further because we have more than a reasonable number of dogs and make enough rice so that there will be some for breakfast as well.  We use a 12 quart crock pot (less than $20 at this writing) so there is enough for two feedings.  We feed our dogs twice a day as I don’t believe they can get all that they need in just one meal.  If you get up a lot at night like I do you can just turn your crock pot to warm some time during the night so that it is ready for breakfast.

Is this too much, more than they need?  I don’t think so but I know those that would disagree with me and I say to them, then why have the dog.  Why buy a dog only to put it in the backyard on a chain?  OK, I’ll stop here as anything more would just be a rant and those people would never read this blog anyway.

September 27, 2012

Chicken Mush

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cota Farms @ 3:29 pm
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A friend was helping us with our new pet food business; she picked up some chicken for us from a different source when our primary supplier ran out. She kept some of the chicken for herself and began to grind it for her dogs. Immediately she noticed that it was not the same as what she had been getting from me. What we had been supplying her and other customers with was generally farm raised birds that enjoyed at least some time ranging on pasture while the new chicken was from a factory farm. These birds probably spent no time outdoors and didn’t move around much. I won’t even go into what they were being fed.

What she ended up with was chicken mush, like ham salad she said. What she was used to had actual texture, a very different feel and appearance than this new stuff. I told her she now had first hand experience with the difference between the chicken you buy at the grocery store and that grown on real farms.

I spoke to my processor about it as he too was now preparing this chicken for me until he had more of the good stuff. We talked about how some of his customers commented on how his chicken was tough, that is, the chicken that people bought for themselves was not the same as what was at the local grocery. The chicken at the grocery is the same factory farm chicken we were now processing for pet food; we use the pieces that most people here do not like.

My processor was not trained like most of us to eat factory farm chicken as he came from a family that grew much of their own food. I have to be careful when selling our pastured poultry to people who have never had food that did not come from a factory. Most people like the idea of heritage breed animals, raised naturally without chemicals, and they expect the end product to be different than what they normally find at the grocery but they are not really prepared for it. Most aren’t even sure how to cook it. When you add the higher cost of this food to the equation many people will just not bother with it and console themselves with a few locally grown organic vegetables.

August 5, 2012

We Were the First

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cota Farms @ 11:35 am
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I got a call yesterday from the Alpaca Meat Council.  I expected to see others copy what we had done, but that is not what really happened.  They just saw what was obvious and did it.  Since these people had more resources than we did they were able to do it bigger and better too.

I am talking about taking some of the excess alpaca population and turning them into food.  This is nothing new or special as alpaca has been eaten in South America for hundreds of years but it hadn’t been done here before.  Unless someone challenges us I would like to formally claim the distinction as being the first farm in the United States to do this.  We were not the first in North America as there was a Canadian farm that did it before us.  I don’t know if this farm is still in operation but I do know they did get some push back on this.

But this is about Cota Farms and our being the first to do this here.  Yes, alpaca was available before we offered it but that was just imported meat.  We were also the first to put it in an upscale restaurant; it has been on the menu there for at least five years.

We were also the first to see the potential of this product as high quality pet food.  We still sell alpaca but in small quantities.  Another advantage that others have over us is their markets.  Here in Ohio there is little interest for this meat, except as pet food.  Over the years I have received requests for alpaca meat from distant states but never here.  I have had to educated people and promote the meat here and I have come to realize that there are just not enough people willing to try it or spend the money on it.  It is not inexpensive.

Our little farm will never get the attention that the bigger operations are already getting and no one will ever think of Cota Farms when alpaca meat becomes more popular but I can still smile and remember that WE WERE THE FIRST!

August 1, 2012

The Price of Dog Food

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cota Farms @ 8:53 pm
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The cost of food for people has been going up recently and the media and the powers behind the media are already preparing us for an even larger increase coming soon. We farmers produce the basic ingredients of food so we are aware of what is to come in the way of price increases a little sooner than most people. This pressure is of course felt in animal feed as well.

I know people that feed their dog for just a few cents a day and you can do that if you don’t mind feeding your dog goat food. Sure it is packaged for dogs and it has that emblem that insures it has all the vitamins and minerals required, etc., but it is still just processed grains which are pretty cheap in this country. Before it was possible to get this really cheap dog food, a lot fewer people had dogs. Dogs in the city were once a symbol of prosperity; owning a dog meant I have more than enough to feed my family and some to spare, I can feed a dog as well.

Things are different now and this time next year we will see even greater changes. The store shelves are filled with a variety of dog food at a range of prices, we have entire stores with nothing but dog food and accessories. There are many more expensive dog foods than cheap ones but most have the same thing in common. They are all packaged for convenience and are generally just bags or cans of processed scraps. I have seen what goes into dog food. Even those that are meat based contain material that sits on the docks of slaughter houses until someone comes and collects it. This collection is regulated, I have a license to collect this material myself but I do not process dog food. It is regulated because this material is hazardous and those that use it must render it non-toxic at some point in their manufacturing of pet food.

Much of this food is relatively expensive and marketed in a way to appeal to people even though they don’t have to eat it. Here is where the controversy heats up; there is some debate about just what a dog is and therefore what the dog should eat. I personally have no question in my mind about what a dog is and what nature has deemed they are to eat. Dogs are decedents of a variety of canines that prey on other animals, usually animals that are not carnivores themselves. Some of these species are still around, wolves and coyotes to name two.

I believe there is no real question about what a dog is but like so much of everything else in our would it has to do with money and the business of making money. As we became more affluent we bred more dogs and some created businesses to make food to feed these dogs. They used the materials that were available to manufacture this food, it was efficient and profitable. The problem is, like our own food, it is not presented to us as what it is: efficiently produced food that feeds millions at a low cost. On its own this is a noble endeavor; but that’s not good enough. We are told that this is not just inexpensive nutrition but the best nutrition, what we should feed out dogs even if we have other choices. Remember it is about profits for one company or industry verses another.

We are able to feed our dogs a more natural and healthy food for them at a cost that is less than most of the foods on the store shelves. This cost savings extends to their health care as well. We invite you to do a little research on your own and consider the options that are available to you.

July 25, 2012

Your Veterinarian and Raw Meat

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cota Farms @ 1:59 pm
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If you have considered changing what you feed your dog and are looking for some professional consultation you need to know that you can’t talk to your dog’s vet about feeding raw meat. Veterinarians are educated and trained in the “system”, that means going outside the corporate model is not something they can deal with, they are biased. You can’t blame them really; their livelihood is based on them selling you products and services that are supported by the pet industry. Even though they have studied the biology of canines and perhaps even a little about their evolution from the wild species, they have no incentive to look at the facts of a predator’s diet and behavior. They may not even be willing to acknowledge that your dog is a predator, a carnivore. Interestingly, if a doctor of veterinarian medicine has the job of caring for canines in a zoo, wolves or coyotes for example, they would certainly not feed those animals kibble.

I have noticed that many dog owners also do not view their dogs as what they are but something else, something different from a wolf or coyote. Yes our dogs have been domesticated over long periods of time but so has our livestock and we don’t consider sheep or goats to somehow be different from the wild varieties that still exist. Indeed, there is even a popular movement that goes against the corporate model of grain fed cattle and advocates a natural grass diet.

Perhaps it is the dog’s ability and desire to be with man and their willingness to adapt to that environment, eating whatever they are given that confuses some people. A dog will eat a green bean or carrot to please their masters but they can’t chew it or digest it, their biology just doesn’t work that way. We feed a variety of animals here on the farm and I have looked at the ingredients of some common low cost kibble and once you subtract the long list of chemicals you are left with the same grains that are used in sheep feed. I am here to tell you that canines don’t eat grain, they eat sheep. I have examined the carcasses of our lambs, killed and partially eaten by wild canines. They crawled through fields of grain and vegetables to get to the lambs. Once they brought them down they chewed through the rib cage and ate what they found there.

We have several dogs and some are the lap dog variety like Cota who is our first and favorite dog; after all he was the inspiration for the farm. I will admit that he sometimes seems to prefer his meat cooked but meat is always preferred. Even though he looks more like a stuffed toy than a real dog I need only to look at his mouth to reassure myself that he is a canine.

May 13, 2012

DOG FOOD Community Supported Agriculture

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cota Farms @ 9:22 pm
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We did our first deliveries of raw dog food this week and are very happy with the product.  I have done a good bit of research on the subject and it seems pretty obvious to me what dogs should be eating even though many people do not agree.  I believe it is more a matter of conditioning by corporate manufactures and the dog food industry in general than peoples inability to deal with the fact that their best friend is a carnivore and a predator and was Designed to kill and eat other animals.  It is this fact that eventually brought me to the final decision to feed our dogs what they want and need and not what I have been trained to feed them.

As I was scrambling to save our lambs from coyotes and perhaps roaming dogs as well, I made note of how they killed our lambs and what they chose to eat first.  I came to understood that the only long term, humane solution to this problem was dogs, K9’s much like the ones that were killing our lambs.  I love dogs and the idea of hunting them, trapping or otherwise hurting them did not appeal to me even though I had to stop what they were doing.  As I wrote in an earlier blog I traveled long distances to find dogs that were ready to go right into the pastures with the sheep and protect them from the coyotes.  It was a fantastic success.

To think that with a little human ingenuity you could take an otherwise potential predator, one that would happily eat your sheep along with all the other K9’s and train him to protect your sheep from the other predators, well that is just one of the most amazing things about dogs.  Of course a dog that can do this is very special and deserves special care and feeding, the cheapest most devoted farm labor you could ever have.

I have noticed that higher quality dog food has become extremely expensive, so expensive in fact that it is now cheaper to feed you dog actual meat than buy these overpriced foods.  Still, it is not quite that easy.  Your dog will need a little more than just a hunk of meat for a balanced nutritional meal.  How you choose to do the balancing will vary depending on what foods you have available to you but we can definitely help you with the largest part of the meal.

Ground chicken with bone and skin, whole pieces of chicken in other words, is a great place to start.  Depending on the age and activity of the dog, a higher protein meat is good to give every so often, organ meat for example or eggs.  It is good to give as much variety as you can by substituting lamb or even fish when possible.  Vegetable matter, minerals and certain enzymes are also important but how to get these into your dog varies greatly.  Feeding green tripe regularly goes a long way in providing your dog a highly nutritional and healthy diet but this is not an easy thing to do, so some people turn to vitamin and mineral supplements.  Dogs can not digest raw vegetable matter that is why they eat the guts of their prey, pre-digested veggies.  Some people cook veggies and add them to their dog’s food.  And it goes on from there but the most important thing is not that you perfectly mimic a natural K9 diet but that you at least feed the best available food that you can afford, often that means just doing a little research and looking for better foods than rendered slaughterhouse waste.

February 16, 2012

Fresh Raw Dog Food Now On The Menu

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cota Farms @ 7:11 pm
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Cota Farms is adding fresh raw dog food to the pet food menu.  This newest product is a high quality ground chicken.  It has  high digestibility and comes in several package sizes.  Bulk pricing will be just 99 cents/lb for minimum orders of 20 pounds.  It will also be offered with fresh vegetables added.  No grains,  fillers or chemicals are added.

Unlike chicken meal, this product is fresh and free of sick or previously dead animals.  All chicken was processed in a state inspected facility however this product is not packaged or meant for human consumption.

For those raw food enthusiast, it can be served as is, mixed with your favorite dry food for a more balanced diet.  If you prefer to cook it first, then we have some great recipes for you.  Check out the webpage for more info.

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