Where do you get your meat? The grocery store of course right?! Some may think this is a silly question to ask, but raw feeders can actually get their meat, organs and bones from more than just the grocery store. Often times its actually more cost effective to source it elsewhere!
Although the grocery store is the common place to get meat and some organs, it’s not the most ideal. At times prices can skyrocket and variety can be scarce. If people don't eat it, then the store probably won’t carry it. Many grocery stores do carry common meats like chicken, beef, lamb and turkey but they won’t carry more “exotic” protiens like venison or kangaroo. Of course this does depend on where you are located. Some grocers do have a butcher that may be convinced to hold aside organs or even some bone like chicken necks.
Butchers are a good source of organs and bone especially if they are butchering animals that you have hunted yourself. Quite often organs are considered by products and thrown away so with a few phone calls to your local butcher you may convince them to hold aside those ingredients.
If you live more in the country, farmers can be another great option. Not only will you be supporting local business owners, but farmers raise their own livestock and often butcher them as well. For a small fee they may hold aside organs, scrape meat and bones they otherwise would throw away.
A virtually free source of meat, organs and bone is via hunting. Whether you hunt yourself or you have friends who do so you can at least keep or obtain organs and bone that otherwise would be thrown away. Not only do your friends or your own family get food, your companions do too!
Although this can be a more emotional option, similar to hunting, home raising your own meats such as rabbits, chickens etc. can be a very cost effective option. Many animals can be humanely raised with an appropriate diet, free of antibiotics, hormones and dyes and in a species appropriate environment for optimum health and growth. This way you ensure exactly where your meat sources are coming from and their quality.
A company that acts as a middle man can be an option. Many companies source and deliver raw meat, organs and bones locally to raw feeders. This option often is cost effective as you can buy in bulk and provides access to rarer protein sources!
There are co-ops of raw feeders all over the world that have come together to split orders and share shipping costs. This helps reduce costs all around plus you have a resource to bounce raw feeding ideas off of.
Craiglist or Online Yardsale Groups
Put an ads or ISO (in search of request) on these sites are perfect opportunities to college freeze burnt meat people want to get rid of. Often if you pick it up you can have it for free.
Another sourcing consideration is where the meat is coming from. Some sources are much less desirable and definitely ones you what to avoid.
The Three D and Four D Meat include Dead, Disabled, Decaying, and Diseased meats. The four D’s are pretty self-explanatory and unsavory just at a mention. You don’t want to eat this, neither should your pet who now may be exposed to illness, parasites, disease and much more that will most definitely harm your companion. Because you have chosen NOT to feed your companion commercial food (as many pet food companies use these meats) don’t willingly accept or feed the three or four D’s as raw food.
Animal/Feed Grade. Under this category, ingredients are considered unfit for human consumption. This includes by-products, defective food, moldy foods or other ingredients that normally would be discarded like waste or corn husks among other things.
Human grade food is fit for human consumption. Although laws and regulations surrounding human grade food are still more lax than one would think, it is much more strict than Pet Food Grade labels and should be considered the bare minimum of what you should feed your companion without sacrificing healthy or quality.
Cats, dogs and ferrets are carnivores that often eat herbivores. Herbivores should have a diet of grasses, flowers and other plant material. Those that are fed this appropriate diet are healthier and grow to their full potential with the right amount of quality fats and nutrients which in turn is important for those that eat them so they can grow to their full potential. Unnatural diets affect this outcome and can be found in animals fed corn and inappropriate grain products such as wheat and soy.
Organic products are more regulated than regular human grade, although there are still loop holes in this system as well. Animals certified as organic must be raised on certified land and be fed organically certified feeds. They also must be free of hormones and antibiotics. The downside to organic products unfortunately is expense. Organic meats can be much more expensive as regulations are not as cut and dry as grass-fed products. Furthermore they can still be fed grains and non species appropriate foods because even those can still be considered organic, hormone and antibiotic free.
If you can at least source human grade foods, you are definitely on a good track. Expenses do vary depending on what source you get your meat from and how it is raised, but being aware can certainly help provide a nutritious species appropriate diet for your companion as well as hopefully prevent hefty veterinary bills down the road.