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#138533 - 03/04/11 12:12 PM What (equipment) do I need to get started?
whitewolf Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 217
Loc: MD
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We're in the planning phase of transitioning from a premade raw diet to a DIY raw diet. I'm using Lauri's spreadsheet for planning types and amounts of meats we'll need, but what I haven't been able to find yet is a list of equipment we'll need to process, package, and store the meat (we'll be buying in bulk). Other than a digital kitchen scale, what will we need? Will we need special knives? Once everything is cut and measured, what's the best way to store it in the freezer? Ziploc baggies? Airtight plastic storage bowls? Something else I haven't thought of yet?

Thanks!
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#138535 - 03/04/11 12:21 PM Re: What (equipment) do I need to get started? [Re: whitewolf]
Jane Jean Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
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Loc: Southwest, MI
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I bought a cheap scale for weighing meat, now I just eyeball portions.
I have a couple of Cutco knives that I use for turkey necks and cutting up whole turkeys, chickens.
I buy 1 gallon freezer bags and freeze most everything in those. I have a rubbermaid tote to thaw items(3 dogs, I thaw a large amount at one time) Then I have a dedicated freezer for my raw food, along with the garage fridge for their thawed food.
I use big ice cream containers in the fridge and have a tray in the bottom to catch any blood that may somehow escape.
Because I feed yogurt, I save the bigger yogurt containers for organ meat storage in the fridge.
The main challenge in raw feeding is finding good cheap sources for food! Good luck with the transition!!
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#138536 - 03/04/11 12:21 PM Re: What (equipment) do I need to get started? [Re: whitewolf]
LifeAsMe Offline
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#138538 - 03/04/11 12:36 PM Re: What (equipment) do I need to get started? [Re: LifeAsMe]
Chris Wild Offline
Administrator... and Alpha Bitch of the Wild Bunch

Registered: 01/19/10
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Loc: Michigan, USA
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We've been doing DIY raw for our bunch for a long while, and can't say we have much special equipment (other than the dog's own freezers and fridge!)

What we do have:
A good heavy duty cleaver for hacking up chickens, turkeys, etc...
Large cutting board for the chopping. Pair of tongs and spoons for serving it up. The dog's have their own cutting board and utensils as I have this bizarre aversion to using the people ones for their raw food. Don't know why my brain sees a difference between cutting and serving dog meat vs our meat, but for some reason it does.
Several plastic dishpans that we use for thawing.
Several plastic containers with lids that we use for storing thawed stuff in the fridge until it's fed. We don't pre-portion out meals, just open the bin and serve the appropriate amount to each dog from there.
We do have a kitchen scale, but don't weigh and portion out meals, we just eyeball it and that works for us.
A good grinder that can handle bone, as we have to grind for young puppies and also now Nara since she had to have most of her teeth removed a few months ago and can no longer crunch up her own bone, so her RMBs are ground. But not something everyone would need for sure.

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#138550 - 03/04/11 01:32 PM Re: What (equipment) do I need to get started? [Re: Chris Wild]
mspiker03 Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 508
Loc: Nor Cal
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Here we use:
digital scale
dedicated cutting board
meat cleaver
also a large knife to cut the MM and OM (just used the one we had in the house)
dedicated freezer (well, two freezers actually as we outgrew freezer #1)
zip lock bags (I mainly use gallon sized ones, but if I am separating out multiple meals at once for travel, I like the quart sized ones)
I use food handling gloves
We have one large storage container to thaw the large boxes of meat
I also use a couple of larger in home containers to thaw individual zip lock packages each day (we only separate two meals at a time; they are probably the larger sized ones you can still buy in the kitchen container aisle)

I think you will eventually find what works for you and tweak the list to fit your needs. I know that my current list is different from the list when we first started.
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#138562 - 03/04/11 02:41 PM Re: What (equipment) do I need to get started? [Re: mspiker03]
aubie Offline
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Registered: 02/16/10
Posts: 2203
Loc: Alabama
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We have:

Digital scale

Large rubbermade tote for thawing (When I get my bulk orders, they're typically frozen, so I throw the stuff in there for a day or two before dividing it up)

Gladware containers, the large ones. I put ground stuff in there for freezing and also use them for containment when I'm feeding. Our necks and stuff come in 10lb bags, so I thaw them for feeding then put them in the containers for the fridge.

Freezer bags and also, I save the bags that I get from my Best Bully stick orders, they're large, heavy/thick and hold turkey necks wonderfully.

As for knives and stuff, I use our kitchen items. Nothing special.

I have some rubber/latex gloves (perk of having a hubby who is a firefighter/EMT, we have boxes of them) that I use when dividing things up.

A freezer




Edited by aubie (03/04/11 02:42 PM)
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#138572 - 03/04/11 03:52 PM Re: What (equipment) do I need to get started? [Re: aubie]
lhczth Offline

Administrator and LOTR addict

Registered: 01/18/10
Posts: 1556
Loc: Michigan, USA
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Cutting board. Good knife. I use either plastic storage containers or the plastic freezer bags (which tend to leak and can only be used once). I don't weigh food. I use metal bowls to store any extra in fridge. I defrost things on towels on top of my chest freezer. I have two freezers. Mostly the dog food goes in the upright and the people food in the chest, but since there isn't as much people food, is use 1/2 of the chest for pork necks and stuff like that.

I do have a very nice grinder that does poultry and rabbit bones. I only use it for the puppies and when Nike had a root canal.

I have fed raw for 12 years and I have never really done anything special.
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#139221 - 03/07/11 11:10 AM Re: What (equipment) do I need to get started? [Re: lhczth]
whitewolf Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 217
Loc: MD
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Perfect, thanks all, that's just what I needed to get started!

Jane Jean, it isn't very hard to find sources cheaper than the premade stuff. wink I'm sure we'll start finding cheaper sources as we go along, but for now just making the transition off premade will be a nice savings!
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#163784 - 06/25/11 05:17 AM Re: What (equipment) do I need to get started? [Re: whitewolf]
Draugr Offline
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Registered: 06/23/11
Posts: 48
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I got an analog scale that goes up to 60lbs IIRC. I'd have to check it to be sure. Excessive but I'm not overly fond of digital scales for "rough" work like weighing out raw portions (I tend to get OCD about portion sizes) and I honestly couldn't find an analog scale that went down lower than that.

Poultry shears are a must if you're buying whole chicken. If you're just buying quarters that's not a must.

Plastic freezer bags, gallon size and quart size. Plan to go through TONS of these. Leftovers if you have any will go in these. You can never have enough. I use mostly quart-sized since I portion everything up into about 1-lb servings so I can do an easy mix-and-match. One chicken quarter fits in those and is "roughly" 1lb (usually a bit more but like it's not an exact science or anything). You'll use up a lot going through a bag of chicken quarters. Gallon size bags I use for my 2lb servings of ground beef.

Freezer bags are not watertight and really cannot be used more than once. It's nice to have a plastic tub for stuff you want to refrigerate and not re-freeze (thawed out too much - my dog's appetite can be variable some days). I put it back in the bag and then in the plastic tub so there's no leaking worries. Also good if you are going to thaw out naturally. I thaw using warm/hot water so that's not an issue for me.

A good bone knife and a good cutting knife to pick up the slack where the shears don't work. Believe it or not a pair of kitchen scissors is quite useful, too. A cutting board, obviously. Plastic gloves! I never have these when it comes time to cut up chicken...

A meat grinder is nice but not necessary excepting specialty needs.

And obviously a freezer. I have a 8.8 cu ft (or something like that anyway) chest freezer. I store things in there inside zip-lock bags with the date written on the bag (you'll need a permanent marker for that, so there's another thing) and grouped inside plastic shopping bags. When stuffed completely full this provides my currently 86-lb dog (100lb projected full adult weight) an estimated 3 months worth of food. He eats 3-3.5lbs/day although this is highly variable, it can go up to 4lbs or be as little as 2lbs.

Keep in mind you can get freezers very cheap off places like craigslist but the energy costs of old freezers can quickly become very prohibitive. I got mine brand new for just a hair over $200. Once you get it full and full of frozen food it will hardly need to run, either.

Towels and a dish. Get something that isn't porous and won't absorb anything. Stoneware ceramics I think qualifies under this, stainless steel would as well. Plastic does not. You don't want an environment where bacteria can fester. Not a big deal for storage or refrigeration as long as you disinfect every now and then but you want the dish your dog is eating out of to be as clean as possible.

You want towels to feed on since if your dog is anything like mine and other raw-fed dogs I know they will take the meat out of the dish and eat it on the floor if they can. Lets them chew on it better. You need the dish though to catch the "juices" or else it's going to just soak right through the towels.

Oh! You also want to keep white vinegar handy for disinfecting. You can use bleach but it's not good for a lot of floorings and it's hard on your dog's paws anyway. Vinegar works just as well for a disinfectant and smells a lot better too.

~

Note of caution, don't buy whole turkey if you don't plan to cook it first. What a giant PITA...I did one turkey like that, the other two I cooked. From now on I'll just buy it already ground LOL. You also want to make sure any meat you buy is un-enhanced. If you accidentally buy enhanced (like the turkey I bought) soaking it in warm water for an hour or so will help bring down the sodium content.


Edited by Draugr (06/25/11 05:23 AM)

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#163933 - 06/26/11 03:12 AM Re: What (equipment) do I need to get started? [Re: whitewolf]
Malinois16 Offline
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Registered: 06/09/11
Posts: 450
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Im mad when it comes to my whole turkeys. I whack them up so fast I scare myself LOL. Takes me not even 5 minutes to do a whole turkey and all I use is a meat cleaver (to crush the heavy bones in the spine) and a pair of poultry scissors (I should really get this on video, as its kinda scary)

All I use is a scale (paid $14.99 for mine and its digital), a pair of scissors, freezer baggies (Large for meals and small for organ portions) and a meat cleaver. I dont bother writing dates down. When I get my new order I bring up from the bottom and place on top so I know every thing will get eaten in a couple months time from packaging.

When its "Dog food day" in this house people usually fin other things to do or they know I will ask them to be my baggie holders. The dogs however sit at the counter hoping some scraps will magically fall there way.

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