Raw Feeding

The Best Meat Grinder for Making Raw Dog Food

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After doing your research, you have decided that you want to make your own raw dog food.  Not only do you want to feed your dog the most wholesome, balanced meals that you can, but you also want to simplify the process.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could have:

  • Fast processing time for large quantities of meat & organs (including small animal bones)
  • Minimal physical exertion
  • Time savings during meal preparation
  • Monetary savings over buying premade raw meals

Well, guess what? — you can have all of that and more once you get your very own meat grinder!

Which Meat Grinder Should You Buy?

Since I wanted to make raw pet food for my two dogs, I had some specific requirements going into my search for a meat grinder:

  • First, I needed a meat grinder that could handle large grinding loads. Once both of our boys are fully transitioned to raw, I want to be able to grind 60 pounds of meat mix at a time for each protein.
  • Second, I needed a meat grinder that could handle chicken bones, and other small animal bones. This way I wouldn’t have to supplement extra calcium/phosphorus in order to meet my dogs’ dietary requirements (at least for the chicken mix).
  • Third, I wanted cleanup to be easy. I tried using a cast-iron hand-crank meat grinder, and with the rough surface, the cleanup was a real pain. Plus, with cast-iron it’s recommended to apply some cooking oil after cleaning to help prevent rusting.

After spending a few evenings thoroughly scouring the web with all of my requirements in mind, I ultimately came to the conclusion that the best investment would be to purchase the: Weston Pro Series #22 Electric Meat Grinder

Weston Pro Series #22 Electric Meat Grinder (#10-2201-W)
That’s one hefty meat grinder!

Benefits of the Weston Pro Series #22 Meat Grinder

This meat grinder is a beast. Yes, the price tag is substantial, but with all stainless steel construction, a 1.5 HP motor, and a five-year warranty that specifically covers grinding small animal bones for making raw pet food, it is the perfect machine for what you need.

Why not purchase a cheap meat grinder?

I used to look for the cheapest item that would get the job done, thinking to myself, “Great job, you saved a lot of money on that purchase.” But, I have learned to value my time as well as potential future savings over saving a buck right now.

Sure, a cheaper meat grinder might do the job for a while, but how long will it ultimately last? If you want a meat grinder that will grind bones, will you be over-working the motor? Will you void the warranty? How much time will it take you to grind through a 60 pound meal mix? What if you want to double-grind your meal mix to make the bones easier to digest?

Raw Meal Prep with a Professional Meat Grinder

Using the Weston Pro Series #22 Meat Grinder, it took us around 30 minutes to double-grind 60 pounds of meat and organs, which included 25 pounds of bone-in chicken. This machine grinds through meat and whole chicken parts as fast as you can feed it. We probably spent more time disassembling and cleaning the machine than we did actually grinding the meat.

Using the Weston Pro Series #22 Electric Meat Grinder to grind 30 pounds of chicken and 30 pounds of beef for raw dog food.
30# chicken meat mix / 30# beef meat mix

With all stainless steel construction, even the cleaning is not a chore. If you clean the machine immediately, almost everything will rinse away with hot soapy water. If you wait too long, the left-over meat bits and residue will start to dry, and then it will take more scrubbing. But rest assured it will all come off, and you will be left with a shiny, clean meat grinder like the day you got it.

Not only will the Weston Pro Series #22 be a great investment for making your own raw pet food, but it also comes with some nice extras like a sausage stuffing kit. My wife jokes with me that some days the dogs eat better than we do. I mean with 60 pounds worth of fresh, human-grade beef and chicken going into our boys’ home-prepared dog food, I would tend to agree.

Why should your dog have all the fun? When you get a meat grinder, make sure to use it to make yourself some awesome meat grinds as well! Maybe some custom hamburger mix with your secret spice mix, or some homemade sausage for your next grill-out.

What else should you consider before pulling the trigger and purchasing your very own meat grinder?

Remember, even though you will be able to make a lot of raw food in no time at all, you will also need a place to store it and containers to store it in. One single 40 pound meal mix can take up a lot of freezer space, so don’t bank on being able to use an existing fridge-freezer combo to store all the raw meals you will be making.

In our case, we found a great deal on a 7-cubic foot chest freezer from Costco and purchased it to be our raw dog food freezer. We also use different sized plastic storage containers to freeze the different meal mixes for our boys.

For an in-depth look at how to portion and store your raw meals, check out my next article once finished.

After You Purchase Your Meat Grinder

Even though your meat grinder is brand-new, it should still be thoroughly cleaned before the first use. Break the grinder down into its component pieces and do a thorough cleaning of all the parts with hot soapy water. You do not have to wash the grinder motor base assembly. Dry everything, reassemble, and you should be ready to grind.

Tips for using your meat grinder:

  • Don’t tighten the front nut too much before turning on the machine. With too much pressure, the grinding knife will slowly dig into the grinding plate over time. Tighten the front nut until it is snug, and then stop.
  • For raw pet food, start with the 7mm grinding plate, the 4.5mm plate is probably a bit small for making raw meals, especially if you are grinding meat with bones.
  • You can use food-grade silicone spray to lubricate the grinding plate and knife to help prolong the life of these pieces.
  • Make sure to register your Weston Pro Series #22 Electric Meat Grinder within 30 days after purchase, in order to not void the 5-year warranty.

Questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a meat grinder:

1. Should I make my own raw meals for my dog, or should I buy pre-made?

This is a loaded question and will depend on a number of variables such as:

  • How many dogs do you have?
  • How much does each dog weigh?
  • How much time will you have to prepare meals on a regular basis?

For a detailed time and cost analysis of whether you should buy pre-made raw dog food or make home-prepared raw dog food yourself, keep an eye out for my next article: “Go, No-Go. Should I make my own raw dog food?”

2. Will I put in the time and effort to make well-balanced raw meals for my dog that are nutritionally appropriate?

All the time and money saved is worth nothing if the outcome is an unbalanced diet that in the long run could end up hurting your dog more than helping.

You need to be willing to put both the time and effort into designing and making nutritionally balanced meals for your dog.  When we first started out with raw feeding, we had a hard time figuring out how to make properly balanced raw meals. There is just so much information out there on raw feeding and the many different methods, that it quickly became overwhelming.

To give ourselves a solid base for creating nutritionally balanced raw meals for our two golden retrievers, we turned to a great book written by an expert in the field: Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats: Simple Homemade Food (Fourth Edition)

Meeko the Golden Retriever posing with raw food book - Dr. Becker's Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats: Simple Homemade Food.
“I’d be all smiles if I wasn’t trying sooo hard not to eat this book!”

If you are just starting off with raw feeding, or even if you have been doing it for a while, Dr. Becker’s book is full of great information. This book will definitely help you hit the ground running in terms of making sure your raw meals are nutritionally balanced.

Feel free to leave questions or comments in the section below, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

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