Day 16 No Kibble, Scrapping the Levy Method

I’ve been increasingly unsettled about the results of this method, which is heavy on grain.

It’s also been a very time-intensive process. We have to remember to get the grain soaking the night before and also in the morning for evening feeding on the meatless days. We’re finding that the cereal is not being well received by anyone anymore. I think we might have been overfeeding the LGDs, but the house dogs have hated the cereal from early on so it’s been a lot of struggling to find something they’ll take to.

After the LGDs didn’t want the cereal last night, we decided it was time to make changes. I’m spending a lot of time worrying and I want something I can feel a little better about. The amount of grain in this method is simply too much for my comfort zone.

When working out feeding for our other animals, we try to get closer to what they would eat in nature, but dogs, just like goats, wouldn’t naturally eat pounds of concentrates every day.

So we are going away from the method Juliette de Bairacli Levy recommends, though we will keep some elements of it.

While I was researching this morning I came across a common sense approach I want to try. For the average dog owner who can’t grow meat and vegetables, it may be a little more costly than mid-grade kibble, but I think it will reap rewards in better health. So, onto the next trial!

The Whole Dog Journal has an article on dog feeding that, if you scroll past most of the discussion, states this:

“Yarnall suggests formulating a diet that is comprised of about 40 percent meat, and 30 percent vegetables, and 30 percent grains. She uses about 60 percent muscle meat and about 40 percent of organ meat (kidneys, liver, or heart). The vegetables vary, and are prepared, raw, in a food processor. Yarnall uses only slow cooked oatmeal (the 30-minute type) or barley flakes. She adds enough purified water to make the mixture the consistency of a thick chili. Yarnall supplements this food with an essential fatty acid supplement and a small amount of bone meal.”

There’s more to it and I suggest you read the article, but this is a common sense approach that reduces the grain, includes all the food at once (Levy in one part says dogs have a hard time digesting cereals and meat at the same time, but then recommends adding oats and wheat bran to the evening meat meal) and saves a lot of time in preparation and feeding.

The article also says most people feed 2-3%, which is lower than we were aiming for and thus easier to attain.  We decided to go for 2% of body weight for feeding the meat/grain/vegetables mixture, and then add 1% of body weight in fluid milk.  This is a balance I feel good about to start with, but we’ll see how it plays out over the next couple of weeks.

We don’t plan on following this method strictly, either. Dogs, like their humans, are adaptable to many food types. We will use real bones instead of bone meal and only feed organ meats when they’re readily available, such as at butcher time. We will use oats though and soak it all in milk instead of water, adding herbs and oils.

Every day, then, we’ll feed the following amounts to all the dogs:

  • 2.32# meat
  • 1.74# vegetables
  • 1.74# grains
  • 2.9# milk

Costs are:

  • Meat ($2/#): $4.64
  • Vegetables ($1/# frozen bags): $1.74
  • Grains (rolled oats @Azure $.63/#): $1.10
  • Milk (home raised cost me $3.82/gal): $1.38

Total cost per day for all dogs is $8.86. We will continue the fast day, seeing the sense–and well documented health benefits–of fasting. That puts our weekly cost at $53, but I feel like there’s a lot of wiggle room in this method and costs can be cut pretty easily.

For example, the milk doesn’t need to be included at all and meat can be grown for less than store bought. We’re going to go with human grain rolled oats because feed grade is whole rolled oats, a fact I’d forgotten about since we don’t feed the livestock rolled anything.

Here’s today’s, and I have to say it felt a lot better mixing up a whole batch that can easily be portioned out. We’re frankly a lot more likely to keep up a method like this that doesn’t require quite so much effort to maintain.

We mixed by weight the amounts above, running frozen mixed vegetables and a couple of carrots through the food processor. There is no water, just milk, and I added 4 eggs. I missed yesterday’s Wormer Wednesday so I added their Land of Havilah parasite formula today. A little bit of flaxseed oil and they’re good to go.

I am very relieved at the idea of doing this much simpler method, but I am still drawing on Levy’s wisdom to use herbs and a fast day.

Oh my gosh, you guys!  I’m not one to gush, but I’m so excited about this after portioning it out.  So much easier.  Mint gets 1/2 cup by volume (we weighed them all to figure this out), Winston gets 1 1/3 cups and the LGDs between them get a quart mason jar full.  It was SO easy.

I’m eager to see how they do on this over the next couple of weeks.



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