Bone & Fat Content Percentages in Raw Meaty Bones

Since different bone in cuts can have varying amounts of fat and bone content, sometimes it can be difficult to figure out how to calculate the bone content percentage in a “prey model” raw diet. Figuring out how much fat is present in the diet can also be helpful, especially for animals that require a certain amount of fat in their diets. Knowing the percentages of these products can make that job a lot easier. Here’s RFC’s guide to bone and fat content in raw meaty bones.

Remember: in a “prey model” raw diet, you want to aim for 10% bone. This 10% value is for only bone, not the entire RMB. “BARF” diet percentages call for anywhere from 25-60% raw meaty bones in the diet – these higher and more varied percentages are due to the fact that there is such a large variation in bone content depending on what kind of RMBs you’re feeding. If you fed chicken necks and backs as 60% of the diet, for example, that would be way too much bone! RFC prefers the “prey model” percentage of 10% bone content for this reason.

Figuring out what and how much to feed to get the right bone content in the diet might sound complicated, but it is actually just a bit of really simple math. Let’s say you have an 80 pound dog that eats 2 pounds of meat a day (which would be 2.5% of the dog’s weight, right in the middle of the 2-3% guideline). You want to incorporate duck wings as a source of bone in his diet, which are 50% bone. You think, what if I fed duck wings as half the meal? 50 divided by 2 is 25%, so that is still too much bone. What about a fourth of the meal? 50 divided by 4 is 12.5%, which is much better! So for a 2 lb total meal size, 0.5 lb of that should be duck wings. The rest can be meat, organ, and whatever else you’re adding – egg, veggies, etc.

You don’t have to feed exactly 10% bone in every meal – you would spend all your time doing math and trying to cut meat into impossible sizes to get that to work every day! The 10% value is something you should aim for over time – it doesn’t have to be exact. So don’t obsess over 10%, just use it as a guideline.

Remember to choose bones that are appropriate for your pet! If you have a large dog, chicken necks might be too easily swallowed whole, which is a choking hazard, but for small dogs, cats, and ferrets, chicken necks are great RMBs. A good RMB for a Great Dane might be a slab of pork ribs, but a Chihuahua that tries to eat pork ribs might end up with a cracked tooth. Choose RMBs accordingly!

Chicken

Whole bird – 27-32% bone, 12-14% skin, 5-8% fat
Breast – 15-20% bone
Back – 44% bone, 10% skin, 17% fat
Thigh – 21-32% bone and cartilage, 24% skin and fat
Drumstick – 33-34% bone, 9% skin and fat
Wing – 46% bone, 21% skin, 1% fat
Leg quarter – 27-30% bone, 11% skin, 5% fat
Neck – 36% bone, 39% skin and fat
Cornish game hen – 39% bone, 13% skin, 5% fat
Foot – 60% bone
Head – 75% bone

 Turkey

Whole bird – 21-29% bone, 11% skin and fat
Neck – 42% bone
Breast – 14% bone, 11% skin and fat
Back – 50% bone, 12% skin and fat
Thigh – 19-21% bone, 13% skin and fat
Wing – 44% bone, 16% skin and fat
Drumstick – 38% bone, 6% skin and fat

Quail

Whole – 10% bone, 14% skin

Duck

Whole, domestic – 28% bone, 38% skin and fat
Whole, wild game – 38% bone
Leg, domestic – 34% bone
Breast, wild game – 15% bone, 31% skin and fat
Wing – 39% bone
Foot – 60% bone
Head – 75% bone
Frame – 75% bone
Neck – 50% bone

Goose

Whole – 19% bone, 34% skin and fat

Pheasant

Whole – 14% bone, 10% skin

Dove / Squab / Pigeon

Whole – 23% bone, 12% skin

Guinea hen

Whole – 17% bone

Rabbit

Whole, unprocessed – 10% bone
Dressed (skinned and gutted) – 28% bone

Mouse / Rat

Whole – 5% bone

Lamb

Neck – 32% bone, 10% fat
Ribs – 24-27% bone, 11% fat
Shank – 28-36% bone, 9% fat
Shoulder – 21-25% bone, 17% fat
Chop – 15% bone, 12% fat

Goat

Whole – 33% bone

Veal

Ribs – 35% bone, 5% fat
Shoulder – 21% bone, 4% fat
Shank – 48% bone, 3% fat
Loin – 30% bone, 10% fat

Beef

Ribs – 52% bone, 32% fat
Ox tails – 45-65% bone

Pork

Shoulder – 16-25% bone, 10-14% fat
Ribs – 21-30% bone, 6-9% fat
Feet – 29% bone
Tail – 30% bone


Sources

Cost and Yield Comparisons of Ready-To-Cook Chicken Products
USDA Food Composition Database
Tissue Percentage of Some Common Prey of the Cat
2010 Goat Carcass Evaluation

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3 comments

  1. Thank you for the great info. I am new to the raw diet for my dogs but I am happy to be providing them with pure wholesome diet. Will you check my math to see if I understand. If I use an entire chicken bone and and meat making a 14 pound batch of food using 32% bone ratio would I need 4.4 pounds of whole chicken to equal 32% bone in a 14 lb recipe. 2 pound chicken would give 15% approximately and so on. The rest I would use calculated organs and vegetables and other muscle meat. Let me know. Thanks.

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  2. Excellent post. The bone percentage calculation is the most daunting when starting out to feed raw. But I have become a bit more relaxed over time. If I feed more muscle over a few days, I will make it up with a higher bone percentage on the following ones.
    I find that people become intimidated when they are faced with this “hurdle” in their dogs’ diets.
    I like to tell people, that you can’t feed the same thing all the time: by varying the type of protein/animal source, and using the whole animal when appropriate (chicken, rabbit, turkey etc) these percentages even themselves out over time.

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