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

10 comments

  1. Calculate bone see raw feeding community page
    12.5% * 2.5% = 0.003125 * 16 = 0.5lbs

  2. Did you sort the calculations? Maybe this will help:
    The dog needs 2lb of food per day (100%) of which 10% (ish) needs to be bone. 10% of 2lb is 0.2lb (2*(10/100)) so the dog needs around .2lb of bone.
    Duck wings are 50% bone, so…
    2lb of wings give 1lb meat and 1lb bone. 1lb is 50% which is too much bone (100/2*1=50%)
    Half this, 1lb of wings give 0.5lb meat and 0.5lb bone. 0.5lb is 25% of the total food, (100/2*.5=25%) still too much bone
    Half this again (quarter of the diet), .5lb of wings give 0.25lb meat and 0.25lb bone which is 12.5% of the total food (100/2*.25=12.5%). Slightly too much but near enough to 10% to be OK.

    To calculate how much RMB to feed, try this calculation:
    T=total amount to feed, e.g 2lb
    B=% bone of the RMB, e.g duck wings are 50% bone (50% = 50/100 = 0.5)
    D= % bone required in the diet, e.g 10% under the prey model (10% = 10/100 = 0.1)
    X= how much RMB to feed to feed each day

    X=(T*D)/B
    X=(2 * 0.1) then divide by 0.5 = 0.4. For a dog requiring 2lb of food per day, you should feed 0.4lb or RMB when D is 50%

  3. 10% bone is something zoologists and animal nutrition professionals came up with after analyzing the composition of common prey animals and averaging them to determine what a wild canid’s food composition would probably look like. Further analysis of the nutrient content of bone, the quantity of nutrients it provides, and the ratios of those nutrients when using bone as part of a raw diet can confirm that 10% bone achieves the correct calcium and phosphorus levels for dogs in the vast majority of cases.

    However, when it comes to percentages, they are always going to be estimates. There is no way to know exactly how much bone is in each individual raw meaty bone. The bone percentages in this article are from the USDA food composition database, which is the one with the largest sample sizes that I am aware of, so these values are as accurate as I can get at this time. But the bottom line is, percentages will always be an estimate – not an exact number, but instead more of a guideline. So if your dog does better on more or less bone than 10%, don’t hesitate to modify the diet (within reason) to accommodate to your dog’s needs.

    For more information on nutrient content of raw meaty bones, I recommend Monica Segal’s books. They contain the nutrient analysis of common raw meaty bones, which you can use to analyze your dog’s diet down to the numbers if you wish!

  4. Hi, do you know if there is any evidence that 10% bone is the correct amount to feed? Thanks!

  5. I am having difficulty understanding this:
    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.
    How do you get 0.5 lb? I keep trying calculations but can’t seem to get it.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.