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Most of the food our dogs eat is ground using my STX 3000 meat grinder, which is a great countertop machine that can handle duck and chicken bones with ease. I learned early on as a raw feeder that having a grinder wasn't enough; I needed quality knives to cut, carve, and chop meats into sizes that will fit inside the grinder.
Knives I Recommend for Raw Feeders
I use Gunter Wilhelm knives that you can order online or buy at Costco when they're exhibiting. I chose these knives because Gunter Wilhelm was at Costco on a day when we were shopping for a quality meat cleaver, having gone through two meat cleavers from Target in less than a month.
I have been very happy with my knives.
8″ Butcher's Meat Cleaver – this cleaver goes through duck bone quickly; I also use it to cut through frozen meat.
7″ Santuko Knife – I use this meat to cut through meat; the venison trim and turkey thighs are easy to cut into chunks with this knife.
5″ Utility Knife – I use this knife for smaller jobs; it's one of those knives that I rarely use, but when I need a smaller knife, I'm glad I have this one.
10″ Honing Steel – I've been told that regular knife sharpening can ruin a knife; honing a knife is much better. So I keep this on hand to sharpen my small set.
How Often Should a Knife Be Sharpened?
There are two different methods of sharpening your knives: honing (which I do) or sharpening. Honing is best for hoe use and should be done every two weeks or so. Honing keeps the existing knife edges aligned and sharp.
Sharpening, however, grinds the knife to create a new edge, which is why it shouldn't be done on a regular basis if you want your knife set to last. There are home sharpening tools and machines, but I take mine to Costco when the Gunter Wilhelm people are presenting – they will sharpen their knives at no cost.
A Knife Set for Raw Feeders
I asked the folks of ASharpSlice.com for their recommendations on the perfect knife set for raw feeders. I was curious if their set would differ from what I own (and I was looking for free advice).
I feed my dogs turkey, venison, duck wings, duck necks, fish, and various organ meats. Of all the meats I listed, the only ones with bone (which I chop up too) are the duck wings, duck necks, and fish.
- Chef's Knife – this knife can take care most of a raw feeder's needs when it comes to cutting meat and fish.
- Meat Cleaver – if you are cutting through soft bones, a cleaver comes in handy. For hard bones, it's best to have a butcher do the work because they have a machine that can handle the bones.
- Boning Knife – for when we need to remove bones.
- Fillet Knife – toxins are collected and stored in the skin and fat of fish; if we want to remove the skin, a boning knife will work, but a fillet knife is better because it's more flexible and makes cutting between skin and meat easier.
- Mincing Knifes – I've never heard of these, but they do as they describe – they mince meat. Although this knife does exist, when dealing with the amount of meat raw feeders handle, a meat grinder is a better option.
5 Tips When Buying Professional Knives
ASharpSlice.com offered a few shopping tips when searching for professional knives.
- Look for signs of joining and welding, especially the hilt (where you grip a knife). Ideally, it should be in one piece.
- Cheap knives tend to be thin with a cheap plastic handle.
- Hold the knife. A good knife should make you feel that it is an extension of your hand. If it wobbles in your hand (it might be too heavy) or feels too light, choose a different knife. However, keep in mind that some knives should be heavier than others because of its function.
- It's important to understand what the material the blade is made from; non-stainless steel is standard. Look for carbon stainless steel if you are serious. Forged blades are better than stamped (sheets of metal is stamped by a machine just like a cookie cutter).
Learn more about knives at ASharpSlice.com.
And my tip to you is not to be put off by the price of your knives. When I first started looking at chef's knives, I was floored by the price. One meat cleaver ran between $90 – $125 and that's the low end. I quickly realized that this would be an investment. The Gunter Wilhelm distributors who set up at area Costcos offer the best prices on knives. They take the time to consider your needs and will sell you the right knife or set of knives.
My knives are low maintenance – I handwash them and sharpen with the honing steel once or twice a month – and do the job that regular knives aren't able to handle. I've had my knives for more than a year; I use them a few times a month, and they're still like new.
Definitely an investment raw feeders should consider.