Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dog food from the stars

I found the last of the chickweed hiding in the shade in the vegie patch today, a sign summer has arrived. During the cooler months it acts as a lush green ground cover over much of the garden.

Chickweed, named stellaria media for its small white flowers, is one of my favourite wild herbs. Rich in vitamin C, it is a useful winter green in salads and as a cooked vegetable if you can harvest enough of it.

Medicinally, chickweed is one of the best herbs for inflammation and itching and useful in the treatment of eczema and psoriasis, bites and stings.  Chickweed dries well so you can store enough to last the warmer months. Harvest before the flowers open and chop into 1-2 cm lengths before spreading on a rack.
My chickens love its soft juicy leaves and I encourage it to grow along the fence line where they can graze on it through the wire. My biggest animal success with chickweed has been with the dogs. I rescued Louis, my long haired dachshund six months ago. He was underweight, nervous and had scaly, itchy skin and scratched and lost hair continually.
I have fed my dogs a 50% meat/50% raw vegetable diet for years and to this I now added two big handfuls of fresh chickweed, 5 tablespoons of ground linseed for each kilo of lean meat and for Louis 2 fish oil capsules. I also make a strong brew of chickweed vinegar which I add one tablespoon of to the final rinse when he gets bathed. His coat is glossy and the hair loss is much reduced. He still scratches but much of that is due to the seeds and prickles he picks up while being the mighty hunter he thinks he is!
Never have the dogs had vet visits for anal gland problems. Toto lived to the ripe old age of 20, despite losing all his teeth when he was 11. Lady, the other dach, is now 17 and doing well on the diet too.

Dog Dinners
1 kg lean meat (I mostly use kangaroo)
800g carrots
2 stalks celery, with leaves
1 stalk broccoli (eat the florets yourself)
½ beetroot
Handful of fresh parsley
5 Tbsp ground Linseed (flax)
Grate all vegetables in a food processor and mix in linseed and meat.
Store in meal size containers and freeze.
Add fish oil capsules daily as needed.
I also feed the dogs chicken necks and the occasional raw bone and avoid processed food as much as possible.


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