What is kefir?
Kefir for your Pets:
What are kefir grains?
What do I need to make kefir?
- A glass jar that can hold a minimum of 250ml of milk, preferably that has a lid that is not too airtight, as gas needs to escape while fermenting.
- A fine-meshed sieve or strainer (plastic is better, stainless steel is fine, avoid other metals)
- A spoon (again, plastic is better, stainless steel is also fine, avoid other metals)
- Full cream milk. Full cream milk produces a thicker nicer kefir than low fat or skimmed. You can add a touch of cream to your kefir to make it thicker. Do NOT use UHT/long-life, skimmed or nut milk – it will not work. Preferably organic, or a reputable dairy shop’s milk is also fine, as supermarket milk may contain growth hormones and antibiotics which may damage your kefir grains.
- A warm spot to culture your milk. Ambient room temperature is fine.
- A refrigerator to store your kefir.
How do I make it?
- Add 2-3 teaspoons of hydrated kefir grains in a clean jar, and add a cup of full cream milk of your choice. (Dehydrated grains will require steps 1-5 to be repeated a few times until they are culturing properly)
- Cover with lid, not too tightly, to allow gas to escape.
- Leave to culture for 24-48hours, in a warm place (ambient temperature ranging from 20C-25C is best), but away from direct sunlight. Colder temperatures will result in kefir taking longer to culture.
- After 24-28 hours, give the kefir a good stir or shake and pass the contents through a sieve, strainer or very clean mutton cloth, into a clean glass jar to store your kefir in.
- Gently squeeze or stir the kefir through the strainer, or just pick out the grains with your ‘clean’ fingers if grains are large enough.
- Either mature/ripen your kefir as per the “How do I reduce the lactose in my kefir” section or store the kefir in the refrigerator for consumption.
- Put your separated kefir grains into a clean jar and repeat the process.
How do I know when the kefir is ready?
Is there lactose in kefir?
- The lactose content of the milk you started with;
- Amount of time that your kefir is cultured for; and
- How soon you consume your kefir (whether you consume immediately or choose to ripen your kefir)
How do I reduce the lactose in my kefir?
- Take your freshly cultured kefir with grains removed, and pour into a clean jar, filling no more than ¾ of the way full.
- Place the lid on the jar, but don’t seal tightly, as a lot of gas will build up during this process.
- 1-2 times a day tighten the lid, and give it a good shake to loosen everything up.
- Loosen the lid again slightly.
- Store for up to 5 days at room temperature on warmer days, and up to 2 weeks during cooler times.
- Tighten the lid and consume as needed.
How much should I feed?
- Start slowly, and work up gradually to around one tablespoon per 15kg for dogs per day.
- Humans should also start slowly – around 3-5 tablespoons initial, and build up gradually to about a cup per day.
How long does the kefir last?
What should I do if my kefir is too tart?
When should I split my grains?
What should I do when I split my grains?
Help, my grains aren’t growing in raw milk!
Taking a break from making kefir:
- If you’re not getting through drinking all the kefir (bummer) and want to take a break from making it every day or two, strain the kefir grains and put in a jar with enough milk to cover it and leave in fridge for a few weeks.
- Rinse off the milk when you want to start using it again, and repeat process as per normal.
Managing your kefir grains colony:
Kefir Exchange Programmes:
Check ears for yeast (give a good whiff, yeast smells strongly like Fritos), check for red, watery eyes and nose (allergy), check for yeast around mouth and chin area (pink/red/purple skin), run hand through fur from top to tail checking for parasites, obvious grass seeds, pollen or burrs that may be caught in fur, check for tree sap, bumps and scrapes etc that might cause a reaction.
Roll pet over, check belly for pink/red/purple skin for yeast and allergies, check under armpits for grass seeds or foreign objects (ticks like to hide there), check for tree sap, bumps and scrapes.
Check between toes and pads for foreign objects and parasites, and check for red/purple skin for yeast and allergies.
Lift tail and check for red/purple skin for yeast and allergies, possible parasites under tail and bum area.
Use a flea-comb and check for fleas, ticks, other parasites and insects like ants etc. Fleas aren’t always visible to the naked eye (they spend very little time on your pet(s). Let your pet stand on a white surface then agitate the fur a lot, concentrating on the base of the tail, belly and rump area, letting dander and hair fall on the surface. Take a spray bottle with water and spray over the speckled area – if any specs turn brown, then it’s a confirmed flea problem.
Brush to remove dander, loose undercoat and hair
Rinse down with plain water (can add soaked oats or rooibos tea) and
Shampoo with a mild natural shampoo and rinse well (rinse twice more after you think you’re done). This is optional, but recommended if your pet has fleas.
Give a good rub down with olive oil after toweled dry after a bath/rinse especially if skin or fur is very dry
Rinse itchy paws off as soon as pet comes from outside
Apply aloe leaf gel to sore irritated areas, or make your own soothing comfrey balm: https://www.facebook.com/notes/we-feed-raw-sa/soothing-comfrey-balm/1637624116294424/
Make your own hotspot/yeasty solution: https://www.facebook.com/notes/we-feed-raw-sa/purple-stuff-yeastyhotspot-solution/1553350361388467/
For ticks, fleas and mites and other parasites:
Treat house and environment accordingly
Apply a natural repellent (search through our site for natural remedies and visit the link at the bottom of the article)
Remove ticks and fleas manually twice daily and vacuum house very well, dispose of contents outside in a sealed bag.
Treat ears for mites (a natural treatment is to apply olive or mineral oil, rub ear folds for 30 seconds, then let pet shake out excess oil) only if confirmed as mites by your veterinarian.
Some bumps may be from insect bites, so monitor the environment where your pet frequents for bees, wasps, spiders and all sorts of other biting goggas.
Feed a balanced raw diet:
Feed a balanced raw diet including different protein sources from different suppliers if you can. Free range, grass-fed and meat from younger animals are always more desirable due to the reduced exposure to possible toxins and treatments.
Feed balanced Omega 6:3 ratio, supplement with oily fish and/or Omega 3 fish oil, especially if feeding a lot of chicken. Dry skin and fur is usually a dietary deficiency and Omega essential fatty acid imbalances are the biggest culprits
Include sufficient fat (10%-15% overall) to your pet(s) diet, animal fat is preferable, however olive oil and coconut oil are good in moderation
Eliminate kibble, especially brands that contain cereal, maize or grains
Add a good quality probiotic or feed kefir and/or fermented vegetables
Offer fresh, filtered water that is available all the time
Reduce or eliminate vaccination frequency.
Reduce or eliminate chemical parasite treatments.
Reduce or eliminate chemical “over-the-counter” remedies. Allergex in particular is a chemical histamine blocker and does not resolve itching, it only suppresses the body’s histamine production in reaction to an allergen, which is a natural bodily reaction.
Reduce the use of cortisone and corticosteroids, they perform a similar function as above by blocking histamine production.
Reduce toxins around your house and especially around areas where your pet(s) frequent.
If you suspect your pet has a yeast allergy, take him/her to your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis, especially where ears are concerned. Please don’t home treat for ear problems unless you are certain what the issue is.
Povidone Iodine is an inexpensive anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-septic to keep around your house. Use the 10% solution and dilute it until it resembles tea and use it for yeasty foot soaks, final rinse after bath for yeasty skin, clean out yeasty ears or wipe yeasty bums.
Eliminate chemicals from household (floor treatments and laundry chemicals, air fresheners, deodorants are all known irritants including essential oils)
Eliminate chemical treatments on grass or any surface your pet comes into contact with, eliminate access to grass if it’s a known trigger.
Seasonal allergies present themselves with runny watery eyes and nose, and symptoms can be treated with raw local honey, local propolis, nettle, rooibos, Quercetin, liquorice root etc.
Food intolerance is established by implementing a food elimination trial. You choose one protein, and feed the entire protein for 2-3 months to see if condition improves/worsens.
Consult with your veterinarian and arrange for a full health check-up to eliminate possible health related issues such as thyroid etc. and to pinpoint yeast, mites or contact dermatitis.
If your self-applied remedy does not offer relief within 3 days, please consult your veterinarian or seek a holistic veterinarian if your current veterinarian can not pin point the issue.
Do I want a premade or make it myself?
Pros: Very convenient. Balanced and packaged into convenient packaging. Easy to defrost and serve.
Cons: Requires freezer space. Contents are minced. Risk feeding minimal protein sources. More expensive than DIY. Recipes, balance unknown. Supply chain shortages.
Pros: Have control over what you feed in terms of quality and quantity. Can adjust according to budget. Feed chunky or whole food. Feed wide variety of protein sources as per what’s available to you. Can feed on-the-fly or prepare bulk batches. Feed whole prey (ideal).
Cons: Requires some planning to procure meat, offal and meaty bones. Risk unbalanced meals if research not done beforehand. If preparing bulk batches, you need to set at least 3 hours’ aside for prepping, portioning and cleaning up. Requires considerable freezer space if feeding large dogs or buying in bulk.
Where do I get what?
How do I start?
Once completely transitioned, offer different types of raw food and or premade brands and again, monitor for loose stool.
A 5kg cat eats roughly 4.5-5kg of food a month, a 15kg staffie eats 11kg-12kg food a month, a Labrador eats 30kg-35kg food a month and so on.
Most people prefer purchasing in bulk as it offers a price benefit, however keep available freezer space in mind when ordering in bulk. Premade food generally takes up less space due to the roll sizes or contains that are used that contain minced food, chunkier premade or DIY food will require larger containers and thus more storage space.
- 175g Chicken necks (4-5 skinless necks @ 46% bone)
- 100g Pilchard (2-3 fresh small fish, whole, or use tinned, rinsed pilchards)
- 400g Boneless Meat (200g Beef, 200g Venison, look at our Prey Model Guide for ideas)
- 40g Liver
- 40g Kidney (or spleen/milt, pancreas or other secreting organ)
- 75g Heart (Increase if feeding cats as their taurine requirement is higher than dogs’)
- 75g Green/Unbleached Tripe (Omit if cat won’t eat tripe and add 75g heart or dark white meat like chicken thighs)
- 1 Whole egg without shell
- 50-100g Broth/Rooibos Tea plus additional blood from all meat and organs
How much do I feed?
What is balanced?
Whole prey including fur, consists roughly of 80% meat which includes sinew, muscle meat, heart, lungs, cheeks, fat, and then 10% bone which includes the entire frame or carcass of the body, and 10% offal which includes liver, kidneys, spleen, brains, eyes, testicles, pancreas and other secreting organs.
When starting out, use the 80% meat, 10% bone, 5% liver +5% other secreting organ guide and monitor stool very closely. 10% bone is the minimum bone that you should be offering, and it should not exceed 25% of the diet otherwise it leaves little room for other essential nutrients.
Essential food items:
Eggshell is pure calcium so take care not to feed a bone heavy meal together with eggshell as it may cause constipation if fed in excess.
Feeding fresh vs frozen vs cooked:
Do’s and Don’ts
- Do take care in planning your pets’ meals. They are completely dependent on you and for some of them, it’s the most exciting part of the day.
- Do feed human grade food if you DIY
- Do feed a variety of different protein sources. Try not to feed one type in excess
- Do feed a balance of muscle meat, organs/offal and bone over a 7-day period at least
- Do feed size-appropriate meaty bones that are edible
- Do always supervise your pets when they are eating meaty bones
- Do add extra moisture to your pets’ food, especially cats
- Do weigh your pets and their food from time to time. I can almost guarantee you that going by eye only will result in weight gain at some point in time, especially with smaller breeds.
- Don’t add too much (if any) grains, maize, cereals, starches like rice, pasta, pap etc. as these are nutritionally deficient and maize specifically is highly inflammatory
- Don’t dilute your pets’ food with too much fruit and vegetables to “make it stretch”
- Don’t be over-zealous in feeding “road kills”. Feeding whole prey is ideal and only if you know where it has come from and how long it’s been wherever you found it.
What to avoid/unnecessary food items:
- Anything processed: You don’t need to add packet gravies, or tinned pet food to make your pets’ food appetising – a yummy home-made broth with do just fine.
- Vitamin & Mineral Supplements: If you’re feeding a variety of fresh whole food, you don’t need to supplement at all. The only recommendation we make is an Omega 3 supplement and only if you’re not feeding any small oily fish.
- Low-fat anything: Just don’t even think about low-fat yoghurt. Full cream, full fat and preferably home-made is what they need.
Why not feed raw?
- Small, hard poop with almost no smell is possibly the biggest winner for most
- Better oral and digestive health
- Clean teeth
- Better body condition overall, some breeds have better definition
- Less frequent vet visits, if any (although you should still go for annual check-ups)
- Beautiful coat shine, soft silky fur for most breeds
- Knowing that you are feeding a species appropriate food and possibly adding a few years onto your pets’ lives.
So, why not feed raw?
The article below is a very loose guideline to help those who are struggling to transition their cat/s to a raw diet. First and foremost, do your research beforehand and do discuss changing your cat’s diet with your veterinarian if you are concerned.
This is probably the most frustratingly difficult task most people ever have – switching your kibble junkie over to a raw diet. Some cats take to it quite naturally, we find this especially with younger kittens, and some cats are more adventurous than others.
And then there is Tinkerbell. Your 7-year old rescue who will only eat Hills, and will rather die before staining her dainty lips with that muck on her plate. You try enticing her in a high-pitched voice, you try dangling it in front of her, you try dropping it nonchalantly on the counter in front of her nose, you try mixing it with some wet food… And then you start grinding your teeth, and start cursing and threatening to starve her. All the while she disinterestedly carries on grooming herself, ignoring the full plate of raw food you painstakingly researched and sourced, and lovingly prepared for her this evening.
Sounds familiar? Yes? You’re not the only one 🙂
First of all, the basic guidelines:
- Don’t free feed: – If you’re leaving a bowl of kitty kibble for madam to snack on at her leisure, stop. Feed her twice a day, three times if you can. She will whine and bemoan her misery and make you feel miserable as a fur-parent, but persist. You’re not starving her.
- Understand what makes kibble so yummy: – Kibble is sprayed with animal digest – a lovely protein soup made of questionable animal carcasses (officially, it’s material obtained from hydrolysis of animal tissue). It is highly palatable to cats, and I like to call it kitty “crack”.
- Understand what makes raw food so repulsive:– You are now forcing madam to put her dainty lips on something that smells foreign. Ever seen a cat sniff… and sniff…. and sniff… yeap. They don’t leap in like dogs do – if it doesn’t smell like food, it simply cannot be anything that shall pass her lips.
- Transition to canned wet food first: This is normally the best approach especially for stubborn cats that will only eat kibble. Follow the steps below to introduce canned wet food, and once she is eating it comfortably, introduce some raw meat.
So now what?
- Start small. Don’t be very ambitious, seriously a small knife point of raw food is what you will probably have to start off with. Present it on her bowl or plate. With every meal. Don’t get discouraged, she will show interest. Eventually.
- What can I give her? Anything really – it’s easy to start off with a sliver of chicken, or a small piece of liver
- I don’t want to make it myself: It doesn’t matter what you use initially, purchase a quality premade cat raw food, defrost really small amounts at a time, and offer a small amount with her food.
- What if she doesn’t eat it – must I throw it away? Cats are fussy about fresh meat, so you will have to discard the uneaten food within 2 days, depending on temperature, or just give it to pooch who will be hovering around anyway for kitty left-overs.
- She showed some interest: Yay!
- But wait, she didn’t finish it… bummer! Don’t worry about it, offer it again for supper, breakfast etc.
- She finished it, but took a long time to eat it. It’s a start – Rome wasn’t built in a day.
- She isn’t showing any interest. Don’t worry about it – keep on offering. Do not stress yourself out about it, she will come around. Offer the same sliver of meat with the next meal, and then change it to a sliver of something else with the next meal. If you’re feeding premade, keep on offering it, and add a little topping to it which I will discuss a little bit later.
- The Great Pretender: Yes, you need to resort to tricks and sometimes pretend that you are feeding your cat something that resembles kibble, so this section is about toppings, and what you can try to make it a bit more palatable for Madam FussyPants:
- Kibble: Be sneaky, and grind her kibble into a fine powder and sprinkle it over her raw food.
- Pilchards: (Tinned is best here) Mash a tiny bit of pilchards up with her food, most kitties like pilchards. Add some of the juice or sauce and mix in well with the food.
- Full Cream Yoghurt: Cats like the creamy taste of yoghurt – try mixing a tiny bit of Greek yoghurt with her food.
- Nutritional Yeast Flakes (preferable) or Brewer’s Yeast: Brewer’s Yeast isn’t the best topping, but better than kibble. I managed to transition my most difficult kitty with nutritional yeast flakes, plus it’s rich in some Vitamin B nutrients for those worried about thiaminase from feeding fresh fish.
- Full cream cheese, especially Parmesan
- Scrambled egg in butter
- Pureed Liver (Smallest amount)
- A touch of Marmite mixed with warm water
- Extra Blood
- Get rid of the bag of kibble: Seriously, put it in the deep freeze if you have to, these feline critters can smell if there is kibble around, I kid you not.
- Ramp up on your patience, ambition and determination: You are going to have great days, and you are going to have days that you want to huddle in a corner and cry because Miss FussyPants will not touch her food. Just pull up your big girl pants, and try again. It is pointless getting angry.
- Don’t starve Miss FussyPants for too long if she’s old, overweight or not very active: Sadly, a lot of cats are seriously overweight on kibble. Although not recommended, it’s quite fine for cats to skip meals, however overweight and sedentary cats who do not eat for a couple of days, can develop a serious condition called Fatty Liver Disease (hepatic lipidosis) whereby their livers are stressed by the fat metabolisation that occurs due to lack of food.
- Go back to canned wet food: It’s not a race to get madam over onto a raw diet, for now you want to get her off the kibble, and if it means feeding canned food for a while, then that is what you have to do. Once she is fully transitioned to canned wet food, then slowly introduce the raw food again.
- It takes time and determination: It can take months to transition some cats, do not get discouraged and fall back to feeding kibble. Stick it out with wet canned food with a ratio to raw food that she is comfortable with for a week, then gradually increase the percentage of raw food. You can even resort to attaching small pieces of meaty bones to a flirt-pole and playing with her by dangling it in front of her to grab her attention. Most cats cannot resist playing with their food.
- Change the texture: Most people start off with offering ground raw food to their cats once they are comfortable with raw food. Play around with textures, and consider that your cat’s jaws might not have the necessary strength to crunch through bone. Offer chunkier food to encourage her to chew, and gradually offer tougher meat like gizzards to strengthen her jaw muscles. Some cats prefer chunky food over minced food, and vice versa.
- Change the temperature: Some cats don’t like cold food straight out the fridge, and like it at “mouse temperature”. Warm the food up in a saucer over a bowl with hot water to slightly warm it for her.
- Change her bowl to a small plate or saucer: It’s easier eating wet chunky food when it can be dragged off a plate – consider serving her food on a small saucer to prevent whisker stress which might make her more reluctant to eat if her whiskers are touching a wet food bowl.
- Be more adventurous: Change from gizzards to duck and chicken backs, chicken wings, quail and baby poussin drumsticks, breastbones to offer much needed crunching to keep teeth clean. Do monitor your cat closely, as you might have to chop the bones into smaller pieces that are manageable, but not too small for her if you are feeding a Frankenprey diet.
- Change proteins: Be adventurous with proteins, but don’t vary the recipe too much if you are making bulk batches. Stick to our guidelines here: http://wefeedraw.co.za/pmr-guide/
- Add more moisture: Raw meat is naturally high in moisture, but don’t be afraid to add more moisture in the form of bone broth, rooibos tea and filtered water. Cats don’t have a high thirst drive, and benefit from all the moisture they can get naturally from their diet.
- Watch the poo: Always monitor the litter box, it’s your first sign if something is wrong.
- Give yourself a pat on the back: Whether it’s 6 days, 6 weeks, or 6 months later when your madam is happily munching on her plate of raw delicacies, you have done it. And her beautiful silky soft fur, fresh breath and clean teeth will be the reward for many hours of frustration.
Good luck! Here are some more articles to read through:
Seminar Audio File (Incomplete)
- Be respectful to other posts, we are all adults. There is no absolute way to feed your pet. Be tolerant to other peoples’ posts and questions.
- No For Sale Ads, No Fundraising Ads.
- No Business Ads without Admin approval and no posts to promote business events/causes or charity events.
- No puppies, kittens, birds, snakes, monkeys or any other pets for sale or adoption/rehoming.
- No hardcore raw feeding or live feeding pics or videos please – we don’t want to scare people away. If unsure, ask an Admin first if it’s appropriate. Inappropriate posts will be removed and repeated posts will result in you being blocked completely. Whole prey photos may be shared, without photo and with a warning in the original post, and the actual photo added to the comments afterwards as to not offend sensitive viewers.
- Please respect people’s posts, comments, photos and links as individual intellectual property on the We Feed Raw S.A. support group and may not to be made available on any other platform. If you share posts, comments etc without the expressed permission from an Admin, you are violating this group’s conditions of use and will result in your immediate removal from We Feed Raw S.A.
- For the same reason, external posts, photos, links or comments from other closed Facebook groups may not be shared to We Feed Raw S.A. page and will result in removal of the post.
- No contact details may be shared in posts: No mobile numbers, email addresses, external webpages or social media pages are to be mentioned unless it’s an article which benefits the group. Use Facebook Messenger to make direct contact if you have to speak privately.
- No contact me, inbox me, WhatsApp me posts/comments, especially from suppliers – this is considered soliciting and a contravention of our rules.
- Suppliers are to refrain soliciting business, our platform is not here to market business
- No references, recommendations, remedies or supplier listings are allowed with any references to cannabis or CBD oil on We Feed Raw S.A.
- Members may not block admins or moderators. Members with an ‘Unavailable’ profile status will be removed from the group.
- Admin and moderators’ decisions on post closures and/or removal of posts or members are final and not open for discussion or debate.
Conditions of Use:
- This is not an animal health page. We do not encourage discussions regarding health issues. However, since animal health and feeding related issues sometimes cross-over, members may make recommendations based on personal experience AND substantiated literature. You are solely responsible for the health of your animal(s) – when in doubt, consult with your veterinarian.
- We are not animal nutritionists. Our recipes are guidelines and not bona-fide recommendations. Users shall not post recipes from other sites unless the source is clearly indicated. Own recipes may be shared, with a small disclaimer in terms of using at own risk.
- We are not pet food manufacturers. We are a support group, and by using this page you acknowledge that you understand that the Admins and members of this page cannot be held liable for any animal health related issues your pet may experience from members’ posts regarding recipes, supplements and feeding recommendations.
- We are not a marketplace for pet food and supplements. Everyone has their favourite brand, and excessive recommendations clutter posts. We have Files where BARF Suppliers, Raw Meat Suppliers, Supplement Suppliers etc. are listed, kindly ensure that your favourite brand and agent in your area is listed so that we can make recommendations accordingly.
- We are a raw feeding support group. You must understand the concept and possible risks related to feeding your animal(s) a raw food diet. Emotional, sad or angry responses to raw food related posts will not be tolerated. If the post offends you, then scroll by without reacting. Repeated outbursts will result in your removal from our page.
- This is a closed support group: No posts, comments, links, pictures or photos from We Feed Raw – SA may be shared to any other outside page, whether it be for Facebook, Twitter, or any other social platform, nor may it be shared via email, SMS, WhatsApp, Skype or any other messaging application.
- We do not allow advertising: Posts and comments with contact details, members soliciting business and any other posts which seems like advertising will be removed, and future offenses will result in the member being blocked from our page.
By using this page you acknowledge that you have read and understand the rules and conditions of use. Transgressions will result in your permanent removal from the page.