Before we start this review we would firstly like to thank all the suppliers that have got on board with this project. The aim is to help show people that raw feeding can be an easy and inexpensive alternative to kibble and to encourage people to make the change to raw. We would not be able to do this without your support, so thank you. Secondly we would like to say that we realise that there are people who do not support this project. We understand that and everyone has a right to their own opinions. This is just our opinion and our only aim is to promote raw feeding and help people choose the right supplier for them, if you have a problem then please just don’t read our reviews. With that covered on to our first supplier: Natural Dogs Direct.
NDD is a small, family run business based in Staffordshire UK. It is run by a husband and wife team, Sureyya and Efdal, who run the whole NDD operation as well as looking after their two little girls and chief tasters, Kaiser the doberman and Pug. They are working very hard behind the scenes to make NDD the best in raw feeds and we certainly think that they are well on their way! They work out of an industrial unit in Burton-on-Trent in East Staffordshire and all their products that are used in the production of their products are sourced from local human grade meat suppliers in the local area. They have ensured that all the statutory standards required for the production of pet foods (DEFRA/AHVLA – 37/009/8009 ABP/PTF GB286R3013) have been met and approved. Their philosophy is that “Your pets are just as important as your children and deserve a healthy and nutritional diet” and we wholeheartedly agree with them.
Conducting the review, for those of you that are regular readers, are Colin and Rhapsody. Colin is an 18 month old miniature poodle-border collie mix who weighs 10.1 kg, we have had him since October 2014 at just 8 weeks old. He has been raw fed since he was weaned off his mother’s milk and can be a little fussy about what he eats. Rhapsody is a miniature poodle weighing in at just 5.2 kg, we adopted her in January 2015 from Colin’s breeder. She has been raw fed since she was about a year old and I have never seen her refuse anything edible! Now you know a bit about NDD and our testers, on with the review.
Their Favourites Selection Box that we received consists of: 1 x 2Kg Pack of Lamb Ribs, 1 x 2Kg Pack of Veal Ribs, 1 x Pack of Lamb Necks, 1 x Pack of Lamb Spines, 1 x Pack of Beef Trachea’s (these were sold out so we got their Dental Sticks instead), 1 x 1Kg Pack of Lamb Mince with Crushed Bone & 30% Heart Mince, 1 x 1Kg Pack of Lamb Mince with Crushed Bone, 1 x 1Kg Pure Lamb Heart Mince, 1 x 1Kg Beef Trachea Mince, 1 x 1Kg Veal Offal Mince, 1 x Whole Lamb Hearts (5 per pack).
Pup appeal: how much Colin and Rhapsody liked the food (9/10) – I’m not sure there are words to describe how much Colin and Rhapsody loved their food from NDD, they couldn’t eat fast enough. The bones took a good while to eat due to the amount of meat, I honestly don’t think we have ever had such meaty bones before! The only product that we had a slight issue with was the veal offal mince, Colin doesn’t really like kidneys so he wasn’t keen on the mixture – apart from that they loved everything (including the few packs that were stolen while defrosting!).
Poop rating: what it says on the tin, how good their poop is! (3/5) – overall pretty good, we struggled with crumbly poo for the first few days as we were unsure on the bone content of each product, we underestimated so it was a little bit of trial and error. By the end of the two weeks they were nice and consistently firm.
Packaging rating: how easy the food is to use/store and labelling (2/5) – All of the products from NDD are vacuum packed which, in theory, is great, everything takes up less space in the freezer and no leaking when you defrost (which is a personal irritant). Our issue was what to do once things were defrosted – disposable gloves recommended! As most of the bones come in 2 kg vacuum packs you do need to thaw them out to separate them into smaller portions and the mince needs decanting into a plastic box once you have opened the vacuum pack. We also struggled a bit with their labelling; on some products it was unclear what the bone or offal percentage was, we also struggled to find out this information for a few products on their website.
Price: value for money (10/10) – their minces range from £1.15 per kilo up to £2.60 per kilo which we consider to be very good value for money especially considering the quality of the meat, chunks are between £2.00 per kilo and £4.50 per kilo for their premium pure beef. Their bones are also great, they come in larger quantities than you would expect, but if you have a large enough freezer then they are very cost effective. For example a 2 kg pack of lambs ribs is only £4.00, the same weight from most other major suppliers is at least double this, if not triple. For even better value, you can also order one of their selection boxes; their Favourites Box (as we received), Small Bone Feast or Large Bone Feast all of which contain a variety of products for less than the combined price of the individual items but be warned – you’ll need a big freezer!
Quality: quality of the mince (sloppy vs chunky); amount of meat on bones (9/10) – we have been extremely pleased with the quality of the products from NDD, the bones in particular are fantastic. They loved the bones, some of them needed to be eaten in two sittings as they were so big and meaty.The mince is not too dry or too sloppy, it has a great consistency which the dogs enjoyed and not excessive amounts of blood which I enjoyed!
Variety of products (2/5) – as you can see from the above list of what was in our box NDD do have a limited number of meats on offer. They have lamb, beef and veal in many forms including mince, chunks, offal, bones and hearts which are all of a high quality, it is just a shame they do not stock more types of meat. Since we received our box they have also added duck to their site, this is definitely a business that is growing as we speak!
Delivery and ordering: ease of ordering and quality of the delivery (4/5) – the website is easy to navigate, delivery was next day (minimum order value of £20) and I was sent a tracking number so that I knew exactly when the box would arrived within a one hour time period. When the box arrived it was just left by the door (courier didn’t feel like ringing the door bell apparently, not NDD’s fault) but when we discovered it and brought it inside all the items were still frozen in the polystyrene box. Postage is £7 for orders from £20-£40, £5 for orders from £40-£60 and free over £60.
Our dogs LOVED their food from Natural Dogs Direct, having said that, we would probably not recommend this supplier to a friend who was just starting out with raw feeding. You need to fairly confident to work out your meat:bone:offal ratios (80:10:10 for a prey model diet; BARF is generally between 10% – 25% bone, offal a few times a week) on your own, especially as not all products have bone/offal percentages on them, a complete raw food would be better suited for beginners. However if you are an experienced raw feeder I would definitely recommend NDD as a supplier, the mince is of a high quality and the bones have plenty of meat on them (as well as being the cheapest we’ve found on the market). The only down side is that they only stock four types of meat so personally I would use them alongside another supplier, but overall its a big thumbs up from us!
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