We would like to start by thanking the lovely people at Natures Menu for getting on board with our project and being so supportive, they gave us lots of helpful information via email and were happy to answer any questions and generally be of assistance in any way possible. As we’ve started before; our 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. To our readers, please remember this is just our opinion and our only aim is to promote raw feeding and help people choose the right supplier for them.With that covered, on to our third supplier: Natures Menu.
Natures Menu is the first of the big three suppliers that we will be trialling. Natures Menu started in 1981 as Anglican Meat Products. They initial sold a limited range of minces to breeders, they were encouraged by their customers to produce an even wider selection of meats including Irish beef, Lincolnshire rabbit and Welsh lamb as well as other British meats. They are now “Europe’s leading experts” on raw and natural dog and cat foods, with a huge range of complete and balanced meals as well as the traditional minces that they started out with. They take their position as a leading UK raw food company very seriously and have lots of very good information on their website regarding safe raw feeding. All of their food is DEFRA and veterinary approved (Nature Menu have their own in-house vets and veterinary nurses) made with ethically sourced human grade meat and wholesome ingredients. They are committed to ensuring their meat comes with the highest welfare standard and traceability. All their food is produced at their factory in Norfolk and distributed via their own temperature controlled vans.
Conducting the review, for those of you that aren’t 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!
We received a selection of freeflow mince, nuggets and poultry wings from Natures Menu. Nugget varieties we received were Venison with Blueberry, Rabbit with Cranberry, Duck with Plum, Salmon with Raspberry and Active Nuggets.The Freeflow Mince varieties we tried were Tripe, Chicken, Lamb & Chicken and Chicken & Tripe. We also received Duck, Turkey and Chicken Necks. We specifically chose items that were grain-free, some of Natures Menu’s products do contain grains such as brown rice but for us, as they would not be present in a truly raw diet, we avoided them.
Pup appeal: how much Colin and Rhapsody liked the food (7/10) – Rhapsody and Colin generally liked their food from Natures Menu but the enthusiasm varied by product. Top of the list were the Venison with Blueberry Nuggets and the Duck with Plum Nuggets, both went down very well and very quickly. They were not so keen on the freeflow minces, even the tripe was sniffed before they ate. Having said that, they did not refuse any of their meals, just it ate rather slowly.
Poop rating: what it says on the tin, how good their poop is! (4/5) – we had pretty good poop with Natures Menu, both with the nuggets and freeflow minces/necks. We did have a fairly major issue with wind following the salmon nuggets as well as some seriously stinky poops – don’t think we’ll be having those ones again!
Packaging rating: how easy the food is to use/store and labelling (5/5) – the best thing about Natures Menu was the convenience of it. With both the chunks and the free flow mince you simply fill your dogs bowl with the required amount of food for that day and let it defrost in the bowls. No mess, no fuss. The necks were also easy to feed, they have not been frozen as one big lump which means there is no messing about with thawing and re-freezing in portions, just take out the necks you need each day. Everything defrosts at room temperature in a few hours.
Price: value for money (7/10) – Natures Menu minces are some of the cheapest on the market, their freeflow minces range from £4.95 to £5.95 for 2 kg of mince and their 400g ‘Just Meat’ portions work out at between £0.99 and £1.39 (you can only buy in packs of 12 portions online). Most of their proteins work out cheaper than pure meat products from the other two major suppliers. Their minces are good value for money but personally we prefer our mince a little chunkier. Their complete nuggets work out at between £3.45 to £3.95 for a 1 kg bag. This makes them slightly more expensive when compared to the other suppliers complete meals but this is not a direct comparison as we have been unable to find any other suppliers that make similar products, especially when it comes to their superfood nuggets which were a big hit.
Quality: quality of the mince; quality of nuggets; quality of bones (7/10) – the chunks from Natures Menu were great, not over processed, you could see all the different ingredients in the nuggets (including their superfood ingredients) and were nice and chunky. The freeflow mince did seem to be more processed than other minces we have had previously. It was not sloppy but we prefer chunkier mince but that’s just our personal preference. The necks from Natures Menu were great, nice and meaty. We served them frozen as this gave the pups a nice lengthy chew.
Variety of products (5/5) – Natures Menu really does have a remarkable variety on products on offer. Whether your want complete raw meals or you want to DIY, there really is something for all raw feeders. They offer nine different proteins as well as many different combinations such as chicken & tripe and their active nuggets which contain duck, salmon and chicken. Most proteins can be bought either as a complete meal or as just mince and many are also available in nugget form. They also have a great range of bones available including necks/trachea, wings, carcasses, ribs, marrowbones, paddywhacks and knuckle bones.
Delivery and ordering: ease of ordering and quality of the delivery (4/5) – website is easy to use, it is easy to find the products you are looking for and also easy to select grain-free options only. Their website has lots of very good information on feeding dogs and cats a raw diet including articles from their resident vets and nutritional experts. They do free next day delivery for orders over £30, they only drawback is that they are not delivered in an insulated box so there does need to be someone in to received the delivery, the food would defrost relatively quickly if left for too long. Natures Menu is also available in the large range of pet shops including many Pets At Home and Pets Corner locations.
In conclusion, we experienced a little bit of a mixed bag with Natures Menu. The pups loved the nuggets which come in lots of great varieties but are on the high end of the complete raw food price range. On the other hand, although the freeflow mince was fantastic value for money, they were not overly keen on it. The bones were great value and the pups really enjoyed them. We will be using the nuggets again and highly recommend them to new raw feeders. They are really convenient for when you’re in a rush, on holiday or forgot to get mince out of the freezer the night before. We would also recommend using their necks and other bones as we were really impressed with the price and quality. Their products would be great for anyone that does not like handling raw meat but wants to feed with dog raw as when you defrost in portions you can avoid touching it altogether.
We are very excited that Natures Menu are also introducing a number of new varieties of their superfood nuggets very soon – we can’t wait to try our their new combinations including Pheasant & Duck which sounds delightful!