Written by Jenny Ryoo 6/30/2020
This article goes over how to enter premade foods and raw meaty bones into the RFN Spreadsheet.
The advice given here is may not be applicable to other pet diet formulation tools.
Commercial Foods and Premades
If you are wanting to enter a commercial product that has been nutritionally analyzed, the first thing you need is the analysis.
Some companies, like Primal Pet Food, will post the analysis on the product page where it is easily accessible. Other companies may be willing to share the data if you reach out, but don’t post the numbers publicly. If you know the food, such as a AAFCO raw or kibble, has been analyzed, you should reach out to the company and see if they are willing to share the data.
If You Have The Nutritional Analysis
If they share the data, you then have to convert the values to be entered into the spreadsheet. Here is a recommended guide for entering analysis into the spreadsheet:
- Make sure the data given is as fed – in other words, not dry matter. If the data is given on DMB (dry matter basis), you can convert those numbers to as fed basis by using the moisture content of the food. For example, if a raw food has 75% moisture and 50% protein DMB, and you are trying to calculate the profile for 100g of food: 100% – 75% moisture = 25% dry matter. 25% dry matter x 50% = 12.5% protein. So this raw food would have 12.5% protein.
- Convert all percentages to absolute numbers. Chose a serving size (100g is the standard, but you can use 1000g or 1kg for easy conversions) and convert all the percentages into absolute numbers. For example, 12.5% protein for a 100g serving would be 12.5g protein.
- Convert ppm. This is a great guide available in RFN for calculating ppm.
- Convert units for minerals and vitamins to the same units as the spreadsheet. Make sure to pay attention to Ca and P especially (these are listed as mg on the spreadsheet, but are often listed as g on product analysis). Use the RFN Vitamin Converter to convert IU.
- Enter all values into the spreadsheet Food Database into the corresponding rows. (For help entering fatty acids, see the Fatty Acid section)
- Make sure you list the serving size, as well as listing the food as “animal”
If You Have The Ingredient List
If you have the recipe for the premade, you can build the recipe in your Recipe Builder to create it as an ingredient and see the breakdown of nutritional analysis. For example, let’s use a butcher’s grind that is: 80% ground beef 80/20, 10% beef liver and 10% chicken wings (with bone)
If your recipe builder, enter the 800g of 20% fat ground beef, 100g beef liver, and 100g chicken wing RMB. Name your recipe and save it using the add-on or manually with the “Save Recipe as Ingredient” section at the bottom of the recipe builder.
You will now be able to use this premade as an ingredient. (Using the recipe as a single ingredient is often easier to scale up and down than changing quantities of all the ingredients in the recipe).
Keep in mind that this method relies on getting reliable information from the supplier based on what is in the recipe, and that the supplier always uses the exact same ingredients for each batch. When inquiring about blends, make sure to specifically request information about the fat content of the cuts included, if poultry items include skin, if any cuts include the ground bone, and if the same ingredients are always used.
If the premade includes bone, there are additional tips on assessing bone content here.
Mystery Premades with AAFCO/FEDIAF Statements
If the company is not willing to share data on the nutritional profile of the ingredient list, or hasn’t responded, but has an AAFCO statement, you can use this tool to estimate the nutritional content of the food: AAFCO Requirements Files
Keep in mind that the tool assumes the very minimum of AAFCO requirements. Most foods will exceed the minimums on these nutrients. For such cases, I recommend formulating your recipe as a toppers recipe – this is a great guide on formulating toppers.
You can use the same method for FEDIAF – using the FEDIAF guidelines here.
Raw Meaty Bones
Determining Bone Content
While we don’t recommend ratio diets (80/10/10), it can be necessary to determine the bone content of a product to estimate or determine the mineral content.
If this is a specific cut of meat, for example chicken wing, you can check out this Raw Feeding Community blog post that has compiled a lot of data about bone content in various cuts of meat.
“Whole” Animal or Bone Content
There are a lot of commercial and butcher’s grinds that claim to use the whole animal. In many cases, such as poultry, if they use the entire body, you can use assume the same bone content as a whole chicken/duck/turkey.
Once in a while, a company may provide nutritional analysis or some general analysis/breakdown. Always think critically when looking at analysis:
- If the product include bone, does the Ca/P reflect that? Generally a raw grind with bone should be 0.75%+ Ca as fed.
- Does the bone content they claim add up with the cuts they use? For example, if a butcher’s grind claims to use 80% ground whole chicken, but claims that the grind is only 10%, the numbers don’t add up. (Whole chicken is 27% bone, which would make this grind 21.6% bone)
- Does the nutritional analysis match with the nutrition claims they make about the product? For example, if they product description says that tripe is a rich source of manganese, but the analysis listed shows a fairly small amount of manganese, something is amiss.
- Does the company claim the ground is “complete” simply because it contains the whole animal?
Determining Bone Mineral Content
If you are looking for the nutritional profile for common raw meaty bones, check out our RFN files here for estimates on raw meaty bones.
This section is a very abbreviated version of the RMB Estimations webinar. The webinar ($10USD) is available for purchase here. It includes walk through examples for each of the techniques below.
Before I delve into the techniques of estimation bone data, there are some very, extremely important considerations to take into account. If you plan on using estimated bone data, please bear with me and read these next sections.
Bones Are Not Equal
Bones are not interchangeable – different bones, even from the same animal, have different bone densities and mineral contents. If you are looking at bones from older vs. younger animals, you will see really big differences as well. Just because the bone % is the same does not mean that Ca, P and Mg will be the same. In fact, you will see significant differences. This is really important to consider if you are trying to use values from bones from one part of an animal to another part, or even between different species.
Data May Be Inaccurate For You
Often, we get excited to find an analysis or study that analyzes the ingredient we are looking for, but we have to keep in mind that there are small sample sizes, regional differences in feed, soil and harvesting practices, age, breed and etc. to factor in. When obtaining analysis from single studies or commercial analysis, make sure to do your research on how the samples were obtained and analyzed.
This does NOT apply if you are using a commercial grind that consistently uses the same supplier, the same ingredients and consistently tests at the same levels.
Estimations Are Not Analysis
I cannot stress this enough – these estimations are not the same as obtaining nutritional analysis from testing. Estimations may look very detailed (complete amino acid profiles, all minerals listed, lots of decimal points), but they are simply extrapolations of known data using assumptions of bone content, moisture content, protein and fat content.
I would not recommend using estimated profiles for any formulations where nutrient levels have to be precise, such as clinical formulations.
The RFN Files includes estimations that I believe have a higher degree to reliability. Not included are further extrapolations from this data. I will not add an RMB estimated profile to the files unless I believe that the data would be fairly reliable (considering that is it estimated).
How to Estimate RMB Data
So, if there is a RMB you want to use but cannot find analysis for, there are 3 basic ways to estimate:
- Compile data from commercial products, research studies and other published data to create the bone profile. For example, if you wanted to get the nutritional profile of a whole pheasant, you could look for bone analysis for pheasants and use known analysis for meat.
- Take a similar RMB and extrapolate bone values, accounting for differences in bone content and meat content. For example, you could use chicken or turkey wing to estimate duck wing.
- Take the profile of a poultry RMB with skin and create an estimate for the RMB without skin by subtracting the skin data.
The RFN RMB Estimations webinar goes in depth into each of these methods. I’m also happy to take questions about these processes in the RFN Facebook Group.
Helpful sources for finding nutritional analysis:
Finding data is the hard part, and it involves a lot of combing through articles and data to see if something is useful. This is not an easy task and for most adult dog, you might consider using an NRC supplemented PMR style meal for these RMBs.
|Common Name||RFN Spreadsheet Nutrient Name|
|Linoleic Acid||18:2 n-6 c,c|
|alpha-Linolenic Acid||18:3 n-3 c,c,c (ALA)|
|gamma-Linolenic acid||18:3 n-6 c,c,c|
|Arachidonic Acid||20:4 n-6|
|EPA||20:5 n-3 (EPA)|
|DHA||22:6 n-3 (DHA)|
|EPA and DHA||EPA + DHA undifferentiated|
|Omega 6 Fatty Acids||Omega 6 unspecified*|
|Omega 3 Fatty Acids||Omega 3 unspecified*|
* only available in Puppy Sheet
If a company provides an analysis such as “Omega 6 fatty acids: x” but does not specify which fatty acids they are, the first thing to do is reach out to the company to see if they would provide the data.
The next thing to do is double check if the nutrient is actually all fatty acids, including those separately listed, or not. For example, you may see something like this on a fish oil:
Total omega 3s: 1000mg
In this case, the “total omega 3s” also include the EPA and DHA. So you would subtract the EPA and DHA amount from the total amount, to get the amount of other omega 3s in the supplement (360mg).
If the company does not provide the data for what is in the “other” amount, I recommend two options:
- Assume the “other” amount is completely non-essential. On the Puppy Sheet, you can list these as “Omega 3 unspecified” and “Omega 6 unspecified”. For Single and Pack Sheets, you can list it as one of the nonessential fatty acids, such as “20:3 n-3” for omega 3’s and “20:3 n-6” for omega 6’s. This ensures that your omega 6:3 is accurately represented, while not making any assumptions about that the content of the “other” fatty acids are.
- Choose a (or two) fatty acid to list it under, using your best judgement for the type of food it is using the chart below.
|Fatty Acid||Commonly Found In|
|Linoleic Acid (LA)||Vegetable oil, poultry skin, animal fats|
|alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)||Plant matter|
So for our example above, since this is fish oil, and EPA and DHA are already listed, I might list the other 360mg as DPA.