Sunday 21 June 2015

Animal feed

It's kind of weird that we have completely different standards when it come to dealing with animals compared to humans. We have the 'humane killer' out when a horse breaks a leg but keep sad old husks of Alzheimered people alive for months cultivating their bed-sores in a puddle of bodily fluids.  And the standards of food are suspiciously different.  Lamlac milk replacement is a third the price of tins of powdered milk from the oriental emporium. I think the sheep-muesli we boost our ewes and lambs with is quite tasty, and it is 35c a kg!  I wonder that we don't eat more 'animal' food more often.

Years ago when I was a smart-assed teenager, I was working in a feed-store for the Summer - loading bags of horse-feed into the backs of estate-cars and selling the odd slab of dog-food tins. My boss would open a tin of Chappie, the cheapest dog food, if he'd brought his hound in to work and the smell was something else when he poured this vile slurry into the dog bowl.  After the first time, I had to insist that he opened the tin outside.  OTOH, the up-mark brands looked 'good enough to eat'.  One evening I drafted a letter purporting to come from an indigent pensioner asking if there was any reason why Pedigree Chum, which "I" fed regularly and loyally to my dog Shep, wouldn't be a suitable alternative to the Fray Bentos Beef-Chunks in Gravy that "I" could buy for 3x the price in the supermarket.  I sent if off to Customer Service, Pedigree Petfoods and in due course received a diplomatic and informative reply.

I paraphrase "Pedigree Chum is certainly safe for human consumption, it is made from beef and highly nutritious. It is true that some of the meat might come from carcasses condemned because they carry too much liver-fluke but the high temperature and pressure of the canning process would kill any fluke eggs.  So Pedigree Chum is the best thing imaginable for Shep but is quite safe for your elderly self to consume as well."

I was reminded of this a couple of weeks ago when Mike the Vet regaled us with a story of sailing back from France with copious supplies of alcohol and other goods which were cheaper in French hypermarchés than in Ireland.  After one dreadful and potentially fatal night trying to reef sails in a storm while drunk, they all agreed to limit their intake to a nautical tot every night until they got home. But somehow relationships between Captain and the two crewmen had deteriorated to a considerable extent.  One evening the skipper volunteered to cook dinner and served up a dish of spaghetti with meat sauce which the crew declared was nutritious but bland.  Afterwards the skipper crowed that he'd served them spaghetti and dog-food because they were mutinous curs. Nobody died.

A few days ago, a more willing voyager into the unknown reaches of pet-food surfaced on the blogosphere. Anne Kadet decided to indulge in a 6-day dog-food binge. She started off with a bowl of Kibble which is the standard dried dog-food she bought for her own hound. It was gritty and gave her jaws a work-out. Like Mike the Salt above, she found that tinned pet foods was palatable but bland and really needed salt to go down.  A nutritionist pal advised that canned pet-food was safe because of the cooking/canning progress but that there had been several cases of Salmonellosis from eating dry Kibble. The best things that went down that week were Simply Nourish tins of dog food: tasty but ferociously expensive at $12.30/kg. You shd read Anne's whole article - it's funnier and savvier than I could make it.  But why do it for a jape when you can taste pet-food for a living?

The other side of town from The Institute, a pet-supplies emporium has just opened up which has aisles and aisles of indulgence for you and your companion animal: reindeer steaks, smoked salmon chunks, and tooth whitener.  It's like a little sliver of California has come to dreary ould Ireland.  My experience is that dogs would rather be scarfing down sheep-shit or very old road-kill which makes the comparative immunologist in me wonder how their digestive system copes with the bacteriological assault.

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