The old expression “happier than a butcher’s dog” gets a boost at The Butcher Shop, Inc., an Eagle Point, Oregon, small meat business where partner Cam Callahan oversees a fast-growing pet food business.
Callahan began trying to conjure up a healthy food for his boxer eight years ago after he looked closer at what was going into the food he was giving his personal pet. “There is no such thing as ‘it’s just a dog,’” Callahan emphasizes. “Your pets are your family too. I kept consulting with various veterinarians and developed my own formula.”
“There is no such thing as ‘it’s just a dog.' Your pets are your family too," said Cam Callahan, partner, The Butcher Shop, Inc.
As one can see from the shop’s website, butchershopinc.com, where a 7-minute video of the pet food making process outlines the product and the philosophy the small shop employs, the company makes the pet foods more for the animals than for a profit.
The Butcher Shop uses locally sourced, all-natural beef and lamb, as well as elk and buffalo from South Dakota. Each mixture contains meat, trim and no fillers. Day-old hamburger from the retail side of the business is also included in the mix. Callahan says they have customers who want other varieties with vegetables such as sweet potatoes, yams, carrots and seasonally green beans, and they fill that demand as well.
Operating under FDA inspection, the company includes triple ground bone in its blend. Its 5-lb. rolls of dog food and its 1-lb. chubs need refrigeration. The firm also offers a variety of dog bones baked at 120°F. for four hours, but they do not smoke them to keep carcinogens out of the product. The bones and other pet snacks and treats are shelf stable.
“We’re hoping to build a 3,000-sq.-ft. plant just for pet food processing in another year or so,” Callahan says. “Things have really taken off so much in our pet food work that we had to discontinue doing it for our customers who raise their own livestock and want us to process them for their own use. In fact, we’re buying about 2,000 lbs. of bone a week for use in our pet treats.”
The Butcher Shop also produces turkey, chicken and rabbit feeds for cats and indicates the company wants to do more with fish proteins in the near future. Although the plant has 15 to 18 employees, only Callahan and a younger worker (the lifting guy) are responsible for all the pet food manufacturing in the shop.
Callahan says he worked with a few other companies who wanted him to make product for their own sales but couldn’t keep up with their demands. Many of them were selling pet foods that were priced close to $30 a pound, he notes.
“It seems we’ve spent the last 50 years reinventing diets for dogs, when all they really needed was to go back to the protein sources they’ve thrived and lived on for thousands of years,” Callahan said.
But it is his personal desire to make the product to help dogs live healthier and longer lives that drives him. He derives great satisfaction from the fact that his last boxer lived 15 years on the diet he provided.
“It seems we’ve spent the last 50 years reinventing diets for dogs, when all they really needed was to go back to the protein sources they’ve thrived and lived on for thousands of years,” he concludes. “We call it 100% all-natural meat dog food.”
Many small meat processors succeed by listening closely to the preferences of their customers, but at The Butcher Shop, it’s the dog’s needs that are growing the company’s pet food program by leaps and jumps.
Read more about pet food manufacturers.