Yal Dog Food

I have some Turkish dogs, a type known as Anatolian Shepherd dogs. They are big enough that I needed to learn about some traditional ways that the Turks go about feeding this type of dog. Now I'd like to share that information with you too.

A Type of Kibble

In the past, shepherds couldn’t easily afford the type of diet dogs are mostly fed today. So if they needed to feed all of their working animals, their flock guardians --which tended to be some of the biggest, most athletic types of dogs in the world-- they needed constant supplies of the resources needed to supply that food.

In the Middle east, in Turkey and even in Europe, people fed their dogs diets that mainly consisted of a grain based diet, with meat scraps and bones, and also what the dogs might have to scavenge for themselves. The Europeans also tended to feed their dogs more bread soaked in milk and meat scraps.

The Turks are really the ones who invented a type of kibble known as Yal, to feed their dogs during the seasonal mass transhuman migration of people from the steppes of Turkey to the lowlands of Persia, or parts of Iran today. And it turns out that my dogs really like eating Yal too.

Shepherd's Rest Recipe

There are a few recipes on the internet on how to make Yal. "Shepherds Rest" is the easiest to find, which is a kind of modern version. Just like any kind of cooking there are lots of recipes that are similar.

For me the Shepherd's Rest recipe is a good starting point, especially if you want to modify the recipe by adding more and/or similar ingredients. I cook for a couple of big dogs and I make enough for 2 meals which is about a gallon of Yal.

More info

Proteins and Vegetables

For protein I use whey from cheese making to make my Yal and make it more palatable to the dogs. Organ meat should be part of a raw food diet and so should vegetables. Dogs need one or two meals a week of organ meat when fed a raw diet. I usually put one container of chicken liver for each dog into the Yal that I make.

Vegetables are certainly good for dogs (See 'More info' link below). Some of the things I add to my Yal are:

  • shredded carrots
  • sweet potatoes
  • pumpkin, which my dogs really like!

Also, if you have a dog that likes to pig out and eat more than they should, adding green beans is really good to help keep them satiated and feeling weel fed.

Usually, some variety of fat is used in making your own version of Yal, but you don’t want to use too much fat in the recipe, and risk giving your dog pancreatitis.

More info

And a pinch of salt

I like to use olive oil or rendered animal fats from poultry, goats, beef etc. in my Yal. And my dogs sometimes steal eggs or eat the ones that get broken in the egg laying area, so I don't always have to add eggs to their Yal. I also add in all of my regular food leftovers to the Yal, whatever is available. I include a little more than a pinch of salt, like as much as half a tablespoon up to 1 full tablespoon. The amount of barley or oats that I use, is about a quart of coarse flour and then I add whey and water until it’s the consistency of oatmeal.

To be safe, leave room for expansion in your pot, because it’s a mess if it boils over. And be sure to stir frequently with a wooden spoon, so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. Don’t forget to stir the sides of the pot too.

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