Finding Raw Answers With Billy Hoekman
Recently I did a podcast with Billy from Answers Pet Food where they produce amazing raw foods. He’s as passionate about pet health as you and I and he’s also an expert on foods that can help heal your pet.
We sat down to chat about …
- Why you should consider adding fermented raw milk to your pet’s diet
- Challenges we face with having natural pet health products on the market
- And the health benefits of fresh, raw foods combined with plant-based medicine
If you like, you can watch our interview podcast live in the video below …
CBD and RAW mILK: Fueling the body
Did you know that the first time a human is exposed to CBD like compounds is when we consume our mother’s milk? I often wonder if the same is true of other species who have an endocannabinoid system?
So I was pretty excited to ask Billy his thoughts? And to see if Answers had done any testing yet on their raw goat and cow’s milk to see what compounds were present.
His response was similar to my thought process. “Milk is an interesting subject to me and it would make sense that if we can have those compounds in one species, then we should have them in others.”
So I had to ask, “Do you see a future of testing milk to know if there are compounds that are similar to CBD?” Billy agreed that it would be a great idea, “It would be interesting to do but we’d have to learn about how to do it. What we do know is that raw milk has well over 5000 nutrients that all work well together.”
Hopefully one day we can compare milk and CBD more closely. For now, we can apply what we know of human breast milk to other mammals milk. And we have lots of research to show our animals thrive when supported with raw milk in their diets.
Navigating The Packaging World
Even though natural products are best for ourselves and our pets, having natural products in the market is hard. Billy and I chatted about some of the struggles we face with having natural products that are regulated by various laws.
The most challenging can be labeling. Recently we had to change some of our CBD labels to say, “Not for human consumption,”. Which made me think of Answers Pet Food and all the various state packaging laws for foods.
Billy agreed that packaging can be a bit of a nightmare. “There’s a long list of packaging laws and even formula changes we need to follow depending on the state. An example is our raw milk … In Texas and Vermont, it has an orange color because we had to add beta carotene. And in North Carolina, the one whole side of our packaging needs to read, NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.”
We also discussed how we’ve had consumers reaching out in different states … worried that they have a different or wrong product because the label is different.
As challenging as it can be, knowing the various laws and making changes is what allows us to get our great products out to customers who need them. Even if it does mean a few headaches along the way or that customers around the states have packages that look different.
Whole Health With Raw Whole Foods
This is especially true for raw milk where the good bacteria haven’t been killed by pasteurization.
Since whole natural foods are best for us I had to ask, “Why is there a general concern and fear out about raw milk?”. Billy then shared a short history lesson with us and why there’s fear in the public
“The first thing is that people are concerned about pathogens in raw milk like,
But when you look back to see why pasteurization was developed to kill these bacteria it’ll surprise you. You’ll learn about Swill Milk Dairies. These dairies had cows that were sick, weak and living in cities. Some even needed to be propped up to milk because they could hardly stand. It’s not hard to see that these ill cows would have bacteria in their milk.
At the time there were two proposals to solve this health concern:
1- Allow the cows to live a more normal lifestyle where they could eat and live like they were genetically meant to.
2- Pasteurize the milk
Sadly, the cows lived the same lives and pasteurization won.”
Billy reminds us that healthy animals living well shouldn’t have pathogens … and there’s a risk in all foods.
Raw milk naturally has a bunch of its own safety mechanisms for pathogens but these are destroyed during pasteurization.
Answers Pet Food uses fermentation to enhance its raw milk benefits. In the cow milk, they’ve added kefir grains and in the goat milk, they’ve added buttermilk cultures. This helps to add more good bacteria growth so that no pathogenic bacteria can grow.
So let’s jump into why you want to have raw milk on your pet’s meal plan menu.
Raw Milk Benefits For Pets
Answers Pet Food is part of a community where raw milk is a normal part of life. In fact, the small Pennsylvania company is well versed in the health benefits of raw milk for people. So the concept of using raw milk to help our pets came naturally.
One of the things that I love about Answers Raw milk is how it can help your pet with so many health conditions. Billy shared with us his excitement too,
“We’ve had animals that have lived on just raw milk and water for major medical conditions and thrived! We’ve also worked with almost every health condition and seen the benefits of raw milk including:
… And many other health issues.”
Those of us who take a natural approach to health no how important gut health is to our immune system. And that’s why I feed Answers diets to my pets, our rescue pets, and I also let our customers know.
Once we help a pet parent find the right CBD product and dose, we’re happy that we can refer them to Answers next. This allows them to check in and make sure they’re feeding the best diet they can to support that pet’s health issue.
I love when we switch a senior rescue dog to a raw, fresh diet after years of eating highly processed foods. These dogs literally have complete body transformations. Add in the combination of CBD support and they literally begin living a much healthier life.
Taking The Fear Out Of Raw Milk And Food
Sometimes I hear people worry that feeding a raw food diet will be risky, hard or expensive. I find this hard to hear when I’ve seen 1000’s of dogs transform and do so much better. So I asked Billy about his thoughts on these fears and his response was perfect.
” There’s a misunderstanding about histamines and mast cells and feeding fermented foods. All the dogs we work with do well with on fermented foods. The level and type of histamines in raw milk are different than the histamines from mast cells … and milk can actually help with these histamines from mast cells. The challenge is that we often need to dispel common myths and some people can be stuck on one idea.”
The cost of feeding raw is often top of peoples minds so I was happy that Billy also shared his thoughts on this worry,
” Cost really comes down to where do you want to spend your money? You could choose to swap your Starbucks for a more natural diet for your dog … and you may even spend less on a better diet because you can feed less when it’s a higher quality … and you save on vet bills in the long run when your pet is healthy and well.
I want you to think about how you want to have a dog and if your looking at getting a dog, consider their size as part of your budget. And if you are going to feed a kibble diet know that you can add fresh foods.”
He also shared a great tip with our listeners on adding fresh foods at home to kibble, ” If you don’t have anything healthy from your own diet to share with your pet … you may need to look at your own diet.”
If you’re ready to change your pet’s diet to raw, learn more here.
Answering Your Pet’s Needs With Food
When your pet has a health issue you want to have fresh options to feed. Some pets have sensitivities to certain foods so Answers has made it easier by having a few diet options.
They have two great fermented raw milk options including:
- Fermented Raw Cow Milk Kefir
- Fermented Raw Goat’s Milk Formula
They also have their Detailed Formula line which makes it easy to feed a complete and balanced meal to your pet. The Detailed line has a few protein options you can choose from including:
These diets have amazing ingredients for your pet’s health including:
- Whole cuts of grass-fed and grass-finished GAP rated meat, organic poultry, and sustainable, pastured pork
- Fermented organic vegetables
- Organic duck eggs
- Cod liver
- Grassfed raw butter
Answers also offer a Straight Formula line in the same range of proteins that only contains:
- 98% pasture-raised whole cuts of meat, organs, and finely ground bone
- 2% whey and Celtic sea salt – to help replace lost minerals from our soils
The Straight formulas allow you to customize a complete and balanced meal. Their team can help guide you on how to add fermented raw milk and bone broth to make these diets more balanced …
… and Billy shared that soon they will have even more ways for pet parents to custom make great fresh, raw diets!
Proudly Sourced Ingredients
In a few weeks, I’ll have the chance to visit Answers and see where some of their amazing ingredients come from.
I’m pretty excited about this because as you may know, I don’t eat meat, but my dogs do. So when I feed my dogs I want to know that the animals were raised well and lived good lives.
Answers is really unique in that they are able to supply a lot of their own ingredients from their own farms! Billy shared with us some of the ways their farms and ingredients really stand out,
” We may be the only company that has our own farms and is actively creating local farms and industry. We now have,
- 24 goat farms
- A duck farm for our eggs and meat
- Two farms that produce our cow’s milk
- Our pastured birds are non-chemically washed
- We use gap rate meat- that’s independently audited by Global Animal Partnership
- Our beef is 100% grass-finished because we want them to eat what they should for nutrients
- We make sure out farms help create a better environment with rotational grazing. This also helps reduce the carbon output and can help pull carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil
- We grow as many of our own vegetables as we can and ferment them.
… And we hope in time we can produce even more of our own ingredients.”
It’s easy to see how much they care about all animals and nutrition.
The Power Of Raw Foods And CBD Together
When you combine a healthy diet with the medicinal support of CBD you will see amazing changes.
Billy’s dog, Lua, was one of the first senior dogs I helped support with CBD … So I asked Billy to share with us how Lua’s CBD HEAL Tincture journey started, how they tailored her dose and how she’s doing now.
” We were working with our local vet because Lua had a minor biceps injury. She recommended that we make some changes at home and consider CBD to help with her healing. So I reached out to Angela and we started with a higher dosage of the HEAL tincture and it worked.
It was funny at first because she was just in bed staring at the wall … but then she was running and galloping and feeling great. She wasn’t worried about the pain and recovering.
Once we knew she was feeling well, with your guidance we were able to find the right maintenance dose. I don’t use supplements but I do use foods for healing … and I like that CBD is a food medicine we’ve been able to add.”
I believe that we should all following the saying, “Let food be thy medicine”.
This is especially true as we work with our aging pets that have more deficiencies. Lua now happily eats a tailored senior diet along with her tailored senior CBD dosing. This provides her with the support she needs to live a happy senior life.
And this healthy lifestyle isn’t just for our pets. Billy and I both shared how we incorporate great nutrition and CBD support for ourselves. I use it daily and Billy has made CBD part of his oil-pulling routine, and his wife uses it for sleep.
Happy and healthy pets, happy and healthy people, what more is there to life?
I think this is a really important message to us all right now. Especially as most of us are isolating to keep safe from the COVID-19 virus. We need to look after our pets and ourselves with good foods and plant medicines to stay healthy.