On a roll with nutrition

A Rangitikei couple have formulated their own dog food roll to suit busy working dogs. Sarah Horrocks reports.

In Dog food guide4 Minutes

Feeding more than 50 dogs every day is not only time-consuming but expensive. Sam Duncan, from Otairi Station in Rangitikei, says feeding the dogs had always been something that got him thinking.

He and his four staff were feeding various types of food — rolls, biscuits, mutton and even rams.

“We fed whatever we could get at a decent price, but nothing was up to it nutritionally,” Sam says.

The nutritional punch wasn’t big enough to meet the demands of hard-working dogs and 600-800 grams of fat ram was the best source of energy he could find, which wasn’t nutritionally balanced or viable in the long term.


Sarah Stevens and Sam Duncan developed their own dog food product to feed up to 50 dogs on Otairi Station, Hunterville.

“When they’re by a horse these dogs are running 20–40km a day so they really need a lot of fat for energy as well as protein to promote muscle.”

The most important part of feeding dogs is nutrition from the right ingredients, so in 2020, utilising the skills of an animal nutritionist, Sam and his fiancée Sarah Stephens decided to start making their own, formulating a diet well suited to hard-working dogs.

Sam says they used every ingredient you can think of in the testing phase and had their fair share of failures along the way.

“We did a lot of trials with fats and the digestibility, and settled on mutton/lamb as the main ingredient.”

There is also beef fat and fish oil in the rolls. With high fat content, Sam and Sarah had to carefully balance protein levels using meats with the right amino acid profile for working dogs.

Also important was ease of feeding, as farmers don’t want to be swinging on an axe after a hard day’s work, every night of the week. So it had to be an easily fed roll.

Now branded Impact 4 Dogs, Sam and Sarah have put the idea into full-scale commercial production and invested just shy of $1 million in the business, which has a factory in Feilding.

The wider goal is to produce multiple products for various dog types, including pet dog rolls. Impact Vigour is the working dog roll and has 36% fat and 30% protein. The 3kg rolls are cooked to 70C to improve their shelf life and reduce the number of preservatives needed. “The key ingredients are lamb, beef, offal, fish oil, soy, minerals and honey.”

A lot of working dog foods are low in protein and fat, with the remainder of the energy made up of grains and sugar.

With sheep schedule prices tracking down, Sam says farmers are going to need to use the most cost-effective dog feed possible.

“Farmers need a product like this.”

The Duncans have encountered bump after bump in the road along the way. There have been long nights at the factory cleaning up fat at 3am and there is certainly no glamour involved.

“Closing the oven door on a tonne of product which subsequently explodes gets very messy.”

There’s not a lot of margin in the Vigour rolls, which will sell for $3.50/kg. The rolls are bundled into packs of six and sold directly to farmers.