There are ways that you can keep the costs of raw feeding down but it does take time and can be expensive until you get that cheap supply chain established.
One of the best things you can do is buy a freezer so you can take advantage of windfalls that come your way.
1. Always check the sodium level before buying.
The cheapest cut of meat is a waste if it has been enhanced with sodium and you can't feed it!
2. Avoid cuts of meat that are overly fatty, like brisket, unless you need to feed a very fatty cut or the price makes up for fat you will end up cutting off.
3. Watch the sales at grocery stores, especially if there are any holidays coming up.
4. Ask at the meat counter when they mark meat down due to a short sell by date.
I was at Safeway just last night and they had unenhanced whole chickens on sale for $0.88 per pound. There were a dozen or so chickens that were marked down an additional 50% because they had a sell by date of today. That's $0.44 per pound! And my fridge freezer and chest freezers were both full so I couldn't take advantage of that price!!!
5. Hunters can be a good source of free meat.
Let hunters know you would be happy to take any old, unseasoned meat off their hands and also that you'd like the parts they don't want.
Remember, in the United States, it is illegal to buy or sell meat that has been hunted.
6. Neighbors or friends cleaning out freezers is another source of cheap or free meat.
Unseasoned freezer burnt or unspoiled old (or ancient) meat is just fine for animals to eat.
7. If legal in your area, harvest roadkill.
I know it sounds gross but it is meat that may otherwise go to waste. Fresh roadkill or, in cold climates, older winter roadkill can provide a lot of meat. Use common sense when deciding if you want to harvest a roadkilled animal. If you do, just stick it in your freezer for a month or so to kill any parasites that may be present.
Check and follow the regulations for your area.
8. Check with custom game processors, slaughter houses and processing plants to see if there is anything you can get from them that they wouldn't be able to sell for human consumption.
USDA-approved facilities are not to accept any animals that are unhealthy or not for human consumption but not all parts of an animal are allowed to be sold into the human food chain.
9. See if there are any co-ops you can join.
I belong to a co-op and can get some very good prices.
10. See if a butcher or your grocery store meat counter can get you a good deal on bulk items.
11. If there is a wholesale meat supplier close, cut out the middle man and see what kind of bulk deals you can get straight from them.
12. When you are preparing your own meat for cooking, look at what you are cutting off.
That raw fat can be used to provide extra fat when feeding lean meals.
If you have scraps of raw meat, freeze them together into odd shapes to make a frozen meal for your pet.
If you are roasting a chicken or turkey, consider removing the back before cooking. We don't care for the backs because the skin is soggy and there's just not much meat on it. So we cut the backs off and that makes a nice bony meal for Chance. We do the same with turkey wings. And whole birds usually contain goodies like hearts, gizzards and livers.
13. Ask local farmers or ranchers what they do with livestock that doesn't make it, such as newborns or young stock, and old animals.
You may get a very good deal if you either butcher the animal yourself or agree to take the animal and have it butchered.
14. 4-H clubs
Check any local 4-H clubs to see if you can get a deal on animals they are raising.