If you did not grow up on a farm or with livestock animals, it may be a foreign concept of raising animals for meat. It could bother you that people, like myself, butcher animals for meat. It’s difficult for a lot of people to wrap their mind around the fact that I can genuinely love my animals, yet I’m still able to put them in the freezer. But that’s because I have realized that livestock and poultry are not pets and that helps a lot. Before you click off this blog post, stick with me and I will explain more about how people can raise an animal and then butcher it. Maybe then, you can understand why people like me choose to raise our meat.
Before we get too far into this, I have a great course on the basics of goat care. I call it Goat Crash Course: Goat 101. In this course, I explain things like types of shelter, types of feeds and hays, basic assessments and so much more! Check it out!
Livestock Aren’t Pets
Now, you can absolutely have livestock animals that you bought with the sole purpose of it being a pet. But before we get too far down this rabbit hole, we need to discuss some things first. Like, the definition of livestock and poultry, what is a companion animal, why people choose to raise their own meat, and why we need to respect those decisions.
Remember, stick with me! Don’t get upset and storm off because you don’t like what I have to say. I mean, obviously you can, but if you truly want the answer to “how can you slaughter something you raised” stick around and find out.
What Is Livestock And Poultry
The Oxford Dictionary defines livestock as “Domestic animals kept on a farm for use or profit; esp. cattle, sheep, and pigs.” And poultry as “Domestic fowl collectively; birds which are commonly reared for their flesh, eggs, or feathers, as chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, etc.“
The reason this is important is that a lot of people confuse ALL animals with pets or companion animals. They think that all animals that are kept by people should be raised but not butchered. Because that is the lens in which they see animals. They’ve never been on a farm or raised an animal knowing that it’s entire purpose is to end up in the freezer.
Which makes me wonder who they think raises the meat they get at the grocery store?
What Is A Companion Animal
I’m not going to pull out the dictionary for this one but I define a companion animal as a pet. This could be a dog, cat, gerbil, or even a pig or goat. And we have PLENTY of these on the homestead. These animals don’t really have a job, they aren’t an asset or really have a use other than companionship.
Champ is a goat and companion animal. She will live out the rest of her days here on the farm with no use. When she dies, she will be cremated. BUT she started out as livestock. Her original purpose was to give us milk and babies and she did that. Now that she is older, she has earned her retirement.
But what a lot of people don’t seem to understand is that my herd, and most peoples herd, of goats are not companion animals. They have a purpose: Milk, Money or Meat. While I don’t WANT to butcher any of my goats, I know that it is a reality that I will have to deal with. Especially because I want milk.
BeBe and Rory are not companion animals, they are livestock. They will be butchered as soon as they hit 75# or we head into winter, whichever comes first.
Answering Questions With Questions
To answer the question of why we raise our own meat, the answer is another question, actually a couple. Have you ever seen where livestock is raised? I’m not talking about the fields dotted with cattle and chicken or woods with pigs. I’m talking the pig houses, chicken houses or CAFOs. Have you seen what those animals are fed? Do you know where that feed comes from? Do you have any knowledge of ruminant biology?
I don’t ask these questions to be rude or nasty. I ask them because if you have never seen any of those things, I can understand why you would be confused. I can understand why you ask “why raise your own meat?”
Why We Raise Our Own Meat
Now, to be completely transparent, we don’t raise cow or pig on the homestead. We tried to raise pigs and it was a colossal failure meat-wise. We will try again when we are in a better position…maybe. But we do raise our own chicken and goat. That may not seem like a lot, but we just don’t have the infrastructure to raise cows yet. Building pasture for cattle and goats is a big goal for 2024.
In the mean time, we source our beef from a local farm that raises grass fed beef. We source our pigs from someone who raises pasture pork. We purchase meat in bulk instead of relying on the grocery store.
The reason is because we want the animals that are being raised for meat, to be animals. Pigs root and wallow. Cattle should walk around and eat grass. Chickens should scratch and peck. Goats should scream and eat grass. That is what they are SUPPOSED to do.
Industrial agriculture has created these confinement systems to hold huge groups of animals together, feed them low grade antibiotics and grains, pack them onto trailers and send them to the processor.
The amount of stress those animals endures is not okay. In fact, it’s inhumane. Animal welfare is not at the top of industrial agriculture’s list of priorities.
Like most homesteaders, I choose to source or raise the meat my family is going to consume as humanely as possible. I want animals that are raised as natural a diet as possible. I want animals that have only one bad day.
I’m not sure when we became a country that isn’t allowed to have differences of opinions. But what I will say is that no matter where you fall on the meat eating/ raising spectrum you fall on, respecting other’s decisions is a key part of being an adult. If a person chooses to only source their meat from local farms, great. If a person decides to go to the grocery store, great…. I don’t have to like it.
I can desperately want to take them to the different chicken farms around here and show them how these animals are raised, shoved into cramped boxes, transported in the rain, heat, etc. I want show them where these animals are unloaded and butchered.
But I can’t do that. I have to respect their decision.
But the beautiful thing about a blog?
I can also show you my operation. I can show you transparency.
I can talk about all of the crazy things my chickens and goats do.
In doing those things, my hope is that you make the decision to source your food locally. From farmers who really do love their animals, instead of industrial ag….
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