Responsible Animal Ownership


I just read a news article “Backyard chickens dumped at shelters when hipsters can’t cope, critics say”  Why does this surprise anyone?   Have you visited a dog/cat shelter lately?   I am always amazed at how many adult animals are surrendered  in and the reasons they are turned in.

I have blogged before about when you take on chickens you need to be prepared for the full cycle of life.   I also have talked in this blog about  when I have culled/butchered chickens and how it is a sucky part of owning a small flock.   I haven’t done it to gross folks out or offend them, though some of the private offline emails have received indicated that I am a whole lot of nasty things because of some of the posts.   I do it because I want to share with folks  that there is a cycle of life to the food we eat and the animals that we own.   When you fantasize about the farm life and how wonderful it would be to grow your own things and then harvest them, don’t forget just like your life agriculture  isn’t all rosy.   If farming or ranching was easy we would still have millions of families still in agriculture.   Instead the number of people who grow the food we eat is smaller than ever.   More and more of our citizens are so far removed from where their food comes from they can imagine how it all happens even if their logical mind tells the.

I am an advocate for folks growing some of their own food.   I think it is important for folks to understand how hard it is to bring food to the table.   But I hope you start small and think about what you will do if it is only a phase.   Assume it is, it might be one season or a ten year phase, but odds are it will come to an end eventually.   If you start with a small garden a little sod can put your life back the way it was.   If you choose to have animals it is much more complicated to get started, but also much more complex to stop.   With animals you need to be prepared to respectfully end it which in many cases involve butchering.

Remember if you want to be more self-sufficient you can’t be self-sufficient if you only do the easy things and leave the hard decisions for someone else to make.

14 comments on “Responsible Animal Ownership

  1. When I was young my Dad made my brother and I watch our pigs and chickens be slaughtered. It was a life-scarring event, but I knew why he did it. They were not pets, they were food. He wanted us to know where food came from. As an adult I have realized I am not cut out for casual husbandry of animals (although I could if I had to) and so we eat very little meat. I have a LOT of respect for those who can do it.
    I love your posts on the chickens, please keep at it!

    • Thanks for stopping by. I freely admit that that moment when I take their life I debate was this worth it? It is one of the hardest things I do. Like your Dad I see it as a part of the circle of life. At least my animals live an good, clean honorable life.

  2. Great blog and some really insightful comments. I also can’t imagine eating any of my hens or cockerel, but with a larger flock, that might be different.

  3. I applaud you for being able to butcher your animals, but I simply can’t do it! My hens will just have to be content with dying from old age. I know where food comes from, but I don’t care to personally “know” the meat I’m eating. Now vegetables are a different matter 🙂

    • That moment when I take the life is one of the hardest thing I think I am called to do in my life. I understand that some can not do it. Though I butcher my own hens, I can not imagine butchering beef, hogs or a lamb. I appreciate my butchers who do those do. I wish I had weather here that allowed me to know my produce, but if I can get by the whole summer without a frost and have a growing season longer than 60 days I count myself lucky.

  4. Personally, I took offense at being called a “hipster”! What?!?!? 🙂

    Before we got chickens, we asked one of our chicken farmer friends if he would be in charge of…uh…”end of life” issues. (He has a large flock and all the appropriate equipment.) I’m sure our girls will make him a tasty dinner–but I couldn’t eat Margaret, Anne and Victoria after playing with them everyday!

    There was a follow-up article as well in case you are interested.

    • Thanks for sharing the follow-up link. I so appreciate you comment about someone giving you a name like hipster. I hate it when people try to give me a name or a label and they really know nothing about me.

      I understand that connection to certain chicks. Years ago I had two that went to live with with a friends flock. Those two had personalities that would not quit. I try and stay more distant and have a few more so butcher day isn’t so painful.

  5. It is very true and the number of people who know NOTHING about agriculture and their animals when they get them shock me. I was speaking with a reproductive medical doctor about my hens and she was surprised to hear they only lay for three years. I had to explain, to this person who knows more about bodies and reproduction than I do, that a bird lays only so many eggs over it’s life time like a human does and when you run out of eggs to produce you’re out. So chickens stop laying so early because we have sped up how often they produce eggs. They hit a sort of chicken menopause and stop and in the wild laying a dozen eggs a year that’d come much later in life. She had a shocked expression on her face and was like “Yeah, OK. That makes total sense and I should have known that but somehow I never thought of it.”.
    And people who decide to keep their chickens after they stop laying need to know that they could have another 5+ years on those hens, essentially tripling their cost to produce eggs. Why do people think food is so cheap? Because everything we do food-wise is a massive abuse. Like sweatshops in China making Wal-Mart cheap. All it takes to lower prices is being willing to turn your head to an unfair unethical practice and nobody does that more than with their food.
    It’s really amazing how much nobody thinks about it.

    • Your post rings so true. It always amazing me people think you need a rooster. Another person thought that eating the chicken eggs I was sharing was dirtier than store eggs. People really have no idea where their food comes from.

      • I got that one too. Someone who thought it was gross that I eat the eggs my own chickens lay. A friend of mine, someone I consider to be highly intelligent, thought white eggs were bleached because other people think brown eggs are healthier.

        Ah well.

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself. It makes me so sad that people now days will sacrifice the well-being and good treatment of animals just so they can get food cheap. Not to mention all of the fillers (there’s a cardboard like substance in store-bought Parmesan cheese…ew) and even using ammonia to “clean” and kill the bacteria off of meat scraps that would otherwise be put in dog food. Jamie Oliver showed kids how their chicken nuggets were made (with the scraps washed in ammonia, bones and fat and all, then all ground up and formed into patties and breaded)…the sad thing is, even after seeing the entire disgusting process, the kids still wanted to eat them. 😦

      • I think that the fact that so many people truely don’t care how their food came to be, is what allows so many corporations to continue to feed it to us. I am not crazy about fish, seafood, but I once read an article about how fish farming goes on in Thailand, Vietnam and other countries. Ewwww. That finished me off.

  6. I couldn’t agree more with you. It’s heartbreaking to think about all of the animals that people abandon, just because they got tired of them or couldn’t handle the responsibility. And it seems I have a special nerve that gets hit when it comes to livestock animals and the way people treat them. It’s pretty sad how this country no longer wants to accept that there is a way to life, a circle of life. And that part of that life cycle is death, it’s how we get our food. It’s sad, especially if you’ve somehow bonded with them. But It’s part of being self-sufficient. The best you can do is give your animals the best lives that you can give them. So that, while they are around they are happy and healthy. It makes me cringe and tear up when I read articles about how dairy and meat cows are handled, I read once that veal calves were skinned alive…*shudders*. It’s horrible because I instantly picture our own calves being treated so cruelly. But, as I said, the best we can do is give them a happy life. They are here for a reason, and that’s for our food, but that by no means means that they should be abused.
    wow…I ended up ranting a little bit there lol. oops. >.> Anyhow, I enjoyed your post, and I love your blog 🙂 I find comfort knowing that there are people out there that have the same mindset as my family and I.

    • I am thankful for the posts like yours. You can’t imagine some of the emails I have gotten for talking about butchering and culling. It is hard to do that to animals you have raise from youngsters. I always have to get a bit clinical in my mind during that moment when I kill them because it isn’t easy. On the flip side of that I consider it part of honoring their life and the whole cycle of life to have made sure that they had a good life, and were used to nourishment. I feel so fortunate to be in circumstances where I know my meat. Not everyone can do that.

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