Butcher Day

There are people out there who think that farmers who raise livestock for any reason don’t love animals. Some people think we consider animals to be akin to machines in factories. Other people say “animals are friends not food.” No one wants to think about the one bad day that the animals on my farm have to experience. I’ve seen the constant bad days that animals in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s) have to endure. While they are not being tortured in CAFO’s, they sure aren’t getting to live out their lives in any sort of natural way while they are being raised to create a product.

In order to truly raise livestock humanely, ethically, and sustainably, I believe you need to love those creatures.

They all have personalities. They react to you and how you treat them and they remember what you’ve done, whether it be good or bad. They like to have fun and play. They have a different sort of intelligence.

Butcher days are never fun days. They are always the most stressful days on the farm. I worry that the animals will be stressed and scared. I worry they will be injured being loaded or unloaded from the trailer. I worry that something will go wrong in the process.

In the time it takes to raise an animal, you get to know them. You interact with them daily, multiple times per day. You talk to them, pet them…and you love them. You get to learn which animals are more trusting and which animals need you to talk softer and walk slower. You learn which pigs like back scratches and which prefer a scratch behind the ears. You learn to differentiate the ewes’ voices as they call out to their lambs.

My livestock are my livelihood. That doesn’t mean they are simply breathing products. They create products, but while they still breathe, they are creatures worthy of my respect. This isn’t a call to stop eating meat. It’s a reminder that your small farmer loves their livestock and truly cares about their needs while simultaneously understanding that they are here for our sustenance. Remember that your farmer takes care of the hard job of loving their livestock so you don’t have to. This is just a small reminder that while farmer is physically demanding, dangerous, and tiring, it is likewise mentally and emotionally demanding, dangerous, and tiring. And yet, I would not want to do anything else.


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