Last modified on February 26th, 2018 at 7:49 AM

Raising Animals for Food

I often get asked how I am comfortable raising animals for food. Here is my long and honest answer about how we feel raising animals for food on our farm.

Jersey steer looking out a panel gate.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a looooooong time, but I wanted to make sure I approached it with the right feeling and respect it deserves so I waited to write it until we were sending one of our animals to slaughter to become food for our family.

Our steer was a little over a year and a half old and his time came to an end earlier this week. When I tell people we raise our own beef {and soon lamb} without fail they ask, “How can you be comfortable raising animals for food? Don’t you get attached?”

Here is my long answer.

First, we purchase meat animals with that intention. There is never any doubt in my mind or any of my family members mind’s that we will be using this animal to eventually feed our family.I believe that part of the purpose for animals here on earth is to provide nutritionally for our physical needs. If you come into raising an animal with that mindset, the end result isn’t “disturbing” or “gross” or anything negative.

Calf eating out of a calf bottle.

I feel a deep gratitude for the animals I raise for meat. I raise and take care of them the same as I would an animal that wasn’t going to be our food. They usually end up with some kind of nick-name {although usually food related} and still enjoy great feed, excellent healthcare, and head scratches every now and then.

There are differences between animals I raise for meat and animals that have a different purpose on the farm. Since I know that the animal is going to be in my freezer, I raise them with that in mind. I feed them so they can gain weight and finish how I want them too. While I always give every animal the best care I can, I don’t get overly attached to animals we are raising for meat. And there isn’t anything “wrong” or “evil” about that.

Raising some of our animals for meat is one of the ways I take care of my family. It is part of how I provide for our needs physically and financially. My responsibility is always to my family first, they deserve my commitment to a project I said I would complete. It would be irresponsible for me to “get attached” to animals and not be able to follow through on using them to feed my family.

I do not do any of the animal slaughter myself at this time. I really have no interest in learning how or being involved in that part of the process. I have, however, had extensive education on how it is done, what is involved, and watched it happen online and in person. I have been to slaughter facilities and I’m comfortable with it and know that the animals are not distressed or scared before they are killed. If you’d like to learn more and see how the process is done in a humane way, I highly recommend these videos by Temple Grandin.

Jersey steer with frost on his coat eating grass hay.

I do have an interest in learning about curing meat and dividing a carcass into cuts, and wouldn’t hesitate to learn and have that opportunity with my own meat. I had an opportunity to try in a workshop once and it is much more difficult than I thought! Truly an art.

I hope this answers that question, and I hope I have conveyed the respect and gratitude I feel for these animals. I’m not overly emotional about it, but I don’t send them off without taking time to be thankful and acknowledge their life.

If you are interested in raising a beef steer, you may find these posts helpful! 

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I often get asked how I am comfortable raising animals for food. Here is my long and honest answer about how we feel raising animals for food on our farm.

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