Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Need Some Feedback, Please!

There's a lot of background to this, so I'll try and make it short.  For those of you who don't know, I was vegetarian for about 13 years, vegan for 7 or so and now although mostly vegan, I do dabble in some raw organic butter, cheese and sometimes my wonderful, fresh, chicken eggs!  I became vegetarian many years ago when I heard about the modern meat industry, factory farming and the inhumane conditions in which animals were and are raised in.  So, I stopped eating meat for ethical reasons, then it became for health and even environmental reasons (again in response to the factory farming, not the small time rancher or homesteader).  I have nothing against people eating meat in general.  It's mostly about what meat people eat and how the animals are raised and the deplorable conditions in which most animals live their short existence. 

So, here is the making of my dilemma. 

Part 1. My dogs eat meat.  And, I'm now having to buy factory farmed meat at the grocery store for them because I certainly can't afford to feed 3 dogs on Southern California's "Whole Foods Market" organic meat prices.  I don't know anyone in the desert who raises many animals except a friend who does raise sheep but even that is too expensive as she has to buy all the hay and grain since there is no pasture in the desert. I did feed them her meat for a while, but with a third dog now, it's too expensive.  I'm not going to buy commercial dog food as I think the quality is illness producing for dogs over time. 

Part 2. I want to hatch some chickens to have some more layers and have the experience of watching chicks grow. 

Now I get to the heart of my dilemma...  My chicks will consist of a lot of ROOSTERS!  My mom grew up on a farm and said she would come up and "do the deed"  when the roosters get to the age where they can be killed.  Rationally, when I turn the feeler off, I say to myself that that would be a nice solution to the dog food problem - I could have more layers, feed my dogs organic, healthy meat that came from "happy chickens" and even give or sell a few birds to friends around here.  Then the feeler kicks in and I feel terrible and guilty.  But, the rational side yells, "but you're doing it any way every time you buy meat from the supermarket and that's much worse!!".  Obviously, I can't have my mom come up every time I want a rooster killed, ha ha.  So, I'm having this ethical, spiritual, emotional dilemma!  Can I do it?  What would I feel like after I killed them?  How attached would I become?  How do you NOT get attached... or is that wrong  - to detach?  Is this okay?  I guess this is what happens when you get a kid who grew up in the city loving every animal who came her way.  Now, I'm seeing that life behind the scenes isn't so pretty and choices aren't so easy. 

I would love your feedback regarding my confusion.  I think it will really help me!  Also, would love to hear the experiences of people who have gone through or go through this as part of their life.  Thank you!


  1. If it's that emotional... why not ask someone else to do it for you? Maybe you can barter with them for the deed.

  2. We eat meat but I can't eat meat that came from one of our animals. Yeah, I know its weird. But, and again I know it sounds weird I can feed my dogs our chickens and rabbits.The animals we don't sell live till they die of old age so they would be too tough for us to eat anyways but the dogs seem to love the meat. I say go for it. You will enjoy raising chickens and your dogs will enjoy the healthy meat.

  3. anonymous - unfortunately, i don't know anyone who does that around here. although, we are rural, most people seem content to just go to the supermarket. maybe it's a california thing. i'll keep my ears and open, though as it is a good idea.

    peggy, thanks for the input. i guess the first step would be to not name every rooster i get! Jack, my current rooster, is a lucky fellow. I know it's a cycle of life, it's just hard being in that cycle. Too bad my dogs weren't content being vegetarian and if i could just "sex the eggs" beforehand and eat the roosters while they're still in the shell and hatch the hens!, ha ha.

  4. Sylvia, remember I said life is a gift to be experienced to the fullest...we may be plain and simple people, but sometimes it take a hard heart to be a farmer.

  5. It was hard for me to kill one of our animals. It still is sometimes. But, I try not to make pets out of them and I don't hold them and pet them. I just let them be animals and do their thing. Whenever one of the roosters get all roostery and jump on my legs and bring blood, I don't feel so bad when it's their turn for the stew pot. heehehe.

  6. I'm in the same boat as you, in that I don't think I have the heart to go through with and dispatch any of our animals. I do want to raise a few chickens for meat this summer, but don't know if I will be ok taking a live bird that I was feeding that morning and then placing it cleaned in my freezer by myself. One person has suggested to me to get on Criagslist and put out feelers to see if there is anyone somewhat close by that could do it for me. It would be a good solution to the dog meat issue, but like I read a little earlier in a comment, it does take a harder heart to farm our animals the way we do our veggies. Good luck.

  7. I grew up in the suburbs and in my adult life chose hobby farming as a pastime. We raise sheep and I eat them and have even butchered one myself once. Is it hard to do? YES.

    Would I do it again? YES...

    I think more people should raise and butcher their own meat. So many people are so far removed from where meat actually comes from and from what had to be sacrificed for that meat that they don't think anything of wasting it.

    I cringe every time I see a kid order a hamburger and throw half of it away... that kid should see that something had to die for that hamburger to make it to the table.

    My animals are given the best life possible and the most humane death possible as well. I buy any meat that I don't raise myself from other local farmers so I know what is going into my freezer.

    You are absolutely right though - you can't raise them as though they are pets, but you must raise them with the respect and great care that they deserve - and just because they aren't pets doesn't mean that you don't feel anything for them.

    Good luck with your dilemma - sometimes having strong values is tough and means you have to also face tough choices.


  8. Well, I really don't think anyone looks forward to butchering day, it is a fact of living the homestead way of life, if you want your own home raised meats.

    I had to kill my first chicken one day when Mike was at work( she was sick and I wasn't going to let her suffer.) It was hard and I still don't like to do it but..... I also like to eat our home raised meats verses industrial meats. We have pets, that live until they die a natural death and we have those who will feed us. For me it helps make a distinction between the two.

    We feed our dogs, chicken( roosters or soup hens), venison and some pork( it usually gives them the poops) Lamb or sheep is also a good alternative as well as goat and maybe you could use it as dual purpose( dairy goat), for milk and the milk products( cheese, yogurt, etc... Even if you only fed the milk to the poultry, it would help suppliment your feed costs and the birds would be healthier too.

    It's not going to be easy, but if you think like the Indians and give thanks for the life and the food the animal provides, it does make it a bit easier.

  9. I thought I could do it.It was the uear of Y2K, and we were raising our own food. I raised some chickens, amd looked forward to the day I could have a chicken sald sandwich made with homemade bread, our farm eggs, and veggies from my garden. Hubby did the deed while I was at work.That evening, I steeled myself while the chicken was boiling , and as I prepared the salad. As I raised the chicken salad to my lips, I visualized my flock. Which one was I about to eat? I found out it was Red Rhoda. I just could not ..could not eat a bite. So now I have to buy my chicken and can't always find organic. But,hey...I had loads of eggs to sell at $2.00 a dozen when they were selling for just over a dollar in the stores.

  10. I don't know about me. It's easy to say I would or wouldn't but doing and saying are two different things. I just don't know. Good luck figuring this out.

  11. How do you NOT get attached... or is that wrong - to detach? Is this okay? I guess this is what happens when you get a kid who grew up in the city loving every animal who came her way. Now, I'm seeing that life behind the scenes isn't so pretty and choices aren't so easy.

    Wow, I applaud you for facing the reality of choices. I ADORE my animals. I do everything I can to make sure that they are never worried/scared (the worst thing to me) or hurting. But I'd much rather eat my own happy animals than those that had a bad life and might also jeopardize my own health. I've considered becoming a vegetarian... Choices are personal. Life isn't easy. But you can keep it honest. I wish you all the best with your decision and farm.

  12. It is a dilemma. I have been flip flopping for months - wanting to raise chickens for meat for me - and then knowing I couldn't. Then thinking - if they are all the same and I don't name them - and then still - I don't think - ugh - I guess I don't have an answer for you - cause I don't have an answer for you. I do think that Craig's List is a good idea - to find someone that would come out and butcher them for you - in exchange for some of the birds. I have a friend willing to do that for me - I'll be interested in what you choose to do. I do know exactly what you are going through!

  13. thank you all so very, very much. i really appreciate all your comments - every one of them. i'm giving this a lot of thought and think my decision will be soon.

  14. Having had a homestead with chickens and rabbits at one point, my husband used to do "the deed." Until one day I wanted to surprise him with dinner. And I did it. It's not a task I relished, but I did it.

  15. I have killed a few roosters now and still HATE IT
    if i were you get your mum up or another local person to do it humanely and learn to prepare the carcasses
    its easy when you dont have to do the killing...and if your heart is not in it.... why put youself ( and more imprtantly the birds) through an experience which is stressful!

  16. Some meat markets will give away the meat parts that people don't eat. My sister simply walked into the local butcher shop and was given all kinds of meat that people won't eat. It was a good solution, and it solved her dog's digestive problem. I don't know what's available in your area, but it's a possibility.


Your comments are much appreciated and enjoyed!