You may already know that I’ve previously written for Mother Earth News, and that I’ve done a podcast with Mother Earth News & Friends. Right, the links are in the “Publications and Podcasts” menu of our website. My latest piece, on raising roosters as a sustainable meat source and a practical means of managing unexpected cockerels, is in the June/July issue that just hit newsstands (and maybe your mailbox already).
I know that people have strong feelings about eating meat, and that some simply don’t support it. As a small farmer hatching our flock’s eggs, extra boys are a fact of life. We do try to rehome as many as possible, but that can be difficult, and sometimes risky – we once met an individual who wanted to purchase a rare breed rooster (and he wasn’t cheap) who showed up with a feed sack and zip ties to take the rooster home in. This person actually asked us to help him zip tie the rooster’s legs together so he could stuff the rooster in that sack. I could only guess what he had planned for him, but I was going to ensure that it did not happen. Our rooster went back home with us; quite frankly, I’d rather eat the rooster than have him go to a home where I had reason to suspect that he wasn’t going to be treated properly.
As a pasture-centered operation, we house males in secure bachelor tractors out on our chemical-free property. They enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, bugs, and ability to get exercise. They’re provided supplemental fermented feed and healthy treats (like black oil sunflower seeds). They live what we think is a good life, and when they’re old enough, they go to “freezer camp”.
We’ve repeatedly considered the ethical and moral implications of eating meat, and are comfortable with how we process our birds for meat. We do the work ourselves, and it’s not easy or fun. We feel the weight of responsibility for taking the bird’s life, and do our best not to waste the precious resource (meat) that the bird provides. I think that’s more than many people can say who eat factory-farmed meat: while they may not be directly responsible for taking an animal’s life, supporting cruel, environmentally damaging, and exploitative (to the humans involved, too) practices like factory farms is much worse.
Meat comes at a high cost, and it should be expensive; when it’s not, we should be uncovering the truth behind why. If you care about animal, human, and environmental welfare, buy your meat from small farms that raise their animals humanely and ethically. And eat less meat.
I hope the article conveys our respect for the animals being raised for food, as well as the importance that respect for their lives be a key part of the process. Let us know what you think!