Monday, July 22, 2013

A Monday Rant

This screen shot of one of my Google alerts illustrates the dichotomy present in the backyard poultry issue.

On one hand, chickens are the easiest species of livestock to raise. They come up quickly and certain breeds can be ready to butcher within six weeks. Egg layers will start producing between 18-22 weeks.

On the other hand, from what I’m reading, at NPR and other websites, because people have been disconnected from the raising of livestock, they don’t know how to be good managers. Not because they’re bad people, but because they lack experience and buy in perhaps a bit naively.

Life is all about cycles, and while I am not a religious person, there’s a lot of truth in that line about there is a time to live and a time to die. Let’s look at this plainly. Since the domestication of animals, we’ve raised them to die for us. They feed us, with milk or eggs; they clothe us, with wool and leather; and finally they feed us, with their flesh. Unless we’re vegan or vegetarian, this is the cycle. That we’ve removed slaughter from public view does not change the fact that it cost an animal its life to make your meal. If you or someone in your family is not willing to be the one to take that life, then maybe you need to rethink whether you’re ready for poultry. Broken legs happen, birth defects happen, roosters who chase the dog and harry small children happen, and if you’re too squeamish to put an aggressive or injured animal out of its misery, or find someone who can, that’s the big difference in mindset that separates farmers and non-farmers. Farmers don’t enjoy killing, but they are raised with the understanding that life is about cycles and every cycle has an end. And that end has to be dealt with quickly and humanely.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s great that people want to raise chickens and I’m a firm believer that so long as they’re going to be good caregivers and maintain proper cleanliness for their residential standards, it’s fine to raise livestock wherever they’d like.

But raising livestock isn’t enough.

You have to have the wherewithal to humanely, even reverently, put down that livestock as well. We’ve raised these animals this way. It’s essentially our fault and our responsibility to ensure their well-being and happiness. Feeding us is their job, working for their well-being is ours. All the tree-hugging in the world won’t change that, so long as humans are the top predator, remain omnivorous, and maintain herds of domesticated livestock. We bred them to depend on us, for life and for death, and it’s our obligation as good caregivers, not to give them rights, but to maintain the best standard of care that we are capable of giving, for both the length of their life and their death.

For more information on abandoned poultry, try these thinks