I know that raising your own meat is not an option for many people. If you live in a neighborhood, or have a tremendously small homestead, livestock (especially large livestock) may not be an option.
If this is you – you can still eat as though you did raise it yourself. There are several ways to eat farm-raised, pasture grazin’, organic meat:
- Farmer’s Markets – many folks (like me) who do raise their own meat sometimes raise a little extra for folks like you. Not only will you be supporting them, you’ll be eating healthy.
- Specialty Organic Grocers & Markets – Organic, whole-food style grocery stores are popping up everywhere these days. They can be a great place to find free-range, pastured healthy meat.
- The Regular Grocery – Our voices are being heard. Many mainstream groceries have heard our cry for healthy, humanely raised meat. I have even seen organic, non-GMO meat selections at my nearby Walmart.
There are even more ways to find healthy, pasture raised meat: friends, neighbors and even your local extension office may be able to help you find some.
If you have space. And a little “want to.” It’s possible to raise your own meat. And…. I think you should.
Not only can raising livestock be simple, with some animals (chickens, ducks, rabbits, etc) it can be done in a relatively small space. Raising your own meat can also be (I think) rewarding and fulfilling.
Here’s 5 Reasons Why we Raise Our Own Meat:
Factory Farmed Meat makes me cry.
The Factory farmed meat I am talking about is a sad, sad business. I’m not referring to the sweet people like me (and you) who are raising meat on farms. I’m referring to the “companies” raising meat in confinement, with little thought to the condition or quality of life of the animals.
Just google “Factory Farming” and look at the images. Most of them are unsettling and sad to say the least. It breaks my heart to see these animals all crammed into such small spaces living such miserable lives. To think that just a few decades ago all these chickens, turkeys, cows and pigs were living, grazing and enjoying lush pastures and fields.
Some companies have streamlined the process of raising animals for food in the smallest space possible, as quickly as possible, netting the most meat possible. Pigs are being raised in concrete buildings where they don’t see sun, grass or dirt. Cows are crammed into dirt lots with nothing but piles of manure and other cows. Chickens and turkeys are being raised by the thousands in buildings without bugs, insects or earth to scratch and peck.
On the flip side we have happy, free-ranging, pasture eating, sunbathing critters. Like the ones at my place (and yours)!
In order to become healthy, organic, meat that will be nourishing and life giving to us- the animal itself needs to have lived a healthy life and have eaten a healthy diet.
We are what we eat eats.
I want my cows to eat grass. I want my chickens to eat bugs. I want my pigs to be playing in the mud. I want animals living, eating and grazing the way God made them to. I want my animals bathing in the sunshine, napping in pastures and living free, happy lives.
It is wonderful that the life that is best for the animal’s life quality is also:
- Healthier for the animal
- Healthier for the farmers working with the animals
- Better for the consumer who eats the animal
It is a win-win. Everyone benefits when animals are free.
Have you ever watched free-range chickens? Have you ever taken a baby pig for a walk? Have you ever kissed a calf? Have you ever held a just hatched chick in your hand?
Raising your own animals is a good time! The friendly Jersey cows who want to be in your lap. The adorable piggies who squeal at your arrival every morning. The furry bunnies that climb the sides of their cage because they want you to hold them. The chickens- they’re friendly, they’re stupid, they’re yard art, they’re hilarious.
It’s good for me.
Raising your own meat is going to improve your diet and your health in ways you may never know.
It’s like the saying about firewood: “It warms you twice. First when you’re chopping it. Second when you’re burning it.”
Raising your own food is similar. It’s healthy for you twice. First when you raise it. Second when you eat it.
If you don’t think raising animals is a workout you need to get a couple. Whew! They keep me moving all year long. No matter what the temperature, the weather, the schedule, the holiday, the sickness, the anything – the animals must be cared for. It is a daily workout that you won’t skip, put off, procrastinate or cancel. Because you can’t. It must be done – every day.
It’s the perfect workout plan. Unlike that gym membership that involved good intentions but was easy to drop – the animal-workout-plan is a sure thing. You can’t skip, forget, take a day off or reschedule. Exercise Yea!
It’s fast (sometimes).
You can raise a few pigs in a summer: Get them in spring – you’re done by Halloween. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s bacon! If you hate it, it’s over in 4 months.
Raising meat chicks is even faster. Get some just-hatched chicks and in 6-8 weeks you’re eating fried chicken.
Raising ducks will make your head spin. If you thought those chicks got huge in a hurry, go get a duckling. You can practically see it growing before your eyes. It only takes 4-5 weeks to raise a duckling into a full-blown-duck. Amazing.
Raising rabbits doesn’t take long either. They are born tiny little, naked-mole-rats and before you know it they are….. rabbits. In 2 quick months you won’t have baby bunnies anymore.
Now these are some timelines I can handle. They are perfect for ADHD homesteaders. With any of these animals you are in and out fast. If you hate it, it’s over in no time and you don’t ever have to do it again. You will have learned a ton. You will have meat in the freezer. You will have new self-sufficient, life-skills.
Cows are on the other side of the livestock raising spectrum. Raising a cow takes time, time, time; land, land, land (if you are short on land it takes hay, hay, hay) and patience, patience, patience.
I’m here to tell you, if you want to raise your own beef – you’ll be eating in a year and a half. I hope you’re not hungry. Raising a cow (or steer) is a looooooooong process. You can (and we have) processed our steers at a year old, but you usually won’t get as much meat and marbling.
We have some friends who REALLY want us to raise cows for them. I said no. Raising, feeding, watering, taking care of, de-icing the water, refilling the minerals, vet calls, de-worming, etc – for 18 months…… that is a lot, lot, lot, lot, of work. Nope. They can raise their own cows.
Chickens are a different story. I will raise you a chicken!
It’s cheaper (sometimes).
This one is debatable. If I told you how much I spend at the grocery each week to feed my family of 6 you would think I was a liar. It is not that much compared to most of the folks I know.
HOWEVER, they do not have my feed bills. There is a cost for hay, grain, fencing, barns, vet bills and all things necessary to raise your own meat. I do think it is often cheaper to raise your own animals. This is especially true when you let your cow raise your beef and feed your chickens mostly from scraps and free-ranging.
If you live in a city, or a neighborhood, or a suburb and it is not likely you will be getting a flock of meat chicks or a cow anytime soon, you can still eat healthy by purchasing free-range products.
Every time we spend our dollars on meat we are voting for how we want our meat raised. When you buy the locally raised, free-range meats you are helping the free-range, organic farmers and farms raise healthy, free animals.
Save a cow – eat free range!
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