Eating Animals You Raise: Separating Pets from Meat

When you raise animals on a farm eventually everyone has to face the facts: eating animals you raise is part of the process of raising livestock on a farm. Species eat other species. And that pretty much includes us.

| November/December 2006

  • girl on porch
    Learn the differences between pets and livestock for food on the farm.

  • girl on porch

Farming and raising livestock often means eating animals you raise. Learn what separating pets from meat on the farm. 

I worried my family had maybe crossed over to the dark side the day my 2 1/2-year-old-daughter cradled a baby rabbit in her lap and sang to it, "Oh, sweet baby bunny! So cute! We going to eat you, baby bunny! Yum!"

Then again, this is what I had, in theory, been working toward for months.

Ella was only 20 months old when my neighbor dumped three pregnant female rabbits on our doorstep one afternoon in February. Our neighbor Tommy is a genuinely nice fellow, and he works at the local dump. People in our rural area take stuff to the dump they don't want — it's like the country version of Goodwill. Tommy often brings us leftovers from the dump — a wooden rocking horse for the children, discarded walkie-talkies in perfect working order and, that fateful Saturday afternoon, live rabbits.

"You want them?" Tommy asked.

The children, looking on, definitely wanted them. And I'd read something the week before about rabbits being good Great Depression-type food. They breed quickly and, in a pinch, eat weeds instead of food pellets. It's a good animal to have in case of emergencies (economic breakdowns, collapse of the food system, nuclear war, asteroid impact, bird flu: pick your disaster).

4/22/2016 11:03:40 AM

Hi Kirsten, I was only on the 1st page & I smiled & laughed out loud! Good job on a great article. I, myself, have not gotten enough courage to have either animal at our place, yet. Maybe someday, though. But I know that you can write a whole lot better than me! Keep up the good work & reporting.

Stacia Dunham
7/11/2014 9:20:57 AM

We decided to raise our own meat and researched the right type of rabbit for the 'job', how to house and how to dispatch. We (my daughter and I) decided to use the 'boot puller' method. We took a 2x8 and cut a wedge out of the middle, not too wide, rabbits have narrow necks, and attached it to a wall and when it's time, we place their necks in it and pull. Quick and efficient. Always have a brick just in case. The way to make this easier, is never name the ones that go to the table, and if you freeze them for a few days, you don't know which is which. Now the whole family love rabbit, prefer it in fact.

2/23/2014 8:18:08 AM

Great read, can't help recalling how we hatched a batch of eggs when my daughter was 3 years old. We got to watch her witness those chicks hatching, rewarding in itself. We set up a brooder box and watched as those fuzzy little chicks began to grow. A few days later, we did find that one died. As I removed it from the box and proceeded towards the garbage can, my little sweetheart stops me and asks "Daddy what are you going to to with the baby chick?" I cringed, the last thing I wanted was to have to have some mock funeral for this thing. "Uh, well honey the baby chick is dead so we have to throw it away." to which she replies "but don't we eat chickens, why throw it away?". I couldn't help but smile at her logic! I have to admit I was proud that she made the connection, at that time we weren't even harvesting chickens, but she did seem to understand more than we thought she did, and the thought seemed perfectly natural to her.



September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pennsylvania

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