The Basics of Raising Animals

Learn the basics of raising animals, whether for hobby farming or for consumption.

| June 2013

  • Hobby-Farming
    With the advice from “The Joy of Hobby Farming,” you can balance a career and a farm, while living the sustainable lifestyle you have always wanted.
    Cover Courtesy Skyhorse Publishing
  • Raising-Animals
    Animals provide good, old-fashioned entertainment.
    Photo By Fotolia/Jan S.

  • Hobby-Farming
  • Raising-Animals

In The Joy of Hobby Farming see how to farm for fun, not for a living. Authors Michael and Audrey Levatino show how you can grow your own vegetables and live sustainably while also working a full-time job. In this excerpt taken from chapter 8, "General Animal Care Basics," learn about the ethics of eating meat and the basics of raising animals on a farm. 

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: The Joy of Hobby Farming.

Our philosophy of raising animals

We’d already been practicing vegetarians when we made the decision to begin farming.

Coming from the beautiful mountains of Colorado where we met, we have always been concerned with the impact that eating meat has on our natural world. It takes approximately twenty pounds of grain (which is how most of the world’s animals are fed for meat production) to produce one pound of beef. That is not a sustainable ratio for the environment if we eat meat every day. In addition, most people are completely divorced from the source of the meat they consume. Even the grass-fed farmer at your local farmer’s market has his animals slaughtered and butchered by someone else (due to USDA regulations). And forget about trying to rationalize the commercial meat industry; as soon as an industrial production model is attached to any living sentient being, it’s inevitable that injustice will be done. Our philosophy is that if you can’t kill and dress your own meat (not every single bit you eat, of course), then you aren’t honoring that animal and you aren’t honoring yourself. But after moving to a farm and raising animals, we quickly realized that achieving a level of ethical purity was close to impossible. So while we still don’t consume meat, we understand that many people want to raise and consume meat in the healthiest and most ecologically sound way possible. Hobby farming allows for you to come the closest to that ideal.

We do eat fish. We’ve fished ponds for catfish, green rivers in Texas for bass, marshes in the Keys for red fish, mountain streams of Colorado for trout, and the Chesapeake Bay for rock fish. We’ve even ventured into the Pacific on a salmon fishing boat off the coast of Oregon that fishes with lines, not nets. We’ve caught, cleaned, cooked, and eaten our fish (but certainly not a majority of it) and feel a connection to it. Fish also live in the wild (we do not eat commercially farmed fish) where they aren’t crowded together and fed antibiotics to keep their tight living situations from spreading disease. We follow the sustainable fisheries guidelines and stay away from species that are overfished. And fish is healthy.

Milk and cheese are another issue. You can’t get milk without a cow, sheep, or goat that has been pregnant. And cows don’t only give birth to female cows. They also produce bulls. And those bulls don’t produce milk, so they are sold as meat. You can’t get cheese without milk. So if you’re eating milk and cheese, then you are also contributing to the meat culture. We get that. But we’re also not completely dogmatic in our approach to food and meat, and we do eat milk and cheese sparingly.

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