Almost two years ago I wrote a blog post entitled How do I feel?. This post addressed one of the most frequently asked questions that I receive:
How can I send my animals to their death at a slaughter facility after caring for them on my farm for several months?
In addition to this question coming up frequently in conversation with friends and readers, I have to admit that it is something that personally worried me when I went to work at the feed yard. Prior to June of 1997, I had never taken care of an animal that was not a pet — I had never been introduced to the concept of a food animal.
I soon figured out that a food animal, one raised solely for the purpose of making human food, was very different than any pet that I had ever owned. I was required to care for the animal’s needs on a daily basis without becoming emotionally attached to it. Additionally, it was paramount that the care that I offered to the food animal was focused not only animal comfort, but also on the priority of growing safe food.
While I initially worried that I would form lasting attachments to my cattle and have difficulty sending them to slaughter, I never have. Mentally I have been able to place my bovines into a unique category where I feel responsibility toward them and care about them but do not form individual love attachments with them. I have been able to do this because I believe in raising animals for food production.
I place the importance of growing a healthy protein food source above my cattle’s right to life.
That statement may seem harsh, but it is the reality that I made a personal choice to become a part of when I went to work on our farm. I believe that it is an honorable vocation to raise and slaughter food animals. I nurture my cattle so that each one of us can nourish our bodies with a flavorful and healthy beef meal.
I both care for and care about my cattle, but I recognize that they exist to grow beef.
When I load my bovines up on the truck to ship to the packing plant, I accept that I am sending them to their death. As I serve their beef to my family, I recognize the gift that my animals gave with their lives and I feel very thankful for their sacrifice.