Backyard Animal Slaughter

Mr. James McWilliams recently decided to write an op-ed for the Atlantic that made me simply shake my head. There really was no other reaction to it because it was some of his worst writing to date. And that’s saying a lot for Mr. McWilliams.

His argument? That animals were better off being killed in slaughterhouses far from everyone than to allow urban farmers to slaughter their own meat animals. He wasn’t arguing for veganism (for once) but rather removing people as far away from their food source as possible. In his opinion the “experts” have never botched an animal slaughter. He then linked to a couple of anecdotes (including friends of mine) to try to prove his point.

But what he didn’t do was the proper research about what exactly happened. Nor does he follow any logic in his train of thought. And let’s not get me started on the photo he chose which had absolutely nothing to do with backyard meat production. Rather it’s a 4 legged chicken, being held inappropriately by the way, that was born in an Indian slaughterhouse.

His first anecdotal victim was my friend, Heidi. He linked to a post she did about a terminally ill hen she had. Mind you, this was a hen only intended for egg production. She had gotten Mareks, which is a deadly, incurable disease. When Heidi had purchased her and the rest of her flock, being the responsible chicken owner she is, she asked the seller if they had been vaccinated and was told by the unscrupulous seller that they had been when in fact they had not been.

This poor chicken had no hope of recovery and was slowly suffocating. Heidi had to do something right away and since most vets, even rural ones, don’t deal with chickens, she felt she had to put it out of it’s misery on her own. I wouldn’t say she botched the chicken slaughter. And honestly, I’ve heard her recount the story multiple times and the only thing I feel is sorry for her and the torment she went through trying to put this animal out of it’s misery.

Apparently this is Mr. McWilliams’ argument against backyard meat production.

Heidi has since learned how to properly slaughter a chicken. How do I know? Because Tom and I were the ones she came to for help because she didn’t want to repeat what had happened. We showed her a couple of different ways so she could find the best way to do the deed. Of course, you fail to mention that she has since learned how to slaughter a chicken properly. But I don’t find that surprising considering the content I usually find here on the Atlantic – poorly cited and poorly researched while being overly sensational.

My husband regularly teaches people how to slaughter poultry and rabbits (oh the horrors!) so that they will do it properly – fast and as painlesss and stress free as possible. Of course life and death are never perfect and sometimes things do go wrong no matter how many precautions you make. All you can do is make sure to finish the job as quickly as possible and learn from the experience. We no longer use the killing cone since we had a escape-prone chicken actually  escape from it. Instead we now go with what we feel is the quickest death even if it is less comfortable for us.

Those of us that raise our own animals are doing so because we don’t want to be part of the industrialized agricultural machine that routinely abuses animals for the sake of the almighty dollar. Mistakes will be made but we learn from them so that instead of thousands of animals being abused for our sake we reduce that amount to nearly zero.

Now that you’ve read my long winded rant I implore you to read Heidi’s open letter to McWilliams. I promise you’ll laugh your ass off. 

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