Raise Your Food

Raise your food – save money and be independent

Why Raise Your Own Meat Chickens?

Written By: Julie - Sep• 13•13

raising meat chickens at homeRaising your own meat chickens is not a first-step into backyard farming for most people. It sometimes takes some time to get used to the idea of raising what you eat. Some people think it is cruel to raise and animal and then eat it. But I have come to the decision that being nice to our food is just being honest. Hypocrisy is saying that I believe in animal welfare – then patronizing businesses that harm animals.

I can be really nice to a chicken and even pet it (occasionally it even gets a name). Then when it is time, I can eat it without guilt. How? Because I know it had a good life. It has fulfilled the measure of its creation. It was bred, hatched, raised and humanely dispatched for one purpose. Eating factory chickens makes me feel guilty now – eating ethically-raised chickens entails no guilt for me.

I once believed I could never raise meat chickens because I am the type of person who feels bad every time I have to kill a bug (except flies!). I can’t stand the thought of a life being wasted. So, how did I come to having raised over 200 pounds of poultry meat so far in the last 5 months? It just made sense to raise our own meat chickens (and turkeys and geese) once I learned more about the way factory chickens are raised. I have come to believe that the best way to honor its life is to raise it with dignity – then eat it with thanksgiving.

My family never raised farm animals of any kind. My mother grew up in a coal town where farming was a way of life – and survival. She was so traumatized by what she saw that she never wanted anything to do with raising livestock. My dad was raised in the Washington DC area – and there was not much farming going on there! My mother is horrified that I do all this farming stuff. But to me, it is the most ethical way to eat meat.

Before you get into the “we should all be vegetarians” argument – that is not practical for everyone. Some people thrive on an all-plant diet. I don’t. I get sick. Very sick. No amount of careful protein-balancing helps my body compensate for lack of animal protein. I have tried. Several times. The last time I tried I was mostly vegan for 4 months. My hair started falling out. A lot. Thank you, I’ll eat meat before I go bald. And, yes, I ate beans, nuts, Omega-3′s and lots of leafy greens. So for my family, vegan is not an option.

So, if you are going to eat meat, why choose to raise your own meat chickens? For us it comes down to it being the best way for us to get a steady supply of ethically-raised, healthy meat. Our chickens are raised on the ground – not in crowded factories where they are given less space than a sheet of paper per bird. They are allowed to scratch around and eat bugs and weeds. They hang out with other chickens in a comfortable environment where they can be chickens.

Unlike factory chickens, our birds have whole beaks that are never trimmed. There is NO problem with pecking since they are happy and not crowded to the point of stress.

Sunlight, fresh air and good farming practices replace the need for constant antibiotics in the factory “farms.” Did you know that a chicken can be sold as “cage-free” even if it never goes outdoors? Or that it can be sold as “free range” even if it only has potential access to the outdoors for a few minutes each day? I know that the birds we raise are raised in a safe, clean, healthy environment where they really can move around and enjoy being chickens.

Despite my mother’s protests, I think it is good for my daughter to know where food comes from. Tomatoes come from our garden. Chicken and turkey come from animals she helped to raise. We don’t waste food because wasting things is wrong – but also because we believe that each animal gave its life for this purpose and it would be wrong to waste it.

Raising meat chickens is not possible or right for every family. But if you have the resources to do so, try it! The flavor and texture really are so much better than factory birds.


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  1. Laurie says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on raising and eating your own chickens! My neighbor on Bowen Island, BC, had chickens. They kept them mainly for the eggs, but it’s possible they also ate them sometimes.

    I’d love to try a home-raised chicken. Will you invite me over for a bbq next time you eat one of yours? ;-)

    Stay true to you,

    PS I think your blog theme is really cool.

  2. Karl E Bennett Jr says:

    WOW, great article, very timely. My wife and I are looking at raising our on crabs and prawn shrimp. By the way the Shrimp grows to 7 inches. Reading your article made me think of that. What I like the most about your article was that how the chicken is labeled as free range and cage free, but they are truly not. What is a few minutes each day? Once again, thank you for the information.

  3. Julie says:

    Come on over! We have homegrown chicken a couple of times a month and tomorrow we are cooking our first turkey. Next year we will have American Bresse and Buckeye chickens – both are supposed to be amazingly tasty. Buckeyes are part of the Ark of Taste list!

  4. Julie says:

    Homegrown shrimp sounds amazing. I had never even thought of that! Our chickens are fun for our daughter, a good hobby for me, and entertainment as well as meat and eggs. Be sure to give your shrimp a big hug for me!

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