In the first part of a feature series on home slaughter, Tim Tyne says the process is surprisingly easy and wholesome, and connects us with our food in a natural way
It strikes me as a little odd that home slaughter of livestock for domestic consumption can be such an emotive subject amongst smallholders. After all, people put so much effort into giving their animals the best care and attention, a stress free and natural life, and everyone loves to extol the environmental benefits of home produced food due to its low food miles etc… and then what do they do? Shoo them into a trailer (a stressful enough experience in itself) and cart them off – many miles, in some cases – to spend the last moments of their lives in a totally alien environment amongst people they don’t know. Not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the way livestock are handled in an abattoir, and commercially reared animals probably take it all in their stride (having been used to being herded in groups through handling pens and buildings on a fairly regular basis anyway), but the average smallholder’s pig or sheep probably finds it all a bit worrying. The average smallholder probably finds it a bit worrying too, and this sentiment will communicate through to the animal and exacerbate an already
I admit that if you’re planning to sell any of the meat from your animals then you’ve got no choice but to go through with all this rigmarole, but where it’s destined solely for home consumption there is a better way: slaughter the animal yourself, on the farm were it was bred and reared, in familiar surroundings and with sympathetic handling. In this way we really do know what we eat, how it lived, and how it died, and we can tuck into our Sunday roast
with a clean conscience. The whole process is surprisingly easy, and wholesome, and connects us with our food in a way that very few people get the opportunity to experience nowadays.
The fruits of our labours: bacon, ham and sausages from a home-killed pig.
Plucking poultry - another job for the youngsters!