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If you have enough space and enough time to dedicate to it, you might be thinking about your own animals at home. You don’t need to have acres of land to keep a cow or a herd of sheep. Instead, you can just keep a few chickens in a pen in the garden. Why should you think about raising your own animals? What makes the time, work, and money needed worth it?
Many people are horrified at the idea of factory farming. Animal welfare activists have been gained a lot of attention in recent years exposing the conditions of factory-farmed animals. Animal welfare is very important to some people, and be decided to raise your own, you can ensure that the animals that you eat, and the milk and eggs you consume, come from happy, healthy, well-cared-for animals.
From birth to death, you have total control of rearing your animals and producing food from them. This means you can be sure that they experience minimal suffering, and you know they’re being fed antibiotic growth promoter (AGP) alternatives. Even if you don’t feel comfortable producing your own meat, a few chickens can keep your family in eggs for a long time.
Intensive farming has a lot of impact on the environment which can be hard to ignore. Intensive farming of livestock is linked to global warming, environmental degradation, and even health issues in humans. Pasture-raised animals (these are animals kept on fields, instead of in pens) have less of an impact on the environment, as they will become part of the ecosystem of a homestead. Even just keeping a few ducks of your own in the garden can help you to create your own mini permaculture system if you put in a pond for them. This works as the ducks swim in the pond, which is then fertilised by the ducks. The pond then produces plants and wildlife that is sustained by those plants. These feed the ducks, and the environment wins.
Raising your own animals and using them to produce your own food is a very rewarding experience. When you know what goes into raising animals and creating food from them, your whole relationship with animal products changes. You will have a new-found respect for what you eat, an awareness of food waste, and more appreciation of the hard work that goes into rearing meat, eggs, or dairy. You will feel closer to the labor of food production.
If you’re eating food your reared yourself, you can feel comfortable knowing it is healthy, has been fed the best quality food, and is free from growth hormones and other nasties. Many people find that home-reared, free-range food tastes better too.
By spending time with the animals, you’ll be able to spend more time outside too and can use this time as a great way to teach your children about different animals and where their food comes from, making them more respectful of the environment.