Kids Witnessing the hunting/butchering of animals process? What do you think? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 11-03-2012, 02:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If anyone in your family hunts or aspires to for the sake of procuring a cheap supply of non-commercial meat, what do your kids think about it? Do you let/ecourage/discourage them for viewing the killing or butchering process...?  As a former vegetarian, I'm conflicted...There is hog and deer hunting available here and I would love a free source of non-commercial meat...It seems like taking an animal that lead a free range life out here in the wilds where we are is vastly more ethical than participating in the misery of factory-farmed animals by buying that kind.  I'm just not sure if the sight of killing then butchering beautiful wild animals would traumatize/permanently freak out my kids, who are always around because we homeschool.  On the other hand, since they do like to eat meat, they should get the de-commercialized, real view of what eating meat means..., right...? Of course we would talk a lot about honoring the animal by using every part possible and saying a blessing (my granny's native Blackfeet roots might help me out with that...).

 

I'd love to hear your thoughts/experiences!!!

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#2 of 19 Old 11-03-2012, 03:49 PM
 
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We are not hunters, but we raise chickens for eggs and considering raising them for meat.  My neighbor butchered his, and I went down to see if my extra roosters couldn't be a part of that day's butchering.  My daughter wanted to go along for the initial visit and I let her, but when she asked if she could come for the butchering I said "no", though I think she would have been fine with it. Mostly I knew I would be a while and didn't want her stuk there when I had work to do, but also these were once pets, birds they raise from their 1st day of life, cuddled and hand fed, but they ultimately became pretty aggressive.  They finally agreed to let them go, but even I was having a hard time with the reality of it.

 

DD watched our neighbor gut on of his chickens, and it just didn't faze her, though she didn't see the "goriest" part of the actual killing.  She talked about what she saw with the family.  

 

I think I would try to make the process out-of-view if the kids want it.  If they want to be there, I think that's fine, too.  

 

I am of the same thinking that you are.  I also think children need to feel free to come to their own conclusions.  I know I had that luxury as a child, and I want to give it to mine.

 

Sorry I couldn't bring my answer to hunting, but I definitely have had these same thoughts in regards to hand-raising animals for meat--any animal products in fact.


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#3 of 19 Old 11-03-2012, 05:52 PM
 
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We hunt deer and raise meat goats. My Dad & DH both hunt deer and I anticipate my boys (5.5 & 3) going out with them in the next few years to sit and, some day shoot deer. We do butcher our own deer and have for years... a couple years ago we had one sitting in our house for hours while it dethawed as it had frozen solid overnight. It had to thaw before we could first skin and then butcher it. :shrug: 

 

I avoid buying meat from grocery stores as much as I can. As noted we hunt & raise goats for a large portion of our meat and most of the rest comes from one of my friends who raises chickens, turkeys & pigs - this year we bought 25 chickens, 1 turkey and 1 pig from her. We are also buying a lamb from another friend/neighbor this year. 

 

I think its much better for kids to know where the food they're eating comes from - real animals - so they can be thankful for it and understand why factory farms are so horrible. Good luck!

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#4 of 19 Old 11-03-2012, 08:24 PM
 
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It seems like taking an animal that lead a free range life out here in the wilds where we are is vastly more ethical than participating in the misery of factory-farmed animals by buying that kind.

I agree with this. I eat meat, but I'm always a little sad that an animal had to die. For some reason though, it seems more ethical to quickly kill a wild, free animal that led a quality life, as opposed to a factory farmed animal that suffered all the way to the end. That seems strange, right? Kill the happy animal?  If I'm going to eat meat, I would prefer to eat an animal that was not born into a miserable life.

 

As for the kids, I think you should let them see the butchering if they want. As for the acutal killing, I wouldn't recommend it unless you're sure they can handle it. The butchering/cleaning process can be gross, but the animal is already dead. Watching the killing can be too upsetting for some--even now, my husband has to kill the chickens because I don't like to do it myself. I even hate pointing out the ones for him to kill (I feel like a hit man!)

 

I'm happy to see that you want to use other parts of the animal. I'm a taxidermist so this brings me great joy lol!! If you want any ideas, just let me know. Most kids are interested in "stuffed animals" or animal parts, and there are so many easy projects you can do with spare parts, like rooster tails, wings, feet, deer skins, squirrel tails, etc.  Cleaning and preserving these scrap parts is so easy and fun--anybody can do it! You can teach your child the importance of killing, cleaning, and eating an animal, and then saving a piece that will last forever.


 
 
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#5 of 19 Old 11-03-2012, 08:27 PM
 
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Check it out!

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#6 of 19 Old 11-04-2012, 04:21 PM
 
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I have no problem with my kids seeing it and helping with the processing.  It's all what they get used to.  I want them to know how to hunt and fish and what to do after taking an animal.  I want them to know this stuff so they can feed themselves when they are older if they need to or even just want to.  Providing for oneself is very satisfying.  . 

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#7 of 19 Old 11-06-2012, 01:06 PM
 
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I think it depends on the kid. My son would be a vegetarian if he had to be involved in butchering his own food. He has no problems raising it lovingly for slaughter, or cooking and eating an animal he raised...but actually killing and butchering it are emotionally traumatic for him. My daughter, on the other hand, revels in the process. She started us on the tradition of naming our food animals with food names. Pigs named "Bacon", chickens named "Roaster the Rooster", goats named "Curry". *sigh* She loves and cuddles them when they're alive, and talks about how good they're going to taste because they've been raised with so much love. She's learning to bow hunt, and tells us she can't wait to go hunting for Bambi (she'd never hurt a baby animal. she means full grown Bambi.) I'm more like my son, honestly, but I don't see any problem with dd being involved in any part of putting food on our table. lol


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#8 of 19 Old 11-06-2012, 11:42 PM
 
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I think it depends on the kid. My son would be a vegetarian if he had to be involved in butchering his own food. He has no problems raising it lovingly for slaughter, or cooking and eating an animal he raised...but actually killing and butchering it are emotionally traumatic for him. My daughter, on the other hand, revels in the process. She started us on the tradition of naming our food animals with food names. Pigs named "Bacon", chickens named "Roaster the Rooster", goats named "Curry". *sigh* She loves and cuddles them when they're alive, and talks about how good they're going to taste because they've been raised with so much love. She's learning to bow hunt, and tells us she can't wait to go hunting for Bambi (she'd never hurt a baby animal. she means full grown Bambi.) I'm more like my son, honestly, but I don't see any problem with dd being involved in any part of putting food on our table. lol


Lol that's awesome!  I also like the fact that it's your son who would not be into it but your daughter.  Congratulations on raising kids who can be themselves.  My daughter is much more into it then my son too. 

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#9 of 19 Old 11-06-2012, 11:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, so many empowering replies--thank you !  I love this, SweetSilver:  "I also think children need to feel free to come to their own conclusions. I know I had that luxury as a child, and I want to give it to mine." I've never thought that thought before, and I'm glad it's landed in my consciousness now! And this, Istimestar, " Providing for oneself is very satisfying. " I can relate to that with trying to grow lots of our own food--it is satisfying, indeed! Incorrigibe your daughter sounds so cool!  OK, I'll give them options and see how their feelings guide them.  Hog hunting slated to begin, I'll keep you posted ;)

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#10 of 19 Old 11-07-2012, 01:02 PM
 
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Thanks for the compliments, all. We do try! lol 

 

Wildflower, I can't wait to read your updates. =D


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#11 of 19 Old 11-07-2012, 04:14 PM
 
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My sensitive oldest child was the one who helped me slaughter the turkeys last week and I was so grateful.  I love the animals I raise and that's why in the end I have chosen not to be taking part in industrial food.  When I look at where I live, and what goes into large scale farming of even vegetables, the vegetarian option doesn't make sense in terms of fossil fuels or habitat loss for animals.  But just because my brain came to that conclusion doesn't make it feel easy.  My kids have an example of seeing that you can do the best to give an animal the best life possible (including wild animals responsibly hunted) but that all creatures must take life of some type (plants are still alive) to live.  Even the strictest fruitarian can't pull off not taking a life.  I don't make the kids have to watch or participate in anything they don't want to, though, and the oldest I mentioned was a long time until he felt he was ready - but then he was OK.  It was gross and unpleasant, but over quickly, and the turkey was delicious!


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#12 of 19 Old 11-08-2012, 08:53 AM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by gonyere View Post

 

I think its much better for kids to know where the food they're eating comes from - real animals - so they can be thankful for it and understand why factory farms are so horrible. Good luck!

 

I agree.

 

OP - how old are your children?  I am sort of struggling with the same thing.

 

I grew up in a farming/hunting family and have very fond memories of butchering, especially when everyone would gather at my grandparent's to process deer. It never bothered me (or any of the cousins) in the least bit but I grew up seeing it.

 

My DS is 7yo and we are struggling with the hunting/buthering issue right now.  He understands meat comes from animals but can't wrap his head around the cow in the field will be the steak on our plate in a couple of months.

 

My DH doesn't hunt but my relatives do.  Last year DS got very upset at his first site of a hanging deer.  I have always talked about responsible hunting and how it is a good thing but the sight of a fresh kill overwhelmed him.  This year I will explain the process again and ask if he would like to go to his great uncle's to see the (dead) deer.


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#13 of 19 Old 11-10-2012, 07:39 PM
 
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We raise and butcher all our own meats. Killing and butchering animals is a natural part of human history. I don't feel children should be sheltered completely from it. I do feel that it depends on the child as to exactly how much you think they're comfortable viewing or partaking in. Some kids are so much more sensitive than others, y'know?

 

In my particular situation, the kids that might be outside with me when I and/or my husband are killing and butchering, are 3,4, 6 and 14 yrs old. I always say something just before the killing like "okay, you shouldn't look, it's going to be yucky", or sometimes I say "don't look if you think it's going to be scary- mama's not going to look". And my children have been able to handle making that call for themselves. Sometimes they choose to look, sometimes they turn away. Sometimes they say to me "that wasn't yucky, mama!" :p 

 

I was vegetarian for 14 years, btw. ;)


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#14 of 19 Old 11-19-2012, 04:40 PM
 
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My kids watched us butcher our turkey yesterday. The 6 and almost 5 year old were out there from beginning to end. They watched some, they played some, they helped us pluck. The three year old came outside while we were plucking and seemed a little distressed, but when we brought the carcass inside to butcher they all sat around the table and watched. They came and went the whole time. No trauma. My husband did make a point to do the throat slitting out of direct view and we lowered him into a trash can while he bled out, but they did understand what was happening. Honestly, I was expecting more of a big deal, but today was business as usual.


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#15 of 19 Old 11-25-2012, 08:30 AM
 
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My kids have seen chickens being butchered (I don't do it- I take them to a guy who does it).  They watched and were intrigued by the entire process.  It was really awesome because there were some hens with eggs forming and we saw the entire egg formation in stages :)  It started us off on a little anatomy unit even for school.  I did take some hogs to the locker and the kids wanted to watch there- but I just didn't think they needed to watch them be shot, flop around, and be drug into the locker.  I bribed them with a Pepsi to sit at the counter while I backed up to the door.  I don't know....  It doesn't make much sense does it?


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#16 of 19 Old 01-24-2013, 01:32 AM
 
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This is old, but we processed again today, so I thought I would chime in anyway

 

I care a great deal about the animals we raise, and it is hard for me to butcher them, but I could not buy meat that was factory raised or sent to auction or to the butcher- I need to do it myself because of how much I care for them.

The first time we butchered, DH and I worked together, but I was not really sure how it would go myself, so I was honest with the kids, I told them what we were doing and where we were doing it- but I gave them an easy out of fun activities and a movie inside if they wanted. 

That first time my oldest wandered out a few times, stayed only a moment and then went back inside. 
We have processed and butchered many many times here since then. This last time, my oldest, nine.  Wanted to butcher her own.  It was also hard for her, but she wanted to do it, I insisted on helping with a few parts, but she wanted to do it and did well.

My 2nd oldest has wandered in and out of various butcherings and processings, and my poor baby is usually on my back in a carrier- so she has seen plenty of them.

My point is just that we did not really push it at all, but we were always direct and honest about it, and given their own timing each child has come to it.

When we eat our meat, my children are proud and appreciative, they do not waste food when it is such a blessing that the animal gave us- and they are a part of that

ALL our animals have names, and they are all treated with the same kindness and playfulness and care as our house dogs are- when we eat a bird at the table they kids want to know who it was and they talk about that animal

My oldest has helped with wild game, deer, she has helped with fish, and with chickens, turkeys and ducks.  The first time we kill a hog I will not have her there just because I myself do not know what to expect, and I want to be emotionally present for my kids when they experience it for the first time as well.  Now, that I am familiar with processing birds, I can welcome new folks to help and to watch- I still have a horrified pained look on my face, and I am still very sad, and I am glad my kids get to see that it affects mom and dad too - death is a heavy thing, and hope it remains a heavy thing at our home

 

anyway good luck! Give it time and space

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#17 of 19 Old 02-02-2013, 07:56 AM
 
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We raise chickens for meat and DD, who is 2, has been watching for 2 years. She started out in a playpen next to us and now she is mostly able to play not too far-not too close to us while it happens. I think she kind of understands that the chickens that are alive, the chickens we are butchering, and the chicken going in the oven or crockpot are all the same thing. Last summer when I put a chicken in the oven and she said, "oh, buk buk..." but she had no problem eating it. We treat our animals with respect and teach her to do the same. She also helps with chores as much as she can and she would love if the chickens would play with her.

 

 

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#18 of 19 Old 02-17-2013, 03:21 PM
 
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Both of my boys (3.5, 6.5) participate in butchering days and always have (even when my youngest was in the backpack out of practicality because 2 pairs of hands are faster than one). We've only butchered meat we have grown (goats, chickens, turkeys) and it's just a completely normal thing that we do. This season when we did the turkeys for Solstice my older son, who is a homeschooled first grader, really enjoyed the anatomy of the innards. He was so curious what the inside of a testicle would look like so he sliced one in half. We're kind to our animals, we're respectful of their deaths, and we always give thanks to the animal for their lives and for nourishing our family. For our family, being a part of this natural process has only been beneficial. When a close family member recently passed, each of my kids could understand it much more concretely than an average kid their age because they have such a solid understanding of life and death. It's so matter of fact for them. It makes me realize that fear of death is something learned and is possibly quite cultural, really.

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#19 of 19 Old 02-18-2013, 11:33 AM
 
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I think that kids learn how to react, what to feel, by watching those around them, adults they love and respect. If you tell them (by your words, expressions, body language) that this is good, right, respectful of the animal, they will adopt that attitude. If you are upset, squeamish, feeling guilty, they will pick up on that. I would not force an unwilling child to watch, but I think too much build-up and protection would give a child the idea that there is reason to fear.
 


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