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Q: I need no sales job on the virtues of meat from creatures eating what they evolved to eat, having been graced by the presence of a fine hen who took up residence in my highly diverse city yard (really! native plants and lots of them). She made her living strictly from my yard and the one next door, neither of which suffered the assaults of chemical agents. Her eggs were enormous, the yolks nearly red, and intensely flavored.
Well anyway, on to my question. One utterly compelling reason I have forsaken eating meat is the cruelty inherent in the whole process. Feedlots, factory farms, brutality in shipping, slaughtering practices that allow still living animals to be butchered all make it impossible for me to participate in the economic support of this unethical, unhealthy system. But, make no mistake. I am a carnivore. If I knew a skilled and ethical hunter, I'd happily buy from him (her?) and live on venison and the tasty wild swine that infest all our natural areas in Florida.
So, tell me true, here. Who does the slaughtering and how do they do it? I saw no mention of cruelty-free practices on your producers' page, so I must ask the question.
A: One of the many myths of the modern meat industry is the "cruelty to animal" myth. For starters the USDA has a book full of rules about humane treatment and humane slaughter and their inspectors are standing there watching when animals are being slaughtered. But that isn't good enough for most industry members (you can always find a slob here or there). The vast majority of meat processors are trying to adhere to Temple Grandin's standards and they are tough -- much tougher than the USDA's. Go to http://www.grandin.com/ and you will see what I mean. This lady is world famous. In fact our working facilities on our ranch were designed by her. There are many reasons why humane slaughter is so important and folks don't have to be concerned about it. The biggest reason may be that the more excited an animal is before it dies (for instance imagine an animal that knows it's being hunted) the worst the eating characteristics of its meat. When our critters are slaughtered they literally will not know what hit them and will not know it was coming. And that's true for what I'd say is over 99% (mistakes happen) of all the many millions of kills made each year here in America. I doubt that there's a hunter alive that could claim a record of humanely and quickly killing critters that could even approach that of a modern slaughter facility.
Another point here. In one of her books Grandin wrote about operating the stun gun in a slaughter plant and killing cattle. To her it approached a religious experience and her concern for quickness and humane treatment was what it was all about.
Another point; even the transporters of cattle are under the gun (so to speak) of the humane treatment guidelines of the USDA. And the packer industry supports the rules because it means they end up with a higher quality product.
We do not brag up our humane treatment because that improperly implies that most others are cruel. That would be deceptive advertising on our part and we do not play that game. Although, you'll find that others do through ignorance or because of their desperate attempt to sell folks with sleight of hand rather than straightforward facts. Click on USDA for its take on humane slaughter. Also check our take on the infamous Chino, California meat plant animal cruelty fiasco. In addition go to our National Disgrace page. And if that's not enough read The War on Modern Agriculture. Thanks for asking the question. It is a good one . . . but it's also a very insulting question to ask any professional cattleman. Think about that for a moment. Then tell me, when did you stop beating your spouse? :-)