If you have the space and the time, you might want to consider raising your own animals. It doesn't have to be acres of land where you can keep a cow or two and a few sheep, it can be as manageable as a few chickens in a pen in your back garden. So why would you bother? What reason could you possibly have to put in the work, time and money needed to raise your own animals? Here's three reasons why.
Because of Ethics
Perhaps you're horrified at the idea of factory farming. It's a hot topic and animal welfare activists have been able to gain more attention in the media than before regarding the conditions of factory farmed animals. The welfare of an animal is extremely important to some consumers and rearing your own is sometimes the only way to ensure the animals you eat, the milk you drink and the eggs you use are coming from happy, well-cared for animals. In the UK, it's not illegal to slaughter your own animals, though there are some very prescriptive guidelines on how it can be done and who can consume the meat of home slaughtered livestock. So from birth to death, the whole process of rearing your animals and turning them into food is in your control and can be overseen to ensure minimal suffering for your lovingly raised animals. You don't have to eat them for meat, a few chickens or ducks will keep you egg happy for years to come.
Because of the Environment
Tied in with the first reason, the impact of intensive farming on the environment is not something that we can pretend isn't an issue. Intensive farming of livestock has been linked to global warming, environmental degradation and even health issues among humans. It's widely known that pasture-raised animals (animals kept on fields instead of penned up in intensive conditions) have less of an impact on our environment because they become part of an ecosystem within a homestead. Even keeping your own ducks in your garden can help you create your own mini permaculture system if you include a pond for them to waddle in. The ducks swim in the pond, which in turn is fertilised by the ducks, which produces plants and wildlife that can be sustained by those plants, which feeds the ducks. It's a win/win for the environment!
Because it's good for you!
Some have likened their experience to raising animals and using them as food and other resources, once the time is right, as a near spiritual experience. While this might be too much for the cynics among us, it can't be denied that the act of raising and harvesting your own animal products would have a profound effect on your relationship with animal products overall. Perhaps a new-found respect for what you eat, an awareness of what we waste and an appreciation for the labour it takes to rear meat, eggs or dairy can help make you feel closer to the whole food production process and round out the human experience overall.