By Nikki P. – Bacon Boxes Intern
Humane Husbandry: Moving Away from the Factory Model
The era of the industrial food complex may be on its way out, especially regarding the care and raising of animals for sustenance. Many individuals who enjoy eating meat and other animal protein are also conscious of its high costs—in terms of antibiotics industrially raised livestock must have, as well as the amount of water or fertilizer required to grow adequate, cheap feed. But there are other solutions to these problems than the massive factory farms have brought to bear. In the name of enlightened self-interest, as well as care for the animals’ quality of life, many are exploring humane breeding and raising programs. Below, we’ll address these in greater detail.
Humane animal husbandry refers to any program of animal breeding and fostering that emphasizes quality of life for the animal in question. These programs include legitimately free-range livestock, a diversified feeding strategy that deemphasizes cheap feed in favor of greater benefit to livestock, and more organically focused methods of caring for herds or flocks. They are largely self-regulated within the bounds of strict guidelines emplaced by peer group oversight committees.
Sustainable farming practices are often linked with humane animal husbandry practices. In large part, these are two aspects of a larger consideration—conservation of resources, responsible custodianship of the land, and the provision of healthy foods for both animals and people. Such farming concepts focus on natural, organic methods for pest deterrence, retention of soil nutrients, and avoidance of harsh chemical agents as a means of fertilizing crops.
While the more draconian principals of animal rights movements will insist that humane husbandry is a myth, there’s a large body of evidence from other parts of the world that says otherwise. Animals that live a rich, natural life produce better milk, meat, or eggs. Clean, humane processing at the end of their lives also produces a better product. Coupled with sustainable farming in a symbiotic dynamic, these animals require fewer resources. In terms of making those resources count, interested companies can produce quality with conscience, and preserve the environment at the same time.