The phenomenon of Backyard Animal Husbandry is spreading among urban folks with no farm background. They are choosing to raise fowl and small mammals to eat! The economy is the main factor, but it apparently appeals to the "Homegrown is Better" mentality.
This rediscovery of the truth in the human/animal relationship must be agitating to the animal rights groups who have spent millions brainwashing the young and gullible to believe raising animals to eat is somehow abnormal.
But, as the animal rightists are discovering, people aren’t stupid. The new urban animal husbandrymen are only two generations from grandmas who milked cows, butchered their own hogs, raised chickens to eat and made their own sausage. Even if these urban newcomers only do it for a couple of years, they will learn the importance of proper nutrition, parasite control, vaccinations and manure management. If their goat or rabbit gets sick, they will realize antibiotics are a miracle drug! They will learn about withdrawal dates before slaughter or drinking the milk.
Big city, small animal veterinarians may be forced to take continuing education courses in the care of small mammals, TB testing and diseases of poultry. Hanging by their stethoscope and thermometer will be a hog snare, cow halter and a sheephook!
Although I am surprised by this renewed interest in livestock-raising by these mostly female urbanites, I shouldn’t be. In the last 25 years women have flooded the veterinary profession, ag schools, 4-H and FFA. They are compassionate by nature and aggressively practical when it comes to protecting and providing for their family. To the mortification of PETA and HSUS, there is no question in HER mind when she hears the animal rights loonies equate the value of a rat or a monkey to that of her children.
We who raise livestock as ‘professionals’ know the financial investment and the moral responsibility we bear for the animals in our care. We also understand the emotional attachment to those beasts making the ultimate sacrifice for our benefit. In the first half of the 20th century over half the population was involved in agriculture first hand. Now that number is less than two percent. Therefore, it is logical a large portion of the human race is inherently good with animals. So that means, in any cross-section of urbanites, many hundreds of thousands of ‘animal lovers’ have been removed from the shepherd/lamb relationship. That capability and desire is inside them just waiting to participate in the natural cycle of "sex and birth and death and life," as one urban goat raiser described it.
Both 9/11 and the recession have opened our eyes to the reality of surviving. They have exposed the frivolousness of some of the choices we made when we had the luxury to be wasteful. Seeing these urban animal husbandrymen join the ranks of animal production with serious intentions is encouraging. It’s like the world is tilting back and righting itself again.
Baxter Black is a former large animal veterinarian who can be followed nationwide through this column, National Public Radio, public appearances, television and also through his books, cds, videos and website, www.baxterblack.com.