For ten years I have been raising animals, at first pigs, lambs, goats, and chickens (laying hens and broilers), then ultimately just pigs, to kill so that we can eat their meat. At first, I went sporadically, but for the last five years, I have loaded pigs, anywhere from two to fifteen, onto the livestock trailer at least once every week and have delivered them to the slaughterhouse, where within minutes, or perhaps hours, they were killed, eviscerated, split in half lengthwise, and then rolled into a cooler to chill the still-warm-from-life carcasses down to a food safe – they are, or had become, been made into, food – temperature. Eventually, the pigs, their carcasses, have made their way to butchers, to restaurants, to local-centric farm stands, and to individuals' homes, mine included.
Each of us, that is, the people who purchase my pigs and I, have a myriad of ways of justifying raising animals to kill so that we can eat their meat. Some of those myriad ways are the same, some are different. All of them, however, include two key, and related, justifications: the pigs had good, many, including I, would say happy, lives; the pigs had quick, painless deaths. In other words, all of us to some important degree, care about the welfare of the pigs. We acknowledge their sentience, their intelligence, their great capacity for suffering, their many and varied interests, and we believe that it is incumbent on us – as farmers and consumers – to ensure, to the best of our abilities, that those attributes of pigs are not violated in any way, although we readily allow what we consider insignificant and necessary violations, like castration without any anesthetic; like being forcefully weaned from their mothers before the piglets or the mothers are ready for the weaning to take place; like herding them onto a trailer and then off of it into a new, strange, and therefore stressful place; like killing them, albeit quickly and painlessly.