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Is it a good idea to give meat animals names? And other questions and reflections on raising meat

 
gardener & author
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I’ve raised pigs before - we bought them as weaned piglets, raised them for a few months, and then got a mobile butcher here to slaughter them in a stress-free way. The whole time I looked after them, I knew why they were here and didn’t forget that. I enjoyed their company, observing them. and feeding them, but I knew we would have to say goodbye at some point.

We’ve just had five boy goats born here, and I won’t be keeping any for breeding. I watched them being born, helped them to start feeding (they were born to the two mother goats that are a bit tricky at first), and I have been checking up on them every day to make sure they are well, but I know they are destined to be eaten by us and our friends.

I am wondering if because I have helped them early on, will it be more difficult when it is time to say goodbye? Or is just my practical nature (where I know I can’t keep every goat or my land would be overrun, and that we need to have meat) going to help me to keep focused that they are here for a reason?

My children love to come up with names for animals. When we were looking after some orphaned meat lambs for a friend, my children knew that the lambs would end up as meat, but named them anyway before I had a chance to figure out if it was a good idea or not. Now that I have a chance to think about it first, I am wondering if it is a good idea or not?

Is it harder to say goodbye to an animal that has a name? Or is it a positive thing, keeping us connected to our food sources?

Does anyone know how this issue was approached in the agrarian past, when it was more common for families to raise their own meat?
 
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I don't have an issue either way. One thing to everyones advantage is the wait time. It's one thing for Bertha to go away today and you have a freezer of meat tomorrow vs Bertha going away today and meat comes 3 weeks later. That extended time helps a lot.

I have a story. I have a one acre section fenced off as a feedlot. A place to put a pair of cows to get fat and keep from the bull so they don't get pregnant. The neighbor kids get to know them since they share a fenceline. They asked where the cows were. I said in my freezer. The mom says " joe" is a vegan now. I ask joe why. He says cause of animal cruelty. Ok " joe". Since my cows were happy cows, i'd like to give your family a couple of steaks. If you are concerned with animal cruelty, eating happy steak from happy cows should be acceptable correct?

It worked.  Mom thanked me for the great explanation.
 
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We did, so it would be easy to identify which one we were talking about, if there was something going on, but we choose names that reminded us that these weren't pets, but food. We named them thinks like 'Drumstick', 'Stew', 'Meatloaf'...
 
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We generally give them names.

Makes life easier if we can say, "Hazel has a sore on her leg", or "Sage has went broody again", or "Looks like Blackie is pregnant", or "Thanksgiving got out of the coop again!"

My brother raises 3 meat turkeys per year, and each year, they have the same names: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas.

Our milk cows all had the same name for 30 years: Sugi. Except for one, which was crazy wild. She was called Duncel.

The names often key off of a physical or behavioral trait of the anima: Spot, Blackie, Stormy, Runt, etc.





 
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When our children were young, we did as Carla posted and named meat birds after food - "Stew" being a common one, but occasionally more creative than that. It really helps me to keep things straight if they have names, and it just seems rude to say, "that bird" all the time.
 
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I give all ours names, with varying degrees of success because of that.

My names are easy, whatever their ear tag says.

It gets kind of comical because as I am out in the pasture, it sounds like I am doing Trigonometry, "Come on Four Fifty Six, leave her alone", or, "let's go six seventy one, get in the barn."
I am sure the neighbors wonder what the heck I am doing, as I am going out through my pasture, personifying numbers...of shepifying numbers as it is I guess... but it makes naming easy. Like I already know the next sheep here will be names Seven Eight Two.

But with the children, my naming method has less impact, and I just sound like a heartless father. But since I have four daughters, and I was forever calling Mariah; Alyson, and Alyson;Kaeyn, or just going through 3 names before I found the right name for the right daughter, I just adopted the number method. Now I just say, "Hey Number Three, time to clean your room!, or "I love you Number Four". Unlike in the pasture where it can be comical, I just get strange looks by the neeighbors while in the grocery store.

Now with the wife, my naming method does not really work at all. Because I have been married three times, and despite a deep sense of affection regarding this, Katie seems to have issues with being referred to as "Number Three", She actually really hates being referred to as "Number Three". I have abandonded that name for her, but mostly because it gets confusing because am I referring to "Wife Number Three" or "Daughter Number Three"? And since I am on my third wife, I am starting to realize unless I want my next wife to be "Number Four", I should probably just refer to "Wife Three" as "Katie", just to appease her. But I do know what you are thinking at this point, how could Wife One or Wife Two leave such a fine romantic, loving, and affectionate husband, an answer I do not have an answer for!

But it should be pointed out, despite the practacality of such a method, I do not tag the ears of children or wifes with their respective numbers.

To the chagrin of "Wife Three", AKA "Katie", I also have my body tatooed with the name of "Wife One", AKA "Tina" with a dragon holding a heart with her name in it. That was silliness on my part as I should have known we would get divorced as I always introduced her to new people as "and this is my first wife Tina", kimd of a phropehtic statement in that regard.

And I did find out that divorce is indeed expensive because when my sister died, I got the "buy one, get one at half off" headstone deal at the granite shop, and now have a polished granite step, that says "Travis and Tina Johnson" with our birth dates and epithat on it even. So much for planning ahead...

So yeah, naming has not really been a skill I mastered yet.



 
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