Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I was shocked today to read advice on the internet that one must put the welfare of animals above "everything else". I hope this was hyperbole, but I fear there are people out there that feel exactly that. In the Torah (the Bible), we have a law that we must feed our animals before we feed ourselves, but we would not go so far as to say the welfare of animals must be placed everything else. There are limits. There are legitimate distractions. Is the care of children, the disabled, the elderly not a legitimate distraction?

My goats sustained my disabled child when he could take no other nourishment. For that I am grateful, and I do my best by my goats. But no, their welfare does not come before the welfare of my family. I believe what that Torah law implies is that we understand that domesticated livestock are totally dependent on our care. We do not make them suffer and wait for their basic needs to be met while we attend to our own comfort. Beyond that I think we each have to determine the best way to serve our goats. For one that may mean a great deal of hands on care, for another that may mean selectively breeding hardy animals that can live happily with less hands on attention. To me there is an element of cruelty to breeding goats that cannot kid without assistance or mother their young. I question the wisdom of breeding animals that can't survive the demands of the climate or live off local feed stuff. These are the questions we must ask and answer for ourselves.

There are different animals for different purposes. I once took in a Thoroughbred to live with my Quater Horse. The poor thing was miserable as a backyard horse. He didn't know what do to with himself. While my Quarter Horse was completely content, to graze or munch a round bale and live in a run in shed, this Thoroughbred was used to a stall, more concentrated meals, and more work. In the end I had to pass him down to a family that could provide him with the lifestyle he preferred. It would be useless for me to give management tips to a Thoroughbred racing farm, while the management there would be completely inappropriate for a barefoot backyard pony. So when you look for advice on goat raising topics, I think you have to throw alot of salt around. What some feel is absolutely necessary may or may not be applicable to what you are trying to accomplish.

1 comment:

Rose said...

I agree! People can get very worked up about "animal rights" vs. "animal welfare". We must remember that people who believe in "animal rights" believe that animals should have the same inalienable rights as humans. This includes the right to a fair trial. It's a little ridiculous when you think that a mouse can sue a cat for damages when the cat eats one of its family members. People who believe in "animal welfare" believe that animals deserve humane treatment and care. This includes the idea that sometimes euthanasia is the most humane act of all. People get worked up but don't always realize the ramifications of their ideals. Sheesh!