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Old 03/10/13, 01:39 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 306

DD did not get to witness and real killings but we do talk about this and she has seen some youtube videos on how to process from when she was about 4 or so. I do not think it traumatizes her at all. We just talk of why and what happens and emphasize that it is done humanely.

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Old 03/10/13, 01:49 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 140

I'll be 55 this year. I've shot deer and helped clean/butcher them. I've helped clean the chickens. BUT when it comes to the rabbits hubby has me mark the cages and then sends me to the house. Afterwards I have no problem with the skinning and cleaning.
When the kids were young we sidestepped the killing part. Both kids were rather sensitive when they were young. But both grew up hunting, fishing and cleaning with no problems.

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Old 03/10/13, 05:08 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 2,154

I think a lot depends on the nature of the child. We have always treated butchering as part of life - we butcher so that we can eat meat, just as we plant trees so we can eat fruit. Both of my older grands participate (18 and 13) in one way or another, but not in the actual kill. One doesn't mind what she does, the other prefers to not get her hands bloody, but will vacuum pack, run back and forth to the freezers, keep us supplied with what we need, etc. - we allow them to participate in the areas they are most comfortable.

We give the breeding animals names, but not the butcher animals (unless it is a "food" name such as Pork Chop or Sir Lunchalot). It is good if all the meat animals look alike, as is the case with the Cornish Cross chickens or the black Dexter steers. We usually have plenty of meat in the freezer, so there is always a good lead in time from butcher day to seeing that animal on our plate.


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Old 03/11/13, 04:58 AM
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Alabama
Posts: 955

Our youngest has been around the butchering since she was a toddler. At first we didn't want her watching the actual kill. But then she asked to watch and was ok with it. I explained what was going to happen and she was ok. Now, it is just all in a day's work for her. Our oldest was much older when we started processing at home and she still can't stand to watch or see it.


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Old 03/11/13, 06:12 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: middle GA
Posts: 16,654
Originally Posted by haypoint View Post
IMHO, the trama comes from making a big deal out of it.
Before I had kids, I helped neighbors butcher chickens. While everyone was busy plucking, theit children had gathered up the heads and were playing sock puppets, with the heads on thei tiny fingers. Didn't seem to bother them.

Euthinasia of a family pet is a whole different thing, to me. Kids don't need to watch Snowflake's last gasp.
My DS was older when we started raising chickens and I was concerned about how he would deal with the butchering process, but all he did when he came out and saw the chicken hanging upside down to bleed out was that it looked like a pinata. We turned the whole process into a biology lesson.
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Old 03/11/13, 06:50 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Northern NY
Posts: 1,180

I think Haypoint hit the nail on the head. Making a huge deal out of it is what traumatizes people. Personally, I think people who understand where meat comes from have a much greater appreciation for life in general than those who tuck it all away in some back corner of their mind or worse, somehow manage to convince themselves the meat appears from a magic machine in the back of the supermarket.

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Old 03/11/13, 08:12 AM
So many questions
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Western Michigan
Posts: 52

In general I agree that if you don't make a big deal out of it you should be OK. We grow food. We harvest food. We eat food. It's life on the farm.

If you start very young it will just be something they accept as normal.

That being said, I think it depends on the child.

My wonderful wife and I have 4 children. The oldest 3 handled the chicken butchering process well. But our youngest daughter was the exception.

We knew she was sensitive and so while we didn't hide the butcher process from her we didn't do it while she was around. Then one day when she was around 6 she caught sight of a chicken that flopped out of the killing cone and was going through it's death throws on the ground. She understood what was going on. She knew it had to happen. But she was traumatized by it.

She wouldn't eat chicken of any type for about 2 years. Then she progressed to eating chicken if she couldn't recognize the body part (think nuggets and patties). Then she progressed to chicken pot pies (homemade of course) and casseroles. Finally, by the time she was a teenager, she would eat a chicken breast if it was deboned and skinless.

That little girl who had such a hard time is now 29 years old. And to her credit she is a real homesteader. She buy's whole chickens and cuts them up herself. And last summer while I was butchering chickens she brought her 2 year old son over to watch. I did notice she kept her distance till after the killing cone process but other than that she and her son were right on top of it.


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Old 03/11/13, 12:28 PM
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I was probably 3-4 when I "helped" my dad butcher our rabbits. I still remember getting a little skeeved out by the actual bopping their heads rather than the idea of killing and eating an animal. By the time I was 5 I probably knew anatomy better than most adults.

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Old 03/11/13, 01:05 PM
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Oregon
Posts: 175

From the other side of the fence...and please don't hate on me, it's just part of my life story

Went to a goat dairy farm with my parents when I was six or seven. I was a reader and didn't want to go in and "look at cheese", so I stayed in the car with my book. A guy rolled out a cart, then came out with seven or so kids. Yep...killed 'em all in front of me. I was screaming cuss words I didn't even know I knew. Told him in no uncertain terms that when I was big enough I was gonna find him and snap his neck and break his ribs too. Didn't eat meat for seventeen years after that. Granted, my parents weren't there and I had past hysterical by the time they made it out of the grand tour of the dairy. My mom realized something was wrong about 1/2 hour down the road when she was talking about the cheese they bought and I wasn't responding. Took me another 15-20 minutes to be able to tell her what happened. So, yes. I was scarred for life. Still would like to beat the s@&) out of the kook that thought its be a good plan to slow kill those goats in the ---- parking lot! After many, many years I've come around. We've had our share of deaths here and do our best to limit unnecessary ones (paintballs not bullets). But we're planning on meat chickens and as our little flock grows, so will the necessity of culls. I think it really depends on the child. My girl eats a couple types of fish, but no meat. My son is a self-proclaimed meatatarian. I have told them since they were old enough to eat it, where meat comes from and how we get it. I've tried to be as matter of fact as possible in presenting the cold, hard facts balanced with the fact that I never felt better than when I started eating meat.

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Old 03/12/13, 05:04 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Indiana
Posts: 1,548

Anyone remember reading "Little House in the Big Woods"? Laura Ingalls Wilder describes the fall butchering as a family event, and how much fun she and her sister had playing with the bladder of the freshly slaughtered pig.

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Old 03/12/13, 06:34 AM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 210

If I remember correctly, a hog was the first living thing I pulled the trigger on. So young dad had to help me steady the rifle.

Sooner the better and don't make it into a big deal.

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Old 03/12/13, 02:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 370

The first time we butchered a deer our young children hovered around the whole time asking when we could eat it.
It was 2 weeks before I could even look at it in the freezer.

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Old 03/12/13, 04:08 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 449

The boys are 4 and 5 and have been around it since the youngest was 5 months old and the oldest was 1yr, 9mo. I was around it since I was a kid as well, helping with butchering deer that dad brought home. In fact, our house was "the butcher shop" for most friends and family. We had all of the equipment, the massive smoke house (25x25 building, just for smoking), the butchering station (the garage) and all of that good stuff to take a deer from the woods to any kind of table fare (ground, steaks, bologna, etc). I got into the "I love animals, never hurt them" phase, but deer were out, they were food. The boys are like that now. They have certain birds picked out as pets, while the rest, they don't mind eating. The turkeys are off limits (which happens to be just fine with me, I love my turkeys) and then there are two roosters that are off limits because the boys and the man have claimed them. Everything else? Well, they don't really care if I butcher the rest of them for the table. Not even the lamb. We played with the lamb, they rode him and I even got attached, but nobody has a problem eating "big boy". They help with butchering... I whap the heads off, then the boys follow chickens around until they stop twitching, then bring them to the butcher table. They aren't fond of plucking though! The oldest always wants the heart. The youngest hasn't taken enough interest in the gutting portion to claim any parts, but he still helps collect heads and bodies. They WANT to help, and it's not in a sadistic way, they still care about the birds and if one gets hurt, they help me nurse them back to health if that's what I've decided to do, even if it's a bird that they don't mind eating.

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Old 03/12/13, 04:23 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Kitsap Co, WA
Posts: 2,838

When I was in Pakistan adopting my 3.3 year old son, it was Eid and a goat was being butchered. I thought, well, maybe we'd better keep him on this side of the wall till the deed is done. But danged if that little scamp didn't slip over to the other side and watch. As the goat hung with its blood draining from its neck, my son looked up at me and said sagely in Urdu, "He has a sore throat." He did not want to eat the meat that day, but did not turn into a vegetarian.

Whenever I have chopped the heads off our chickens, I have always tried to shield him from the actual killing (it is hard enough for me to do it), but not from any of the rest of it (gutting, plucking cutting up.) In fact he was always quite interested in the anatomy and I would show him the various organs and such. He did help with the plucking. When the hogs were dispatched, he was always at school, so the question didn't arise.

Don't worry about it. Have you seen some of the gore in video games and movies these days?

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Old 03/12/13, 05:25 PM
Living the dream.
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Morganton, NC
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These guys don't look too traumatized! My youngest son (6) even managed to dress up a little for the occasion!


Last edited by Silvercreek Farmer; 03/13/13 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 03/12/13, 10:39 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 2,219

She said she wanted fries with the hanging deer? *lol* Yeah, I think she'll be just fine at the pig slaughter.

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Old 03/12/13, 10:52 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 776

Both of my boys were around it from birth. Hubby hunts and butchers himself. My grandson has been exposed to it the same. It is part of the life-cycle.

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Old 03/12/13, 10:56 PM
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Oregon
Posts: 175

Technical question: how do I edit my post? I'd prefer not to have a certain statement in earlier post. Was too bone tired from uncovering 20+ blackberry mess from fence line and didn't have my censors on. Thanks-

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Old 03/12/13, 10:58 PM
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Oregon
Posts: 175

That would be 20+ years of blackberry mess. And yes, did more of the same today. Can't lift my arms and evidently can't preview what I wrote

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Old 03/13/13, 06:09 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,693

As others have mentioned, somewhere around the age of 7 the chin can quiver. My son was no exception.

I turned it into a biology lesson, which fascinated him. While we butchered, we studied how the respiratory system worked, the digestive system, etc. We inflated the lungs, pumped water with the heart, admired how food changed throughout, etc.

He's been fine with livestock and hunting and butchering ever since.

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Old 03/13/13, 01:20 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Central Virginia
Posts: 2,490

Ok I read the title of this thread, and truthfully I'm not sure you should butcher Young Children!! LOL

Alice in Virginia

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Old 03/13/13, 04:21 PM
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I and my kids were around it since birth.

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Old 03/13/13, 05:29 PM
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 336
Originally Posted by CarolynRenee View Post
Ok, I need to know other's opinions if I'm being a heartless mother & potentially traumatizing my daughter.

Friends of ours were going to kill/butcher about a half dozen hogs this morning and DH & I were supposed to go help. I asked DH if we'd be bringing our 4 year old daughter along or drop her off at grandmas house. DH thought it wasn't a good idea to bring her along. I didn't really think much of it. It's not like I was going to sit her up on the side of the trailer and force her to watch the hogs get a bullet in the head & then bled out, I just figured we'd be "around" and if she saw something, then she saw something.

Daughter has also been around" when we're butchering chickens (killing cone style, not lop the head off & watch them run around) and she'll glance over but didn't really seem to care one way or the other. She was more interested in blowing bubbles and playing with sticks. She "knows" that the white chickens (cornish cross) are eating chickens. She has also seen us gut and butcher deer this winter, although she never saw the actual killing shot. During the deer dressing, she was more curious as to what was this or what was that. When we told her we were going to eat it, she said she wanted fries with it.


How young/old are your children when they first saw or participated in your homestead butchering? Were they witness to the actual moment of death, or just the processing of meat that still looked like the animal it once was? Do you think they've been "traumatized" by it?

When I first read the title I wondered who would ask on a public forum how to butcher young children. As a parent I can definately understand why someone might want to butcher a young child, but back to whether it's safe for children to see animals butchered. I find it interesting that many who allow their children to watch horror movies about people being dismembered frown on letting the same child watch's as their supper is butchered. If I were to write a label for those who can't stomach the sight of an animal being butchered it would be "Vetetarian".
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Old 03/15/13, 02:17 AM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
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Maybe I'm tired, but... I don't get it?

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Old 03/15/13, 03:28 AM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Kansas City
Posts: 264

I didn't read all the responses, but did want to share my thoughts.

When I was very, very young, I always watched my parents/brother kill and clean fish. It was not a big deal for me at all, and I loved poking the fishes eyes once the head was off. It was never traumatizing. But that was all I ever saw. I'm 26 years old and I have never helped butcher or seen it done in person. And to be honest, I wish I would have grown up being involved and would have watched it happen. Now as an adult, I think I will struggle a lot with butchering my first meaties and turkeys this year. I think if I would have grown up around it, watching it, experiencing it, and knowing it was normal it would be a lot easier now.

I personally will allow my (someday future) kids to be around and help with butchering. It's normal, and natural and I don't want them to struggle with it emotionally the way I will.

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Old 03/15/13, 03:57 PM
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 373

It has always been just a part of life for our kids. One daughter has been in on the whole process from beginning to end since she was itty bitty and has no problems gutting, skinning, or doing whatever else needs to be done (she is thirteen now). Our other 10 year old daughter is fine with everything except the kill shot so she just waits til that part is done then helps out any way she can. Our six year old son doesn't think anything of it either. Basically what I am saying is that it really is not a traumatizing event, just what needs to be done. Not a big deal really

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Old 03/15/13, 06:01 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Southren Nova Scotia
Posts: 585

My husband was born on a farm and saw chickens killed and plucked from the time he was three or four as well as cows butchered. My own kids were 6, 8,10 and 11 yr. when Bill and I got married and moved to an island Light House station. The head light-keeper had cows and at butchering time he didn't want my kids to watch them being shot at killing time. My kids sneaked a peak and then wanted to watch the butchering. The two oldest got physically ill and threw up! The two youngest were fascinated by the whole thing.
The two oldest would buy meat at a store or restaurant after they were grown but would not eat meat we raise at home. The two youngest will eat home grown meat and like it .

So from experience I would say the younger kids are exposed to this aspect of farming the better. But don't make pets of animals destined for the supper table. Farm kids seem to have a better understanding that animals are animals and not the same as people. They also see animals as part of the food chain and life. Kids who hunt rabbits and other small game also have a better perspective if taught by an adult with them hunting.

I wouldn't take a child that is young to a neighbors farm if you are working though as if you are distracted they could get in harm's way.

As for me after watching butchering I became a vegetarian! I guess i was just too old to adapt to that aspect of farming!

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Old 03/18/13, 08:40 PM
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Location: Utah
Posts: 139

My parents, myself and my children all grew up butchering our own food. To us it's a part of life. Just have respect the animal and not let it's death go to waste.

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Old 03/18/13, 09:09 PM
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Ohio
Posts: 362

My niece hadn't been talking very long, she could make simple sentences. She snuck out of the house and walked around the corner of the barn just in time to see a cow get shot. The whole time we were cutting up meat she would walk around depressed saying "papa broke cow." Now that she's older it doesn't seem to have affected her, she loves meat and hates veggies.


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Old 03/19/13, 09:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: The Beautiful Ozarks
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Wow, thanks for all the responses! And I didn't realize that the way I titled my post could make someone think that I was debating "butchering my kid"! LOL!

We didn't take her with, nor end up going ourselves. They had plenty of help and didn't really need us there for assistance. They knew we had never butchered a hog before and thought we'd like to watch, especially since we plan on growing out our own this fall.

Thanks again (especially for making me not feel like a crazy heartless parent)


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