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Old 03/09/13, 06:15 PM
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Walter Jeffries
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Mountains of Vermont, Zone 3
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Our kids have been around the slaughter and butchering their whole lives, as well as taking care of the animals. It is all part of food and the cycle of life. One cares for the animals and carefully kills it. Then one makes it into food and eats it. They see nothing wrong with this cycle.

The inhibition comes from a few adults who haven't had exposure to the realities of life. They project this onto the kids.

Our sons are helping to build our on-farm slaughterhouse and butcher shop. Our daughter age nine is helping with that some too and she says she wants to do the slaughter. She's seen and helped before.
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Old 03/09/13, 07:41 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 107
Yeah, as others have said....I also can see only one thing wrong.
A 4 year old needs constant supervision, especially in a farm environment.
Nup, the baby would be a distraction, and you have gone there to help.

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Old 03/09/13, 08:14 PM
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Location: Hondo, TX
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My oldest 2 have been around it since birth. The 3 younger ones , 6, 6 and 7 have been around it I guess since they moved in permanently with us. They want to help, cut heads off and, well, you'd think they were pretty bloodthirsty.

They will see a couple of cottontails in the yard and come running in wanting me to go shoot 'em for supper!
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Old 03/09/13, 09:19 PM
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I've been helping with the slaughter and processing since I was old enough to hold a knife. It's good for kids to know where their food comes from.
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Old 03/09/13, 11:13 PM
Join Date: Mar 2013
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My first slaughter was a goat, that would have been about 1951. Before he was ready, we made some paintbrushes out of his hair. Then, one day, my Dad, said he was going to be turned into food. We boned him out and ground him up with pork saugage and until he was all gone, we reffered to him as "baa-burgers" and he was tasty, indeed!

My kids helped butcher 100 chickens,and none of them are serial killers, as far as I know, and my grandchildren by one daughter each kill a deer per year and have since they were as tall as their rifles. It ain't rocket surgery. Let it be.......Joe
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Old 03/09/13, 11:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: FL
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My 4yo didn't see it get shot, but was so close during processing a deer I had to tell her to back up. She was pointing at stuff with her lollipop and almost touched the carcass with it a few times. Had it less than an inch away.
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Old 03/09/13, 11:48 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 1,179
We tried to get the kids used to this kind of thing from the beginning. My son always had a hard time with it. He's very, very, very tenderhearted. My daughter wanted to be DOING IT WITH US from the time she was about 2. We'd let our son go play, and try to keep our daughter away from the sharp objects, LOL. My son caught his first fish, and when my husband was getting ready to dispatch it and show him how to gut and debone it, he ran into the house crying. He thought we were going to keep the fish as a pet.
Now he's 16 and helped my husband kill and butcher turkeys, and is now readying pens for his own rabbitry, helps out in everything. Daughter is still gung-ho at 13.
Getting them used to it early just normalizes things. It's life, it's death, it's not fun, but it's necessary and good for the family. It's not a novelty, it's just part of our lives.

That said, I'd be leery of bringing a very small kid to a hog butchering. If it were just one hog, no big deal, but several- I'd be more concerned about accidents- bullet ricochet, upset hogs accidentally getting loose, that kind of thing. Having a 4 year old there could be a distraction for those working, and could get into all kinds of trouble when you are too busy to supervise her. That's just my thought. 4 year olds can be very distractable and very distracting, and they can disappear so darned fast!
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Old 03/09/13, 11:54 PM
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Location: South Carolina
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Originally Posted by Usingmyrights View Post
My 4yo didn't see it get shot, but was so close during processing a deer I had to tell her to back up. She was pointing at stuff with her lollipop and almost touched the carcass with it a few times. Had it less than an inch away.
My uncle once dared me to lick a deer carcass when it was skinned. 30 years later, I'm still alive.
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Old 03/10/13, 11:44 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Kansas
Posts: 1,763
My DD (6) has been around buthchering poultry her whole life. A few months ago she was there when I put down and butchered an old ewe. She was right there for the kill shot and butchering both. The only problem she had was after the shot. I saw her start to well up to start crying and went over to talk about it. Turned out she was not upset about the ewe, she wanted to eat it. She was sad because a month prior I had to put down one of the dogs that got hit by a car and the shot reminded her of him being put down. She cried for a bit over the memory of the dog she had loved, but was out to help us butcher the ewe with anxiousness over "when I would cook some up for her to try". I take some pride in her not only knowing what kind meat we are eating, but listening to her tell her friends what part of the animal they are eating ie.. bacon is the pigs belly.
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Old 03/10/13, 01:10 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Location: North Carolina
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I think is very important that children know where their food should come from. Other than slothfulness I think that is one of the reasons our food supply is the wreck it is today. Too many generations removed from real food and we have more sick kids these days than ever before. They need to see use being proper stewards to our livestock and learn how our bodies should be nourished. So yes-DD has been helping process chickens since I learned how and I look forward to learning with her how to process larger animals this year. I just hope I can figure out how to do it the right way!
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Old 03/10/13, 02:39 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
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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, 02:49 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Maryland
Posts: 197
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, 06:08 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Oklahoma
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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, 05:58 AM
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Alabama
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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, 07:12 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: middle GA
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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, 07:50 AM
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Location: Northern NY
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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, 09:12 AM
So many questions
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Location: Western Michigan
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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, 01:28 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, 02:05 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, 06:04 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Indiana
Posts: 1,559
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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