The ABCs of Homesteading: M is for Meat



This is the eleventh post in the ABCs of Homesteading series. Click here to read the rest of the series.

People lucky enough to live in wealthy countries tend to eat a lot of meat. Per capita, Americans consume about 200 pounds of meat per year or 230 pounds if adjust for vegetarians. To put that in homesteading terms, that's a market-sized pig per person (6-8 months to raise) plus about 20 chickens or ducks (3+ months to hatch and raise) each year. Alternatively, a 1200 pound steer (raised for 18+ months) yields about 490 pounds of meat and could feed just over two people.

The Difference Between Homestead and Industrial Meat

Thinking about meat consumption in terms animals lives and the resources it takes to raise them is a necessity on the homestead. It also makes it is easy to see why our current meat consumption is only realistic if you ignore the environmental and human side effects of an unsustainable meat industry.

Homestead meat, in my opinion, is instead about using animals to benefit your land while raising and slaughtering them with dignity and appreciation for their sacrifice. Caring for livestock changes your perspective on how much meat you can and should eat. The amount of work that goes into keeping healthy animals and slaughtering at home helps define the upper limits for homestead meat production.

On our homestead, we eat about one hog and ten ducks per year. We raise extra hogs for friends and family. We often luck into some free deer, beef, or rabbit meat. Our individual consumption works out to less than half of the national average and will be reduced further when our young fruit and nut trees begin to produce.

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