I’m a bit late in writing this post but felt it needed to be written.
Last week we butchered a ram that had a broken leg a long time ago. The leg was healing but it was crooked and he was never going to be a breeding ram. Because he was the only sheep to go to slaughter I didn’t want to take him to the slaughterhouse. We never take a single sheep anywhere because it’s too stressful and with an injured leg he was not going to have a comfortable trip if we trailered him.
I found a friend who wanted a whole sheep and was able to handle the carcass himself. I caught the ram and we walked him over to a nice grassy place.
For all you people who have no idea how a proper non-stun slaughter is done this was about as good as it gets. We put him on his side and I stroked his face and talked to him until his heart rate went down and he was calm. With one single stroke of the knife both his jugular vein and carotid artery were severed. I counted and he was insensitive in less than 2 seconds. We continued to hold him until he had fully bled out.
Again, for people who don’t know, you can verify that an animal is dead by testing for a blink reflex. Also, there is a reflex kicking of the hind legs that happens once the brain has shut down. That is the kicking and movement that some people misinterpret as the animal being still alive.
When that was done we strung him up on the tractor bucket for skinning and gutting just like we do our deer during hunting season. The guts and hide went into the compost pile and a friend has tasty meat.
I am with our sheep when they are born and I have no problem holding them as they provide one last service to us. My responsibility to the sheep is to be sure they have a good life and a quick humane death without fear. That was why, for this young ram, it was important that he never leave his home.
All sheep have a job. For some it’s to provide food for us and our customers. Thank you Desert Weyr Sean.