Is It Natural – or Not
A great example are those who push for all natural everything. While we seek to raise lambs on grass and animals on outdoor systems wherever possible, much of what is seen as natural really isn’t.
The same folks who want pigs out of any confinement because it’s not natural think nothing about bringing their border collie or Doberman to the suburban home. The pigs aren’t kept *natural* in the barn where there is temperature control and protection from the elements, but shriek in horror at a dog kept outside even with a doghouse. Dogs must be kept in the house.
Is that natural? Does it honor the working nature of herding and working breeds to be in a home where their day is dictated by you? How about rabbits? An animal that naturally is not in groups except at mating – bring them in, spay/neuter, house them in groups inside a house where they can’t do anything natural. If they pee to mark territory, chew, scratch, etc they’re “bad” but all of those things are natural. The very act of spay/neuter is unnatural.
Not to say these things aren’t done for good reason, just like agriculture has evolved where it is today with good reasons and demand. For every person who wants what we do there are thousands who really don’t care where their food comes from as long as it’s at a price they can afford, convenient and tasty.
Some animals folks think need to be outside that may not prefer that. When we in agriculture point out the differences in management, it becomes a bad thing rather than showing why things are done as they’re done.
It seems, often, when truly given a choice most animals don’t quite pick what we think. Chickens don’t see borders the way we do, and even those who seemingly enjoy being loose head for shelter at night, and not always where we want them sheltering. They don’t make good grazers, for all the “pastured chicken” articles out there, and aren’t vegetarians. Rabbits are not bonded to other rabbits, even those they’re raised with. If we have an escape (aside from the Giant Chinchillas, who are more apt to come looking for food!) we have a short time before they not only head outside the borders but quickly become dinner for the half dozen owls or many dogs that roam the area. It’s happened twice, and that’s twice too many for me. Even in the mobile crates there are occasional escapes, and much like wild rabbits they head for their own territory.
Many animals do rely on humans for food, water, shelter, safety. We think that is love but more often than not, it’s dependance. They need or choose what we offer, so stay.
Bella, for example, has earned over time privileges of being loose while we’re working outside. These privileges are earned by human standards – coming reliably when called and behaving as we want her to behave. Diva, too, has learned from the time she was a puppy that there were things she was allowed to do and others not allowed to do. Bella Jr is learning that now.
Natural doesn’t allow for such training – natural says they are large predators and will kill as many birds and rabbits as they can, feast and leave what they don’t want. The idea that wild dogs kill only what they want is untrue. Coyotes, wolves and other canines do not share willingly. They take the best and leave the rest for others. They are effective killers by practice. Bella (sr) and Diva have learned that for whatever reason we don’t want them to kill these birds and rabbits. Indeed that they aren’t allowed to get wound up around them or excited.
Natural and adaptable isn’t the same thing. Natural can be expensive, and often what we deem inhumane. Natural allows for starvation, freezing to death, heat related death and many more things that are natural but we don’t want to see happen to our animals.
We’re open about what we do, with even more information for customers. Natural – well, that’s a perspective word we don’t really use. We strive to find a balance between the best thing for the animal and for us.
Sometimes that’s not totally natural, but better for the animal.