Is Hunting More Cruel Than Raising Livestock for Food?
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Is Hunting More Cruel Than Raising Livestock for Food?

Is hunting more cruel than farming? Is eating hunted meat cruel? What are some cruelty concerns in the livestock industry? Why do people think hunting is cruel? Why do some people think that farming is cruel? How are farm animals killed? How are livestock animals slaughtered? Negatives of hunting vs negatives of eating farm animals. Is meat murder?

This question does not have a yes or no answer. I will present some facts and you can decide for yourself, if hunting is more cruel, or less cruel, than raising livestock for food.

For the purposes of this article we will be talking about hunting for food rather than trophy hunting.

What is Hunting?

Hunting is when a person, or group of people, go out to hunt an animal for for. In most areas hunters must apply for licenses, can only hunt during certain times of the year, and can only kill certain kinds of animals. He (or she) is given a tag for that type of animal. In other words a hunter might have a “tag” for an elk, and when out hunting may see a moose, but they cannot legally kill it.

Hunting has come under fire for several reasons, one being the concern that hunters do not always kill on the first shot, and the injured animal suffers. Indeed this is never the goal of a good hunter. They do not want to leave an animal suffering. Their goal is to make a quick kill. If they to injure an animal they are expected to pursue it and kill it, if it is down but not dead they will often cut its throat.

Another concern is that hunters sometimes shoot horses by mistake. This is truly sloppy. Hunters are suppose to check with the land owners before hunting on anyone's land, and they should have positive identification of the animal they are hunting, mistaking a horse for any kind of wildlife is a sign of a very poor hunter.

Concerns of “cheating” have also come under attack. These techniques are illegal in some areas and consist of leaving feed out in a certain area (carrots, oats, salt), or shining lights in an animals eye at night (probably one way horses get shot).

Some people simply find that shooting a wild animal, and removing it from its natural life, is cruel in general.

What is Livestock Farming?

Livestock farming can take many forms, in some cases the animals are out on pasture, in other cases they are raised in what amounts to nothing more than a warehouse. Sheep in particular are usually raised out on pasture except in the winter when lambing, however pigs, and chickens are often raised nearly entirely indoors. Some cattle are pasture raised, but many are “finished' in a feedlot situation which consists of many small pens each containing several animals.

© Author - Piglets at auction.

There have been many reports of abuse on farms, animals being starved, or abused, this is never good, however in the case of Foie Gras, actual abuse seems to be part of the normal way of raising the geese. In the dairy industry young calves are removed so their mothers can be milked, they are often kept nearly immobile and the male calves are slaughtered young.

The list of cruelty cases in the livestock industry, either intentional and accepted, or not, is very long, and includes such things as mulesing, killing day old male chicks, and even skinning animals alive (note there are no humane slaughter laws in the USA for fish, poultry, or rabbits).

The death process at a slaughter house is intended to be humane and efficient. Animals are given a blow to their head, or an electric shock, then hoisted up by one or both of their legs at which time their throat is slit. In some cases animals have been observed being cut up before they were truly dead because of the speed involved.

In kosher and halal slaughter the animals are not stunned, they die by having their throat cut while fully alert.

Which is More Cruel?

Animal rights activists insist that both are cruel and are against meat in general. Animal welfare people are concerned with a lot of the cruelty in how livestock are raised and slaughtered, and also are against some of the less ethical methods some hunters employ.

Now you know both sides of the issue, and can decide for yourself which is more cruel.

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Comments (10)

+1ed since I am out of votes for today. I am more opposed to factory farming than hunting for food purposes, but I am proud to be vegetarian.

I vote that feedlots are more cruel. I know a couple of hunters that are very good hunters. There are good hunters and bad foolish hunters. I remember a comment that rock star made about hunting, Ted Nugent, and that gave hunting a rather bad name.

Well done discussion.

Some hunters in ancient times hunt and kill animals for strength and martial practice not for food, while some cruel hunters hunt animals and leave them half-dead - this is more cruel.

I'm a hunter, Brenda, and have been a hunter ever since I was old enough to shoulder a rifle or shotgun. I've seen people treat domesticated animals with far more cruelty than any true sportsman inflicts upon their game prey.

great article in my opinion. I'm a hunter myself and I am confronted with this argument all the time. "you're so cruel for hunting! how could you kill an animal like that?" But I always bring up the aspects of herd control, putting food on my plate, and a safe and healthy hobby.


i am a pet lover and for me raising livestock for food is more seems so hard to butcher an animal that you nurtured for a period of time..Based on the Holy Scripture, wild animals were created for human consumption

yes I guess it really depends on the type of factory farmer, versus hunter as to which is more cruel.

I've heard that the movie "Bambi" had a huge impact on hunting - the scene where Bambi's mother is shot by a hunter led many to give up hunting (or their wives and children made them give it up). We live in a unique era where we are no longer raising our own food, and hunting is not really a necessity for feeding our families. I think that agribusiness is more cruel than subsistence farming. Nobert has a good point about butchering an animal that you have raised. Farm children usually name their animals - I remember a cow named Candy - we ate Candy hamburger one year.