The founding philosophy of Kosher Conscience is the humane treatment of the animal at every stage. What that means is that, while it’s excellent to have grass-fed or even organic meat, those distinctions do not cover the full range of the animal’s treatment.
Our standards for animal treatment include:
1) Be real free-range or pasture-raised and grass fed. This means that animals should live the way animals are supposed to live- out in a field, eating grass and other vegetation that they can walk around freely to get. During the winter, some animals may be housed in a barn and fed stored grass or hay (grain should be avoided for the most part and no corn, which is destructive to the digestive system of cattle). This is necessary for them to stay out of the cold! They should never be in feed-lots or pumped with hormones or anti-biotics.
2) Be safely and minimally transported. They should not be crammed into cattle cars or trucks but transported safely and as comfortably as possible. All transport is somewhat stressful to the animal, since it does not understand what’s happening. Minimizing this stress and giving the animal time to relax after being transported is also important. Transport time should be kept to a minimum, ideally having animals slaughtered on-site and eliminating transport entirely. 30-60 minutes of transport time is a reasonable ideal beyond that, with longer times translating into more stress for the animals.
3) Slaughtered humanely and with utmost care. Animals should not be present when other animals are being slaughtered. A shechitah method that causes minimal stress to the animal prior to the cut should be utilized, such as the Temple Grandin-designed kosher pen for beef which keeps the animal upright. Traditional shechitah involves turning the animal over, which is very stressful. There should not be a “conveyor belt” slaughter, with animals being rushed in and out to make quota. Animals must be moved with a minimum of stress and have the proper time, care and attention devoted to them to make sure everything goes smoothly and painlessly.