Keeping farm animals as pets

Keeping Farm Animals as Pets

March 8, 2015

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Keeping farm animals as pets can be tricky as there are many things to consider before you commit to having an animal that is often used to living outside as a pet. Some farm animals, unlike most domestic pets, can be very demanding on your time and money if they are to be looked after properly. It is not advisable – and is often against the law – to keep a large farm animal in a restricted “backyard” domestic environment.

You need to carefully research the type of animal or animals you’re proposing to keep. Work out if you have the time, money, knowledge, facilities and commitment you’ll need to properly care for them. Cattle and pigs particularly require a lot of care and attention so it’s important to research carefully before committing.

Research Carefully

As part of your research, you should get first-hand experience and knowledge of farm animals in their proper environment, including information and a keen understanding of their behaviour, needs, health and welfare. There are also plenty of experienced owners, specific breed clubs and societies that are usually happy to pass on their knowledge and experience. You will also need to familiarise yourself with any state or local laws which cover keeping farm animals.

Some of the issues you might be faced with and will need to research include:

  • Understanding the animals’ physical and behavioural needs eg environment, shelter, space, enclosure, ground, etc.
  • Understanding the animals’ correct dietary requirements
  • Recognising signs of disease, injury and other conditions and learning about symptoms, prevention and treatments
  • Learning how and when to handle animals safely and correctly
  • Learning how to carry out husbandry tasks if required
  • Understanding local and state laws and restrictions

The Environment

Keeping farm animals as pets is often difficult as they usually need much more space than domestic pets. Selecting the right land, enclosure, fencing and shelter, as well as things that will allow them to go about their usual day-to-day lives, are critical issues when considering a farm animal as a pet. An animal’s environment can have a huge impact on its health and well-being, its behaviour, attitude and engagement with humans. This often means developing and constructing a purpose-built environment specifically for that animal or animals, which may require a significant investment as well as planning permission from local authorities.

Keeping farm animals as pets can also prove difficult as any prefer to live in groups. Keeping at least two animals of the same species together will usually lead to better results.

Veterinary Care

Many farm animals kept as pets will still require regular visits from a vet for health checks, vaccinations and emergency treatment. Prior to getting your farm animal, make sure you speak to your vet about your specific animal, and always have your vet’s contact details handy.

Responsibilities when Keeping Farm Animals as Pets

All pet owners have a responsibility to meet the 5 basic welfare needs of their pets, which are:

  1. The need for a suitable environment
  2. The need for a suitable diet which includes fresh water at all times
  3. The need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  4. The need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals as required
  5. The need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

In addition to these 5 needs, you will need to familiarise yourself with any state or local laws which might cover the feeding, identification, transport and welfare of keeping farm animals as pets.

Further reading on keeping farm animals as pets:


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