Keeping farm animals as pets is quite a modern idea. Chinese New Year, this time the turn of the Ox, has inspired us to share some of the rules when considering a farm animal as a pet.
All pet owners are bound by the Animal Welfare Act (2006). It has five key elements that you are responsible for providing:
- a proper diet
- somewhere suitable to live
- any need to be housed with or apart from other animals
- being allowed to express normal behaviour
- protection from and treatment of, illness and injury
If you choose to keep a more unusual animal as a pet, you must check for any specific or additional legislation.
Do Your Research
Firstly, it’s essential that you do your research. For example, keeping a micro pig as a pet. You are still bound by the same laws as a pig keeper – you need a licence to walk them and there is strict guidance around how they can travel (and how often). These rules apply, even if you think of your micro pig as a ‘pet’. There are clear instructions on the UK Government website, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/keeping-a-pet-pig-or-micropig and you must follow them all.
Another ‘new’ pet is the pygmy goat. Even if you only have one (which isn’t recommended as they are social creatures), you still need to register with DEFRA. They also have quite specific needs in terms of their housing and potential health problems. You can contact The Goat Society for more information and support locally to you.
More Common Farm Pets
Re-homing battery hens is a wonderful way to support animals, and chickens have become a popular choice in both country and city homes. There is an excellent resource in how to choose and care for these fun pets from The Animal Welfare Foundation, they also have information on a wide range of other animals.
If you have space to offer ducks or geese a loving home, they can make great guard animals as well as laying large eggs. They will have the additional need of a water/bathing source and of course, you may therefore get visitors!
Some larger farm animals that are often kept as pets include horses and donkeys. They also need specialist housing and space and you will need to find a local veterinarian that covers large animals.
Pets enrich our lives in many ways. However, keeping any animal as a pet means taking responsibility for all the elements of their welfare. Therefore, an important consideration should always be how long an animal is likely to live. Can you make a commitment for that length of time?
Recently at Living Memorial, we have been asked to provide a Kit for a well-loved horse. Allowing the owners to plant a tree that will thrive, in the field that their beloved pet used for many years. What an honour.