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Farm animals as pets

Before deciding to keep any farm animals it’s important to consider if you have the knowledge, time, facilities, money, and commitment needed to care for them.


We advise not trying to keep cattle or pigs, as it’s very difficult to care for them properly without a lot of knowledge, experience, large amounts of land and specialist facilities.


Knowledge and experience

You should first get knowledge and experience of farm animal health and welfare, including:

  • understanding the animals’ physical and behavioural needs
     
  • knowing how to provide the correct diet
     
  • being able to recognise signs of injury and disease, knowing how to prevent these and when to get veterinary help
     
  • knowing how to handle the animals correctly and safely
     
  • knowing how to carry out day-to-day husbandry tasks
     
  • understanding the laws and requirements.


Consider learning from experienced owners, joining a breed club or society, helping on a farm, or attending a training course.


Environment

Close-up of a goat © Andrew Forsyth/RSPCA Photolibrary

Farm animals need enough space, the right type of land, housing and shelter, and things to keep them interested and let them behave normally. For some animals this may mean building new housing, which may require planning permission.


The correct type of fencing is important.


Most farm animals need to live in groups, which means keeping at least two animals of the same species which get on well together


Veterinary care

Farm animals often need regular visits from a vet for things like vaccinations, health checks and emergency care.


Laws

Under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) anyone responsible for a pet has a legal responsibility to meet the five basic welfare needs of pets.


In addition there are strict laws covering the keeping, feeding, identification, transport and slaughter/killing of farm animals. Contact Defra for information.


Rearing animals for meat

If you’re thinking about rearing farm animals for meat, you must be aware of the strict laws covering slaughter and meat hygiene. We strongly recommend that you don’t try to slaughter animals yourself - you could cause severe suffering, which would be a serious offence under the law.


Further information is available from;


We have produced information about pet goats, pigs, chickens, ducks and geese.


Further information