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 as it’s very difficult to care for them properly without a lot of knowledge, experience, large amounts of land and specialist facilities. Pigs can also be challenging to care for, and we'd urge anyone considering keeping a pig as a pet to find out as much as possible about their needs and whether it's a realistic pet for you.
Notifiable diseases (including avian influenza/bird flu)
In the event of an outbreak of a notifiable disease in the UK, please refer to the Defra website for the most up-to-date information and advice.
January 2017: Avian influenza (bird flu) has been confirmed in the UK. For the latest information and advice, please visit the Defra webpage on Avian influenza.
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.
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
Farm animals often need regular visits from a vet for things like vaccinations, health checks and emergency care.
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;