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Keeping farm animals as pets

There is a growing tendency on the Island and in the UK to keep farm animals as pets. Landowners with acreage, not farmed for commercial reasons, often feel that to keep farm livestock (cattle, sheep and pigs), as a hobby, or to control grassland, would be an exciting addition to their lifestyle. Whilst this is not prohibited, animal keepers are strongly reminded that they are responsible for the health of animals in their care, ensuring their welfare, and for dealing with animal diseases or other animal related incidents.

Before you take on such a commitment, remember that quiet young animals grow on significantly, and can become difficult to handle, or even aggressive. This is especially true if you have hand-reared them. Entire male lambs often become aggressive to people as they grow into rams. Cattle are unpredictable, especially if they have calves at foot.

Be aware that adult farm animals can present a safety risk to you.

As a livestock keeper there are things you must do. For example, you must register with the department as a keeper before accepting animals, and ensure your livestock are correctly identified. There are also rules about movement recording of livestock and in some cases statutory testing requirements.

All stock-keepers must have access to easy to use and efficient handling systems of the right size and type to control your animals. This is so that you can routinely manage and treat them, and to make sure that they are quietly, safely and firmly handled. Sick or lame animals require adequate attention. This is only possible if you provide a safe handling facility. Failure to treat because of lack of handling control is not acceptable, and the welfare of the animal consequently suffers. You are responsible.

In the case of cattle, you will need to be able to present them safely for official testing at least every 2 years. It is your responsibility to do so. Failure to do this is an offence, and untestable animals can be subject to compulsory slaughter. Please see the cattle area of our website.

In the case of sheep, new regulations on electronic identification and record-keeping have to come into force: please see the sheep area of our website.

If you are considering keeping pigs, you need to understand the laws around feeding and tagging them: please see the pig area of our website. 'Micro pigs' can grow larger than expected, and can reach 14 inches tall and weigh around 65lbs when fully grown. It is illegal to feed pigs with scraps from your kitchen: you must buy proprietary pig food.

For further information please contact:

Agriculture Directorate

Thie Slieau Whallian

Foxdale Road

St John's

IM4 3AS

Telephone:+44 1624 685844

Email:Send Email

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