Why you should stop buying farm animals like chickens, ducks, pigs, rabbits and goats as pets

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Twinkie was only three months old when she was found wandering alone in the woods on a cold winter day, starving and in need of medical attention. The pot-bellied little pig was scared and confused – rescuers were finally able to tempt her into a crate with a snack cake (hence the name). Once she was safe with caregivers at Pasado’s refuge, the main wildlife sanctuary in the Pacific Northwest, Twinkie has shown she enjoys rubbing her stomach and snuggling up with humans. So how did she end up needing rescue?

His age and the time of his abandonment indicate that Twinkie was probably a Christmas present, possibly for a child or an adult who did not understand the level of care pigs need. Pigs are extremely intelligent and sensitive animals that form strong emotional bonds with their caregivers. They are also, on average, the size of a giant breed dog when they reach maturity. They need hoof care, skin care, and regular access to the outdoors (with the best fencing you can buy – they are incredible escape artists). Adding a pig to the family is like adding a child. They have an intellect comparable to that of a 3 or 4 year old child.

Sadly, Twinkie’s story is not unique. Throughout the year, Pasado’s Safe Haven and other animal rescue organizations across the country are called upon to welcome chickens, roosters, ducks, geese, pigs, rabbits, goats and other farm animals that well-meaning consumers buy when they are babies. They can buy them as an Easter basket surprise for the kids, or because they want their own fresh eggs and think it will be fun to raise chickens. Or they looked adorable YouTube videos of baby goats in pajamas and want their own little herd for fun and entertainment.

But these cute little babies will grow up. And when they do, consumers need to be prepared for the care they will need throughout their lives.

Chickens

pasados ​​chickens

Image courtesy of Pasado’s refuge

Many city dwellers have turned to chickens over the past 5-10 years to dipping a toe in the breeding since chickens are relatively easy to keep and don’t need a lot of space to move around. But the chicks face a terrible and deadly journey to farm supply stores (chicks are shipped from factory farms via USPS only a day or two away; very few survive.) It’s also nearly impossible to determine. the sex of a baby chick, which means that the buyer is very likely to have a rooster in the herd. For every dozen eggs hatched, six will be roosters (this 50/50 gender rule applies to all animal species!) Roosters play an important role in the flock and should be adopted, but many municipalities do not allow them, and consumers who do not have experience with chickens do not know what to do with them. As a result, many roosters end up being abandoned and death almost guaranteed at the hands of a predator. Speaking of predators, there is hardly anything more attractive to them than chickens. If a chicken coop is not 100% secure, especially at night, predators will come in and likely wipe out the entire flock (family dogs can be predators as well). Recently, chickens do not produce eggs all their life. The average hen lays eggs seasonally for three years, but can live up to 8 years. People who have started an egg flock must be prepared to continue caring for the hens that no longer produce eggs.

Ducks & Geese

Skittles and Candy Corn, a pair of bound ducks, were found wandering around a park on Halloween last year. They were rescued and taken to Pasado’s Safe Haven where it was determined their age would have made them spring babies. They were abandoned by the time they reached maturity. They were probably very cute ducklings in an Easter basket – before they grew up and needed a different level of care. Ducks and geese can be very beneficial to a farm (they eating weeds, insects and slugs), but they need space to move around and access to a pond or other body of water. They also need good shelter at night and during the winter. Like chickens, ducks and geese are very attractive to predators.

Goats

pasados ​​goats

Image courtesy of Pasado’s refuge

Goats have to be one of the most entertaining farm animals to own. They are very clever and curious animals; their inquisitive nature is exemplified by their constant desire to explore and investigate, which can also lead to many unauthorized “prison breaks”. Much like pigs, goats are escape artists and can be aggressive in their search for attention or for food. They also live in complex social groups and need friends to play with or they may become more aggressive towards humans (aggression is usually rooted in a desire to play). All breeds of goats need specialized veterinary care – including, but not limited to, hoof care, proper nutrition, treatment to prevent worms, and more.

Pigs

pasado pig

Image courtesy of Pasado’s refuge

Pigs are extremely intelligent animals, but this extreme intelligence can cause them a lot of trouble. They are incredible escape artists! Pigs also need a lot of attention and stimulation to keep their mind occupied. They are highly motivated by food, which makes their training relatively easy, but they can learn to fit in cupboards, garbage cans, and the refrigerator. Protection from babies is a must! Pigs are also deeply connected to their human family. They can suffer from depression and take action if their family takes a vacation or if they are relocated with another family. Pigs need a strict routine they can rely on, constant guidance with a firm but gentle hand, and positive reinforcement for good behavior. They are like human toddlers who never get old, just bigger!

Rabbits

Rabbits are easily bored. Not only do they need space to exercise, they also need mental stimulation. Rabbits may roam free in rabbit-proof room (s), or they may be confined to a puppy pen, rabbit condo, or large rabbit cage. If confined, his space should always be large enough for him to jump around, and he should be able to get out of his enclosure for at least a few hours each day to exercise and play. Rabbits are also naturally clean animals and wash frequently. But grooming is still necessary on a regular basis as they go through moulting cycles a few times a year. It is important to brush the rabbit to remove all the excess fur. Otherwise, the rabbit could ingest it and have serious digestive problems. Regular nail trimming is also important, as long fingernails can snag or curl in a rabbit’s paw, and rabbits always need chewing wood as they use chewing to keep their teeth filed down. Finally, rabbits are prey animals, so their natural instinct is to hide any disease. It is important to make sure that a rabbit eats, drinks, poops and pees regularly and normally.

Research, choose adoption

These are just a few examples of the types of farm animals that are popular with consumers, especially in the spring. But there are many more farm animals that can be purchased as adults as well as babies and require specialized care and consideration. Horses, cows, sheep and other grazing animals need lots of space to move around (several acres) as well as access to specialized veterinary care. These animals also need some type of shelter at night – one that needs to be cleaned several times a day. Manure management can be overwhelming for beginners.

pasados ​​cows

Image courtesy of Pasado’s refuge

Another consideration for people wishing to own a farm animal is what to do with these animals when they are out of town – finding someone to look after chickens, ducks, goats or more is much more complicated than finding a dog or cat sitter.

pasados ​​goats

Image courtesy of Pasado’s refuge

The bottom line is this: No animal is a good impulse buy, whether it’s a puppy, kitten, chicken, duck, pig, or a goat. Consumers should do their research before accepting an animal and be prepared to take care of that animal for the long term. Farm animals require specialized care and training that is not suitable for children. It can be fun to include children in the care process, but an adult will have to do most of the work to care for them.

Consumers who have done their research and are ready to bring a farm animal into the family should seriously consider adopting one from a sanctuary like Pasado’s Safe Haven. Pasado’s Safe Haven caregivers will be able to provide all the necessary information about the animal before it comes home, including quirky personality traits or unique medical needs. This enables people to find the perfect farm animal for themselves and their families, and reduces the risk of a sad end for everyone.

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