I have just got back from sorting someone’s pet goat that was very close to visiting the meat man. His owner pointed out how difficult it had been to find someone who understood keeping pet livestock and actually knew how to sort him out. So at her request, I am writing about this aspect of my work in a week I am bottle feeding a lamb and teaching 4 sows and two piglets to stop and not charge into me!
I’m vegetarian, so I respect animals that are kept purely as pets and not eaten. Having said that, I have helped a few people with smallholdings whose “pet” pigs and sheep will eventually be eaten by them but who do keep them, whilst alive as pets.
People often get a lamb or goat to “keep the grass down” and quickly have a problem. Firstly, as herd animals, they shouldn’t be kept alone. Secondly whilst goats will eat every bush, flower and tree they can get to and climb like monkeys they eat little grass. In adolescence, like most animals they can be physically challenging and some of my customers have had some serious injuries caused by striking or charging goats and sheep. People often don’t realise they can be trained and simply kill them or sell them on, repeating the problem with another animal.
Problems with pet livestock tend to be the same issues, boredom and aggression. In cases of single animals they do struggle with how to entertain themselves because they have never seen one of their own having fun, rooting for insects, mock fighting etc. Trying to do human versions just isn’t the same.
Whilst training aggressive geese looks a bit like Rod Hull and Emu, most of the work is about gestures and body language. In the background, enriching lifestyle and environment is important and general boundaries to relationships.
Pictures here are Nym the naughty goat and his harem and Trudy pig at the bottom. Both their stories can be read HERE.
Me with the lamb was at someone’s smallholding where this little boy was terrorising everyone!