“Mini” doesn’t apply to the amount of care needed, and often these smaller versions come with their own additional health problems due to irresponsible breeding. These “mini farm animals” require learning the specific animals’ housing, feed, and health care needs. They require a veterinarian familiar with their species and even when you find such a veterinarian, their protocols may be more in line with the standards of care afforded “food animals” and not animals that are fortunate to be part of a family. In an attempt to stave off some of the misinformation that abounds, Farm Sanctuary offers hands-on training conferences, animal care information, and shelter internships.
Many farm animals have special needs as they grow older due to the way they’ve been bred for food production or for their “mini” stature. Potbellied pigs and dwarf goats, though small in size, develop over time and often become too much for their guardians to handle. Diseases and health problems can emerge later in life and reduce lifespan. As health costs rise and the expense of caring for their needs becomes too great, many guardians seek out sanctuaries that can take over, but there just aren’t enough sanctuaries with space available. Many end up in the hands of unsavory or unknowledgeable people.
Our sweet little Avery was just 6 weeks old when he was purchased from a breeder by a family who adored him. At that point, Avery had been recently dis-budded (horns removed) and it wasn’t long before medical issues arose. The cost of surgeries began to grow, one for his ingrown horns and two more for a blocked urethra. Avery’s family could no longer afford to care for him. They were forced to make the difficult decision to hand him over to Farm Sanctuary. And this little goat was separated from the people with whom he’d bonded; he was forced to face the unknown.
The decision to give Avery up was clearly an act of love and was intended to improve his quality of life. Luckily for Avery, we were able to give him a good home and his new The Hey Friend Foundation family came along soon after to lift his spirits. But sadly similar cases happen all too often and sanctuaries simply don’t have enough space or resources to help all of the animals in need.
Doing right by animals is no small task, and many well-meaning people get in over their heads. Proper knowledge is essential to doing what is best for our friends.