A commitment of care
Some seasonal reflections on care of our animals
Adog is for life, not just for Christmas...” We are encouraged to repeat this phrase and reflect on our commitment to the animals around us, particularly if we accept responsibility for a fellow creature. For livestock this has an even more literal meaning as they provide us not only with companionship but also with eggs, milk, fleece, offspring and, ultimately, that life itself. With many farm animals we have the very great responsibility of determining not only their living conditions but also the time and date of their slaughter, and because of that sacrifice it is our duty to provide them with the best quality of life that we can. We must put the animals’ needs before ours.
In practice, this idea presents itself in two ways:
Firstly, when we decide to take animals into our care or to expand our current holding, we must look beyond our initial enthusiasm and ask ourselves whether we have the time and skills to care for them. We must consider what these animals require from us on a daily basis and how we can fit our lives around them - not compromising their care for the sake of our other commitments, and remembering that if something goes wrong we may need to drop everything and help.
Secondly, we may face a conflict of interest during times of sickness and disease. Our animals are susceptible to a multitude of unpleasant conditions and injuries, some of which we’ve discussed in these articles before, and at such times it may be necessary to question our priorities. All too often problems get ignored because we are too busy, or because we are blinded by the optimistic certainty that ‘everything will be fine’. We must remember that there are three golden 1 rules for dealing with ill-health:
Prompt Assessment and Treatment
Almost any disease you care to mention will become worse with time if not treated promptly. It is a fundamental law of the universe that disasters happen at inconvenient times but that is just part of being a stockman. Remember that a swift recovery will save time in the long run.
There is no substitute for Tender Loving Care, and our ability to provide it seriously and genuinely may have as much influence over an animal’s recovery
as any veterinary medicine that I can administer.
3 Euthanasia in some cases This is perhaps the most difficult decision we are ever faced with. We have all seen terminally ill animals, animals for whom euthanasia would be an act of kindness, which are kept alive for the sake of their owner. Sometimes we must overcome this and put the animal’s needs before our own.
None of this is easy, and we sometimes feel out of our depth. That’s when it’s time to ask for help.