Country Smallholding

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.

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