Risks of Keeping Intact Male Farm Animals As Pets

Can I keep a bull as a pet? Can I keep a billy goat as a pet? Why are male farm animals mean? How to deal with a dangerous ram? How to handle an aggressive billy goat? How to prevent livestock animals from being mean or dangerous? How to prevent a c

In general intact farm animals, bulls, stallions, rams, billy goats, boars, and roosters, cannot be kept as pets if we are to define a pet as a safe companion animal. Even if a person has the space for such an animal, intact male animals need to be treated with respect and never babied like you would a normal pet. Sometimes (with intact male livestock animals) the friendlier you try to make a pet, the more aggressive it becomes as it matures.

Why Are Male* Livestock Animals Dangerous?

*Keep in mind that this generally only applies to the intact male animals, not the ones who have had their testicles removed (steers, geldings, wethers).

In most livestock groups there is one dominant male, he drives all his competition away; he sees you as competition, even though you are human and may not even be male! He sees his role as top gun and wants you to know it. Intact male dogs are also more apt to be aggressive than neutered ones but for the most part dogs are better managed through training, and are a lot less dangerous than a 1000+lb bull with horns.

Why Treating Male Livestock “Pets” Makes them More Dangerous

Bottle baby bull calves, ram lambs, billy goat kids, and so forth, who are treated like pets, are more likely to become mean as adults than those treated correctly. They should never be patted or given treats from your hand. Treating them in this way actually causes them to lose respect for you. As they grow up they soon bully you when they want attention, or treats, what may have been cute when they were little is dangerous when they are bigger. Colts may start biting, and the horned animals will put those horns to use!

©by Author - you would not want to mess with this guy - a Jacob sheep ram.

How to Treat Male Farm Animals Correctly to Prevent Aggression

Very simply put, do not baby your animal. While you do not want to abuse your animal (which can cause it to become mean) you want it to be respectful of you, even a little fearful. As mentioned, do not feed it treats from your hand, or pat it. Do not encourage it to be your friend. If a colt gets nippy, do not let it get away with this behavior as what starts out as nips one day, will be hard bites in a year.

Always keep an eye on your male animals when in the pasture. Never turn your back to them. They are more likely to charge you when they know you are not looking. Some farmers would carry a livestock prod with them when entering pens with male animals, just to be safe (again never use it unless provoked).

Keeping Male Farm Animals as Pets

The best way to keep a male farm animal as a “Pet” is by having it castrated first, ideally while it is young, before any aggression problems have started.

Polled animals would be generally safer.

Stallions and bulls should only be handed by experienced people, and chains can be used when leading them by halter.

In the case of roosters, which we have not really touched on here, breed selection can be very important, with some chicken breeds (mostly the bantam breeds) being more suited as pets than others.


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Karen Gross
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Roberta Baxter
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Cheryl Murphy
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