Top Hobby Farm Safety How-To’s

October 24, 2019

a person in red and black flannel holding a brown chicken

Hobby farms are becoming increasingly popular these days. People may keep chickens, ducks, goats, pigs, or even horses and donkeys as pets on their properties--and these animals have some special considerations. There are various dangers and toxins you should be aware of to keep these types of pets safe! The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants you and your furry, feathery, four-legged friends to stay safe, so we’ve shared our top tips for all things hobby farm-related below!

1. Rat and mouse bait are common toxins that farm animals get into. There have been cases in which horses, pigs and even chickens have ingested rat bait. There are multiples types of rodent bait, but the three that are most commonly seen each lead to their own set of concerns when it comes to pets. 

  • Bromethalin bait is a neurotoxin and can cause symptoms such as impaired walking, muscle tremors, seizures and even coma when ingested. 
  • Anticoagulant baits can cause internal bleeding and symptoms can include lethargy, weakness and difficulty breathing.
  • Cholecalciferol, or activated vitamin D3, is included in some baits and can cause kidney failure due to an increase of calcium and phosphorus in the body. 

Because most animals seem to enjoy the taste of rodent baits, it’s important to keep it well out of reach of all pets, big and small. And if you are using any type of bait or chemical, it is best to keep your pets out of the affected area. 

2. Toxic plants can also pose a risk to farm animals. 

Plants such as azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel, oleander and yew contain compounds that can affect the heart in grazing animals.  

Red maple can cause anemia (loss of red blood cells) in horses and other equines, whereas some fruits such as cherries, apricots and plums, contain cyanide in their pits, leaves and bark. If grazing animals eat a large amount of these, cyanide poisoning can occur. 

If any of these plants are on your property, you can fence them off to prevent access to the plants and prevent an exposure.

3. Materials such as plastic, fabric and hard rubber can be tempting for goats and pigs—who love to get into pretty much anything and everything. It is a good idea to keep these types of materials away from them and out of hoof’s reach. Ingestion of foreign objects and materials could lead to a blockage in an animal’s organs or intestines.  

4. Fly sprays and other insecticides are commonly used around farm animals to help provide relief from ever-present pests and insects. Make sure that you’re always following the label directions on any of these sprays to avoid any accidental poisoning. 

5. If you are eating eggs or drinking milk from your hobby farm animals, make sure to check if there are any ”withdrawal times” for any products used on or around your animals. Withdrawal times are the amounts of time you need to discard milk or eggs before they are considered safe for human consumption. 

If you believe your hobby farm friend has gotten into something potentially toxic or seems to be having an adverse reaction to something, please contact your regular veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for assistance.