Keeping farm animals could be a pig of a job

Our lawyer, Fiona McNulty, answers your questions
© Merrily Harpur

Question: We live in south London in a Victorian terrace house which has a long garden with old fruit trees. It all gets overgrown very quickly so my teenage daughters want us to rear animals to keep the brambles down. They have suggested we get a pig. We love the idea — but are there any legal pitfalls that we should be aware of?

Answer: Pigs are not domestic animals like cats or dogs. The law considers them to be farm animals and they are subject to regulations in the same way as commercial livestock. Look at your title deeds to ensure there are no restrictive covenants preventing the keeping of pigs on your property.

If you want a micro pig, do note they are not an actual breed but are pigs that are created through mating the smallest pigs or the runts of the litters over several generations. There is no guarantee they will remain small and they often have genetic weaknesses.

The animal's welfare is very important, as is preventing the spread of disease. Pigs can get all sorts of contagious diseases which can be transmitted to people — hence the rules and regulations regarding keeping them.

Obtain a county parish holding number from the Rural Payment Agency before you buy your pig and a movement licence so you are legally entitled to move the creature to your house. On arrival, register it with Animal Health. This is a legal requirement and is to help with disease control so that the authorities know the whereabouts of your pig.

Identify your pig by ear tag or tattoo with a unique number, obtainable from your local Animal Health office. Keep records of any veterinary treatment and when you take the pig off the premises. If you wish to take your pig for walks you must also obtain a pig-walking licence.

After all this, if you still want a pet pig remember that it is illegal to feed it your kitchen scraps or waste food from commercial outfits, such as caterers or restaurants. Also, the pig must not cause a nuisance to your neighbours, and it is likely to plough up every square inch of your garden.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP (

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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