Are questions about horses, or in some cases farm animals, such as pigs, sheep, and cows (which, believe is or not I have known individual cases where they have been kept as pets, rather than livestock) on topic?

I have posted this question:

Do my horses need to be shod?

I am happy to delete it and the tag with it, if the community so wishes.

  • pssst.. we can't delete a tag once it's created ;) but unused tags will self-destruct in 6 months. Jan 12 '14 at 18:59

I can't think of why they should not be asked. Just because it is common to call a cat or dog "pet" and cow, sheep, ox, buffalo "cattle" does not mean they are lacking any quality of being called a pet. I say this is a serious blunder if we don't include them in pets.

  • 1
    Provided the motivation is appropriate see my related answer meta.pets.stackexchange.com/questions/13/… Oct 13 '13 at 16:13
  • 4
    I think context matters. A question about my pet sheep Fluffy is different from one about a member of my 200-head wool farm. Oct 13 '13 at 17:34
  • But what if I consider all 200-head one of my pets? What if I'm part of a co-op that specifically keeps sheep for the purpose of herding. These are pets... we don't eat them, we don't use their wool, we care for them and they are trained. So do you mean... if the purpose of the farm is to eat or use the material created by the animal in trade for money? I think I know a few people who also use their sheep for wool that would strongly argue that their animals are pets. Apr 1 '14 at 4:46

I think it all depends on the question, and I think we do need to be careful about what we mark as livestock questions because some people do keep animals that are normally kept as livestock as pets.

For me, there are only a few kinds of questions that I think would be closed because it's a livestock question. Questions like:

  • Trying to maximize profits from the animal.
  • When it's about a herd of animals. Like when to rotate herds into the next pasture or keeping herds of two different species in the same pasture.
  • The use of growth hormones.

I think what we'll see most of, is that questions about farm animals are too broad for our scope. There will be an overlap between what we can answer and what should be asked on Biology.SE.

As an example: Our sheep had too many babies and was temporarily paralyzed, what causes this? was closed (before it was edited to be more in our scope) because it was a livestock question.

I don't think it should be closed because it's about livestock, I think it should be migrated to Biology.SE because it's about the biology of sheep; What decides the number of babies one has. Similarly, if I asked what determines the number of eggs a snake lays, I think that should be migrated to Biology.SE too.

  • I think the recent edits bring it back in scope,and it can/should stay. Apr 2 '14 at 10:35
  • @JamesJenkins Thanks for reminding me, I updated it to (hopefully) make more sense.
    – Spidercat
    Apr 2 '14 at 13:59

I REALLY think that excluding questions about farm animals could be excluding a huge number of people with great expertise. I'll give you an example: there is a farm near me where I and many others volunteer time. The sole purpose of this farm is being a fantastic place for dog training. We do it all... Agility, Herding, Grooming, Boarding, Nose Work, Lure Coursing, obedience training, treiball, you name it we've probably got someone who would love to teach you how to do it. The farm hosts large herding trials as well as small agility and show trials. There are a huge number of experts that hang out, volunteer, and work here but it is technically a farm because a percentage of the lamb are raised for meat. A large number of the sheep are kept for herding purposes, some retire there at the farm in their old age (one of the old ladies was just put down after a long life of 18 years). The sheep we use for puppy training are very well loved, named, etc. But there are also many lambs who are raised on open grassy fields, given everything they need to be healthy including kelp and minerals... and until the day they become grassfed, hormone and antibiotic free lamb they live very happy healthy lives. And other lambs are sold to other nearby farmers or herding enthusiasts for their hobby farms. So yes, it is a farm in the sense that some percentage of the animals are butchered for meat... it makes the farm sustainable and creates healthy local food. So should questions about raising these sheep would be "off topic"?

I get the other side... I understand that you don't want a ton of questions about how to butcher or fatten up animals. But I think that questions about how to give good care to farm animals should be very on-topic. Maybe even questions about what makes an animal "grass-fed" or antibiotic free might be on-topic? Maybe not?

This farm also "employs" several working dogs... we would consider questions about these working dogs on topic even though they "produce" a for the farm. We even consider breeding questions on topic... if people are sustaining their kennel through breeding this doesn't seem that different than a breeding question about sheep to me.

  • 2
    So far, with what discussions I found around this topic in previous meta posts and Area51 posts, it seems this community is in an opinion that the animal species is not a limiting factor. The question topic matters more. Apr 1 '14 at 7:26
  • 1
    I asked a couple today that might help clarify the line for me. We'll see how they go. Apr 1 '14 at 7:28
  • I think the goat hoof question is on topic, but the sheep breeding question was off topic. Apr 1 '14 at 17:05
  • Can you expand on why? Breeding questions in general are on topic so is this one off topic because of the species. Please know that I am not trying to be difficult. .. just trying to push us to have a pretty specific line if we are going to make one that is this... specific. To me it feels like saying that you can't ask DB questions on SO just because DBA.se exists... nope we welcome duplicate questions across the sites even because we think the flavor of the answer will be different and we want to reach the audience that is there. Apr 1 '14 at 17:15
  • 1
    With the edits the question now seems on topic to me. It is now written (at least for me), to focus on the well being of the animal, rather then production concerns of the farm. Apr 2 '14 at 10:34

You must log in to answer this question.