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Duty of care to agisted animals

Agistment is an arrangement that 2 parties enter into when an animal is taken and fed or pastured for payment.

When agisting an animal, both the animal owner and property owner may be a 'person in charge' and so have a duty of care to the animal.

Whether you are agisting an animal on someone else's property or providing agistment on your property, both parties must agree on and understand their responsibilities. If you fail to meet your duty of care, the animal could suffer and you could be charged with an offence.

As each situation is different, consider the environment and circumstances to determine reasonable arrangements for the animal's care. For example, an animal in a hot climate has different accommodation needs than one in a cold climate. Similarly, an aged animal may require closer health monitoring than a younger animal.

Both parties should establish a written agistment agreement that clearly states the agistment terms, and each person's roles and responsibilities. In particular, it should define who is responsible for providing food, water, veterinary treatment, husbandry (such as hoof trimming), animal checking and facilities maintenance.

A written agreement jointly benefits both the property owner and animal owner. It also reduces the likelihood of a dispute and protects the welfare of the animal.

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