Breeding animals is an engaging profession that can be incredibly rewarding. After all, the unconditional love pets give their owners is one of the true joys of life. By taking on the role of a breeder, you’ll directly increase the quality of many people’s lives while giving those pets a home. However, being a breeder can come with a host of challenges unique to the profession. There are a million things you need to know, so here are five of the most important tips for getting into the business.
1. Choose Wisely
As with any profession, you need to start somewhere. While it might sound exciting to breed all sorts of animals, accommodating the needs of different species can get overwhelming. So, at first, pick one particular animal that you’d like to focus on and go from there. Focusing on one species will also help you carve out a niche, which you can continue to develop or deviate from as you develop your career.
Dogs or cats are a great place to start, as they’re the most common household pet. You increase the chances you’ll find interested buyers over time. Frisky animals like rabbits, on the other hand, will simplify the actual breeding process. You’ll need to take species and breed-specific health conditions into consideration as well. Assess your circumstances and pick an animal to start breeding that works best for you.
2. Location, Location, Location
Just like in real estate, location is a big factor to consider in the trajectory of your career. Licensing, taxation, and available markets vary from state to state. Depending on what state you base your work in, your startup costs could differ wildly. It may also affect what animals you’re able to afford to breed, both financially and legally.
Markets are also incredibly different, not just state to state but even county by county. Naturally, more populated areas like cities will have more local buyers to connect with. You’ll also likely have more competition. If you live in a rural area, you will likely need to factor using a pet transport service into the equation. Keep in mind again that different state and local governments have their own requirements when transporting animals across borders.
3. Establish a Working Relationship With a Vet
There’s a lot to know about the health of your animals when you start breeding. Every species has certain health considerations you’ll need to account for, and veterinarian knowledge is always growing. What might be common practice today could be outdated tomorrow. You’ll be responsible for knowing what the best practices for your breed are, but you don’t have to do it alone.
It’s a good idea to develop a good working relationship with a veterinarian who you trust and respect. You’ll employ their services frequently for ultrasounds, medication, and checkups. They can also help inform you about following best practices for animal wellness. They’ll grant you more insight into the mechanics of your animal’s biology, and show how you can help keep your animals healthy. Whether you go to one for insight or medical assistance, it’s a good idea to develop a good relationship with a vet early in your career.
4. Network Early and Often
Just like any other profession, there are others out there with mastery in the field who you can learn from. People who have been breeding animals for decades have accumulated wisdom that could help launch your career. Once you’ve picked a species or a particular breed, find the most prolific breeders of that animal. Get to know them, and ask how they began their career. You might even connect with someone who will help mentor you through the process.
Another great way to network is to find the social overlap in your profession. For many professions, social overlap takes the form of events, and yours is no exception. Canine breeders, for example, will be able to find many others attending and participating in dog shows. Your particular breed might also have groups that you can join on social media. Once you get involved, you’ll be able to connect with like-minded professionals and enthusiasts worldwide.
5. Develop a Keen Sense of Morality
Some professions are relatively good-natured. For example, moral and ethical considerations are not a daily concern for most pizza makers. This is not the case when it comes to breeding animals. As a breeder, you’ll regularly confront ethical boundaries, and you’ll be required to make difficult decisions. It’s necessary to understand your values. Keep up to date on modern ethical guidelines, as the complex and beautiful relationship between man and beast is ever-developing.
As your business develops and you have more animals, you’d need to increase the amount of space for those animals. Or, you could keep your animals in a space that becomes increasingly confined as their numbers multiply. It would save you money in the short term, but it would compromise the integrity of your business and could hurt the animals. Be careful not to become desensitized to ethical considerations when viewing your animals as a product. They are still living, sentient beings that have needs.
Keep Growing Your Knowledge
Breeding animals is a complex profession that can be difficult to get into. Take your circumstances into consideration, and choose the best animal accordingly. You’ll learn a lot by connecting with other professionals and developing a working relationship with a veterinarian. Keep up to date on technical, legal, and ethical best practices. Soon you’ll have a business bringing life into the world and helping people connect with animals.