The Federal Supreme Court (BGH) divides animals into different categories. A distinction is made between farm animals and pets. This classification is interesting for the owner, since the question of liability for damage caused by the animal depends on the animal species. Example: If a farmer’s cow runs out of the stable in front of a car, the farmer is not liable for the damage caused if he has properly supervised the animal. If, on the other hand, a dog is the victim of an accident, the owner is liable for the damage.
There are pure livestock such as cows and chickens and “potentially double-functional” animals such as horses or dogs, which can be both livestock and pets at the same time. If an animal serves different functions such as commercial and leisure activities, the main purpose counts. Example: A dog that mainly serves to guard a riding stable is a farm animal. The dog, which is supposed to protect a part-time newspaper deliverer, cannot be recognised as a watchdog, i.e. as a farm animal. In this case, the animal owner’s liability applies.
The following animal species may belong to the farm animals:
Farm animals and slaughter animals
Farm animals are used to produce food such as meat, milk or eggs. But also skin and hair, feathers, horn, wool and skins as well as intestines are used for further processing. Examples: Poultry, rabbits, horses, cattle, dogs, pigs, goats, dogs, fish, bees.
Trailer and pack animals support people in their work. Due to the use of machines, these farm animals are being used less and less in Germany. However, they can still be found in various remote areas. Examples: Horses, cattle, donkeys, dogs, elephants or goats.
Mounts serve the locomotion of the human being. In rich countries they are also used as a leisure activity. Examples: Horses, donkeys, oxen.
Fur animals are used for the production of fur. The meat and other components of these animals are usually not used. Examples: Chinchillas, foxes, minks, raccoons, sables.
However, fur animals also include farm animals whose skins make up a significant proportion of fur processing. Example: Dogs, rabbits, calves, goats and foals.
Hunting animals are used as hunting support for other animals. Examples: Birds of prey such as falcons, ferrets, dogs.
Herd or pack animals
Herd animals have a natural inclination towards social life and offer advantages in keeping them. Examples: Cattle, dogs, pigs, goats, donkeys, horses.
Examples: Honeybees, silkworms, Roman snails
Modern Animal Use
Detached from traditional animal husbandry, new uses have developed. Examples: Guide dogs, tracking dogs, research animals, therapy animals etc.