Raising exotic breeds a labour of love

Lloydminster — Whether they’re selling miniature horses, pigmy goats, potbelly pigs or chickens, the love of their animals keeps these exotic breeders going.

“They’re quite special, like a giant dog, I always say,” said Shannon Skroeyko of her miniature horse, Cali, which was up for auction at the Rare and Exotic Sale in Lloyd-minster on Sept. 23.

Skroeyko was among dozens of people at the auction who were selling animals typically found living on farms, as well as some of the less common, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks, geese and peacocks.

But the event wasn’t all about selling. Everyone also has their own story about how they got into exotic animals.

Wallace Sauve, who runs the Border City Petting Zoo on his acreage near Lloydminster, said he started the zoo because kids kept visiting his home to check out his alligators, crocodiles and snakes.

“There was just this big need, so we decided this is what we’ll do,” said Sauve, who was selling potbelly pigs, miniature goats and miniature sheep at the auction.

“These kids also love these little animals,” he added. “We always get babies, so when you have a surplus you just have to sell them.”

But Tamilyn Barr, who had a surplus of miniature horses this year, was having a tough time selling them.

“I love them so much, but you can’t keep everyone,” said Barr, who immediately became attached to the animals after giving one as birthday present to her mother.

She said she has about 27 miniature horses on her land, where she also keeps ducks, turkeys, chickens and guinea pigs.

“They’re all pets,” she added. “Everyone has a name, including my 100 chickens.”

Jessie Bontrager, who was selling seven potbelly piglets, also names her animals.

“I just love pigs,” said Bontrager, who got into selling potbellies after her brother introduced them to her.

“They make really good pets, but these ones need to be gentled down a bit.”

As for the miniature horses, Skroeyko said they are great for kids learning to ride or for adults who need help pulling a cart.

“When my kids were growing up, it was just the perfect size for them,” she said, “but they also love to pull a little cart, and they do eat pretty much anything, so they’re low maintenance.”

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