Farm Animal Rescue (FAR), in Dayboro, Australia, is home to 62 rescued animals. Each animal has his or her own story, which has shaped them into who they are today. Some suffered for many years before being rescued while others came to FAR as babies. Some were so badly abused at the hands of humans that they still do not trust us, even those of us who are here to help. Others were raised here after losing their own mothers and now relish human attention.
Each animal has their own personality, which shines through in everything they do. They are individuals who deserve to be loved. They, and the billions of other animals being raised as commodities to be exploited, did not deserve the abuse, neglect, and disregard they received. But now they are safe and now they are loved.
Here are some of their stories:
Philip came to FAR as a “highway baby” after being discarded on the side of the road shortly after birth.
Female animals in the food industry spend most of their lives pregnant; any transport truck that includes adult females probably has at least a few moms-to-be on board. Sheep are nervous animals, particularly prone to panic, and the abhorrent conditions of transport often result in stress-induced labor. The markets at the end of the trip won’t take babies, leaving the drivers to dispose of any lambs born in transit. The drivers are legally permitted to kill the babies, but many don’t do so directly. They instead dump the lambs on the side of the road to fend for themselves, only hours old and with no mother or herd to help.
Obviously, this usually results in a significant amount of suffering for the lamb, followed by a death due to exposure, starvation, dehydration, or predation. Philip was one of the lucky ones, discovered on the side of the road and brought to FAR. He’s now six months old and, although he still enjoys his morning bottle, is growing up quickly.
Ethel, like several of the sheep at FAR, is a Merino sheep. Humans, in their quest to maximize profit above all else, have bred all kinds of problems into sheep, to the point that they cannot survive on their own. One of the problems Merino sheep face is that they have been bred to have extra skin folds all over their body because more skin equals more wool for human profit. Some of these extra folds are around the sheep’s bum, trapping heat, moisture, and poo, creating a perfect environment for flies to lay their eggs. Fly eggs hatch into maggots, causing a painful, obviously uncomfortable, and deadly condition called fly strike.
The factory farming solution to this problem is a procedure called “mulesing,” in which farmers slice off a piece of the animal’s bum, removing the folds and (eventually) causing a smooth scar that does not grow wool, thus making the area less attractive to flies. This mutilation is done without anesthetic or painkiller and the sheep are sent back out into the fields right after the procedure with a huge open wound (hello, infection).
Ethel has a prominent mulesing scar, an indicator of the suffering she faced before her rescue. That’s all in her past now. Today she spends her days grazing and lounging with the other seven members of her herd.
Isabella is a Dorper sheep, a breed raised for their meat. Like other animals raised for food, sheep are often kept in intensive confinement where they are denied natural behaviors like roaming and foraging. Their reproductive cycles are altered and they are sent to a brutal slaughter when they are still very young.
As a female, Isabella may have been raised to adulthood to serve as a breeder. Or she may have been one of 20 million sheep killed as a lamb. Luckily, she ended up with a third outcome: rescue.
Joshua came from the goat milk industry. Just like cows, female goats are kept in a near-constant state of pregnancy to ensure ongoing milk production. Also just like cows, the male babies born into this industry are considered “useless” since they will never grow up to produce milk. The baby boys are killed at five days old, considered “byproducts” of the industry.
Joshua was rescued at four days old, one day before he was scheduled to die simply for being a boy. He’s now four years old and loves attention from FAR staff and visitors.
Oliver grew up in the entertainment business, but it wasn’t a position he chose. Shuffled around from petting zoos to children’s birthday parties, Oliver spent years being harassed by kids. Having been to a petting zoo or two in my day, I imagine he was chased and grabbed regularly. I’m sure more than one child tried to climb on top of him and his beautiful long hair was no doubt grabbed by the tiny fistful.
When he first arrived at FAR, Oliver was understandably not a fan of children, who couldn’t go anywhere near him without meeting the business end of his horns. He’s mellowed out a bit with the kid-aggression but still isn’t a fan. Luckily for me, he’s cool with adults and enjoys a good scratch on the rump. Just don’t try to move the hair out of his eyes. He likes it there.
Cale and Alfie
Cale and Alfie are from the dairy industry. They were sent to market very shortly after birth so the milk their mothers produced for them could instead be bottled and sold to humans. Calves at market are often purchased by slaughterhouses to be killed and sold as veal. Cale and Alfie were both so sick and weak, however, that they were considered to be “downers,” meaning they couldn’t stand on their own and even the slaughterhouse didn’t want them.
These two boys were rescued and came to FAR, where they received the veterinary treatment they needed to get well and are now in great health and growing quickly. Since they would still be nursing from their mothers under normal circumstances, both get bottles several times a day.
Giving a bottle to a four month old calf requires more muscle than you might expect. They are strong and persistent when they want something. Head butting is their preferred method of making their wishes known and their newly developed horn buds are making us more mindful of their demands.
Fiona was also rescued from the dairy industry. As a female calf, she was not sent to market like the boys, instead being kept to replace her mother in the unending cycle of pregnancy and milk production. She was being fed a replacement formula and was forced to live in her own urine and feces, causing acid burns on 40% of her tiny body. She is now a year old and, having never been impregnated, escaped much of the suffering other dairy cows face.
Anne-Marie and Sersha
Anne-Marie’s rescue from the dairy industry came much later. She endured seven pregnancies and had seven babies taken from her within days of their birth. She mourned for each one, all while she became weaker and weaker as her bones and body were depleted of nutrients that were channeled into unnaturally large volumes of milk.
One day, a wildlife rescuer was called to her farm to help a sick koala. While there, the rescuer saw the farmer ready to kill Anne-Marie, as her milk production had declined and she was not considered “useful” anymore. Both the koala and Anne-Marie were saved that day.
When she got to FAR, it was discovered that Anne-Marie was pregnant. Her eighth calf, Sersha, was born and for the first time she got to keep her baby.
Sersha is now a big strong boy, but you can still see evidence of his mom’s hard life. His horns have not developed properly, the result of Anne-Marie’s calcium depletion during pregnancy. Unlike most of the animals at FAR, Sersha never suffered a single day of mistreatment and got to grow up with his mom, so all in all, misshapen horns aren’t a very big deal.
There are seven pigs at FAR: Howard, Thomas, Heather, Ellen, Portia, Moby, and Kane. All were rescued as piglets from the pork industry but still did not escape all the horrors of factory farming. Only Portia still has her full tail; all the others had their tails cut off without anesthetic or painkillers.
They have been bred to grow very large, weighing much more than their bodies can comfortably handle. Thomas, Howard, and Heather were rescued first, along with Holly. Unfortunately though, at just two years old, Holly’s spine snapped under her own weight. Her back legs became paralyzed and she died a few weeks later. Unfortunately, Ellen is now showing signs of a similar issue. She spends more time than she should walking on her elbows, as it seems too painful for her to get up onto her feet, and her spine is too arched, adding dangerous extra pressure to it.
Health issues aside, the pigs at FAR live a life of luxury. They can roam through the forests and fields, wade in the ponds, wallow in mud pits, or relax in their cozy barn. They like to explore, sometimes hanging out with the cows or walking right up to the volunteer house for their afternoon snack. Kane particularly enjoys breaking branches off trees and bringing them back to the barn.
Rocky was a backyard chicken, raised from the time he was a chick. As anyone who has spent time with a rooster will tell you, once they grow up, they crow a lot (it’s not just in the morning like many of us were led to believe…it’s all day long). When Rocky started crowing, the people who raised him tried to kill him. They broke his neck (they thought) and threw him in a furnace (which they forgot to light).
He managed to survive and was seen walking around the next day. He was set to be killed again in a week’s time, but luckily someone stepped in to rescue him. He now lives happily at FAR with few signs of his botched murder.
Manfred was born as part of an ill-conceived school hatching project. The idea of these projects is to teach children about how chickens are born, but what they fail to teach is anything about responsibility, as the resulting animals are often dumped or killed once the lesson is over.
This is especially true for roosters because, again, lots of crowing. But we’re all about that here at FAR, so Manfred fits right in.
There are 16 hens living at FAR, all rescued from the egg industry. While wild chickens lay less than 20 eggs per year, humans have bred egg-laying hens to lay every day. Much like dairy cows and goats, this dramatically increased energy demand drains the hens’ bodies of nutrients, specifically the calcium required to generate a new egg shell daily. This calcium is pulled from the hen’s bones, leaving them brittle and prone to breakage.
Sarah Jane suffered a broken leg while still living on a factory farm. It never healed properly and she now can’t put any weight on it. Although she can get around pretty well, she has to hop on her one good leg.
She and the other hens have also had the sensitive tips of their beaks seared off in a process called debeaking. Luckily, all of the hens here had only the true tips cut, which is bad enough. Many hens have more than half of their beaks removed, causing very significant injuries that never properly heal and make eating very painful (some even die of starvation because they are unable to eat).
Some of the hens at FAR were raised cage-free, which is not as nice as it may sound. They were packed into dark shed with thousands of other birds, constantly fighting to maintain their place in the pecking order (that’s a real thing, it’s the way birds identify their place in the hierarchy). Other hens were packed into filthy battery cages, have less room than an iPad in which to live. Now all our hens enjoy true freedom. They are able to move about the property freely and have nesting boxes available when they want their privacy. They can scratch the dirt and forage for food until their hearts are content.
See their faces. Hear their stories. Respect their lives.
These are just a few of the animals who call Farm Animal Rescue home. Their stories represent the billions of other animals who were not as lucky, who knew only abuse and never love. Luckily, you can help reduce this suffering.
For information about making compassionate food choices, please visit ChooseVeg.com.