Are animals at the sanctuary allowed to breed?
GENE: There is no breeding allowed at Farm Sanctuary. For
the mammals, the males are neutered, and for the birds, we
collect the eggs so they cannot incubate.
BEDE: Ditto all the boys rabbits, guinea pigs and
horses are neutered. Eggs are collected daily from the
What do you do with male animals, which by nature fight
each other. How do you deal with unwanted roosters and drakes,
GENE: We keep the population of our males down to minimize
fighting. So, unfortunately, we cannot provide sanctuary for
all the males, or females for that matter, who need sanctuary.
BEDE: Yes there are always lots of animals needing homes,
unfortunately males roosters and drakes don't do
themselves any favours. We have pairs of drakes who live
happily together but try to introduce them to others and the
squabbling begins. With roosters we manage to integrate
newcomers into the main rooster pack by slowly introducing
them to the others through wire fences Π after a couple of
weeks they manage to fit in without much commotion. However,
unfortunately there are only so many you can take in.
Are you always being asked to take in male animals which
are unwanted because of their sex? How do you cope with these
GENE: We are asked to take in males and females but no
sanctuary can take all the animals who need homes. So, we
provide homes here for those we can, and we provide tools and
advice for others who want to set up sanctuaries. Finally, we
also put energy into 'going upstream' to stop the problem in
the first place.
BEDE: Oh yeah. Someone calls asking if you can help with a
chicken which needs a home and a lot of the time the chook is
a rooster! We try to take them, or alternatively try to find
someone else willing to. The problem is that people have
obvious difficulties keeping roosters in built-up urban areas.
It's not the bird's fault and so we do everything we possibly
can. It's very hard to say no at the moment we are building
up a register of people willing to adopt animals in the hope
we can have a ready list of homes for those animals we can't
Being so hands-on do you find it frustrating that some
in the animal rights movement have little understanding of the
needs of rescued farmed animals and the commitment they
require after rescuing, after the headlines die down?
GENE: I am happy for the commitment and desire anyone may
have to help prevent farmed animal suffering whether it be
hands-on or otherwise.
BEDE: I used to get frustrated about other's lack of
knowledge about the time and care involved with sanctuary work
then I realised I was exactly like that before I began working
hands-on. It's like anything you can read lots but putting
the theory into practice takes it into another realm
At times working on a sanctuary is frustrating because
sometimes you are dealing with terminal cases and regardless
what you do and all the care and attention you give an animal
it dies. But then there are all the good times and the special
moments. How do you ensure security?
GENE: Lorri (Gene's wife) and I and other Farm Sanctuary
people live on the farms and that provides a great deal of
BEDE: Ditto, there is always someone around. There's always
lots of work which needs doing so we're usually outside
What is your position on purchasing animals to live on
GENE: We are against purchasing animals from the livestock
industry as doing so supports a cruel industry economically.
BEDE: The immediate answer is no way cause you are putting
money into the hands of the exploiters but I honestly could
not say if purchasing an animal was the only way to save its
life I would not do it I'm only human.
At a conference on farm sanctuaries in the US last year
Karen Davis, a woman I admire who runs United Poultry Concerns
asked whether animals who could not be rescued any other way
should be abandoned because they are in an economic situation
which defines them as property and merchandise. She said: "is
this not a way of making these innocent victims pay the
ultimate price because they happen to be defenselessly defined
as objects for sale?" And what is your position on "stealing"
animals which require help/rescuing?
GENE: We have taken animals out of bad situations living
animals off of dead piles or trash cans and we have been
willing to face 'theft' charges if needed in doing so.
BEDE: I have no problem acting to help animals which are
being mistreated and abused.
Spending so much hands-on time with animals you have
obviously learnt a lot about them. Do you have any tips for
other hands-on workers?
GENE: We have set up a website which is intended to be a
tool for people who want to do sanctuary work. It is
BEDE: I'm still very much on a learning curve I work with
guys who know a huge amount about the animals homed at the
sanctuary from their years of experience.
How do the sanctuaries deal with problem animals such as
rats and mice attracted by food, and predators?
GENE: We put the food away when the farmed animals are
finished with it, rather than leaving it out. And this keeps
the rat and mice population down. Regarding predators, lots of
human activity near our animals helps, and our barns for small
animals (eg. chickens) are predator proof so the birds are
safe at night.
BEDE: Yes they are a problem despite food being put away at
night, we catch them live and relocate them but this has not
proven to be effective any suggestions would be welcomed!
In relation to protection from predators all the animals,
apart from horses/ponies/donkeys sleep in sheds and housing
which we can secure against attackers in the evenings. Six
foot fences surrounding many of the animal areas are also an
With the number of animals you have to feed how do you
afford it? Many commercially available animal foods have dead
animal components, how do you guys deal with it?
GENE: Thankfully, we have people who donate to Farm
Sanctuary to provide feed and other needs of the animals. We
have done everything we can to stay away from feeding dead
animal components to our animals, and have had our own vegan
feed milled at a local feed mill.
BEDE: Yes it's a bit of a Catch-22 and unfortunately I
don't have an answer it all comes down to expense. You've
got 200 mouths to feed and limited money to do so.
Farm Sanctuary has been instrumental in bringing to the
public (and international arena) the issue, for example, of
downed cows. Please tell readers more about this and other
GENE: Central to Farm Sanctuary's campaign work are
investigations and documentation of conditions endured by
animals exploited by the meat, dairy, and egg industries. We
have photographed appalling mistreatment of downed animals
(who are neglected for days, and dragged to slaughter with
http://www.nodowners.org/, and the cruelty
to intensive confinement on factory farms
http://www.factoryfarming.com/. We believe
that most consumers are appalled when they learn of these
conditions an agree that the cruelty should be stopped, and
hopefully they will think critically about their eating
habits. By caring for farmed animals as companions, Farm
Sanctuary attempts to reshape the majority perception of
farmed animals from 'food' to 'friends'.
What do you think it's going to take for the Western
world's rural community to get the message that what' s going
on in factory farming these days is unacceptable? What message
do you want to share with readers?
GENE: Some folks in rural communities are coming to see,
first hand, the problems associated with factory farming.
(Their primary concerns have been environmental pollution and
negative economic impacts, but some are coming to question the
inhumane treatment of farmed animals as well.)
BEDE: I think the reality is that those involved in factory
farming are only going to respond to economic pressure because
if they had any compassion at all they wouldn't be doing it in
the first place. It would be interesting if these industries
had to meet the true costs of their environmental impacts such
as the associated land clearing, greenhouse emissions, not to
mention the waste and energy use.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sanctuaries do not kill healthy
animals in order to provide space for others. Euthanasia is,
however, necessary to alleviate the suffering of a sick
animal. The question of when to do it is never an easy one. It
requires humility and charity to make life-and-death decisions
for an animal.
Sanctuaries are hard work but they are an essential part to
the animal rights movement growth, because they not only hold
the physical evidence of what happens to animals around the
world, but when utilised correctly, they are also a perfect
educational tool we have to show the mainstream where they
have gone wrong in their attitude,s especially the so-called
Running a sanctuary doesn't come cheap. Donations are
welcome and can be sent to either:
The Farm Sanctuary"
P.O. Box 1065
c/o Bede Carmody
Locked Bag 18/202,