Two things happened today that got me thinking about this subject. Looming in the background, of course, is the impending move two hours north-east to a 600-acre facility in Grass Valley. This is huge, especially for the animals.
Just this morning, two 3-mos old piglets who we had spayed at UC Davis headed off to their new home in Arizona. The drive no doubt will be a little stressful, though after the first hour or so of driving, the adopters reported both piglets were asleep. Pigs are extremely sensitive to stress during transport, so it was nice hearing a positive update.
On a related though less uplifting note, there is a cow-calf operation next to the sanctuary. It's ironic. Here cows give birth to calves who eventually end up at feedlots and the slaughterhouse. Yesterday, the rancher moved a new bull into the pasture, even though the pasture already has one, very large, very protective bull. The new bull initially spent the first several hours calling to his missing herd, cows and calves he had probably been with for the past eight or nine months. Of course this attracted the attention of the resident bull who just had to flip the new bull up and over the fence. It was a gravity-defying display. How confusing it must be for this bull, to have once been so content with familiar friends to now being unceremoniously flung over a fence. He's back in the pasture and the two will figure out their differences. Some of the cows will take pity (or find attraction in) on the newcomer and all will be well...but these first few weeks are no fun for any of the bovines involved (or those of us who try to leave the property only to be faced with a wayward 1,500 lb angus bull).
Which of course got me thinking about what it will be like for the animals when we move. It can't be anything but stressful and scary. We cannot explain to the animals what's in store for them, that there will be green pastures year-round and more roam to explore. I have a feeling the goats and cattle will be the least stressed, owing to the fact they are very curious animals. The pigs will probably be very melodramatic and angsty for the first few weeks until they find the year-round mud-hole and some good rooting spots. I'm not sure about the rabbits or the sheep (who are fond of one particular hill dotting the property). I'm betting the peepers will find the transport the most unnerving but their new digs full of beautiful and wondrous things. It's a big step up for them, really.
In any event, for those of you who have made moves with animals, let us know how you made the transition easier for them. We want to make this the least stressful move we can!