On moving animals

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!


Anonymous said...

The only tip I've got is one I'm SURE you've already thought of, which is to make sure everyone stays with their friends, both during the trip and afterwards.

We've moved guinea pigs and alpacas. Not surprisingly, the guinea pigs were fine with it. Maybe more surprisingly, the alpacas were too. In both cases they were with their herds all the way.

Anonymous said...

Wishing you and the animals all the best for a peaceful and uneventful move!

I wonder if it would help if you could bring some things the animals find familiar from their current enclosures and place them in their new enclosures, at least until they are comfortable in the new place?

Janice Gillett said...

We cannot explain to the animals what's in store for them, that there will be green

On the contrary i do beleive they do understand everything we say to them. The acreage is for sale here and i look forwad to movingto greender pastures as well and have been telling all of them they will have to be brave. That there will be more room and we can plant apple , plum and pear trees.
And I will be bringing with me things such as the rock, the log and bedding so when they do arrive there will be smells they recognise with being a good place.

My two cents worth pretty well nothing there LOL

Holly said...

providing lots of recognizable objects (blankets, toys, etc) that have their scent in the new home is important, but so is the tone of your voice. Even if you're frustrated, tired by things not going as planned (and that will ALWAYS happen during a move!) keep your voice and manner cheerful around the animals. It will help keep them calm and feeling secure.