Dan joined the farming scene later in life — spending nearly a decade building his herd. It was a business investment: When the animals reached a certain age and weight, they were sent to slaughter. This typically takes less than three years in the beef industry. Meanwhile, cows can live into their twenties.
Over the years, however, Dan formed a growing attachment to the herd — especially the cows and bulls used for breeding since they lived there longer than the children sent to slaughter. Impressed by their intelligence, he began to reconsider his relationship with them. Ultimately, Dan decided he could not, in good faith, send thinking, feeling beings to their deaths.
At the same time, he worried about how they’d coexist long-term. Dan and his wife were getting older and found it harder to feed the herd and provide the animals with individualized care. They also struggled with the growing costs of this care: Ongoing drought has increased the cost of feed, and there were more mouths to feed now that they no longer sent cows to slaughter.
When he called us for help last April, there were around 60 cows in need.
Our team was moved by Dan’s change of heart and dedication to finding safe homes for his friends. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many cases where guardians, overwhelmed by care needs they can no longer meet, feel they have no other options but to abandon, sell, or kill their animals themselves. There’s also a shortage of safe, loving homes, even when people know where to look — like within Farm Sanctuary’s Farm Animal Adoption Network (FAAN).
FAAN is a nationwide collective of sanctuaries and adopters providing safe, loving homes for animals in need. By working together, we can rescue and care for more animals than one team could do alone. Still, our rescue work cannot offset the systemic harms caused by animal agriculture, which kills nearly ten billion animals each year and breeds billions more as replacements. Even when operating at capacity, our shared network can only help a tiny percentage of animals in need.
We also practice responsible rescue, meaning we won’t receive, refer, or place more animals than a home can accommodate.
With such a large number of cows needing homes, no single provider in our network could responsibly take on Dan’s entire herd. Though difficult, a more realistic outcome would be to place bonded groups among as many FAAN homes as possible.