Our sanctuary encompasses more than 100 acres. Sanctuary residents include birds and bovines (as well as two wooly ovines).
Of the 27 bovines currently in residence at VINE, all but the six juveniles weigh in at or over 1,000 lbs, and seven of the adult males weigh 2,000 lbs or more. Brutus and Thunder each weigh nearly 3,000 lbs. Our eldest heavyweight—Norman, age 12— weighs more than 2,500 and is in excellent health, according to our veterinarian. Like many elderly animals (including people), he has some arthritis, for which he receives supplements and pain management as prescribed by the vet. His zest for life is undiminished, and his gait is sprightly except on those cold mornings when some of the people wake up stiff too. They take NSAIDS, and so does he—in a handful of tasty grain.
Speaking of veterinary care, in addition to our local veterinarians (one primary vet for the large animals, one primary vet for the birds, and a back-up vet for large animals in case of an emergency when the primary vet is unavailable), we routinely consult with the staff at Farm Sanctuary, thereby gaining the benefit of their 25 years of experience rescuing, rehabilitating, and caring for farmed animals of all kinds. In exceptional cases, we or one of our vets or consultants turn to Tufts or Cornell (both of which have nationally renowned veterinary hospitals) for advice. Because of our wide network of contacts within both the sanctuary community and academia, we also have access to a wide variety of experts—such as ethologists expert in the psychology of a particular animal—with whom we can also consult as needed.
Our full-time animal caregiver grew up on a beef farm, went through 4-H as a youth, is a trained veterinary technician who worked in that field for several years, received additional specialized training from Farm Sanctuary, and has provided excellent care to the bovines in residence at VINE for the past two years. Our part-time animal caregivers, who also live on site, include another former veterinary technician and two people with more than ten years experience in farmed animal care and sanctuary management.
Our sanctuary is recognized worldwide as the first to develop a method of rehabilitation for roosters used in cockfighting. That method has been written up in scholarly journals and is now used by many other sanctuaries. Farm Sanctuary—the oldest and most reputable farmed animal sanctuary in the country—routinely places animals at VINE, including large bovines.
In addition to grazing in the multi-acre pastures among which they rotate, bovines at the sanctuary eat locally-grown hay. We are proud to be one of the primary customers of this local farmer, who has shown his compassion by bringing square bales of second cutting hay (softer overall texture for the little ones to make their transition to hay easier) as a special treat for newly arrived calves rescued from abusive circumstances. He and we don’t share the same perspective on animal rights, but we are able to come together on the question of kindness to elderly, abused, or disabled animals.