The most common question we get asked when we bring our animals out to Mobile Events is “How can your animals be so quiet? Why are they so calm? Are they not stressed meeting so many people and being handled so much?
When we answer that the reason is they are all hand reared and handled from birth, sometimes our visitors look at us in disbelief.
But this is truly the case. We are very lucky to have a highly trained Animal Care Team on the farm. Our Animal Care Manager is a Zoologist and I myself having specialised in Animal Husbandry in college some 30 years ago and with the added experience since then, have a deep understanding of animal behaviour. Many European Agricultural colleges and our own vet college in UCD send their students to the farm for placement because of the high standard we adhere to. When our animals are born our staff immediately start the handling process. Because their mothers have been hand reared themselves there is a deep trust between the handlers and the mothers so they are happy to allow their young to be handled and petted. No more than we humans love massages animals love gentle caressing. Small furries learn to sit on knees, poultry to perch on arms and gates, lambs, goats and pigs to be led and all of this is done in a very safe, non-threatening environment. Hours and hours are spent engaging and playing with the animals. One of our animal care managers Amelia spends hours in the evening just sitting with different animals and studying their different character traits. When our animals are going to an event, they jump into their carrier boxes or cages without issue. When an event is over they immediately sense that we are packing up to leave, some animals especially the llamas start to get excited and dance about their pens. A few kilometres from the farm the goats start to bleet and hens start to cluck as their amazing senses kick in and they know they are near home! A couple of months ago two zoologists from the UK commissioned by Wildlife Services carried out an inspection of the Wooly animals and the farm. Their final comments in the report was “Wooly Ward’s Farm is an exceptionally well operated and commendable Mobile Petting Farm. The standards are exceptionally high especially when considering public safety and animal welfare and Wooly Ward’s Farm can act as an example to other collections, highlighting what can be achieved with the correct mindset. It was an absolute pleasure to meet the team and visit their site and we wish them well” As it happens only last week another impromptu inspection took place, this time from the Department of Agriculture. The inspector was again very pleased with our animal welfare practices and hygiene. Personally, albeit a bit stressful on our team when random inspections occur, I welcome experts coming to the farm as with every visit we learn something new from them and can improve our already high standards even more. Our learning is never over and this month two of our animal care team will commence further animal care and behaviour studies. So, the next time you meet us and our Mobile Farm, bear in mind that we care very deeply for our animals and they all have names and personalities. Remember that we are a highly trained team of animal handlers who do know what we are doing, and we do have inspections on the farm from outside bodies who ensure that we are doing a very good job. The highlights over the past few weeks on Wooly Farm was that Ali and Roo, our two Llama’s celebrated their first birthday and Ash our Collie dog will be 6 years old next week. We are eagerly awaiting new Guinea Pig babies as poor mum is heavily pregnant. On a sadder note, we had to say farewell to our much loved cat – Shercan who reached the ripe old age of 14 yrs. He will always be remembered as an adorable asset to the Wooly family. Life goes on and new births will bring lots of special animals to Wooly Farm in the future.