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For any kind heart who is considering becoming a foster carer.

We are beyond excited to start welcoming more foster carers to our ’Til The Cows Come Home family again. Enabling foster care for farmed animals is how we’ve been able to make ‘Til The Cows Come Home Australia’s leading online adoption agency for farmed animals within just 2 years – turning everyday homes into sanctuaries and forever loving homes through our sophisticated adoption screening process. We strive for a world where people view farmed animals with the same warmth and offer the same rights, afforded to domestic pets, and it begins right here in our foster homes. 

Our mission is to save unwanted farmed animals by working directly with farmers and families to rehome them into loving, forever homes. Fostering does not require a lot of space, it does require a lot of heart, dedication and quite a bit of time when you have animals at home, especially if/when some are unwell when they arrive. We have created this guide to give you a little insight into what it’s like to be a foster carer.

To get you started we assess your property and interview you for this important role. If all is suitable on your land and you are a match to the culture of our organisation, we work with you to turn an area of your home’s property into a holding station.

Once you are ready to take in animals, our dedicated online volunteers find egg and dairy farmers near to your home (you can choose to foster either hens or calves or both) and arrange to collect animals from them when they need rehoming. (Note: We may have volunteer drivers in your region so let us know if this is something you would want help with. If we don’t have volunteer drivers in your region we will aspire to get one onboard for you.) This will be either 3-day old calves or 18-month-old hens, as these are the animals that are deemed a waste product to the egg and dairy industry. Adoptions occur on average from 3-21 days from when the animals arrive to you. If adopted on a waitlist this can happen quicker or if unwell this can take up to just over a month for them to heal and be ready for adoption.

Here is a video, A Day in the Life of a Foster Carer by Phoebe Whisken one of our dedicated foster carers of calves and hens in Stokers Siding, NSW

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgOjJS-nH-I&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2oKsdYwJVeSBcDsun4poTMQykuFtor_ZU2vVnHOSxF2YhQiFRVx7RrS8g 

We like to build a few holding stations within the same region so that each station can lean on and learn from each other. We have found this to be an incredibly powerful and supportive structure for our foster carers already across Australia.

Many of our foster carers are former TTCCH adopters but many are also first-timers to farmed animal care and so we expect you’ll be wondering How to Feed a Calf:

We understand that feeding is a little daunting when you first start. As long as you are sticking to the recommended amounts on the milk replacer bag, you will be more than fine. However, we will outline some tips and tricks to make you feel more comfortable!

  • Firstly, make sure the milk is warm but not hot to touch.
  • You can choose to feed the calves with a bottle or a calfeteria, whichever you or the calves prefer.
  • If using a bottle, try and keep it at hip level and slightly tilted.
  • If using a bottle, make it comfortable for you as it can take up to 30 minutes for a calf to feed.
  • It is extremely important that calves are fed on a consistent feeding schedule and that there is an 8-hour minimum break between each feed. This allows the calf to properly digest the milk replacer.

What to expect on adoption day:

We know that adoption day will be a bittersweet time for our foster carers. The animals you have cared for and come to love are leaving you. However, just know that the animals are going to furever, loving homes and you will get more animals to help and love very soon!

For Hens:

Adopters will contact you to arrange a time and day to collect their feathered family. 

One thing so important about adoption day is that it’s an opportunity to share the animal’s story, likes, dislikes and personality with their new family. For example, our founder Donna Wild likes to explain that hens from a factory farm do not know how to roost yet, they will not lay in nesting boxes in the beginning and are partially debeaked. A lot of adopters will be shocked to learn that factory farmed often means that the hens have never been outside before, had a dust bath or eaten anything other than low grade ‘poultry feed’. The adopter will learn from you how to best transition the hens to their furever home.

When you’ve had the initial chat, you can give the adopters the opportunity to choose their girls from the flock. 

Adopters may like to stay in touch with you and send you photo and video updates…this is one of the true gems of this work, seeing their life beyond foster care.

For Calves:

Adopters will contact you to arrange a time and day to come and collect the calves. The adopters may wish to schedule a feed time with you for when they pick up their calves so they can learn how to bottle feed. You will also show the adopters how to use the halter and help them get their own calves onto their transport. 

When the adopter arrives, you’ll take the time to talk to the adopter about their new calves. Some adopters will have experience dealing with calves and others may have never seen or touched a calf before. Many adopters will want to stay in contact with you and TTCCH if they have any issues or questions. 
We hope this blog has been helpful for all of you considering foster care with TTCCH. If you have any enquiries do not hesitate to contact us, we are always here to help and answer any questions, send us a message here:
https://www.facebook.com/tilthecowscomehomeau/

By Phoebe Whisken and Donna Wild
Edited by Luella Botteon