Frequently Asked Questions

Visitors

Coming to the sanctuary and have questions?

Organization

Looking for information about our organization?

Visitor FAQs

Our sanctuary offers both public and private tours of the sanctuary, but we are not open for drop-in visits. To learn more about our visiting Heartland, click here. Important note: All guests must sign our online waiver before arriving at the sanctuary. Parents can sign on behalf of their children. Find our waiver here.

Because we are a farm animal sanctuary, our first priority is always that our rescued residents feel safe, comfortable and happy at their home. For that reason, we let the animals choose how much interaction they’re comfortable with. Some species, like our ducks, potbellied pigs and emus, prefer to be admired from afar. Others, like our goats, sheep, and cows (who like to offer up slobbery smooches at times!) love socializing with and receiving affection from our tour guests. An important note: We always advise tour guests that if an animal walks away from you, we let them walk away and never chase them. Our sanctuary is their safe place.

Heartland is a sanctuary and lifetime home for the animal residents in our care. The primary goal of many petting zoos is to make money. They do this by encouraging the public to interact with the animals, usually without guardrails and often without considering the animals’ desire or interest to interact with unfamiliar people.  The emphasis at a petting zoo is on the physical affection from person to animal, not necessarily the animal’s wellbeing.  This repeated physical contact can cause intense stress and discomfort for some animals.  Additionally, petting zoos typically feature young animals who may be sold when they “age out” of their infancy after one season.  At Heartland, animals receive dedicated care and a safe forever home for their entire lives.

Unlike a petting zoo, when the public visits our sanctuary, it is with the understanding and respect that they are guests visiting the home of our rescued residents. Because each resident is an individual with their own unique personality and story, some of them aren’t interested in socializing with people.  And we’re okay with that! At Heartland, boundaries are recognized and respected. 

Furthermore, our therapy programs, community events, and summer camps are focused on compassionate learning. Unlike recreational farms, our resident animals are co-participants in these programs, not props used for human amusement.

Unfortunately, no. While we love dogs and other pets, dogs are considered “predators” to many of the animal species who live at the sanctuary. Since the sanctuary is their home, the safety and comfort of our rescued residents is always our first priority. Additionally, our rescued llamas are naturally very protective of the sanctuary grounds and have been known to “stalk” visiting dogs around the property. For everyone’s safety, we ask that you please leave your beloved pets at home. 

 

In order to keep our guests and animal residents safe, food is not permitted on public or private tours. We want to be mindful of any fellow guests, staff or volunteers with food allergies, plus many of our rescued animals are on special diets, so we don’t want anyone to steal a snack from a visitor that they shouldn’t have.  🙂 You are welcome to leave food in your car or at the wooden pavilion near our parking lot to be enjoyed at the pavilion after the tour.   

Conditions at the barn are sometimes (usually) muddy. We recommend wearing close-toed shoes or boots and clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Long pants are best as you may encounter some muddy pig snouts. You may want to bring along a filled water bottle for hot days. And of course, don’t forget your phone or camera for photos!

Organization FAQs

Yes! At Heartland Farm Sanctuary, we promote and encourage making compassionate choices whenever and wherever possible, and we believe that not consuming or using animals or animal products is a major step in living compassionately. We also don’t believe in shaming or judging anyone – we are here to support and encourage each step anyone takes towards compassion for all beings. Read more here.

Many of Heartland’s staff, volunteers and board members are vegan or vegetarian, but it is not a requirement to be part of HFS. 

While we encourage HFS program participants to enjoy plant-based foods, it is not a requirement. Our commitment to inclusion means respecting each guest’s personal needs and beliefs about food and diet.  Everyone is welcome to learn with us and participate in our programs. We are hopeful that someday soon, healthy vegan options will be easily accessible to everyone. 

No. Like all mammals, cows only produce milk when they have given birth. Our female rescued cow, Daisy, has never been pregnant (and no animals are ever bred at our sanctuary) so she won’t produce milk. If we rescued a pregnant cow or cow with a nursing calf, we would follow the advice of our veterinarian about the best way to proceed for mother and baby. If a cow required milking after rescue, the milk would only be used by the calf.

Sometimes. Most of our rescued hens are well past their consistent egg-laying years. While chickens can live 10 years or longer, their egg laying typically tapers off by age two or three. On the rare occasion when one of our rescued hens lays an egg, animal care staff typically cook it and feed it back to the hen. Surprising as it sounds, most hens really enjoy eating their eggs, and doing so replenishes calcium and other nutrients lost during the physically and nutritionally-taxing laying process. 

Additionally, laying eggs can lead to reproductive cancers and disease, especially when most chickens have been bred to lay many more eggs than they naturally would. At Heartland, our rescued hens receive weekly health checks to look for signs of reproductive disease. If a hen starts to show symptoms, we will usually give them a small hormonal implant, which temporarily stops the egg-laying cycle. While costly, these implants are often a life-saving measure for a hen experiencing reproductive problems.

Yes, our rescued sheep are typically shorn once a year in late spring. Like most domesticated wool-producing animals, sheep have been selectively bred to over-produce wool. If they are not shorn, their wool becomes heavy and matted and makes them very uncomfortable in warm weather. Heartland’s resident sheeps’ annual haircuts keep them cool and comfortable through the summer and allow them to regrow a clean, cozy layer of wool for the winter. Our llama residents also get shorn for the same reason! 

 

No. We understand the desire to create something from the wool or feathers of our residents (and know that desire comes from a place of closeness and connection) but we do not allow crafting with animal materials.  Heartland has made the choice that no one should profit from anything our residents produce. While some may just want wool, an eggshell or feather for themselves, once those items leave Heartland, we have no control over what is done with them.

No. Part of our belief as a sanctuary is to not monetize the residents. They are not working and we will not profit from anything they produce.

Still Have Questions?

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