Before you dive into the wonderful world of sanctuary life, please make sure you’ve done your homework as well as considered all the ideas/recommendations on this page. It’s not just for your own benefit, but for the individuals in your future care. Most new sanctuaries fold within the first year, so we want to make sure you are set up for success!

Webinars To Watch

Volunteer | Intern

One of the first questions we will ask is have you been volunteering at a farm sanctuary, at least once a week, for the past year? The big reason being, like anything else in life, you don’t know the amount of work and if it’s for you, till you do it. Once a week is the least one can commit to to see, when in reality it’s a 24/7 commitment.

The year of volunteering is to see how the work changes through the seasons. It might be easy to get out of bed in the summer, but those cold winter nights could be another story. Checking the heat lamps and going out to feed individuals early in the morning, might be something you may not have thought of.

With the growing number of farm sanctuaries, and the romanticized view in which they’re portrayed in the media, it’s very important to see that it’s not just about cuddling with cows and running with chickens. It’s a lot of work too with financial and fundraising commitments, sanctuary tours, fixing fences, setting up infrastructure, emergencies, medical bills, organizing volunteers, cleaning up a lot of poo and so much more. The best way to learn the actual work load is volunteering or doing an internship at a farm sanctuary.


Consider starting smaller, like as a microsanctuary! Read more about what a microsanctuary is at the Microsanctuary Resource Centre. They also offer a great resource page.

The Open Sanctuary Project

The Open Sanctuary Project is a freely accessible, always growing digital guide for any resources or information you need in order to responsibly create and successfully manage an animal sanctuary, or to provide the best possible care to farmed animals in order to help them live long, healthy, happy lives free of exploitation.

The Open Sanctuary Project also has online courses available with certifications through their Compassionate Care Classroom.

“Start Your Own Farm Animal Sanctuary” is a MUST READ!

Farm Animal Care Conference

One great way to learn the ins and outs is attending Farm Sanctuary in New York’s Farm Animal Care Conference.

“Farm Sanctuary’s long history of rescuing and caring for animals has put our staff at the cutting edge of farm animal care. The techniques and methods developed by our staff are used at sanctuaries across the country. The Farm Animal Care Conference is geared toward anyone who is interested in starting their own farm animal sanctuary or rescuing and caring for farm animals as companions. If you want to learn more about what it takes to care for rescued farm animals, this is an experience that cannot be missed.”

Farm Sanctuary also has a PDF available called “How To Start, Operate, And Develop A Farm Animal Sanctuary”

Global Federation Of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS)

Individuals have started their GFAS Certification even while they were still setting up their sanctuary or very new. It’s a great idea, especially if you want to make sure you are doing it correctly from day one!