Farm Animal Care Conference

A three-day event for animal caregivers in training!

The 2019 Farm Animal Care Conference is now SOLD OUT and the waiting list is full. We hope you can join us next year!

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 Animal Care Conference tickets are $275 per person. All participants must be at least 18 years of age or older to attend. The registration fee covers three days of lectures, field time, and materials, as well as a vegan continental breakfast and catered lunch each day.


The event includes a lecture component where guests will receive an overview of the following topics:

  • Starting a sanctuary
    • Picking a location
    • Animal housing
    • Types of sanctuaries: Micro vs. larger operations
    • Fencing
    • Staffing
  • Farm equipment
  • Sanctuary safety
  • Farm animal rescue protocols
  • Introduction to animal health care
    • Recognizing illness
    • Most common conditions by species
    • Parasites and treatments
    • Psychological needs of animals; how to tell what they want
    • Basic nutritional needs of each species
    • Behavior
    • Restraint
    • Basics of euthanasia
  • Visitor Programs
  • Volunteer Programs

The event also includes a field time component where you will be able to observe our caregiving team interacting directly with the animals. The field time portion will explore:

  • Barn design by species
  • Basic animal handling skills
  • Species-specific healthcare overview
  • Basic maintenance healthcare by species; hoof-trimming, nail-trimming, body checks, etc.
  • Basic biosecurity

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

Mahatma Gandhi


Susie Coston joined the Farm Sanctuary staff in 2000, after spending six years working with a veterinarian and at a sanctuary in West Virginia. With more than two decades of experience working with farm animals, she is a leading authority on both their care and behavior, and she calls on both her expertise and her deep connections with these animals (she’s often referred to as “the farm animal whisperer”) to advocate for compassion for farm animals everywhere. As National Shelter Director, she oversees a team of caregivers who provide individualized care to hundreds of rescued farm animals across Farm Sanctuary’s sanctuary locations; she also acts as a mentor to many peers who have started their own sanctuaries, as well as leading the Farm Animal Care Conference. She can often be found sharing the stories of her rescued farm animal friends both at speaking engagements and online.

Tara Hess

Tara Hess, Watkins Glen Shelter Director, got her start at Farm Sanctuary in 2008 as a shelter intern. Shortly after her internship, she joined our caregiver staff and became our New York Shelter Manager by 2010. Tara also spent two years as our Shelter Director in Orland, CA. She is currently with us in New York and is excited to share her years of experience. Tara holds a master’s degree in inclusive education and a bachelor’s degree in English. Tara resides in the area with her husband, daughter, and many furry little friends.

Jill Tedeschi

Jill Tedeschi first joined the Farm Sanctuary team as a shelter intern at our New York Shelter in 2011. An Emerson College graduate with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and entrepreneurship, Jill came to Farm Sanctuary with hopes of starting a sanctuary of her own. That dream quickly shifted once she fell in love with the New York Shelter and its nonhuman residents. After her internship, Jill immediately joined the caregiver staff and grew to become the New York Shelter Manager in 2013. Jill is excited to be sharing her years of farm animal care knowledge.

Holly McNulty

Holly McNulty has been with Farm Sanctuary for more than 25 years, working in an array of positions within the growing organization. After starting as an intern in 1992, she subsequently worked as a shelter caregiver, education coordinator, administrative director, and director of human resources. In addition, Holly also served on the board of directors from 1993 to 2006. During her tenure, Holly has managed an extensive range of responsibilities including volunteers, visitor programs, financial management, IT, human resources, corporate filings, donor database, member relations, event coordination, mailings, and merchandise programs. For the majority of her employment, she served as administrative director, supporting the growth of the organization from an annual budget of $850,000 to $5.8 million and from one sanctuary with fewer than ten employees to multiple sanctuaries and telecommuting positions nationwide. In her current role as Director of Human Resources & Volunteer Programs, Holly manages and executes all human resource functions for more than 90 employees and leads a team of staffers in managing and growing our volunteer program opportunities.

Michelle Waffner serves as Farm Sanctuary’s Director of Visitor Experience, overseeing the organization’s visitor program staff. As Director of Visitor Experience, Michelle also manages the visitor program and onsite shelter events, furthering Farm Sanctuary’s mission of inspiring change in the way society views and treats farm animals. Michelle got her start at Farm Sanctuary as an intern in 2000 and has held numerous positions during her career with the organization. Her long-term experience in education and outreach is an excellent asset in spreading Farm Sanctuary’s message of compassion to visitors on and off the sanctuary grounds. Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Binghamton University.


Friday, September 13

  • 8:00-8:30 a.m.

    Registration/Light Breakfast

  • 8:30-9:00 a.m.


  • 9:00-9:30 a.m.

    Introduction to Starting a Sanctuary

  • 9:30-11:00 a.m.

    Sanctuary Tour

  • 11:00-11:45 a.m.

    Visitor Programs

  • 11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.


  • 1:00-1:30 p.m.

    Volunteer Programs

  • 1:30-6:00 p.m.

    Field Time: Animal Care

Saturday, September 14

  • 8:00-8:30 a.m.

    Light Breakfast

  • 8:30-10 a.m.

    Getting Started (barn design, housing, fencing, equipment)

  • 10:00-10:15 a.m.


  • 10:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

    Animal Care and Operations

  • 12:00-1:00 p.m.


  • 1:00-5:00 p.m.

    Field Time: Animal Care

Sunday, September 15

  • 8:00-8:30 a.m

    Light Breakfast

  • 8:30-11:00 a.m.

    Introduction to Animal Health

  • 11:00-11:15 a.m.


  • 11:15-12:00 p.m.


  • 12:00-5:30 p.m.

    Field Time: Animal Care