Yeti began his new life at Farm Sanctuary with a bang — literally. Upon moving to the sheep barn at our New York Shelter, he initiated fights left and right, with an apparently insatiable drive to ram anyone in his way. But today, this onetime brawler is loving life with a special herd that’s the perfect fit.
Before coming to Farm Sanctuary, Yeti and his goat partner Schnee lived with a family of homesteaders who had tried to make it on their own. Upon finding the homesteading life unsustainable, however, they decided to sell the farm and move on. Thankfully, they did not want to slaughter their remaining animals, and after asking around, they got in touch with our veterinarian, who asked if we could offer Yeti and Schnee a home. We welcomed the pair to our New York Shelter, and Yeti initially seemed very gentle and mild-mannered.
Prior to coming to Farm Sanctuary, Yeti had not been around many other sheep. He was also a ram — an unaltered male — making him more prone to fighting due to higher testosterone levels. Often, neutering can help stabilize a ram’s behavior, and since we never breed at Farm Sanctuary, Yeti needed to be neutered before joining a flock, anyway. We hoped this might calm him down and make him more amenable to meeting other sheep. After all, this had proven to be the case with other sheep residents who arrived as rams, like Adriano, Joel, and Lloyd, who were more aggressive in the past but are among the most loving members of the flock today.
Once Yeti recovered from his neuter surgery and we felt that he was ready, it was time to introduce him to the sheep barn. (Schnee had to stay behind while she healed from her own surgery, but we planned to reunite them once she was healthy.) We expected this introduction to be fairly smooth; in our experience, sheep are among the easiest animals to integrate into pre-established groups, and sheep move-in days are typically uneventful. While some sheep will quite literally butt heads at first, they typically settle their differences quickly and fit in easily with others.
From the moment he entered the sheep barn, however, Yeti began to pick fights, and didn’t seem inclined to stop. At first, we waited to see if tensions would resolve. Instead, they worsened — Yeti fought to the point of exhaustion, and we worried that someone might get hurt if we didn’t intervene. For everyone’s safety, we decided to take Yeti out of the sheep barn and give everyone time to cool off. As soon as Yeti was removed from the flock, everything returned to normal: The residents of the sheep barn calmed down, and Yeti seemed to feel at ease again once he was away from all the activity and back in his pen with Schnee.
Yeti had clearly told us what he wanted, and we listened. At Farm Sanctuary, we work hard to accommodate not only our residents’ physical health needs, but their emotional needs and preferences as well. Instead of trying to fit Yeti into a mold — in this case, the sheep barn — we sat down and analyzed what he needed as an individual in order to live in the way that’s most suitable for him.
We’re happy to report that Yeti is now in a herd where he clearly feels that he belongs! Once Schnee had healed, we moved the pair into our Wisconsin Barn — home to an eclectic bunch including sheep, goats, alpacas, and cattle (including new friend Isaac steer, pictured above). There, Yeti met Nate and Bob — brothers who themselves had been too rough for the sheep barn. Yeti fit in with these boys right away, and has even become the leader of their own little flock. In fact, this former fighter is now teaching his new sheep friends a lesson or two in good manners!
We’re so glad that Yeti and Schnee now have everything they need to feel at home at Farm Sanctuary — including each other. We look forward to watching their journey unfold, and are so glad to be able to give them the space and understanding to be exactly who they are.