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Who defines ‘best life’?

This is a story about Roo, one of our nice roosters – who got me thinking that I need to redefine what I consider as an animal’s ‘best life’. We spent the last few weeks building a large rooster enclosure for our 4 roosters. We raised these roosters from chicks, who were given the freedom to free range during the day and secured at night. But as they grew, two of Roo’s brothers became very aggressive so we moved them to temporary housing, separated from people. One day, the two of them attacked me when my back was turned, drawing blood on both my legs. As the completion of their new coop was drawing near, we anticipated moving them from their old pen to their new home was going to be a challenge. Sure enough, little Roo escaped during the transfer and despite our best efforts, we couldn’t catch him. Our concern was that he would be susceptible to a predator attack if left alone all day and night without a secure home. But we seem to have underestimated little Roo; he is adapting just fine to his newfound freedom! And since he is one of the friendly roosters, we’ve decided to let this play out on his terms. Sometimes we see Roo outside the new rooster enclosure talking with his bro’s, other times he is visiting with the pigs in the pigpen, or even hanging out in the barnyard with the goats, but lately he likes to free range in the pasture with the hens during the day. Some nights he will even head into the henhouse with the ladies after a hard day of traversing the pasture looking for bugs. He is his own man! So, what exactly is the ‘best life’ for our farm pets? We provide them with regular vet visits, food, water, treats, love, shelter, pastures and pens to roam, freedom from exploitation, and security from predators. That’s what we define as their best life, but is it? Is it our decision to make? Maybe we need to let them have more of a say in what their best life should be. I do not have this answer and if someone reads this and has an opinion, I would love to hear it. For now, little Roo is showing us what his best life should look like, on his terms.



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