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Animals 2017, 7(6), 45;

Exploring the Role of Farm Animals in Providing Care at Care Farms

Wageningen University and Research, P.O. Box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Centre for Nutrition, Prevention and Health Services, P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
Agderforskning, Gimlemoen, P.O.Box 422, 4604 Kristiansand, Norway
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Karen Thodberg
Received: 15 February 2017 / Revised: 24 May 2017 / Accepted: 31 May 2017 / Published: 2 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Assisted Therapy)
Full-Text   |   PDF [233 KB, uploaded 2 June 2017]


We explore the role of farm animals in providing care to different types of participants at care farms (e.g., youngsters with behavioural problems, people with severe mental problems and people with dementia). Care farms provide alternative and promising settings where people can interact with animals compared to a therapeutic healthcare setting. We performed a literature review, conducted focus group meetings and carried out secondary data-analysis of qualitative studies involving care farmers and different types of participants. We found that farm animals are important to many participants and have a large number of potential benefits. They can (i) provide meaningful day occupation; (ii) generate valued relationships; (iii) help people master tasks; (iv) provide opportunities for reciprocity; (v) can distract people from them problems; (vi) provide relaxation; (vii) facilitate customized care; (viii) facilitate relationships with other people; (ix) stimulate healthy behavior; (x) contribute to a welcoming environment; (xi) make it possible to experience basic elements of life; and (xii) provide opportunities for reflection and feedback. This shows the multi-facetted importance of interacting with animals on care farms. In this study the types of activities with animals and their value to different types of participants varied. Farm animals are an important element of the care farm environment that can address the care needs of different types of participants. View Full-Text
Keywords: farm animals; care farm; mental illness; youth; dementia farm animals; care farm; mental illness; youth; dementia
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Hassink, J.; De Bruin, S.R.; Berget, B.; Elings, M. Exploring the Role of Farm Animals in Providing Care at Care Farms. Animals 2017, 7, 45.

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