As well as providing a refuge for rescued donkeys, our farms offer professional training for donkeys about to be rehomed or used in the donkey-assisted therapy centres, and training for prospective Donkey Guardians, staff, volunteers and donkey handlers.

Brookfield Farm

Brookfield Farm was purchased in 1976 and is home to almost 300 donkeys and mules. The farm runs over almost 134 acres, including 10 acres of woodland, and is perched on top of a hill 805 feet above sea level, looking out over the beautiful valley of Farway.

The donkeys on the farm are some of the youngest and fittest in the sanctuary, as the fields leading down to the valley are very steep. The older donkeys are kept on the flatter fields at the top of the farm.

The farm offers a variety of training courses for donkey owners and handlers, and Donkey Guardians preparing to foster donkeys from The Donkey Sanctuary.

At-a-glance

This farm is not open to the public.

Operational on this site since: 1976

Size: 133.06 acres including fields and woodland

Location: Brookfield, Devon

Key activities: Donkey Sanctuary farm; veterinary hospital

Donkey population: 273 (capacity: 280): Irish males, rehoming potential, mares and foals, grannies

Staffing: 10 staff: 1 farm manager, 1 farm supervisor, 8 farm workers/grooms, 12 volunteers

Events: Training courses

Newton Farm

The Derbyshire Centre (Newton Farm), located in Flagg near Buxton, is open to the public every Sunday between April and September, and runs training courses throughout the year for donkey owners and handlers, and Donkey Guardians preparing to foster donkeys from The Donkey Sanctuary. The centre has a new arrivals unit and often receives rescue donkeys.

At-a-glance

This farm is open to the public on Sundays between April and September (Please note: currently closed due to Covid-19).

Operational on this site since: 1991

Size: 19.47 acres

Location: Buxton, Derbyshire

Key activities: Donkey Sanctuary farm

Facilities: 3 large donkey barns, training centre, field shelters

Donkey population: 45 (capacity: 40 in winter, 60 in summer): donkeys of all kinds including relinquishments, rehoming/donkey-assisted therapy potential, oldies, young and fit, bad breathers.

Staffing: 6 staff, 15 volunteers.

Events: Training courses; 6 major open days a year, starting on the first Sunday of each month from April; fair in September.

Paccombe farm
Town Barton
Brookfield Farm donkeys

East Axnoller Farm

Axnoller Farm is situated 35 miles from The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth and nestles in the Dorset hills at the starting point of the River Axe. The farm was bought in December 1990 and consists of 60 hectares (148 acres) of land that is used for grazing the donkeys and for making haylage in the summer.

During the winter months the grass is let out to a local farmer for his sheep, which helps keep the grass down when it is too wet for the donkeys to be out in the fields.

As well as healthy donkeys, this farm is home to a group needing special care for respiratory problems. There is also a controlled diet group (the steep hills are great for providing the donkeys with the additional exercise they need) and a mule/pony group.

At-a-glance

This farm is not open to the public.

Operational on this site since: December 1990

Size: 147.22 acres

Location: Beaminster, Dorset

Key activities: Donkey Sanctuary farm

Facilities: 5 main barns, woodchip area, fields and paddocks, some woodland

Donkey population: 310 donkeys and 50 ponies and mules (full capacity): young Irish, middle-aged, elderly, mules, fat ponies, less fat ponies, rehoming/donkey-assisted therapy potential

Staffing: 6 full time, 5 part time, volunteers: 6—8 regulars.

Events:& The farm is open for one day a year during Donkey Week in May.

Paccombe Farm

Paccombe Farm is located in the beautiful hamlet of Harcombe near The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth. Half of it (approximately 90 acres) consists of woodland where wildlife such as otters, bats and dormice can be seen. The Woodland is in the Higher Level Stewardship scheme (HLS), which entails a lot of work in the winter months, to manage in accordance with the HLS prescriptions. The layout of the farm is ideal both for the specific needs of elderly donkeys and for groups of young donkeys.

The Paccombe Training Centre is based on the farm, offering a range of free courses on donkey care and behaviour as well as bespoke training days for equine welfare organisations, schools, colleges, vets and farriers. This facility also provides the perfect area for trainers to work with the donkeys in small separate groups to prepare them for going out to new loving homes. The Farm staff undertake training and behaviour work with donkeys identified to join the rehoming Scheme.

At-a-glance

This farm is not open to the public.

Operational on this site since: 1978

Size: 90 acres grazing, 90 acres woodland

Location: Harcombe, Devon

Key activities: Sanctuary farm, The Paccombe Training Centre, the farm& makes its own haylage and is responsible for the emptying of dirty water tanks at Paccombe and other sanctuary sites

Facilities: Large donkey Barns, several smaller individual units, Woodland, Training Centre, Reception Area and a wildlife pond

Donkey population: 374 donkeys, including groups of elderly, bad breathers, special care, young donkeys, rehoming/donkey-assisted therapy potential

Staffing:13 staff and15 volunteers

Events: Training courses; the farm is open for one day a year during Donkey Week in May.

Slade House Farm

Slade House Farm is The Donkey Sanctuary's headquarters and is open to the public every day of the year. Slade House Farm was the home of Dr Elisabeth Svendsen, the organisation’s founder, after she moved from the Salston Hotel in nearby Ottery St Mary, Devon in 1974. The farmhouse that she lived in has been converted into administrative offices.

As well as housing the organisation’s head office, Slade House Farm is home to a wide range of donkeys including new arrivals, Poitous and blind donkeys. Visitor facilities and The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth’s donkey-assisted therapy centre are located on the farm.

Until recently the sanctuary’s veterinary hospital was also located on the site, but a new hospital has been built at Brookfield Farm and the old building converted into stabling.

At-a-glance

This farm is open to the public.

Operational on this site since: 1974

Size: 132.54 acres including fields and woodland

Location: Between Sidmouth and Branscombe, Devon

Key activities: Visitor centre; organisation’s headquarters; farm

Facilities: 21 areas of barns and shelters; visitors’ centre; restaurant; gift shop; extensive car parking; walking trails; nature centre; wedding facilities

Donkey population: 216, comprising special care, blind, potential rehoming/donkey-assisted therapy, Poitou donkeys, foals, isolation/new arrivals

Staffing: 8 part-time and 16 full-time: 1 farm manager, 2 supervisors, 21 grooms and farm workers, 20 volunteers throughout the year (some only twice a year during their annual holidays).

Key events: Ongoing throughout the year, including training courses; Donkey Week; walking tours; weddings; demonstrations; a full calendar of annual fairs and fundraising events.

Axnoller Farm
Trow Farm
Woods Farm

Town Barton Farm

Town Barton Farm comprises 144 acres near the village of Tedburn St Mary on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, making it a beautiful setting. The farm is home mainly to mules and also has a small herd of donkeys.

The farm specialises in providing bespoke training and shaping plans for any mules that have challenging behaviour. This work requires a lot of dedication and patience. Every mule is different, and our team tailors their training and shaping plans to their individual needs.

The farm produces all of its own haylage every year. There are two willow plantations to help with the dirty water system and 9 acres of woodland on the edge of the farm that encourages wildlife, including badgers, foxes, deer, buzzards and brown hares. Town Barton has sloping grassland, which provides good exercise for the animals, and this helps the animals to maintain a healthy body weight.

Town Barton has a specially adapted handling unit to carry out veterinary and dental procedures safely.

There is also a recycling baling machine onsite so that the farm can recycle any plastic waste.

At-a-glance

This farm is not open to the public.

Operational on this site since: 1982

Size:144.03 acres (including nine acres of woodland)

Location: Tedburn St Mary, Devon

Key activities: Donkey Sanctuary farm

Facilities: 8 donkey and mule barns, large sand exercise areas, paddocks and fields, willow plantations, woodland, track systems

Donkey population: 274 animals: mule, hinny and pony groups, older donkeys, rehoming/donkey-assisted therapy potential

Staffing: 14 staff, which includes nine full time staff and five part time. One volunteer

Events: The farm is open for one day a year during Donkey Week in May.

Trow Farm

Trow Farm is adjacent to Slade House Farm on the site of The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth, and is the largest of all The Donkey Sanctuary’s farms. It was purchased in 1997 and received its first resident donkeys in 2002. It is a mainly agricultural farm, providing hay and straw for the donkeys on the charity’s other properties.

The farm is split into two halves, known as Trow and Hurfords, by the A3052. Hurfords is steep land in a valley, which houses younger, healthier donkeys and joins another of the sanctuary’s farms, Paccombe. Trow is flat land and houses geriatrics and donkeys with poor teeth or long-term health problems. A further 18.1 hectares are located at nearby Thorne Salcombe Regis, Devon.

Trow Farm is the sanctuary’s main recycling point for plastic and paper. It collects dung and wood chippings, from which it generates compost, and has willow beds for cleaning dirty water. There is also an area where staff are trained to drive and operate the various vehicles associated with the operation of the farm, and donkey transportation.

At-a-glance

This farm is open to the public.

Operational on this site since: 1999

Size: 277.69 acres split by A3052 into two halves known as Trow and Hurfords (umbrella name: Trow)

Location: near Sidmouth, Devon

Key activities: Donkey Sanctuary farm

Facilities: Trow: 5 donkey barns, 1 reception area and 4 shelter sites. The international department and farm administration department are based on this site. Hurfords: 4 donkey barns, a stabled area with yard and 1 reception area, a straw barn, a machinery shed, walking trails, public footpaths

Donkey population: 465 (267 Hurfords, 198 Trow): laminitics, bad breathers, special care, dieters, potential rehoming/donkey-assisted therapy

Staffing: 8 full-time, 5 part-time (including grooms/farm workers, tractor drivers, telehandler drivers, trainers), 1 manager, 1 supervisor, 1 apprentice, 6 volunteers.

External services: Provided by The Donkey Sanctuary: farm administration, lorry drivers, equine dentist, vets, vet nurses, Ben Hart (animal behaviourist). Provided by third-party providers: farrier, agricultural engineers.

Events: Life skills (last week of June and first week of July – has run for 10 years, in association with Devon and Cornwall Police), Donkey Week in May. The Donkey Sanctuary’s main events field is located on this site.

Woods Farm

Woods Farm is located on 198 acres of land close to The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth and provides care for 442 donkeys. The farm is lucky to have a large number of young fit donkeys, some of which are suitable for rehoming. Our team at Woods farm specialise in the training and preparation of donkeys for the rehoming scheme. A lot of hard work, dedication and patience is needed; however, the work is so rewarding for the team when donkeys eventually join a new loving home.

There is also an elderly group located in the center of the farm and a small group of miniature donkeys.

The land is steep in parts but the donkeys enjoy the exercise and they have the freedom to roam as long as the weather and ground conditions are favorable.

The Donkey Sanctuary purchased Woods Farm in 1989 from a farmer called Tony Reid who kept chickens as well as outdoor pigs and a small dairy herd.

At-a-glance

This farm is not open to the public.

Operational on this site since: 1989

Size: 198 acres

Location: Bowd, near Sidmouth, Devon

Key activities: Donkey Sanctuary farm

Facilities: 9 barns, one reception area and two foals paddocks with shelter

Donkey population: 442 (full capacity): young, middle aged, elderly, Miniatures, rehoming potential / Donkey-Assisted Therapy potential

Staffing: 17 staff, 11 volunteers

Events:The farm is open for one day a year during Donkey Week in May.

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