Staff at The Donkey Sanctuary’s Brookfield Farm near Honiton have taken on the task of hand-rearing a newborn foal after it was rejected by its mother.

Vets at the charity took the decision to hand-rear the foal after it was clear he had no energy and did not demonstrate the ‘suck reflex’ which foals need to feed.

Leyla Anstee, farm manager at Brookfield said: “The mare and foal were not together or showing any signs of the bonding process that would normally take place. We carefully tried to encourage her to accept him, but this young and inexperienced mum simply did not want to let her foal suckle - it was clear that she had rejected him.”

The mare, called Millie, arrived into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary in poor condition. She was relinquished in June 2017 along with seven other donkeys after their owner passed away. At just two-years-old, the young nervous donkey was up to six months in foal and needed expert care to bring her back to good health if she was to be able to safely carry and deliver a healthy foal.

Despite his tricky start in life, the foal made it through his first day and night, and appears to be coping well with being hand reared. Millie is also in good health and has since returned to normal life within the herd at Brookfield. Both of their futures are looking positive, thanks to the expert care of farm and veterinary staff at The Donkey Sanctuary.

The foal has been named Ben, in memory of staff member Ben Kennett who sadly passed away in March 2018. Ben worked at The Donkey Sanctuary for 26 years and was a well-known character at the charity. Maxine Carter, farm manager at The Donkey Sanctuary’s Slade House Farm where Ben worked says: “Ben was a strong and wonderful man. This place was his life, Ben loved his donkeys as much as we loved him.”

The Donkey Sanctuary champions donkeys and their welfare, and aims for a world where donkeys live free from suffering and their contribution to humanity is fully valued.