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.

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/DAT 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

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/DAT 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 other half is home to almost 400 donkeys. The layout of the farm is ideal both for the specific needs of elderly donkeys and for groups of boisterous young Irish male 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 exciting new foster homes.

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: Donkey Sanctuary farm, The Paccombe Training Centre, team building events for external companies.

Facilities: Old yard with 7 stables housing 23 elderly donkeys, training centre with 4 stables for rehoming donkeys, Cherry barn, housing a maximum of 50 donkeys (bad breathers and poor teeth group), 4 stables housing 8 donkeys for rehoming training, Elephant barn housing a maximum of 150 young geldings, Burly boxes used for sick boxes, Spring barn housing a maximum of 115 young geldings, Spring boxes with 4 stables housing 20 (overweight) donkeys, Brookmeadow housing 40 middle-aged donkeys, Kingsdown shelter housing elderly group in the summer months while out to grass, tearoom and farm office.

Donkey population: 357 (ideal capacity is 350): geriatric, bad breathers, special care, young Irish, rehoming/DAT potential

Staffing: 11 full time, 5 part time: 1 tractor driver, 1 maintenance man, 1 farm manager, 1 farm supervisor, 12 farm worker/grooms, 15 volunteers

External services: Vets, equine dentists, farrier, a research team, wildlife and conservation manager, and training providers (eg chainsaw, telehandler drivers)

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

Slade House Farm

The Donkey Sanctuary is based at Slade House Farm, which is open to the public every day of the year. It is the biggest of the organisation’s farms, as well as its headquarters. 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 DAT 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/DAT, Poitou, 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 more than 144 acres near the village of Tedburn St Mary on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, making it a beautiful setting. It specialises in mules and hinnies, but also has a small herd of donkeys.

The farm is home to a growing number of mules, many of whom arrive with behavioural issues and are difficult to handle. The staff includes specialised mules trainers.

The farm produces much of its own haylage every year, as well as producing compost from the manure, which is then spread back over the land. There is a willow plantation to help with the dirty water system, and a wooded area on the edge of the farm that encourages wildlife including badgers, foxes, deer, buzzards and brown hares.

At-a-glance

This farm is not open to the public.

Operational on this site since:  1982

Size: 144.03 acres

Location: Tedburn St Mary, Devon

Key activities: Donkey Sanctuary farm

Facilities: Barns, large sand area, paddocks and fields, a willow plantation, woodland

Donkey population: 300: specialist mule, hinny and pony groups, older donkeys, rehoming/DAT potential

Staffing: 14 staff, 10 volunteers

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/DAT

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 specialises in the care of bad breathers, donkeys with laminitis and skin problems, and those on diets.

The Donkey Sanctuary bought Woods Farm in 1989 from a farmer called Tony Reid who kept chickens as well as outdoor pigs and a small dairy herd. The current hay barn now stands on the site of the chicken sheds.

The nearby recycling centre was originally part of the farm and was given to the council by Tony Reid on the basis that it would revert if use of the site was changed.

At-a-glance

This farm is not open to the public.

Operational on this site since:  1989

Size: 198.54 acres

Location: Bowd, near Sidmouth, Devon

Key activities: Donkey Sanctuary farm

Facilities: 9 barns, 3 temporary shelters

Donkey population: 602 (full capacity): young Irish, bad breathers, laminitics, sarcoid treatment, middle-aged, miniatures, rehoming/DAT potential

Staffing: 17 staff, 15 volunteers

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

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