Archive | June, 2017

Lending a hand at Dean Farm Trust

27 Jun

Gloucestershire Vegan Group members volunteering at Dean Farm Trust, pulling weeds from the duck enclosure

In early June our group had the pleasure of volunteering for the day at Dean Farm Trust, near Chepstow. Dean Farm Trust give sanctuary and a home for life to animals that would otherwise be farmed and used for clothing, food or sport.

The sanctuary is relatively new and took it’s first residents in 2013, with the arrival of their first ponies, and some rescue battery hens. We’ve visited to volunteer for a day each spring/summer for three years now, and every year it’s been heartening to see how the sanctuary is growing and gradually providing a home for a greater number of animals.

Recently Dean Farm trust expanded it’s site to neighbouring farmland and pasture. We were excited see their fantastic new set up, with a large barn and plenty of beautiful fresh grazing land for the rescued animals.

As a group we were keen to lend a hand on the new site, as we knew that the regular staff have plenty of day-to-day tasks that keep them busy, and with a bit of teamwork we can get stuck in to a few jobs they may not have time to get round to.

We spent the morning digging a pond for the ducks, weeding the duck’s enclosure and cleaning mud from the off-road farm vehicle which needed a good scrub after getting stuck in the muck heap. After a bring-and-share picnic lunch, we helped move the Golden Girls (a trio of fierce ex-broiler chickens) enclosure by rolling slowly it on posts to some fresh grazing – it was a real team effort.


We gave Dean Farm Trust’s off-road farm vehicle a much needed scrub


The Golden Girls look on as we move their pen

As we worked, the animals around us went about enjoying their day, Winnie the pig wallowed in a nearby mud patch and then wandered off to lie in a huge pile of fresh straw, the ducks enjoyed the dappled shade under the bushes in their enclosure, and a group of turkeys clucked away in the cool of a nearby barn. It was emotional for us to witness such contented and happy animals, not just living their lives but truly thriving. To see animals that will never have to suffer as farmed animals again, that exist and are cared for simply because they deserve to live, and to live their lives free from fear and pain, it is a truly beautiful thing.

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Winnie enjoys a sunday siesta in a large pile of fresh straw

The valuing of these animals, part of Dean Farm Trust’s belief that “all animals and humans deserving to live a life free from suffering” is clearly demonstrated in the way the animals are cared for. Each time we visit we’re impressed by the incredible level of attention each and every animal resident receives, and this has not diminished with the addition of the new residents. A team of dedicated staff work hard daily to make sure that the pastures and pens are fresh and cleaned, and all animals are well fed and cared for, with any medical conditions treated.

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Dotty re-fuels as her piglets scamper around the barn

Mary, sanctuary co-founder, was kind enough to give us a tour of the new site and introduce us to some of the animals. First we met Tiny Tina and her crew of Turkey’s rescued from being someone’s Christmas Dinner. It was fascinating to see how much they enjoyed Mary’s attention, hopping closer and chirruping until Mary stroked their inky black feathers, and then falling asleep as they were fussed.


We were then delighted to catch a peek at Dotty and her piglets, who are incredibly cute and cheeky. As we crossed a lush green paddock, Winnie, came galumphing across the grass to greet us at a speed I didn’t know pigs could travel at, with her huge ears flapping wildly in the wind. We also met many other animals including Alan and his orphan lamb friends, who are looking extremely healthy on the new spring grass.


Greeting one of our favourite residents Burrito

Thankyou to Mary and her team for allowing us to come and help for the day, and for giving us a tour of the new site.

If you’d like to support the incredible work Dean Farm Trust does, not only caring for animals, but educating about the cruelty of animal farming and promoting veganism, then you can sponsor one of their animals, or make a one-off donation. More details here.

You can also volunteer at Dean Farm Trust, contact details here.

If you’re interested in visiting Dean Farm Trust, they are having an open day on Sunday 3rd September. More details here.