Wellground Miniature Donkeys - About Us
Wellground Farm is owned by Rob and Les Rawlins and is the home of Wellground Miniature Donkeys.
The farm is located on the North West edge of Salisbury Plain in the South of England, nestled under the famous hillside monument of the Westbury White Horse.
Their story began 17 years ago with a marked career change. Rob was a traffic patrol officer for 27 years with Wiltshire Police, following in his father’s footsteps. Dealing with fatal accidents was tough, and he left through ill-health in 2000. Les was in the print trade working for Redwood Books in Trowbridge and was made redundant at around the same time.
With a lifelong love of horses, Rob and Les had bought a patch of land in the 1980s, not far from their link-detached house on an estate in Bratton. After much research the couple bought some alpacas. This was to form the basis of a thriving business.
With the idea of becoming smallholders farming alpacas, the couple looked at property in Devon, but then had a lightbulb moment: they would set up home on their land in Bratton. A “huge battle” with Wiltshire Council ensued as it was green belt land. Planners demand special justification for dwellings on green belt land, which often have an agricultural tie, meaning the new home can only be occupied by agricultural workers. Only a temporary timber structure or caravan was deemed acceptable, but the couple got approval for an environmentally-friendly Canadian log cabin, brought by sea and artic lorry and put up by local carpenters and a Canadian builder within a few weeks.
Because of the agricultural tie, Rob and Les had to earn the minimum agricultural wage for the next three years, or their home would be dismantled. They couldn’t afford to buy a large herd of alpacas so Rob knocked on the door of a breeder who was trying to shift stock and offered to sell them for him on a commission basis. Eventually, they were able to start their own breeding herd, importing some of the finest alpaca genetics from around the world. “Our breeding programme was admired throughout Europe,” says Rob proudly. Magazine articles followed.
But the business was to come tumbling down. Having imported alpacas mainly from South Australia, they were in danger of in-breeding so Rob and Les bought a stud and three females from a farm in Devon. One of them immediately became ill. Defra said it was Bovine Tuberculosis. Alpacas are very susceptible to Bovine TB.
Many of their alpacas were ‘reactors’ to the Bovine TB test, which meant they had to be killed. The usual method was to shoot them but Rob and Les opted to have them put down by injection. Les cuddled a 10-day-old baby alpaca while she was put to sleep in her arms.
After post-mortems it was found that only one alpaca had proved positive for Bovine TB; the rest of the animals had been killed unnecessarily.
Most of the herd was lost. Their business was over. They “couldn’t even look at the remaining alpacas” and pretty soon had sold them. They spent 2016 like hermits, only allowing the fields to be grazed by a few ponies making use of their large state of the art livery barns.
They regained their desire for keeping and breeding animals, Rob and Les found miniature donkeys and fell in love with them.
Rob and Les have found their destiny in breeding these beautiful animals. Having previously bred alpacas with a 'step away reflex' that don't willingly indulge humans, by contrast the miniature donkey is so loving and inquisitive, they adore human interaction and they are so trusting. Miniature Donkeys give back the love that is poured over them. These donkeys are not just physically beautiful, they have the most wonderful endearing characters and they are a joy to be with.
Now, Wellground Farm has a core herd of high quality breeding female miniature donkeys and a wonderful stallion imported from the USA. Click Here to learn about Our Miniature Donkeys and Click Here to see our Donkeys For Sale.