Feeding Donkeys

In the equine world we certainly do see variation. From Quarter Horses to Arabians, from miniature horses to draft horses – we all know that our equine friends come in all shapes, sizes and colors. But with horses we can usually apply certain rules for feeding across a large variety of breeds with minimal adjustments.

Donkeys are something all together different. While they are related to horses and considered an equid, the way their digestive system functions is much different – donkeys have actually been compared to small ruminants in their capabilities to digest and utilize fiber. While under a visual inspection the digestive tract of a donkey and horse is the same, the way donkeys ferment and use fiber is unique. Donkeys (descendants of the wild ass)  originated as desert animals and are adapted to foraging on coarse plants and grasses. Due to their typical desert diet, their digestive system is much more efficient than that of a horse, and therefore donkeys require a different feeding strategy.

Donkeys do well on high fiber diets that are not rich in protein or carbohydrates

In many parts of the world, donkeys face the issue of malnutrition and starvation. In industrialized countries, just the opposite is true – the main problem among donkeys is obesity. In countries like the United States we present donkeys with energy rich food and usually don’t require them to work very hard for it. People tend to feed these animals just like horses – but a diet that may be perfectly fine for a maintenance horse could cause the average donkey to become grossly overweight. Here are some good tips to follow when feeding donkeys:

  • DO NOT overfeed!
  • Consider age, work requirement, environment and body weight of the animal
  • Monitor body condition continuously using the Donkey Sanctuary Scale
  • Carefully watch levels of carbohydrates and protein
  • High fiber diets are preferred
While you should always provide plenty of fresh, clean water to your donkeys, it is true that they have a lower requirement for water than horses. In fact, donkeys have one of the lowest requirements for water among domesticated animals with the exception of the camel. 
To correctly care for your donkey, remember that it is not just a “horse with longer ears”. Donkeys are unique in their nutritional and care requirements, but they will give you endless enjoyment if you manage them properly. 

 

75 thoughts on “Feeding Donkeys

  1. I have had donkeys for the last 15 years finding it a real challenge to keep them fit. Presently, my donkey has an older 20 + horse companion who requires a good nutrition. The donkey gets 1 carrot plus 1/4 cup or less of Omolene. Apart from that he gets a bit more hay than he needs as both he and the horse are fed together outside. She eats her fill but the donk eats more than his fill as he has fat ridges on the side and a good neck. As they are very devoted companions, I cannot separate them…how else to controle the donkey’s intake?

    • Hi Louise,
      You face a common problem with donkey owners – overfeeding. You may want to explore some options for feeding situations, such as feeding them seperately but where they can still see each other (if they are very attached). If size is very different between your horse and donkey, you may want to explore a hay feeder that the horse can eat out of but the donkey can’t – kind of a “reverse creep feeder”. Think about the height of the feeder, or even something with a lip that the horse can get their head over to eat but the donkey can’t. Then you can feed the donkey his correct amount of hay where he can get to it. This may help your older horse as well, since she won’t be competing for her feed and though he may not think so, your donkey will benefit from a more appropriate diet.
      Thanks for the question!
      Tiffany

      • I had the same problem with my two mini donks and one of my two Morgan mares who let the donks eat some of her share of the feed. I just set up an electric invisible dog fence across my horses’ open stalls and adorned the donks with the associated shock collars. (I did have to find some longer straps as dogs have smaller necks.)
        It’s been about a week and is working wonderfully so far and the donks do not mind wearing the collars at all.

  2. We have rescued a 14.1 HH donkey that registers 3 of 9 on the BCS scale. We have had mammoth donkeys for six years so we are used to feeding by weight, 1.25% of their body weight a day during the summer and 1.5% in the winter seems to work. The hay we will feed her is Timothy grown at 7,500 ft altitude. We live at 6,100 feet in Colorado.

    Our concern is to avoid founder, or some other problem, with too much hay, but feed her enough to restore her weight and get her bones covered.

    She has some serious arthritis foot problems with what looks like mechanical damage to the hooves, however that occurred. Coffin bones are a mess on the x-rays. We just want to make her comfortable. At some point she will probably have to be put down.

    What do you suggest as a feed program to restore her weight?

    • Hello Larry, Thanks for the question. Donkeys are typically more efficient digesters, and thus easier to put weight on than horses. We would suggest a high fat, high fiber horse feed, that is also controlled starch. SafeChoice Original or Special Care would both be excellent options for you. Good luck!

    • Hello Steffi, Thank you for your question. Ingestion of macadamia nuts by dogs in relatively small quantities results in a nonfatal syndrome with some dogs showing symptoms with as few as 6 nuts, depending on the size of the dog. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, Tenth Edition, no other species toxicity has been reported. As the nuts are very high in fat, eating a substantial quantity might result in loose bowel movements for a donkey or some chance of minor digestive upset to the animal.
      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  3. I’m trying to decide if I want to take on 2 donkeys from a friend. Both have a perfect body condition score. One is a yearling with no known issues other than being like a dog. His mother on the other hand has some serious issues. She has severe hoof wall separation that will require time and work from me and my farrier. I’ve had donkeys in the past out on our lush, green, pastures here in southern Mississippi and they’ve done fine. I know donkeys are designed to be on drier ground with very little forage. However, I’ve seen many including my own do fine on grassy pastures. Is the over abundance of grass something I should be concerned about? Especially, with the mother who currently has terrible feet. My farrier has not looked at her yet so the actual cause of the separtation is not known. Any info or advice would greatly be appreciate.

    • Hello Melissa, Thanks for the question. Whatever you do, you will want to ensure you keep them in proper weight, while still providing a balanced overall diet – a product such as a ration balancer is a perfect solution for easy-keeping donkeys. In regards to the grass, lush pastures can present a problem, however use of a grazing muzzle can help limit time & access while still allowing them to roam and gain exercise. Also, in regards to hoof issues such as laminitis, limiting access to the early hours of the day when the sugar content of the pasture is lower can be beneficial as well.
      Good luck ~ Gayle R.

  4. Hi,
    I have 2 donkeys that usually just graze. Unfortunately, they have pretty much eaten the pasture down to the dirt. We bought a round bale of coastal hay, but aren’t sure how much to feed them. I don’t much experience with donkeys, but I have heard that they are prone to founder, so I don’t want to overfeed them. At the same time, I want to make sure they are getting enough to eat.
    Any advice would be appreciated!

    • Your best indicator is to start at the recommended level (1.5 – 2% of their bodyweight per day). From there, monitor body condition closely to determine if they are putting on excess weight and adjust your feeding rates accordingly. To get the vitamins and minerals they need, you can also feed a ration balancer, such as Empower Boost. Thanks for the question!

  5. Hi! I raise goats and just got a small standard Jenny. In her previous home she was fed alongside great danes the owners bred and she was also fed dog food along with coastal hay. She has been eating a small bit of coastal hay here, barley straw and a carrot or two each day. My question is, is Perennial Peanut Hay suitable for donkeys as well? She got a taste of it while I was feeding the goats and she devoured it. Being unsure, I didn’t want to give it to her. Thank you for any help!

    • Thanks for the question! The peanut hay should be fine when fed at the correct amounts to prevent an excess of body condition. Feed about 1.5 – 2% of her body weight and adjust to her condition. Thanks for the question!

  6. Hey, I have a few questions… For the past few months we have been watching a donkey who has been in the field alone. This past few days we heard that the owner left the donkey there and he needs a home! So we’re planning on going out there in the next couple of days to try and catch him. He comes up to me and trusts my hand around him but when I move towards him he spooks. Any suggestions to how to catch him? He loves grain so may could use that. After all of that and we get him back to our field, what should we feed him? We have horses and feed them strategy,alfalfa,& rice bran with Bermuda hay. We also have a feild with some grass. Is any of that okay feeding him? (at least for a few day while we find out what best to feed) amount of feed? And is it okay if he’s with horses? They’ve never seen a donkey before so we would definitely have to slowly introduce him.

    • Hello Katie, Thanks for the question, and thank you for trying to help the donkey! For catching him, you will need to use your best judgement on that, but please stay safe!

      For feeding him, yes, he can absolutely eat the same feeds – generally donkeys just need less than horses do. In the instance of just starting him out, you could start with the grass/pasture and the Strategy – no need to add in the alfalfa and rice bran just yet. You’ll want to start him out slow and work him up over a period of 7-10 days, if you suspect he hasn’t been eating much at all, to avoid any digestive upset.

      Figure out the correct range of feed according to the directions on the tag for his estimated body weight, and feed at the low end of the range to provide the nutrition he needs. Unless he is in poor body condition, in which case you can feed at the upper end of the range until he gets up to condition, then back off the feed until you find the amount he maintains condition at.

      Best of luck ~ Gina T.

  7. We have just rescued a family of Donkeys, these donkeys have not had much to eat over the entire winter the Jenny is very bony and has a baby, the baby is no longer nursing on her but I have concerns with her being so skinny, I was told by the feed store to feed them some horse and mule feed, I give them roughly about 6 cups a day, along with coastal hay, and a little alfalfa, they have grass to eat on where we have their house and pen, but I was wondering if there was anything else I could do to help the Jenny out, the baby and the jack seem to be doing pretty good they look a lot healthier than her.

    • Hi Genia, Thanks for your question, and for rescuing those donkeys! For the Jenny, she very simply needs a lot more calories to get her back up to condition. The stress of having a baby can definitely take it’s toll. Make the change over about 7-10 days to avoid digestive upset, and gradually increase her feed. At 6 cups a day, she is likely at the very low end, if not below, the recommended amount for her body size. If you can weigh the feed in the amount you give, that would be ideal – then compare that to the directions on the tag/bag, and adjust accordingly. A basic guess would be that you might even be able to double the current 6 cups per day for her, at least until she is back to proper condition – then you can back down to find a feeding rate where she maintains at.
      Hope that this is helpful! Thank you ~ Gina T.

  8. My miniature donkey is obese. He gets timothy hay or orchard mix right now am wondering if Fescue grass or Bemuda would be better for him and also Feeding miniature horse feed from Purina he Hee haws constantly for a little feed. I have miniature horses and he is by himself alongside them. Thank you

  9. My boyfriend was given two older and overweight donkey’s, one of whom is severely foundered. We have them in an area (with a goat) where there is little to no grass and are feeding them barley hay. We have a farrier trimming the hooves in the hopes that the foundered donkey will recover but are not sure what the best diet would be for him. Is the hay sufficient and if so, how much and how often each day? Both donkey’s are used to eating their fill of grass and are not happy to be restricted. Thank you in advance for any advice you can offer.

    • Hi Tracy, Thanks for the question! You’ll want to restrict their hay to 1.5 – 2.0% of their body weight per day. Using a slow net feeder (available at any tack store or online) can help the hay supply last longer and reduce the boredom/unhappiness at being restricted. For feed, to get the proper nutrition in to them without increasing the calories significantly, we’d suggest a ration balancer. Our product, called Empower Balance, provides the protein, vitamins and minerals they need, and that might be lacking depending on hay quality, without the extra calories of a traditional horse feed.

      I hope this information is helpful, and best of luck with the donkeys!
      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  10. I have a question about Donkeys. We took in a donkey that was not cared for very well and this poor think has hoof issues. This donkey needed his hooves trimmed and being new to the area we had a hard time finding someone. However, we found an Amish guy to come out to trim his hooves. We noticed that the Donkeys hoof wall is deteriorating. When doing some research I figured he has white line disease or seedy toe. The donkey was always in and out of a pasture and when in a barn he was standing in feces and urine. Is it ok to soak his hooves in warm water and apple cider vinegar? Also, is it ok to give him regular horse feed. I’ve always had horses and this is the first time I’ve ever had a donkey. Can I also give him worming paste like I give the horses? I sure could use some advise. Thank you

  11. Hello. I am taking in my first two donkeys this weekend, a rescue mini and a medium, and would like some feedback on what is the best hay to give them. I was told by our farrier that coastal hay is too fine and will ball up inside them causing them to colic. He recommended Tifton hay but our local feed store does not carry it. What do you guys feed your donkeys???

    • Hi Toni,

      There are a number of different approaches to feeding rescue horses, mules and donkeys. Part of the decision will depend on the age and condition of the teeth on the rescued donkeys. If the teeth are OK, can use either a good quality grass forage (coastal, timothy, brome, Tifton etc.) or a legume such as alfalfa. I would try to avoid both really fine stem forage and really coarse stem forage and would introduce gradually. All changes need to be gradual.

      If there are dental issues, many rescue operations use a Senior Horse Feed (such as SafeChoice Senior or comparable products) as it can be made into a mash. Alfalfa pellets/cubes can also be moistened and used if there are dental issues.

      Because rescue animals may also be salt starved and also have limited microflora in the gut, I recommend making loose salt available, starting with 2-4 ounces per head per day and working up to free choice and using a probiotic paste when introducing the animals to feed to help get the gut populated. Fresh clean water needs to be available as well.

      Roy

  12. I have a donkey and I rescued a jack the donkey herself is great but the jack is grossly skinny and has been foundered his front hooves turn up on backward and one forward and we are working on those.my question is all the talk about hay.if I have a pasture of good grass does he (the jack) still need hay also and is 12% sweet feed ok for him or should I go to safechoice.i can separate the two at feeding as I already do because she runs him out of the feed and as long as I am asking questions she bites him can you tell me why she does this I thought maybe it was a mating thing as he isn’t cut but this has been going on awhile

    • Hi Jimmy, Thanks for the question. In regards to the pasture & hay question – when in doubt, put it out! He needs weight, and you want him eating as much as he safely can, and hay and pasture are the best ways to do that.
      For the grain, we’d definitely recommend SafeChoice over a basic sweet feed – it’ll have way more calories, and far less starch and sugar.
      About the biting, that’s a tough one to answer without a full history. Most likely, it’s a dominance / pecking order thing, or possibly just a really bad habit she’s picked up along the way. You’d need to watch them a while to see if he does something just before he gets bit, or if she’s just randomly biting. Either way, you’ll want to seek the help of a local trainer to alleviate what’s happening there.
      Best of luck! Thanks ~ Gina T.

  13. Hello, I rescued a male donkey approximately a year ago. He has always ate grain and hay with no issues. Approximately a week ago he stopped eating grain. He continues to eat hay, graze in the pasture, and drink plenty of water. I contacted the vet and he stated he treated several cases of pneumonia in the past few weeks. But the donkey shows no signs of any health issues. He gave him two different vaccines. The donkey continues to have regular bowel movements, urination, eating hay, and pasture with no problem. But he still will not eat grain. Any suggestions? Thank you.

    • Hi Randy,
      Interesting question. Donkeys have a little different feeding behavior in some cases than horses. You might try a different feed just to give the donkey a different taste/feel.

      Old timers used to say that donkeys are very responsive to anything that made them uncomfortable and learn to graze very selectively, more so than horses. If the donkey consumed grain and had some discomfort (mouth feel/comfort, bitter taste, perhaps mild gas, maybe mild ulcer??) and associated the grain with the discomfort, it would be likely to avoid consuming it again. Have the teeth been checked?

      As long as the donkey is maintaining body condition and has normal bowel movements and is eating hay/pasture, drinking and has salt available free choice, I would just avoid the grain for a while or try a different type of product and observe behavior.

      Roy A. Johnson

  14. I have a seven year old Jenny that I bought three years ago as a companion for my quarter horse. Last fall I had to put my beloved buckskin to sleep so I got a Boer goat that is female and seven months old to keep my mini donkey company. The donkey eats goat droppings every day. Is this harmful for my donkey. She has a salt block and mineral block available at all times.

  15. Hi. I have a mini donkey that I had given away but got him back after two years. He is so fat on his neck and side pads. I mean really bad. He is on pasture with my horse and I’m trying to figure out if I should separate him and put him in a smaller area to put him on a diet but not sure what to do to get that weight down. He’s really bad. Really concerned exactly where to start. He loves being right with my horse . Thank you

    • Hi Elaine – Thanks for the question! Yes, if you have the ability to separate him, then do so. If you can’t separate him, then try a grazing muzzle to limit his access to pasture. For feeding hay, use a nibble net to slow down his consumption and stretch out the time it takes for him to consume his hay – thereby keeping him happy and occupied, while still restricting his diet to the proper amount per day.
      Finally, of course, the best thing for him is to also get plenty of exercise – he needs to be burning off more calories than he is consuming! Take him for walks, lunge him if you can do so safely, etc.
      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  16. Hello!
    About 7 months back, we adopted a rescue donkey. He was extremely obese, as a result of a very confined pen & access to hay 24/7. Now he lives in about an acre pasture with our two goats. Over the course of his time with us he’s lost a fair amount of weight & has become healthy & energetic, but he still has fat rolls along his neck & on his sides. We do not supplement his grazing, but the field is large enough that he has plenty of food. While he is a fairly active grazer, I’ve just been wondering if he needs extra exercise to get rid of the excess fat. He doesn’t quite know how to longe yet, but I simply haven’t had the proper time to teach him (I will have time starting in May). Would you suggest daily exercise? Or is letting him continue to graze & wait for the fat to naturally recede fine as well?

    • Hi Sierra, Thanks for the question, and for your level of care and concern for this donkey! He’s lucky to have you!

      Daily exercise is always a good option! This will definitely help decrease his fat levels over time faster than standing around the pasture. Even if it’s just 15-20 minutes a day or every other day, it’ll help.

      Another option to help limit his calorie intake might be a grazing muzzle. If he’s not still drastically losing weight, then he may be consuming his fair share of calories in pasture, especially as we come in to the warmer weather and pastures improve for the summer. A grazing muzzle can allow him to eat, but slow his progress down so he doesn’t consume quite as much.

      Also, make sure he’s receiving a good vitamin/mineral supplement – his intake levels need to be balanced for overall health, and that may help his system normalize as well.

      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  17. I just rescued a medium sized pregnant jenny last week. She is underweight. I have been reading and researching what to feed her but think I should be giving her some supplements to get her to at least normal weight. Do you have any suggestions? I am currently giving her orchard grass hay and plan on getting a mineral block today. Will that be enough? Should I get some Strategy or some other grain for her? She’s not due until December but I’d like to get her filled out a little bit more since her hips are showing.

    Thank you.

    Dani S.

    • Hi Dean,
      An interesting question. There is no known toxicity with fresh carrot tops. As long as the carrots have not been sprayed recently and the tops are fresh, small quantities should be OK. Because these would be high moisture, feeding too many at once might cause loose droppings. Also, they should not be left for more than a few hours as it would be possible for high moisture material like this to mold, which would be detrimental to the donkey.

      Best of luck!
      Roy J.

  18. Hello,
    I rescued a family of Donkeys a few years ago. The son and daughter are in their late teens. The Mother is in her mid 20’s. I know I need to put a little wait on her. I feed 1/4 safechoice in the am. She is on pasture during the day and comes in and gets hay. My feed store suggested I add feed that is high in protein also. I am not sure that is the right thing to do. I considered an oatmeal, though now have read to not increase fiber. Any suggestions?

    • Congratulations on rescuing this family of donkeys. Trust that you have had their teeth checked and had them dewormed. You have some options as you may want to add both body condition and some muscle mass. We have had success using SafeChoice Senior for this purpose. Controlled starch and sugar, so very safe and balance amino acid level to help her regain muscle mass. The quantity fed can be increased gradually until the animals gain weight, then reduced to maintain the desired weight level. You can start at the low end of the feeding chart based on weight and gradually increase.
      Best of luck,
      Roy

  19. My grandfather owns a min donkey it foundered a few months ago. Now he has the feed right but her hoofs still are not looking healthy is it safe to feed a min donkey a hoof supplement and if so would you suggest one..

    • Hello Tiffany,

      While it should be safe, you would definitely want to consult the manufacturer of the supplement you would use, and make sure to adjust the feeding rate to account for the small body size – it will most likely need a smaller dose than the standard scoop included in most supplements would provide.

      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  20. I have a Jack and a Jenny and was just told that they can not eat hay
    that has Giant Foxtail in it. Is this correct? The Jenny is expecting
    early next year.

  21. We use to feed our miniature donkeys with a scoop of sweet 10. Our store stopped getting sweet 10 and we had to go to sweet 12. Since doing that we lost 2 donkeys. Is sweet 12 too much protein is that why. We are looking for And were as to why we lost our donkeys after changing from 10 to 12.

    • Hi Linda,
      Sorry to hear about the loss of your 2 miniature donkeys. The protein difference between Sweet 10 and Sweet 12 would not be detrimental to the health of miniature donkeys. Did you have postmortem on either of the miniature donkeys to determine the cause of death? I have read reports that if body condition score is higher than mid-range, they are somewhat prone to fatty lipoma problems. You might want to make certain that you are not feeding more than 0.5% of BW in grain at one meal as well.
      Thanks for reaching out,
      Roy J.

  22. I have recently moved to a new state with my horse Leo and have him living at my house with me. He used live in a barn with other horses but with the move I decided to keep him at my home as it has an acre of land. He has been recently acting depressed from lack of buddies, I take him to my work (a barn down the street) and turn him out with other horses. He used to live with mules before I adopted him. Would a donkey be a good choice as a companion animal, as I can not at the moment take on another horse for him. And I feed Leo timothy hay, would that be okay for a donkey to eat, as well as grains?

    • Hi Lauren,
      Sorry to hear Leo has been experiencing some loneliness with your new move. A donkey could serve as a good companion for Leo. Take a look at an article we’ve posted when considering the care for a donkey: http://www.horsefeedblog.com/2012/03/feeding-donkeys/. Another great resource is the Donkey Sanctuary. It has some really great information for someone looking for donkey specifics https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/donkey-health-and-welfare.

      Additionally, some other equine companion suggestions are goats or chickens. Goats are herbivores and tend to have herd tendencies, although they can be escape artists and eat unusual things, so something to consider there. Chickens or poultry are often companions as well, eat insects and can serve as sentry/alarm animals to warn of danger.
      Best of luck!

  23. Hi. My neighbor owns a donkey. I pretty much treat him as my own. Well we used to have goats but had to sell them. We still have lots of goat feed. Are you able to feed him the goat feed? We have a gallon pitcher that we feed the other animals with. And I’ve given him about a half a container a couple times and he’s fine. Is it okay to feed it to him regularly?

    • Hi Angel,

      Thank you for your interesting question about feeding some left over goat feed to your neighbors donkey. The first thing we need to make sure of is that the goat feed is NOT medicated. If it is medicated, it should NOT be fed to a donkey. If it is not medicated, feeding small quantities is unlikely to be a problem, but I cannot recommend a goat feed for a donkey without knowing more about the goat feed. You need to check with your neighbor and make sure that you have verified that it is not medicated and that they are OK with feeding the goat feed to the donkey.

      Thanks!

  24. Hi. I recently rescued a 6 month old standard donkey and she’s living with two of my Holstein cows at the moment. She’s pretty bony. I’m feeding her Timothy with the cows and secluding her so she can eat by herself during the day so they don’t bully her away from the food. I was just wondering if there’s a feed I can give her to help her gain weight without causing any health issues? She just eats the hay very slow and I’m not sure if she’s getting enough nutrients to gain weight.

    • Hi Cheryl,
      Thank you for your interesting question about feeding the 6 month old standard donkey that you rescued. Timothy hay is a suitable hay for donkeys, but is not going to provide the combination of energy and protein (essential amino acids) that your donkey needs to gain weight at this age. The cecum in a young donkey, like a young horse, is not fully functional and cannot adequately digest this type of forage. Dental development is also limited. I trust you had the donkey checked for parasites and have had recommended vaccinations.

      We have had a lot of success with rescue animals of all ages being rehabbed on Senior Horse feeds as they are very digestible, very safe (controlled starch and sugar with added vegetable oil) and can be fed at a feed intake that will allow the animal to recover and gain weight. You could also use a higher quality hay such as an alfalfa grass mixture or straight alfalfa and feed it with a product that is designed for young growing animal. I would not want the forage to be over 50% of the total diet. Donkeys are generally more efficient that horses and generally require less intake to maintain or gain weight. In Nutrena, I would use either SafeChoice Senior or SafeChoice Mare & Foal or equivalent products. As always, you want to introduce the products gradually, feed at least 2X per day and make sure that clean fresh water and salt are available.

      Best wishes on success feeding your donkey!
      Roy J.

  25. I have goats and they are fed a pellet. I know they have a very different diet than goats but when I get a donkey what should I fed them. I was told oats but heard that is high in sugar. So besides hay what should my future donkey be fed?

    • Hi Ashlynn,
      Thank you for your interesting question about feeding donkeys. You can use good quality forage or pasture and you can feed controlled starch and sugar products designed for horses and select a product based on the age of your donkey. Donkeys are generally more efficient that horses and generally require less intake to maintain or gain weight, so I would recommend starting at the low end of feeding rates. In Nutrena, I would use either SafeChoice Original if it is a mature donkey, SafeChoice Mare & Foal if it is a young growing donkey, Senior if it is an old donkey or equivalent products.

      As always, you want to introduce the products gradually, feed at least 2X per day and make sure that clean fresh water and salt are available. It is important to monitor body condition as it is easy for donkeys to get overweight.

      Best wishes on success feeding your donkey!

      Roy J.

  26. I have a one year old female donkey. New to us. Never had a donkey before. Bought her as a livestock guardian to a very small herd of goats and as a pet. I have read so much online, I am admittedly confused on feeding. I clearly understand that we should NOT overfeed and to keep her trim. She enjoys a very lush green pasture in Florida daily. She eats the grass, but not non stop like the goats. (doesn’t seem to overeat.) Have hay on hand for rainy days. We also give her one “snack” a day cut up – a banana or carrot or apple. Lastly, we are giving her a cup of Purina Miniature Horse and Pony Feed. I am mostly interested to know if this feed is okay to give her. I know she is not a horse! Any other advise on feeding welcome. Thank you.

    • Hi Ginger,
      Welcome to donkey owning! You have some great questions. You can use good quality forage or pasture and you can feed controlled starch and sugar products designed for horses and select a product based on the age of your donkey. Donkeys are generally more efficient that horses and generally require less intake to maintain or gain weight, so I would recommend starting at the low end of feeding rates. In Nutrena, I would use either SafeChoice Original if it is a mature donkey, SafeChoice Mare & Foal if it is a young growing donkey, Senior if it is an old donkey or equivalent products.

      As always, you want to introduce the products gradually, feed at least 2X per day and make sure that clean fresh water and salt are available. It is important to monitor body condition as it is easy for donkeys to get overweight.

      It sounds like you are on the right track! Best of luck!
      Robyn

  27. We are adopting 3 mini longhorns and a full sized Holstein heifer. The Holstein has a male donkey friend that we are also adopting, simply because they are attached to one another. The donkey has only been in his current home for 4 months. He was abandoned in a pasture and the people we are getting him from have been nursing him back to health as he was underweight and full of open sores. The minis are coming from a breeder out of town and the Holstein and donkey friend are coming from right across the road. I had a vet come out to check the donkey over and she said he looks to be in good condition, although he does have some fat along his neck, and approx. 8 to 12 years of age. He is a Jack but he is so gentle and loving that even the vet agreed that he should be left intact. He will be in a pasture of Bermuda costal grass with the minis and holstein. My question is what exactly do I feed him besides what he gets munching in the pasture? We are bringing the donkey and holstein over to our pasture soon and I want to make sure that we feed him correctly. Can he also share the same mineral block that the cows will use? We are very new to taking care of anything larger than a dog but we are sure looking forward to it.

    • Hi Alana,
      Great questions! It sounds like you are on the right track, exposing the donkey to adequate pasture, so kudos! Donkeys, in general, are more efficient than horses and require less intake to maintain or gain weight, so I would recommend starting at the low end of feeding rates. In Nutrena, I would use either SafeChoice Original if it is a mature donkey, SafeChoice Mare & Foal if it is a young growing donkey, Senior if it is an old donkey or equivalent products.

      As always, you want to introduce the products gradually, feed at least 2X per day and make sure that clean fresh water and salt are available.

      Best of luck!
      Robyn

  28. We currently have five donkeys – 1 (20+ yr. old) mammoth, 1 standard (around 14 y/o), a 9 y/o mini, 2 y/o mini & our new baby who was born in May (also a mini). We are in desperate need to re-seed our pasture this fall (we live in Illinois), and my husband and I just need to know what kind of seed we can put down so that they are well cared for and fed throughout their lives here on our “farm”. ANY help is greatly appreciated as we’re really trying to get the pasture built back up. We’ve read conflicting reports and have gotten ourselves pretty confused!

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Alayna,
      Interesting question, thanks for reaching out! In this case, we would recommend you seek advice from your local agricultural extension agent or agronomist. The choice of seed for pasture can depend greatly on soil type as well as climate zone, so you local expert can really provide the best advice.

      Best of luck!
      Roy J.

  29. Hi! we have been facing problems with our donkeys especially the foals. please what are the causes of foal mortality and how can we manage our donkeys including the foals? Thanks.

    • Hi Ibrahim,
      Sorry to hear about this problem you are having with your donkeys. Have you consulted a veterinarian with regards to foal mortality? There could be a number of reasons that could be causing the problem, so a consultation with your vet would bring great insight. Additionally, here is a great resource for information on donkeys, a book called The Complete Book of Donkey by Dr. Elisabeth Svedsen The Complete Book of Donkey.

      Good luck!
      Heidi A.

  30. What to start a 4 month Minnie donkey on. I’m in maine I have course hay an what else vitamin an what kind of grain.I will be gettn him on sept4th. He is eating a little grass but they aren’t giving him any thing else.his mom is not feeding him.he is drinking a little water.I want him to have a better live an jus need to know to feed him right when I get him . thank you

    • Hi Mona,
      Congrats on the new donkey! Donkeys, in general, are more efficient than horses and require less intake to maintain or gain weight, so I would recommend starting at the low end of feeding rates. In Nutrena, I would use either SafeChoice Originalhttps://www.nutrenaworld.com/product/safechoice-original-horse-feed if it is a mature donkey, SafeChoice Mare & Foalhttps://www.nutrenaworld.com/product/safechoice-mare-foal-horse-feed if it is a young growing donkey, Seniorhttps://www.nutrenaworld.com/product/safechoice-senior-horse-feed if it is an old donkey or equivalent products.

      As always, you want to introduce the products gradually, feed at least 2X per day and make sure that clean fresh water and salt are available.

      Best of luck!
      Robyn

  31. Hi,
    My mare had a foal on Monday and passed away, I have to raise the foal, I’ve phoned a sancuary and the lady advised me to give my newborn donkey any sheep milk replacement, so I did, but since yesturday, she is having diarrhea. I’ve stoped the milk and gave her glucose water through the knight, this morning I started giving her 2%milk with 1teaspoon of honey in, still have diarrhe. What shall I do? Thanks for your time and help.
    Regards
    Elsa

    • Hi Elsa,
      Very sorry to hear that you lost your mare. Raising an orphan foal can present multiple challenges. I recommend you either check with your veterinarian or go on line and order Progressive Nutrition Milk Replacer. This has been a very successful product and is designed just for foals. Multi-species products work OK, but this product has produced very good results. My niece had a mare reject her foal earlier this year and was very successful with this product. Willow (the foal) also had some bone maturity issues and has overcome those very successfully as well and is growing nicely and fully normal.

      Best wishes,
      Roy

  32. I just brought a Jerusalem donkey from a owner who did not care for the donkey or train it to be halter or lead trained,the donkey came from poor conditions.her feet are not so good I been applying hoof stuff every other day.I feed her a little grass hay and a very little hand fill of Alfahfa once in the Am and then in the Pm. She gets at times a carrot and half an Apple cut up. She is 5 yrs old and not over weight she gets exercise when I put my 12 yr horse together as he is still getting use to a friend since he has been,alone for a long time.I also would like to know if the donkey can eat barley pellets.

    • Hi Elisia,

      Thank you for your interesting question about your donkey. Your donkey would be able to eat barley pellets, but that might not be the best recommendation.

      Poor hoof quality is frequently the result of a lack of essential amino acids, trace minerals and vitamins in the diet that are not provided by grass hay. I would suggest you consider a good ration balancer product that has guaranteed levels of lysine, methionine, copper, zinc, manganese and biotin. These products are fed at fairly low feeding levels. You can use the barley pellets if the donkey need to gain weight. You should feed the balancer product based on feeding directions, so you will need to estimate the desired weight of your donkey.

      Best wishes,
      Roy J.

  33. Recently, July of this year, adopted 2 rescue mammoth donkeys. Have been feeding west senior pellets and steamed flaked oats. Additionally coastal hay when grass burned up due to south Texas heat before hurricaine harvey. One girl est 15 to 18 yrs old, her daughter probably 8 yrs old. I am curious about adding corn chops or cracked corn to diet in the winter. Both girls were under weight when we got them and do look better now. They are not easy keepers as our 3 mares are, and want to make sure they do well this winter without doing them harm.

    • Hi Connie,

      Thank you for your interesting question about feeding your 2 rescue mammoth donkeys. It sounds like you are making progress in getting them back from under-weight condition. I am assuming that you had them checked so teeth have been floated if needed and they are up to date on vaccinations and deworming.

      Well formulated Senior Horse feeds are quite good for helping donkeys and horses regain both body condition and muscle mass as they are generally high in digestible fiber, relatively low in starch and sugar and fortified with amino acids, trace minerals and vitamins. You can also adjust feeding rate to produce desired rate of gain. It is important that you base the feeding rate on target weight, not current weight, so that you are feeding for weight gain. It takes about 2.5-3.5 pounds of feed to produce 1 pound of gain, so if I want an animal to gain 1 pound per day, need to feed at least that much above the maintenance requirement. The tendency is to underestimate how much feed it takes to restore weight after it is lost due to neglect.

      Corn chops or cracked corn can be added as an energy source. Corn, however, is also the highest starch grain at about 66+% starch and needs to be added to the diet with caution. I would not recommend over about 2 pounds of corn gradually added to the diet and would split that up into two feedings along with other feed. A safer way to add calories for weight gain might be to consider a high fat supplement or adjusting the feeding rate of the Senior product. You may find that once the mammoth donkeys are back at desired weight, they maintain fairly well. Weight gain does require significantly more intake than just maintaining weight. Salt needs to be available free choice along with fresh clean water.

      Best wishes,
      Roy J.

  34. Hi
    We recently inherited a donkey. He came with the property we bought in southern france. he would have been put down if we had not agreed to have him. He is a beautiful pyrenean jack donkey who is not at aggressive but he hasn’t been handled at all. I have spent every day working with him and he now comes to me and can be rubbed but he is still head shy and i cant get a collar on him. He needs his feet trimmed. Front fore is not good and i want to geld him, worm and innoculate him. Maybe he knows! We have found him a companion who is currently alongside rather than in with him as she is young and female. No where near coming on heat. He is happier but still a worry.

    • Hi Fiona,
      What a great story about your pyrenean jack donkey! Glad to see your love and attention is putting him in the right direction!

      Best of luck!
      Robyn

  35. I have recently been given a Jenny and her 4 month old baby. I currently have a mare that needs the company. I am nervous about how I am going to put the Jenny with my mare and having the still nursing baby with them both. Would my mare try to kill the baby donkey or would the mother protect her baby? My mare has seen and been in a pasture with donkeys before but never with a baby donkey to my knowledge.

    Also the mother is pretty plump right now and where I live she will be on a dry paddock. Is a mix of crab and Bermuda grass good for her too eat? Should I give her oats or a senior feed? Any advice on these issues would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Karlie,
      Introducing a jenny and her foal to another horse or group of horses can present some challenges. Horses are herd animals and establish the herd order fairly quickly and the ease of introduction may depend on the individuals. Depending on the space available, you may want to consider first putting the jenny and foal in a pen/pasture next to your mare that needs the company, with a safe fence in between and watch the behavior. In general, the jenny would be pretty protective of the foal. If there does not seem to be any hostile reaction, you could then consider putting them together. The pasture/enclosure needs to have safe fencing and be large enough so that the animals can establish appropriate distance between them and get out of each other’s way. If a pen is too small, tough for the less dominant animals to get out of the way. Some donkeys will dominate grown horses.

      Grass hay would be OK for mature animals, particularly if you can offer a forage balancer product along with free choice salt and fresh clean water. Senior feeds also work quite well. When the foal is getting ready to be weaned and after weaning, I would recommend that it be fed a product designed for young growing horses at the recommended feeding rate. Grass hay will work for the youngster as long as it is fed with a product for young animals. As always monitor body condition score to make sure that they do not get too thin or too fat.

      Best wishes,
      Roy

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