Miniature Donkey Care is easy when you know what to do! Follow these quick and easy steps and you will know exactly how
to keep your donkeys healthy and happy! Questions? Call us anytime. Be sure to read #12.
1. SPEAK THE DONKEY LINGO
Jack: Male (not castrated)
Foal: Baby donkey
Gelding: Castrated male (done at 6 months)
Mule: The offspring of a jack with a mare (female horse)
Hinny: The offspring of a stallion (male horse) with a jennet
Imprint: Positive human interaction at birth (Never forgotten by a donkey foal)
Withers: Point at the shoulder where the neck meets the back (this is the point at which height is measured)
2. WEIGH YOUR DONKEY WITH A WEIGHT TAPE
A weight tape can be purchased at www.horse.com or your local tack shop, Rural King or Tractor Supply.
200 - 350 pounds -- Adult
20 - 40 pounds -- Newborn (weight and height vary)
3. CHART YOUR DONKEY'S HEIGHT (A YARDSTICK AND CROSS STICK WILL WORK)
Adult: 28 - 36 inches at the withers (average height 33")
Newborn: 18 - 22 inches at the withers
3. FEED YOUR DONKEY (LESS IS MORE IN DONKEY LAND)
Spring, summer, and fall pasture for your donkey will provide plenty of grass fiber. During winter months, provide quality hay (wet, moldy,
or very course hay is unsafe). Or if you do not have pasture, provide hay daily. Coastal hay is an excellent choice to provide fiber,
nourishment, and keep weight at a norm. Avoid anything very rich including peanut, alfalfa, etc.
Provide continuous access to fresh, clean water and a trace mineral block with selenium (not a liquid, paste, or pill selenium supplement).
The donkey will lick the block when her body needs the selenium. Give small amounts, about 1/2 cup of grain 1x or 2x daily. Some
donkeys may become overweight and/or founder just like their horse cousins, while others including foals and nursing jennets, may need
a little extra grain.
A selenium salt-block type supplement is needed in Florida because the soil is selenium deficient. (Sold at Tractor Supply Companies)
Some parts of the country do not require a selenium supplement. However, it is a fine balance that must be struck.
Do not give liquid supplement without vet recommendation.
Selenium deficiencies can cause mild to severe problems, especially in foals. Too much can be poisonous.
"Equine that are overdosed with selenium even once can develop acute selenium poisoning."
-- ASSET MAGAZINE, Issue no 22
"Selenium is considered a trace mineral, one that the body needs in small amounts."
-- HOBBY FARMS MAGAZINE, "Selenium Shortfall", Dr. Aaron Tangeman, Sept/Oct 2006, P26-27
Check with your vet if you are concerned or don't know if your area is selenium deficient.
4. SHELTER YOUR CRITTERS
Miniature Donkeys require some shade and shelter (a 3-sided shed or lean-to) for severe weather.
White, cream, or spotted donkeys do better with more shade trees because their noses and faces can easily sunburn (just like people). I
have found some white or spotted donkeys whose skin may be irritated by sunshine will rub their noses on trees and fences to relieve
itching, causing a bald nose.
5. Care Enough to VACCINATE
Miniature Donkeys are known to be strong, hardy animals, however, they require annual vaccinations. Our vet recommends the following:
1. Eastern/Western Encephalitis (2X/year) 2. West Nile Virus (2X/year) 3. Tetanus (annually) 4. Rabies (annually)
5. Rhinopneumonitis (annually) 6. Influenza vaccines. As always, please check with your vet. All equines must have proper health
papers including a negative Coggins test to cross state lines. Check with your vet to help with the correct paperwork required in your
6. TRIM THOSE HOOVES
You or your farrier may regularly trim and take care of your donkey's hooves. If you choose to trim your donkey's hooves, you should first
be trained in proper hoof care. If you prefer to use a farrier, visits should be scheduled to trim your donkey's hooves every three to four
months (12 weeks is average) or as needed. Farrier or not, use a hoof pick to gently pick out your donkey's feet on a regular basis,
especially when the ground remains wet. This keeps your donkey used to hoof care so the trims are not scary to her. Check for cracks
and chips in the hoof wall and for thrush in the foot (easily detected by strong smell when picking out). If you say "Whew, that smells!",
your donkey has thrush, which is easily treated. Thrush is a bacterial infection of the donkey's frog, which means the tissue of the frog
becomes soft, ragged, and very smelly. Avoid thrush by keeping your donkey's feet dry and picked out regularly. A home remedies that
works well is asking donkey to step into a shallow pan of iodine or diluted bleach. Yes, they will do this for you! Donkeys are very
cooperative, contrary to what you may hear. Treatments may also be purchased at the feed store.
White Line Disease is also common in donkeys and can be very severe if not caught and treated. It is the combination of a fungus and a
bacteria that live and grow under the hoof wall. The best cure is getting air to the affected area. If concerned, speak to your farrier who
should be able to diagnose and treat these. Any on-going foot problems should be always referred to your farrier.
7. WORM YOUR DONKEYS
Donkeys must be on a regular worming program for good health. Care for your donkeys by staying on top of pasture clean-up which can
reduce worm infestation in your donkey. Take care to worm in January, April, June, August, and October every year, no matter how good
your donkey looks.
An even more effective method recommended by our vet is to do a follow-up dose (same product and dose) ten days after the first
worming. Ivermectin (paste or liquid) and Safeguard are well-known products and are considered safe. Rotating wormers is very effective.
Our vet does not recommend Quest for donkeys. Some websites list Quest and Combo Care as the same product but sold under
different labels. Please check with your vet before purchasing wormers.
8. PROVIDE COMPANIONSHIP -- OH SO IMPORTANT!
Miniature Donkeys are social animals and they love human attention! Because donkeys are herd animals, if you have ONLY a single
donkey, she will be a sad, lonely donkey. A companion animal (goat, horse, cow, mule, sheep or llama) will help but cannot replace the
companionship of another donkey. Their playfulness together is astounding. There is nothing like seeing two donkeys happily at play!
Important: Never leave a donkey completely alone without any human contact or companion animal for an extended period of time. It
can negatively affect their attitude and personality. Have you ever impulsively purchased a kitten or puppy and had the excitement and
companionship wane for days, weeks, or even months? A human-imprinted donkey without human attention will become depressed and
lethargic. They need human attention. Please visit rather than purchase a donkey if you will not have time to commit to the relationship
they need. Miniature Donkeys crave your attention! Keep your donkey happy and content by loving on her daily.
We have not figured out who craves the attention the most -- the donkey or the human.
9. WEAN YOUR FOALS
Between 4 and 6 months of age is the appropriate age for a miniature donkey foal to be weaned. A foal should not be weaned from its
mother under the age of 4 months unless there are circumstances affecting the health of the foal or the mother.
Nursing until 4 - 6 months also helps the foal with emotional support and herd socialization. You could say the mother teaches the baby
how to behave, make friends, and stay out of trouble.
10. WATCH FOR STIFFEL JOINT PROBLEMS (REAR LEG POPPING/JOINT LOCKING)
This is a fairly common problem that can be very frightening to us humans when seen for the first time. It can happen so randomly and
disappear so quickly, we may think our eyes deceived us. Occasionally when the foal walks, a popping action may occur in the her rear
leg(s) at the stiffel joint near the hip caused by a tight tendon. This is fairly common growth episode in young donkeys and may occur
intermittently between 3 months to 12 months of age and can occur in older donkeys. It usually occurs a few times a week for several
weeks and then clears. Our vet and other sources tell us it is a condition that a foal usually outgrows. If the joint continues to lock or pop
and/or the back leg is dragged occasionally after two years, or it is a daily occurrence, medication can be given and/or a simple surgical
procedure can be done by your vet to correct the tightness of the tendon. We are still researching this and will continue to post
11. UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE CHOOSE A DONKEY INSTEAD OF A HORSE
The miniature donkey is a healthy, calm, intelligent animal that won't become terrified and run away at the slightest unexpected noise or
movement but instead will want to investigate. Naturally inclined to like you and all people, she gives you a package deal -- a donkey that
is easy to take care of, easy to work with, and so very easy to love.
12. EXPECT THE PROBABLIES (unlike their horse cousins), your Miniature Donkeys will probably run to you instead of away from
you or just stand there, thinking, that's right, thinking.
If you forget to give grain, she will probably not get a belly ache.
If you give her a bit too much grain, she will probably not get a belly ache.
If a monster (dog, snake, plastic bag, chicken. figment of the imagination) passes in front of her, she will probably not run away in terror.
If she gets her foot caught in a wire fence (which she is probably too smart to do), she will not self-amputate but will probably remove it by
herself or stand very still until you get there. Yes donkeys will do this! Smart . . . very smart! A thinking person's animal.
Become a little donkey's best friend -- you will never be happier!
|BEST FRIENDS FARM MINIATURE DONKEYS
Farming for the fun of it since 1998!
Jim, Frankie, and Ryan Lee
13903 Millhopper Road, Gainesville, FL
|Lesson Seven - The last lesson in your donkey education
Learn to Care for Your Miniature Donkey
Don't you wish everything came with a manual!
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