Advice For The New Miniature Donkey Owner
A Miniature Donkey will not make an appropriate “guard donkey”. It is generally believed that since donkeys are not particularly fond of dogs, that they are naturally good guard animals for sheep & goat herds. The truth is that a Miniature Donkey is no match for more than one dog at a time and sadly there have been too many reports of Miniature Donkeys being mauled and killed by neighborhood dogs. Standard size donkeys may be able to fill the role as a guardian donkey, but not Miniature Donkeys. Therefore your fencings should be safe for the donkeys, which means keeping predators out – either woven wire (field fending) or high tensile fencing with “hot” wires as a deterrent.
Beware of foals for sale that are too young for weaning as this can affect how well adjusted they will be as adults. The little ones need to stay with their moms for approximately five to six months, but no yonger than four months. You might want to ask the person you’re buying from if they would keep the foal & jennet together if the foal is too young for a little longer. Even though you are eager to get your new pet home it is in the donkey’s best interest and yours. Young foals will learn many valuable lessons by remaining with adult Donkeys until weaning. Every intact Miniature Donkey jack that isn’t being used for breeding should be gelded (see the Gelding Incentive Program for more information). You and your family will be
happier with him as a wonderful, loving pet and his life will be much less complicated without having to deal with hormones.
Many ungelded jacks face an uncertain future of being passed from home to home or ending up in an auction due to their instinctive, unbridled passions at times. Please consider gelding your jacks this is extremely important. However, before making an appointment with your veterinarian to do this surgery, ask NMDA to send you detailed information for your vet on how to geld a Miniature Donkey – the procedure should be done a bit differently than a horse to prevent excessive bleeding.
What else do you need for your Donkey now that you have housing, a turnout and a companion? A Donkey, like a horse, will need a basic series of vaccinations and yearly boosters. Your local equine veterinarian can tell you what vaccines are appropriate in your area. Tetanus, Eastern/Western Sleepihg Sickness, Rhinopneumonitis, Influenza, Rabies and West Nile are among vaccines that are often recommended. Your Donkey will need regular parasite control with a worming paste given every four to eight weeks, depending on the age of the animal. Again, check with your veterinarian to set up a schedule that applies to your particular part of the country. Hooves will need to be trimmed approximately every two to three months. Be sure your farrier (a person trained to trim hooves) is familiar with trimming a Dohkey because Donkey hooves are trimmed at a more upright angle than a horse.
Nutrition is another subject where there are many differences of opinion and feeding practices in different parts of the country. Miniature Donkeys need good quality, dustfree hay. A timothy grass mix is very popular in the northeast, for instance. Mold in feed has been known to cause health problems and birth defects so good quality feed is essential, i.e. good grass hay should have a nice green color and a sweet smell (something like tea). Pregnant or nursing jennets and foals usually need a horse grain in addition to hay – in general a 10% to 12% brotein content is all that is necessary and
only a small amount (1 cup a.m. & p.m.). Donkeys are easy keepers and can get fat very easily so be very careful you do not overfeed your Donkey. Grazing on rich pasture day in and day out may be too much of a good thing too. Learn how to monitor your Donkey’s body condition to be sure they are a healthy weight. Some areas of the country are deficient in selenium so many breeders supplement with a little selenium and Vitamin E. Consult with your veterinarian concerning supplements.