Advice Page 9

Grooming and Health Grooming

Donkeys enjoy being groomed. Brush them with a fairly stiff brush in the direction the hair grows. Be gentle with the ears, do not twist or hold them tightly. In spring, a shedding blade is useful for loosening the thick winter coat. Do not be too hasty to help shed the winter coat. Donkeys take up t two months longer to shed their hair coat than horses and will easily catch a chill iflthe coat is shed too early in the spring. Use caution when grooming in winter. Grooming destroys the natural air pockets in the coat that provide insulation, so groom only on warm days. Clipping is not recommended unless adequate protection frohi inclement weather is provided.

In summer, grooming is almost hopeless because donkeys take dust baths. This natural method of bathing is used by animals that do not like water. Watch for the donkey that rubs its coat, especially at the tail head – it may have lice. If evidence of lice is seen, check with a veterinarian for the best preparation to remove the lice.

Hoof care

Clean out hooves regularly. Remember donkey hooves are very elastic and do not wear down like those of other equines. If left untrimmed they grow to astounding proportions and such neglect can cause an animal to be permanently crippled. Ideally hooves should be trimmed every four to eight weeks depending on age and speed of growth. The hooves of foals generally grow faster than those of adult donkeys. Keep feet short and neat.


Deworm donkeys three to six times per year, using any of the equine paste wormers currently on the market. If the presence of parasites is suspected, a veterinarian should do a fecal test to determine exactly what type of worms are present and how best to treat for them. Rotation of deworming products is recommended. Unless internal parasites are removed by regular deworming, donkeys will suffer internal tissue damage from migrating parasites, whicth may considerably shorten their life span.


Donkeys should be given an annual injection of a four-way equine vaccine every spring. The injection provides immunity against eastern and western equine encephalitis, equine influenza and tetanus, which are all potentially fatal equine diseases. Check with a veterinarian about starting a vaccination program.

Goals of the Breeder

Breeders must establish what the goals of their breeding program are before purchasing any stock. Breeders can select stock of known ancestry with the assistance of The Canadian Donkey and Mule Association (1988), which operates the only registry for Canadian donkeys and mules. Examples of possible goals for the breeder:

  • The production of heavy-boned draft type Mammoth jackstock.
  • The production of red roan Mammoth jackstock to provide red roan jacks for the production of sorrel draft mules from Belgian mares.
  • The production of refined, saddle type Mammoth jackstock for riding, harness work or to yield jacks for saddle mule breeding.
  • The production of spotted Small or L rge Standard donkeys for show or fine harness work.
  • The production of sturdy Large Standard donkeys for packing or riding.
  • The production of well conformed Miniature donkeys, or colourful spotted Miniatures.

Keep in mind that every breeder must work towards proper conformation. Do not be tempted to chose breeding stock because it has a unique color or size if defects such as crooked legs, angular rumps, ewe necks or jaw deformities are present!