Are you considering getting a donkey? Perhaps you know of one that needs a good home, or maybe you’ve just always had a soft spot for these equines. Here, an Upper Peninsula, MI vet discusses donkey care.
Donkeys are typically very sweet and gentle, and can make great pets! They are quite smart, however, and hate being yelled at or forced into anything. Always be gentle with your donkey. Offer treats (hint: apples) and ear scritches, and let him—or her—get to know you. If you’re a first-time donkey owner, choose one that’s already trained. Teaching these guys to walk on a lead or offer their feet on command definitely takes a practiced touch!
Donkeys are definitely not well-suited to living alone. A donkey without any buddies will quickly get sad, depressed, and lonely. They form incredibly strong bonds with their pals, so we strongly recommend keeping bonded pairs together for life. Donkeys can also bond with horses. However, if the horse is sold or moved, you’ll soon find yourself with a sad donkey on your hands, which is actually quite heartbreaking to behold. Everyone needs friends!
Donkeys must have a clean, dry barn, or, at the very least, a three-sided shelter. You’ll have to remove waste from this area daily. Your donkey will also need access to some sort of pasturage, as they really need space to wander and nibble.
Many donkeys don’t care for chilly climates. In fact, they’re prone to getting pneumonia in cold or wet weather! You may want to keep your donkey blanketed in winter. Your donkey will still need some activity, of course. Exercise him indoors, or choose milder days to let him out.
Like other equines, donkeys are herbivores, and need lots of plant fiber. A high fiber/low sugar diet is ideal. Good barley straw supplemented with hay is an excellent choice. Avoid cereal grain, as it isn’t safe for donkeys. Your vet may also recommend vitamin and/or mineral supplements. Fresh water, of course, is an absolute must.
Just like any other pet, donkeys need regular veterinary care. Regular exams, vaccinations, and worming are all important. You’ll also need to keep up with your donkey’s hoof and dental care needs. Ask your vet for recommendations.
Please contact us, your Upper Peninsula, MI vet clinic, with any questions about donkey care. We’re here to help!