The miniature donkey, especially in comparison to other larger animals, is a relatively easy animal to care for. But you should never neglect them. Because of this, it is essential for new donkey owners to at least have a basic understanding of donkey care before they buy a miniature donkey. The donkey can be used to perform a variety of tasks, or they can be kept simply as a pet, but they will ALWAYS need basic care. Here are some guideline recommendations for a suitable care program.
Miniature Donkeys need to be vaccinated, wormed, hooves trimmed, groomed, quality hay, correct salt block, shelter, fresh water, other miniature donkey friends, and their teeth floated when needed.
Mouth And Teeth Care
In addition, the state of the mouth should also be checked periodically. If you observe any abnormality in any tooth, consult the veterinarian. See our article and the correct care of teeth for a miniature donkey.
Feed For Miniature Donkeys:
Donkeys are native to the desert regions of the world, so this makes their digestive system very rustic and rugged. Therefore, the nutritional needs are much lower than those of a horse or a pony. Miniature donkeys require little or no feeding during the summer months if they are grazing.
What they should never lack is barley straw in their stables, to provide fodder, and it is important to provide them with a mineral compound so that they can lick it whenever they need it; must be available to them at all times. In addition to these minerals, they should never lack clean water at will – that goes for any animal you are responsible for.
Feed your miniature donkey Grass hay, Wheat hay, Bermuda grass, or Oat hay only. Most recommend not to feed them Alfalfa hay because it is too hot for the donkeys.
When grass is scarce, give about 1/2 flake of hay per animal each morning and evening.
While grazing your miniature donkeys, you should limit their access to fresh grass. A simple tape-and-plastic-pole electric fence can be moved a few centimeters a day to allow some, but not too much green feed.
In winter, in addition to the barley straw, you can also supply a limited ration of cereal-based food. However, don’t do this if the donkey is keeping good condition without it – or just give a tiny amount as a treat. Excessive fattening is not good for your donkey’s health, you should be careful with any concentrate ration.
Provide pregnant and lactating jennies with two to four pounds of good quality balanced feed per day (split into two or three feedings), such as Omalene 200 or Strategy. The same amount of feed should be given to young donkeys. Typically, jacks and geldings do not require more than 2 pounds of food per day (divided into 2 to 3 meals). Based on the animal’s individual weight, you must exercise your judgment.
Donkeys are very energy efficient with their food therefore it doesn’t take much to keep them healthy and sound.
You can give treats a couple of times a week such as carrots, apples, horse wafers, and or Alfalfa meal. But be very careful not to feed treats by hand because this will teach your donkey to nip or bite to find food. Also, they will learn this and possibly bite a visitor or child – not a good outcome.
A mineral supplement needs to be available at all times. Because mini Donkeys don’t eat very much, they don’t get the opportunity to extract minerals in adequate amounts from their regular feed.
Feed Selenium and mineral trace salt blocks and even have a loose Selenium mineral trace salt available. If you think you are Selenium deficient then you can have your Veterinarian give Selenium shots to your donkeys.
Donkeys need fresh, clean water in front of them at all times, they should never run out of fresh water. They don’t like their water too cold either. Also when free-feeding any type of salt they need water to keep from overdosing. As long as there is fresh water your donkey cannot overdose on salt.
Contact your veterinarian as to what vaccines you need every year to keep your donkey healthy and sound.
Donkeys must be vaccinated against tetanus. If you buy a mini donkey, the breeder should provide you with the dates of the first tetanus vaccinations and you must take into account the time of the next tetanus/flu booster dose. You should always consult our veterinarian.
Tetanus is the most common disease that donkeys need to be vaccinated for. Tetanus bacteria produce toxins that can infect donkeys, like all equids. Tetanus is contracted when a wound, which can be so small it is not visible, or a hoof abscess becomes infected with dirt or feces. There is an abundance of tetanus bacteria in the environment, which makes it easy for it to enter wounds. Bacteria can multiply rapidly in a wound and produce toxins that enter the bloodstream. Toxins can then enter the nervous system after entering the bloodstream. Upon exposure to the toxin, an animal will become rigid with a stilted gait and can’t eat or drink in advanced stages. They will also suffer severe pain. 80% of equid tetanus cases result in death, so prevention is always better than cure. Tetanus can be prevented by a vaccination that is 100% effective. Initially, two injections are given four weeks apart followed by yearly boosters. Foals can begin receiving vaccinations at the age of 3 months. If their dam has been vaccinated up to date, they will be protected from their mothers before this. A booster vaccination should be given to a Jenny one month prior to her due date.
Also, if you live in a country where there is Rabies, give donkeys Rabies vaccines every other year but this is an option depending on your area and the recommendation from your Veterinarian.
Spring Vaccine Routine In The USA
- A three-way vaccination. This includes protection against tetanus, as well as, sleeping sickness (Eastern & Western Encephalomyelitis).
- A rhino/flu vaccination, which includes protection against influenza & rhinopneumonitis ( a cold virus).
- Jennets in foal should receive:
– a three-way vaccination
– a rhino/flu vaccination
– a pneumabort K vaccination on the 5th, 7th, and 9th month of gestation.
– be wormed on a regular basis until the 10th month of gestation.
Donkeys need to trim their hooves once or twice a year, depending on the weather and how mobile they are. The hooves are very elastic and do not wear out in the same way as those of other equids. However, if they are allowed to grow, it can lead to permanent damage. Try to find someone familiar with trimming horse and donkey hoofs to do it correctly.
We try and trim our donkey’s hooves every 2 months but sometimes depending on the donkey they need trimming more often or less often, therefore each donkey needs to be trimmed to their specific needs. The average is every 2 months.
It is easy to check your donkey’s teeth to see if they need to be floated. If the teeth have sharp hooks it can interfere with their chewing and cause weight loss. If you are not sure then have your Veterinarian examine their teeth for you. Most Veterinarians will float teeth. Check out our detailed article here for the drill in on the detail.
The first step in work management is to keep pastures, paddocks and stalls clean. Now you’re well on your way.
Worm all your donkeys every two months with a wormer that is safe for pregnant Jennies. You can find these wormers at a regular feed store, be sure and read the directions because the wormer goes by weight and an average adult donkey weighs between 250 pounds to 350 pounds.
It is recommended to use Ivomec products as they are very effective. It is good to switch products periodically, so you will have to find an alternative to alternate with.
From a northern hemisphere perspective, your donkeys should be wormed in March, June, August, and November (or after it freezes). Give worming dosage according to package recommendations.
One technique that may work for difficult wormers is to put the worming paste or liquid on Ritz crackers and turn the process into giving your donkey a treat. Bread works just as well. If you are using paste, be sure to watch your donkeys for a while to make sure that they do swallow the paste. Some will do their best to spit it out.
These are just a few suggestions and hopefully, they will help with the care and welfare of your donkey.
Grooming a miniature donkey is an equally important part of health care. Their coat should be brushed regularly, using a stiff brush on the body and a soft brush around the face and belly. Their grooming will establish a relationship of trust and allow you to check the donkey’s skin for cuts, grazes, or bites.