What Do Donkeys Eat?

What human food can donkeys eat?

Fruit and veg ( apples, pears, watermelon, oranges, bananas, carrots, turnips, sweet potato, squash and swedes – including skins and rinds) are healthy and will add variety to your donkey’s diet. Offer different treats to keep life interesting. Add a dash of cinnamon to vegetables to make them extra tempting.

What do donkeys eat naturally?

A healthy adult donkey’s diet should generally be composed of about 75% straw and 25% of hay/haylage or grass during the summer and changes to 50% straw and 50% hay/ haylage in the winter. Forage promotes a healthy digestive tract and a good gut flora balance.

Mules and donkeys are members of the equine family, along with horses, ponies and zebras. Most people think you can feed them a diet similar to horses, but in lower quantity. Donkeys, however, have unique evolutionary traits that make them anatomically and behaviorally distinct. Donkeys are highly adaptable feeders that if given the opportunity, will consume a variety of different grasses and shrubs to obtain sufficient nutrients. It is generally accepted that the donkey can exist with less food than a horse.

Obesity is the biggest challenge facing most non-working donkeys and mules that are kept in areas of the world where food sources are abundant and of good quality. Emaciation is very common in most areas where donkeys are used heavily for work, and food is scarce and of poor quality.

Donkeys tend to accumulate fat on the neck, on either side of the chest wall giving a saddlebag appearance and around the buttocks. Several studies in horses and ponies have clearly shown that regional fat deposited on the neck of the animal indicated a higher risk for developing metabolic challenges such as insulin resistance and laminitis. Due to the donkeys increased ability to metabolize energy and protein, it is important that we do not feed concentrates that are high in these nutrients.

According to the BBC, the oldest living pet donkey is Bubbles, who has lived to 60 years old, while the normal range for pet donkeys is around 30. So, what has Bubbles eaten all these years to keep him healthy and thriving? And do wild donkeys eat the same?

Therefore, the donkeys diet should consist mainly of barley straw, sparse forage, hay, grass, fibrous plants, and a few treats here and there. They are primarily found in desert areas, where their ability to survive poorer diets and disease while masking overt signs of pain and distress has made them indispensable to humans.

In the arid and semi-arid areas of the world, wild donkeys have evolved to adapt to a hard life where the quantity and quality of vegetation are scarce. Imagine if every tourist starts feeding any wild donkey they come across: these animals will eventually associate humans with food and may wander the road more and more. In some places, like Riverside County in California, you can get a fine of up to $500 if you are caught feeding wild donkeys or burros, as theyre called in most states in the US.

And, as John Welsh, spokesman for the Department of Animal Services, said, you cant keep feeding these burros without recognizing the dangers youre putting them in. Image Credit: Fritz_the_Cat, Pixabay The primary source of food for donkeys should be low in sugar and high in fiber. Barley straw (the stalk of the plant that remains after the grains have been harvested) is a great option and will allow the donkey to chew it for hours without gaining weight.

Talk to your vet about what supplements to give your donkey; he may recommend some depending on the type of soil in the area where you live. Be careful when giving them frozen dry grass, as its high level of sugars could be hazardous to the animals health and could cause laminitis. In addition, if you feed your pet treats too often, he could develop behavioral problems; in fact, if you get him used to receive a carrot every time he sees you, he will associate you with this reward.

Dont feed it leftovers from your meals either, as donkeys have a hard time digesting vegetables from the Brassica family like broccoli and cauliflower. In any case, strictly avoid giving them processed foods, chocolate, dairy products, meat, or even horse feed . Feeding your pet donkeys isnt complicated, as long as you follow directions and provide them with proper forage, clean water, and the occasional treats, such as vegetables and fruit.

On the other hand, wild donkeys have managed to survive in arid and semi-arid areas with poor quality forage. So, if you want your pet donkey to thrive as long as possible, feed him properly, provide him with the best living conditions, and give him plenty of love. Her deep love for capuchin monkeys, pumas, and kangaroos has taken her worldwide to work and volunteer for several wildlife rehabilitation centers in Bolivia, Guatemala, Canada, and Australia.

If youre reading this resource, there are likely some special donkey residents in your life who youd like to provide the best possible care for! The compassionate lifelong care of donkeys at animal sanctuaries starts with the food theyre provided.

An experienced veterinarian or equine nutritionist will be able to guide your choices and recommend certain dietary guidelines for individuals based on the factors present for that donkey. The information in this resource is meant to acquaint you with the various aspects of a donkeys diet but should not replace a veterinarians counsel.

When it comes to feeding the individual donkeys in your care, you may be overwhelmed initially by the number of choices and amount of information out there. A donkeys digestive tract evolved to adapt to dry areas that didnt contain a bevy of nutritious plant options for consumption. Their digestive system adapted to pull nutrients from brush and other plants usually too fibrous for a good diet for a horse.

A donkey will require fewer calories than a pony of similar size, in order to maintain weight, due to this adaptation. Access to lush pasture grasses and legume hays and others with high sugar or protein content should be limited and monitored. While they are designed to continuously digest a lot of fiber, the smaller capacity of a donkeys stomach and small intestines is not conducive to breaking down singular large meals at a single time.

A diet high in concentrates can lead to a number of health issues, most notably laminitis and colic . If donkeys arent provided with large amounts of forage throughout the day, it can have psychological effects in addition to physical ones. Sugars and starches can cause health issues if consumed in higher quantities, so its important to be sure their diet doesnt contain high levels of these carbohydrates.

Beneficial microorganisms in a donkeys hindgut are able to break down all that structural fiber and turn it into an excellent source of energy. However, be sure to look for high fiber pellets designed for laminitic individuals (low in sugar) or other feed that your veterinarian or equine nutritionist may recommend for certain health issues. However, every individual is different, so its vital you always talk with your veterinarian before putting a donkey resident on any concentrated feeds.

Therefore, care must be taken when providing concentrates as part of a residents diet, and should only be offered under the advice of a veterinarian or equine nutritionist. Donkeys have an impressive ability to internally recycle nitrogen, which is part of amino acids consumed in protein sources. How much of these amino acids an individual donkey needs depends largely on their age and whether they are pregnant or lactating.

Legume hays, such as clover and alfalfa, are significantly higher in protein and could cause health issues in resident donkeys if they consume too much. Straw is low in protein and can be a good source of forage for donkeys as they are able to digest it and pull more nutrients from it than is generally possible. However, as the nutritional content of grass, hay, and straw can vary, a donkey resident would generally do well with a forage balancer to ensure they get what they need for a healthy body.

In addition to fresh forage, hay that isnt stored for more than a few months can retain and provide many of the vitamins donkeys need. A lot of concentrated grain products provide these necessary vitamins as well, but can be a potential health hazard for aforementioned reasons. Based on those findings, you can discuss with your veterinarian or equine nutritionist whether you should consider using an aforementioned forage balancer to meet the needs of your residents.

It is vital to their digestive health to drink lots of fluids, and serious complications can arise when their needs for water arent met. However, unlike horses, healthy donkeys can go longer without water than their equine cousins before ill effects may be seen. This can cause a number of health issues, in spite of their evolutionary adaptation to manage periods of dehydration better than horses.

It is generally recommended that a donkey consume around 1.5 percent of their own body weight in dry forage daily. Most healthy adult donkeys only really need to eat straw plus a little hay/haylage or grass and a vitamin and mineral supplement (forage balancer). When referring to forage, we are including both plant material a resident may search for and consume on pasture, in addition to hay and straw offered by care staff.

Straw should be available 24 hours a day so donkey residents can trickle feed, which is best for their physical and psychological health. Wheat straw is generally only acceptable forage for younger donkeys with good teeth due to its more fibrous nature. Oat straw can be fed to donkeys, but its use needs to be more carefully monitored and is not ideal due to the expense and higher calories.

Otherwise, commercial haylage also comes in packages labeled laminitic safe- these should be purchased as opposed to others that may cause health issues for donkeys. This is why it is useful to have hay tested to obtain an analysis of the nutritional content, as it can affect your diet plan for residents. Signs Of Concern With Forage If forage is damp, yellow, brown or gray or black, musty smelling, full of weeds, poisonous plants, blister beetles, inedible objects, or has fully matured hay or straw seeds, do not feed it to residents!

Calculate Need Every donkey is different, and a variety of factors can influence how much forage is consumed, how much additional hay should be given, and how much, if any, concentrates should be a part of an individuals diet. Get Your Residents Teeth Checked As we mentioned, dental health can have a big impact on the diet of a donkey. Those with poor dentition should be provided with a diet that allows them to adequately and easily consume the necessary nutrients for optimal health.

Assessing BCS (body condition score) can also give you a generalized idea as to whether a resident is underweight, overweight, or within a healthy range. You can then determine (with the help of an equine veterinarian or nutritionist) what supplements and how much of these should be added to a residents diet. You can see how measuring by volume could cause issues and affect the amount of specific food a resident receives.

Additionally, some donkeys are more likely to chew and savor the flavors, while others will inhale treats, making them a potential choking hazard. Safe Treats For Donkeys (in SMALL amounts): Apples (best to remove the core) Carrots Raisins Grapes Bananas Strawberries Melon Celery Pumpkin Snow peas Green beans Squash Watermelon Mint leaves Turnips Parsnips Pears

Feeding Mules and Donkeys

Mules and donkeys are members of the equine family, along with horses, ponies and zebras. Most people think you can feed them a diet similar to horses, but in lower quantity. Donkeys, however, have unique evolutionary traits that make them anatomically and behaviorally distinct. Donkeys are highly adaptable feeders that if given the opportunity, will consume a variety of different grasses and shrubs to obtain sufficient nutrients. It is generally accepted that the donkey can exist with less food than a horse.Donkeys and mules can utilize more mature, less digestible, more fibrous plant material than a horse. They are able metabolize their feed very efficiently and can be overfed very easily. The donkeys’ efficient utilization of food makes them “easy keepers.” However, don’t let the term misguide you. It is important to take care in determining when and how much to feed a donkey. Obesity is a major concern in modern domesticated donkeys and mules.Studies have shown that donkeys voluntarily consume much less forage compared to horses; 1.5% of body weight (BW) for donkeys compared to 3.1% of BW for horses. The donkeys heightened ability to digest low-quality forage has been likened to that of a goat. It is important not to provide pasture that is lush and nutrient dense. Low-quality pasture grasses are adequate.Mules are not quite as efficient as donkeys, but are much more efficient than horses.There is limited information about protein requirements for donkeys, but researchers have suggested that they are very efficient in the utilization of dietary protein. It has also been suggested that donkeys have a 20% lower digestible energy requirement than horses.Good grass hay is adequate for donkeys. Legume hay such as alfalfa is not recommended for the same reason that lush pasture is not good for donkeys. The digestibility is very high as is the energy and nutrient content.Donkeys and mules are prone to obesity, and will develop laminitis if they are given access to lush pastures such as spring and fall pasture.

Concentrate

While grass and hay is often sufficient to supply the maintenance requirements for most donkeys and mules, additional supplementation in the form of concentrate feeds might be needed when donkeys cannot eat sufficient forage to meet nutrient requirements. Classes of donkeys and mules that need concentrate feeding include those that are working heavily, pregnant, lactating, growing or senior.The amount of concentrate that should be provided is determined by the BW and physiological state of the animal.

What Do Wild Donkeys Eat?

Humans have used the wild ass for work for at least 5,000 years. They are primarily found in desert areas, where their ability to survive poorer diets and disease while masking overt signs of pain and distress has made them indispensable to humans.In the arid and semi-arid areas of the world, wild donkeys have evolved to adapt to a hard life where the quantity and quality of vegetation are scarce. Indeed, their digestive system can digest the thorny vegetation of arid areas, as well as extracting moisture from what they ingest. Thus, wild donkeys graze on lower-quality forage, herbaceous plants, tree bark, and small shrubs. They are also able to go quite a long time without drinking.

What to Feed Your Pet Donkeys

While feeding wild donkeys with some straw or even treats like carrots won’t cause them any harm in terms of their health, it is not recommended to do so, mainly in areas where you can find populated areas nearby.

What Are Good Treats for Donkeys?

Talk to your vet about what supplements to give your donkey; he may recommend some depending on the type of soil in the area where you live.Here are some supplements that you could give to your donkey, but only having received the approval of your vet:Finally, always provide your donkey with clean, fresh water. Ensure it doesn’t run onto the barn floor, as donkeys need completely dry soil for their hooves. Remember to check in winter that the water has not frozen. If so, you need to remove the ice and install a water heater on the drinker. Older donkeys will appreciate some warm water during the winter.

What Should You NEVER Feed Your Donkeys?

Don’t give your donkey more than a handful of what you’ve chosen at a time. Don’t feed it leftovers from your meals either, as donkeys have a hard time digesting vegetables from the Brassica family – like