inheriting 2 miniature donkeys

booboy(Zone8 BC Canada)September 14, 2006

I have 7 acres on my property but not one fence. I was thinking of going electric. What is the minimum enclosure area for these guys. Also. I have a large lawn area with a septic field below. Is this a no no to put them on there? Any advice would be appreciated. I do realize that I will have to supplement with hay during the winter. Im in the Pacific North West on Vancouver Island. BC, Canada. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Morris

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Aren't you lucky! I have 3 of them, Mom (Sambina), Dad (Cosmo) and their son (Merlin). And I just love my donkeys. They are such nice animals.

I have wire fencing, that comes in a big roll, stretched between 4x4's. I've found that electric isn't really necessary for these guys, was needed when I had horses.

My donkeys have a couple of acres fenced and in 5+ years have only gotten out twice. And both times was when a tree fell and they were curious.

Find a good farrier, they need their hooves trimmed about every 8 weeks. And a good vet, mines coming next week to give them all their annual exam and vaccinations.

Other than hay, only give apples and carrots as treats ... normal horse grain with all the molasses just makes them fat. If you want to grain them, find a bag of crimped oats. They think it's the same as the horse grain and talk to me when I open the can to scoop it out for them as an occasional treat.

Can't comment on the septic, but they have hooves and can tear up grass pretty well.

I don't know the minimum area needed, my friend that sold me my first donkey told me mine are spoiled since they have such a large area to play ... but they love to run, and buck and chase each other ... so they need room to do that. Also, the smaller the area the more hay you'll need to feed them, though I supplement with hay all year for roughage.

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me directly.

Are you getting a female, gelding, jack, combination? My boys are both geldings, hard to keep jacks in with other donkeys.


Here is a link that might be useful: My Farm

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 1:26PM
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Theyre alot of fun,I have 2 jennys now for about 15 years.We let them out a couple times a week to the big pastures but usually we have an area that has electric fence.They cant eat too much green either .Our feilds are pretty lush right now.But theyre funny one poops the other poops,one rolls in dust the other does.They are never more than 4'apart.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 2:58PM
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I bet you're excited! I would love to have some donkeys someday. My neighbor has some and I go over there to pet them and feed them sometimes. Goodluck!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 3:23PM
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Sorry, just re-read my post and you asked about fencing & I had to tell you TOO much information.

Ignore my babbling .. can't help it that I love my donks!


    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 7:07PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

Try not to let them eat not eat too much. Donkey's are less likely to founder if kept at lighter weights. Any of the smaller equines, founder easily on lush green grass like lawn and even unmowed pasture, when out grazing all day. As already mentioned, a few (handful or less) of plain oats is a HUGE treat. A little carrot or apple bits are also a popular snack. The sweetened feeds are not good for them, adding sugar to diet. Lush grass and sugar/molasses grain mixes are just too rich a diet for their systems.

Donkey was designed to stay well nourished and WORK with very little feed. Rough ground, poor vegatation, small quantities of graze, harsh conditions were his usual living areas. They are well suited and flourish in those areas.

Fat areas will mostly accumulate on necks, rumps. Fat necks will lean sideways and can break the muscle which holds the crest/mane area upright on neck. My friend with minis restricts hers to about an hour of grazing a day with some small amount of grass hay to nibble during other times. Still has trouble keeping them from being obese. She finds her best tool is a photo on the door of barn to compare past appearance to present look. Easier to see weight gain quicker. Memory will trick you but photo is correct.

Grazing muzzles can be a solution by restricting grazing intake while allowing freedom to move around in pasture. Many donkeys' get expert at removing them quickly though.

They need regular hoof care as mentioned. Also yearly vaccinations, worming a couple times a year. You can give shots and worm them yourself to save money.

Another item I have heard mentioned is that donkey needs to have a place it can be dry if weather is rainy or cold. Hair is more for heat protection, not a wet cold area. You may have to dry animal off if it gets skin deep, wet. They will chill in the wet cold, can catch pneumonia, especially the small foals.
We have found a shop-vac on blower to "blow dry" excess water off horses works fairly well, then we cover damp equine with a cooler blanket. Cooler is just a square blanket laid over body that water wicks thru, drying off the equine. You change coolers until animal is dry. Sounds odd, but works well. I make my coolers from inexpensive acrylic blankets by adding a couple strings to tie cooler shut across the chest area. You could probably make several mini coolers from one large blanket. Very wash and wear blankets, since we use ours a lot when training and have sweaty horses.

They might fight with big dogs, attack small dogs. Donkeys seldom like dogs, are often used as livestock guardians with sheep and calves. Being so small, your donkeys might get hurt if big dogs chased after them. We hear a lot about loose dogs visiting from the neighbors. Just something to consider, not leave them out alone.

Hope your little pets are nice ones, fun to have around. They can be very entertaining. Often the jokes they generate keep you smiling for days. They seem to be endless.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 1:09AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

The advice posted above is all good.

I would add that if you do go with the grazing muzzle (which has a SMALL hole in the plastic bottom of a nylon strap/mesh 'bucket', attaches to a halter [which should be breakaway, to limit REAL emergency accidents!] or comes with an attached 'halter, horses soon learn how to eat through the hole) then a fly mask over the halter seems to help keep it on. If they really want to get it off, they will. I have also read, but not seen in action, that if you put reflective tape on the whole thing, in several places, it's a lot easier to find, at dusk with a flashlight, when it IS removed. It certainly sounds like a good idea. I know that my brother's pasture/small woods has the remnants of a number of muzzles that various horses have come up to the barn not wearing and never to be found again. It is astonishing what you can lose in long grass/trees. AND he bush-hogs regularly!

You will need to keep their feet trimmed - you may be able to get your farrier to show you how to do it yourself, as if you rasp them weekly, there's not much coming off at a time, but I would still get him out a few times a year to double check that you are doing it right. You can do real damage to the hoof, and the bones inside it and the bones /tendons/ligaments above it, if you get the angles wrong over a long period of time. Most blacksmiths don't really like to do small donkeys or ponies, as it's really hard on their already-stressed backs to bend over that far, so yours should be quite willing to show you how and to supervise. Many will also give you a partially worn but still good- enough-for-your-needs rasp, but if not, hoof-rasps can be bought at any good feed store, or on the 'net.

And Donkeys will need to be wormed, maybe at longer intervals than for horses, but that depends on the land usage before you put the donkeys on it and if they ever travel off, or other equines come on the property. Talk it over with your vet. They WILL need some shots and an annual Coggins test, the need varying, again, with their usage and traveling pattern, as well as whether there are equines on neighboring land. If they stay home and are isolated, then the only ones I would truly recommend are rabies (if prevalent in your area) and tetanus. The rest of the diseases mostly need exposure to other equines to be a problem, except for the West Nile, and I'm not sure how prevalent it is near you, nor how effective the vaccine is as yet....

Talk it over with your vet. Having him/her come out once a year for the annual check-up/Coggins test is cheap insurance that he/she will come out when you have a REAL emergency. And that way, they have some idea as to what "normal" is for your 2, and you can decide if YOU can work with this vet. Finding, and GETTING, a vet to come out at 2AM for a colic, when you AREN'T a "regular", can be interesting sometimes. Do get an animal thermometer, and learn how to use it. As well, get a good first-aid book, for horses if you can't find one for donkeys, so you have a helping hand to deal with minor matters, or calm you down while you are waiting for the vet to come, and it will give you a "laundry list" of common illness symptoms, so you can decide if it's "normal", a slight problem or a dire emergency!

As you may gather, I don't know donkeys and do know horses, but most things cross over pretty well.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 9:45AM
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All good advice so far, but no one has mentioned grooming... your little guys can be succeptible to coat problems if not groomed from time to time. Not saying this needs to be daily, but a good curry and occasional wash from time to time is essential. Problems like rain rot (which occurs when equines get wet and stay wet for prolonged periods of time-- like during an extended rainy period) are exacerbated by the animal having a dirty coat.

Generally, equines that are "pasture ornaments" (that is, not being worked on a regular basis) should be groomed less frequently in winter so as not to overly disturb the winter coat, but they will still need it year-round.

Aside from the health benefits, it will feel good to the little guys, it will keep them "handle-able," and you will have a chance to do a thorough body-check to look for cuts, scrapes, bugs, etc.

(Also don't forget hoof care between farrier visits-- use a hoof pick to get out all the funk and make sure no stones or other objects are wedged up in their hooves, which could cause a bruise or abscess.)

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 10:52AM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

While we are mentioning grooming, that shopvac can be helpful there. Once animal is used to it, we vacuum them pretty regular in winter. Powerful suction will move long winter hair to the skin, pull off dirt. I think winter coats NEED grooming to spread skin oils, add waterproofing to hair. This is not disturbing to winter hair protection. Donkey hair is coarse, often very long. Can be hard to brush well enough, deep, to clean skin with such long hair. We vacuum our equines often, really cleans well, speeds up the process of dirt removal with numerous animals needing to be groomed. Suction is like a body massage. We push hard with vac end, kind of like doing upholstry cleaning! Horses lean into sweeper nozzle, seem to like it well. Then we brush with brushes to smooth horse hair out, spread skin oil. Donkey or mule might need some additional combing to fluff that longer hair back up, get hair smoothed from the skin out. Fluffy hair is a better insulation, adds air layer to keep them warm in cold areas.

Once a week grooming is needed, minimum, to keep a close eye on animal, find any problems. More often is nicer if you can find time. Time saver vac is very quick, does a nice job for a quicky clean and fluff. Brushing is still needed occasionally. Hoof checking was a good point to bring up.Your checking for foreign objects will keep donkey familiar with leg lifting, easy to work on. Don't pick them up high or twist leg way out from body. Painful to the animal. Some folks build a little platform, lead donkey or mini up on it to do hoof check or trims. They don't have to bend far or twist legs about to view. Kind of like goat milking platforms. Make it sturdy, animals will easily get on when practiced often.

Fly masks should be removed at dusk, really reduce equine visiblity, making them VERY spooky in my experience. I know some horses who ran thru a fence trying to get away from person they couldn't identify coming into field!! We had two old horses who stood back to back, wouldn't settle down the one time we got home after dark to pull masks. I had to talk the whole way out to them to pull masks off, blinded by masks they were ready to fight!!

I also would recommend the rabies, you never know who will visit your barn, skunk, fox, coons. WNV seems to be fairly effective, worth the cost to me. Those 5 way shots are not expensive, Tetnus, flu, EEE, WEE, VEE. Covers the possible fly borne disease you can vaccinate for. Coggins is good to know if they have disease, finds the carriers who never exhibit symtoms. A kindess to all horsey neighbors. Does keep you friendly with the vet for future problems.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 12:24PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

I was checking back, and realized that the original post was about fencing!!! Sorry about all the other stuff - probably way too much info. But, it's all relevant, so, maybe not too much, just not what you asked for.

While my experience is horses, I would think that electric fence, probably 2-strand, would work fine. You can always up-grade to board as you want. The plusses of electric for beginning are that it is movable, it WILL keep them in, and it will, if set up right, will keep out some of the nuisance wildlife. One strand would probably be OK, but it is possible for them to crawl under a single strand, as long as they are determined to get out. They may not want to, but then again.... You can get a solar powered charger, so you aren't limited in your fence configurations by how close you are to your power source/house. Get the most powerful one you can, esp. for 7 acres or so. Do cross fence into several paddocks - you can then move them to fresh grazing and let the first one rest and grow. If you let them have the whole area as one field, you will find that they will graze preferentially on the short grass, and the longer stuff will get longer. Plus, they usually have "bathroom" areas and eating areas, and don't mix the 2, so the grass gets longer in the "bathroom", and the weeds grow up and multiply. You will need to keep the grass mowed to 8" or less - it's more palatable for horses, so I would assume donkeys would prefer it also. As well, as has been said earlier by others, there are times when you NEED to limit their intake - donkeys are very prone to laminitis and to founder, which is neither good for them nor for your pocketbook, between vet and farrier bills. So fencing off a small area that they will then eat down to nothing (maybe cover it with stonedust or fine gravel so it's not a mud-hole in spring or after a heavy rain) may be a very good idea. A small area also comes in handy to catch them up for the farrier or vet - it sure beats chasing them around the whole 7 acres, if they don't want to be caught! You might want to get in the habit of feeding them whatever they get as feed or treats in that area, so they like to go there.

Speaking of catching them, you should spend at least a little time several days a week in handling each of them; grooming, leading, tying, picking up feet, etc., etc., so that they remember how to do such things and you don't find yourself having to do a quick remedial course - or worse, teach them from scratch - in the middle of the night in the pouring rain as you wait for the vet to stitch up a gaping wound. Such thing CAN and probably will happen, sooner or later. It's stressful enough without not being able to catch/lead/hold/tie the animal!

On that note, you will appreciate having electricity run out to their shed/barn, both for the inevitable emergency, and so you can see where you are walking, and what you are stepping in, in the wintry darkness. Enough extra info.... Please let us know if you want/need more!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2006 at 7:43PM
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"Hi. My miniature donkey seems to be losing his hair in big patches. It is too early and too cold for him to be shedding out and also too cold for flies (noseeums), and there are no scabs on his skin - his hair is just falling out. Do you have any idea of why this is happening? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!"

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 9:17PM
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miye, you will probably get more answers if you start your own thread instead of tacking a question onto the end of a thread of a different topic.

Your donk is very likely rubbing himself raw because he has lice or mites. They particularly enjoy living on warm bodies of livestock during the winter. They crawl and suck and cause quite a bit of itching. If you can handle him, look very closely in the hair around the bare spots for tiny, pin-point-sized things that move. Treat with Co-ral dust that you can get at any farm and feed store.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 10:17PM
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