Posted Sep 29, 2013
Donkeys are not as common in the United States, now, as they used to be. Years ago, before tractors became popular many farmers had at least a pair of donkeys to help do the farm work.
Donkeys are usually easier to train than horses to pull machinery and wagons. They are usually calmer than horses, as well.
Donkeys are very high maintenance animals. Where a horse will tolerate standing in the rain or snow, a donkey generally won't. Unlike horses, rain and snow actually seep into a donkey's coat. When wet donkeys are miserable and very difficult to deal with. Even the tamest donkey will be cranky and mean when wet. A donkey's shelter has to be pretty much water tight.
Donkeys usually do not like snow or cold weather. Some will even refuse to move if they think they are going outside in the snow, This can be a problem if you need the animal to haul something or need to ride it. It is also unhealthy for the animal as it usually leads to a lack of exercise. The best way to avoid this is to get a young just weaned foal. Start working with the animal while it is young outside in cold temperatures and snow.
Donkeys need stronger and better quality fence than you would need for horses. Donkeys tend to crowd fences and push their weight into them. For this reason, barbed wire and electric fencing doesn't work .
A donkey is fussier about water than a horse. Donkeys will not drink even slightly dirty or stale water. So, they require more water supply monitoring.
Donkeys like to eat a lot. Donkeys will eat more than horses. They also tend to put on weight and become overweight and eve obese. Donkeys do not generally lose any weight after they gain it, either. Donkeys are generally okay grazing in the pasture with some hay tossed in , if you have good quality grass. If you don't have good quality grass or enough of it corn with a small amount of oats mixed in is a good option.
Never ever feed a donkey anything with wheat in it. Wheat is poisonous to donkeys. Never feed a donkey potatoes for the same reason. Meat and meat byproducts are also poisionous to donkeys, so do not allow them to eat chicken feed, pig feed, or cattle grain.
Donkeys also require shoes, hoof trimming, and vet care just like a horse does. Vaccinations for tetanus, rabies, distemper, flu, West Nile Virus, and Encephalitis are all necessary on a yearly basis. Donkeys tend to get worms and should be wormed quarterly.
Donkeys live longer than horses do, The average is about 35 -40 years. Although it is not unheard of for one to reach 55 years with good care.
Donkeys are not good around dogs. They can not stand them, usually. If a dog gets anywhere near a donkey it will usually get attacked and kicked. This is even more likely to occur if the donkey is in a pen with a companion animal such as a horse or cow.
Donkeys have natural maternal instincts and make good companion animals for horses and cattle.