Brayers Creek - Loveable longears


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Frequently Asked
Questions

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General Information | Sizes & Weights | Donkey Colours | Donkey Breeds | Donkeys as Pets
Donkey Behaviour | Caring for Donkeys | Breeding Donkeys | Donkey Activities | Resources


General Information

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What is a donkey?
Donkeys are part of the equine family and are known for their long ears, affectionate natures and for their bray (the loud ‘hee-haw’ sound that donkeys make).

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What are donkeys also known as, or affectionately called?
Brayers and longears. Some people also use the word ass, which comes from the original Latin name asinus and is a derivative of the scientific name of the species: Equus asinus.

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What is a ‘Jack’?
An intact (uncastrated) male donkey.

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What is a ‘Jennet’?
A female donkey (also known simply as a ‘Jenny’).

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What is a gelding?
A castrated male donkey.

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What is a sire?
A donkey’s male parent.

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What does ‘get’ mean?
The offspring of a jack. All the donkeys that have been sired by the same jack are referred to as his ‘get’.
Also referred to as: get of sire (bred by a specific jack).

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What is a ‘dam’?
A donkey’s female parent.

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What does ‘produce’ mean?
The offspring of a jennet. All the donkeys that have been born out of the same jennet are referred to as her ‘produce’.
Also referred to as: produce of dam (bred out of a specific jennet).

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What is a foal?
A foal is a baby donkey of either sex.

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What is a weanling?
A foal that has been weaned from its mother and is between six months and one year old.

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What is a yearling?
A male or female donkey that is one year old or between one and two years of age.

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What is a group of donkeys called?
A herd of donkeys.


Sizes & Weights

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How big is a donkey?
Donkeys are divided into three groups according to their size: Miniature, Standard and Mammoth. Standard donkeys can be further subdivided into Small Standard, Standard and Large Standard.

  • Miniature: Must be under 36" at the withers.
  • Small Standard: Between 36.1" and 40".
  • Standard: Between 40" and 48".
  • Large Standard: Between 48.1" and 56" (jacks & geldings) or between 48" and 54" (jennets)
  • Mammoth: Jacks & Geldings must be 56.1" (14hh) and above while jennets must be 54.1" (13.2hh) and above.
Donkey heights
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What is a ‘micro-mini’?
A miniature donkey that is 30" (76cm) and smaller at the withers is known as a micro mini. Breeding miniature donkeys that are smaller than the recommended minimum height (over 30" at the withers) is not recommended. Focusing on breeding donkeys that are smaller than 30" (76cm) enhances the possibility of dwarfism, may adversely affect the conformation and balance of the breed, and compromise the reproductive fitness of a jack (being unable to naturally cover a jennet) and especially a jennet (being unable to: conceive / carry a foal to term / give birth without assistance / raise a foal).

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How does one measure a donkey?
From the ground to the highest point of the withers. Ensuring that the donkey is standing on a hard, level surface and using an equine measuring stick with a cross piece and spirit level is the best way to get an accurate measurement. Ensure that the donkey’s hooves are freshly trimmed and measure the donkey several times until you get three readings that are the same to be 100% sure of the donkey’s true height.

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Where are a donkey’s withers?
The highest part of a donkey’s back, lying at the base of the neck above the shoulders. If you are not sure where the withers are, get the donkey to lower its head by offering a tasty treat on the ground in front of it, then look for the highest point on top of the shoulders while the donkey’s head is down.

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Which unit of measurement does one use for donkeys?
Donkeys are measured in inches (") or hands (hh). One hand equals four inches. Parts of a hand are given after the whole unit, in inches, following the decimal point. For example: 14.2 hh is 14 hands and 2 inches. Fractions of an inch can also be given, for example 14.3¾ hh or 59¾". To convert inches to centimeters, multiply by 2.54 and to convert centimeters to inches, multiply by 0.3937 (or divide by 2.54)

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Which formula can one use to estimate the approximate weight (mass) of a donkey?
Multiply the donkey’s height (a straight line from the ground to the highest point of the withers/shoulders) by its heart girth (circumference of the chest behind the front legs) by its torso length (a straight line from the point of his shoulder/chest to its buttocks/beginning of the tail) and divide the answer by 300 to get the approximate weight in pounds. This formula is relatively accurate, but not spot-on so keep in mind that it is the donkey’s approximate weight, not his real weight. To convert centimeters to inches multiply by 0.3937 and to covert pounds to kilograms multiply by 0.4536. The formula for estimating the weight (mass) in kilograms is given below.

Mass formulae

Donkey Colours

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What colours are donkeys?
Grey and brown are dominant colors and thus more common. Other colors include black (with a cross/no cross), spotted, sorrel (red), white (including frosted spotted white and ivory) and roan (both red and grey).

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What does NLP mean?
No light points. A donkey that has no light points has a dark muzzle and lacks the normal light (white) points (muzzle, around the eyes and on the belly) that most donkeys have.

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What does FSW mean?
Frosted spotted white. A spotted donkey, that has completely ‘roaned’ out and is thus white, but has dark eyes and dark spotting on the skin.

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What does BEW mean?
Blue-eyed white, also known as ivory. A cream-coloured donkey, that has a pink skin and blue eyes.

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What is a cross?
A line of darker hair starting at the top of the head and running to the end of the tail, known as a dorsal stripe, which is crossed at the withers with another line of darker hair, which is known as a shoulder stripe, forming a cross on top of the donkey’s back.

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Do all donkeys have a cross?
No, most Mammoth Donkeys, just like their original European ancestors, do not have a cross and all true black animals do not have a visible cross. However, the cross is very dominant and most, but not all, donkeys carry a cross or some form of a cross.

There are many beautiful legends about how the donkey ended up wearing a cross. This version is one of our favourites:

The story is told that the little donkey that had been Jesus’ mount on Palm Sunday, followed his gentle master to the hill of Calvary. Seeing the tragic event occurring there he wished with all his heart that he had been able to carry the cross for Jesus, as he was the proper one to carry heavy burdens. Grief-stricken by the sight of Jesus on the cross the donkey turned away but he could not leave, because of his love for Jesus, and stayed until all was over. It was then that the shadow of the cross fell upon the shoulders and back of the little donkey, and there it has remained forevermore, a tribute to the loyalty and love of the humblest of God’s creatures.


Donkey Breeds

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Are Miniature Donkeys larger donkeys that have been bred down?    (Return to top of page - or press "home" key)
No, the Miniature Donkey is a true breed and is also known as the Miniature Mediterranean Donkey.

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Where did Miniature Donkeys originally come from?
From the Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

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Is the Mammoth Donkey a true breed?
No, Mammoths were bred out of the large European breeds, including the Catalonian, Andalusian, Majorcan, Maltese and Poitou. Some Mammoths still carry some traits of their original ancestors and are referred to as ‘type’. For example, a Catalonian Type or Andalusian Type. However, these are not real Catalonians or Andalusians unless they have pure-bred pedigrees that can be traced back to those breeds.

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What is the ideal size of a Mammoth?
The ideal size of a Mammoth would be no less than 60" (15 hh) but anything bigger than 56" (14 hh) for jacks and geldings, or 54" (13.2 hh) for jennets, is considered to be a Mammoth. According to the ADMS (American Donkey And Mule Society) Mammoths must be 56" (14 hh) and bigger for jacks and geldings or 54" (13.2 hh) and bigger for jennets. According to the AMJR (American Mammoth Jackstock Registry) Mammoths must be 58" (14.2 hh) and bigger for jacks and geldings or 56" (14 hh) and bigger for jennets. Furthermore, they must have a heart girth of 61" or more and a cannon bone that exceeds 8" for jacks and geldings or 7.5" for jennets.

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What is a Jerusalem Donkey?
People often refer to donkeys that have a cross as Jerusalem Donkeys, but it is not a true breed or type.

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What is a Spanish Donkey?
Donkeys imported from Spain, or who’s immediate ancestors were imported from Spain, are referred to as Spanish Donkeys. In South Africa, large, dark brown or black donkeys that do not have a cross are referred to as Spanish Donkeys, although there are no pure Spanish breeds in South Africa. There is however documented proof of Andalusians and Catalonians that were imported during the previous century, but none of these bloodlines are still 100% pure, and can thus only be referred to as Andalusian Type or Catalonian Type. Most of the Spanish Donkeys in South Africa have been crossed with Standard Donkeys and the Nubian Wild Ass and as a result are much smaller than their original Spanish ancestors. There are however a few bloodlines that are still relatively pure and those donkeys are much larger than most of the donkeys that we call the Spanish Donkey - but since the Spanish Donkey is not a specific breed of donkey, the term is inexact and not good usage.

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Are there any indigenous donkey breeds in South Africa?
No, the first donkeys were imported in 1656. Since then, many more have been imported over the years. During the 1900’s, the American Mammoth Jackstock and Catalonian Donkey was a popular import choice. The first Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys were imported in 1998.

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What is a mule?
A hybrid that is produced by mating a male donkey (jack) with a female horse (mare). Mules can be either male or female. Mules are usually sterile.

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What is a hinny?
A hybrid that is produced by mating a male horse (stallion) with a female donkey (jennet). Hinnies can be either male or female. Hinnies are usually sterile. Hinnies and mules look very similar, but it’s more difficult to produce a hinny than a mule.

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What other names are given to mules and hinnies?
A male mule is also called a horse mule or a John. A male hinny is also called a horse hinny or a John. A female mule is also called a mare mule or a Molly. A female hinny is also called a mare hinny or a Molly.

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What is a mule jack?
A jack that is primarily used to breed mares to produce mules.

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What is a jennet jack?
A jack that is specifically used to breed jennets to produce donkeys.

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What is a ‘zonkey’?
A hybrid that is produced by mating a male zebra (stallion) with a female donkey (jennet). Zonkeys can be either male or female and are sterile. Also known as a zebrass, zebronkey / zebonkey, zebroid / zebryde or zebadonk.

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What is a ‘zebret’?
A hybrid that is produced by mating a male donkey (jack) with a female zebra (mare). Zebrets can be either male or female and are sterile. Also known as a donkra.


Donkeys as Pets

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Do donkeys make good pets?
Yes, donkeys are very affectionate, gentle, intelligent, trustworthy and loyal which makes them wonderful pets. They are very social and affectionate animals who love to give and receive lots of attention. They are easy to work with and easy to take care of. If you want a loving and loyal friend for life, a donkey is a great choice! Just be careful, because they will try to convince you to quit your job so that you can shower them with attention 24/7.

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Would a miniature donkey make a good pet for my children?
Yes, due to their small size miniature donkeys are ideal pets for young children, the handicapped and the elderly.

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What gender should I get as a pet?
A gelding or a jennet. Jacks can be very unpredictable and should not be kept as pets.

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Can I have just one?
No! Donkeys are gregarious animals that develop strong bonds and should never live a life of solitude! A pair of donkeys (of the same or opposite sex) is best, but a pony or horse as companion may also work well.

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Should I buy a jack and a jenny and let them grow up together?
Jennets should not be bred before the age of three years, so unless you have separate facilities in which you can keep them, do not buy a pair. Also keep in mind that jacks can be very unpredictable and are not ideal pets.

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Can Miniature Donkeys be house pets?
No, although your donkeys will love to visit you on your front steps, they are livestock that require a pasture and stable, and cannot live in your house.


Donkey Behaviour

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What is a donkey’s personality like?
Donkeys are generally very friendly, laid-back, calm, gentle, and affectionate. They are curious, social animals and thrive on attention. Donkeys are also very intelligent, trustworthy, hardworking and loyal. They are playful, soft, cuddly and simply ear-resistible! Once you get to know them, you can not live without them.

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How do donkeys communicate?
Apart from braying (the loud hee-haw sound that longears make) donkeys also use their ears, body posture, tails and other sounds to communicate. If you are late with their food you will hear about it, but in general donkeys are very quiet, although intact jacks bray more and a lonely donkey will complain about its situation a lot.

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Do donkeys bite and kick?
Donkeys are very kind, loving, docile and easy-going animals and a donkey that bites or kicks just to be mean is very rare. It is however important to teach a young donkey that is too human-imprinted that biting is unacceptable. A donkey never kicks just to be mean or without a good reason, but it’s important to be careful just in case, when restraining donkeys or working with wild animals. While biting is irritating, kicking is downright dangerous - all donkeys should be taught that kicking is unacceptable.

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Are donkeys really stubborn?
No. Donkeys are highly intelligent, but cautious and self-preserving in nature which many misconstrue as stubbornness. For example: a frightened horse will panic and flee, often putting its rider in danger, whereas a donkey will freeze, or run a little way and stop to look at what startled it, and then carefully study the situation to determine the best course of action. This makes it difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it perceives to be dangerous, but once you have earned their trust they will do anything you ask of them. Their ability to stop and assess a situation rather than flee is what is so desired in the donkey and makes them great mounts for children, the handicapped, nervous and older riders. Donkeys and mules are also ideal mounts, and preferred to horses, for trail-riding, especially on steep or rocky terrain, because of their calm natures, excellent sure-footedness and stamina. If you overload or overwork donkeys they will let you know that you are wrong - not because they are stubborn, but because they know what is best for them. So be fair and be kind!

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Can donkeys be trained?
Yes! Donkeys are very intelligent and are fast learners. Once you know what the difference between a donkey and a horse is, and you have earned their trust, you can teach them to do just about anything! All donkeys should get basic training and should know how to lead and stand for the farrier. A relatively fixed daily routine is also very important for their mental well-being, so that they know what to expect and what is expected of them.


Caring for Donkeys

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Why should one never leave a halter on a donkey?
Leaving a halter on an unattended donkey can lead to serious injury or death. The halter can get caught in a fence, tree or just about any other object. A donkey that tries to scratch its head with its hind hoof can get its back leg caught up in the halter. A donkey that is wearing a halter and is tied while being transported can lose its footing when you brake or turn sharply. Always remove halters!

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How much weight can a donkey carry?
A donkey can carry 25% of its own body weight. A donkey that works long hours or travels long distances should not carry more than 20% of its own body weight. A donkey that works for a short period of time or travels short distances can carry up to one third of its own body weight.

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How much weight can a donkey pull?
Generally, a donkey can pull its own body weight. There are, however, many factors that must be taken into consideration. A donkey that travels on a level surface has more power than a donkey that travels uphill. The type of harness used and the way the donkey is hitched to the implement or cart plays a very big role. Donkeys are different to horses and should not be hitched in the same way. Also, keep in mind that for each animal added to a team, 10% of the total work done is lost. Do your research first, before using your donkey/s to pack or pull a heavy object, implement or cart.

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How does one hitch a donkey/s to an implement, cart or wagon?
Donkeys are built differently to horses and should not be hitched in the same way. Do your research first, before using your donkey/s to pack or pull a heavy object, implement or cart.

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How old must a donkey be before you can work with him/ her?
Donkeys mature slowly and should not be ridden (even by children), used for packing, or used to pull a heavy object, implement or cart before they are five years old. Working a donkey that is still busy growing is very detrimental to its bone structure! Training and very light work can be started once a donkey is three years old, but real work (riding and driving) should only start once the donkey is five years old. That does not mean that you can only start training your donkey when it is physically mature. Young donkeys can be socialized and taught to lead, back up, stand for the farrier and load into a horse-box or trailer from an early age.

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What does a donkey eat?
Donkeys need access to pasture, good quality grass hay, a suitable mineral block and fresh, clean water at all times. Lush pasture, alfalfa and equine concentrates are not recommended because donkeys have low energy requirements and are prone to obesity. Overfeeding can also cause laminitis, hyperlipemia and epiphysitis. Donkeys that are still growing, lactating jennets, geriatric donkeys, sick, underweight and working donkeys (riding, packing, driving) will benefit from additional feed, but care must be taken never to overfeed. Like all animals, donkeys love treats and fresh carrots and apples are a favourite. A relatively fixed daily routine is very important for a donkey’s mental well-being, so that they know what to expect. Try to feed them at the same time every day and make sure that they have access to fresh food and water at all times.

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What is a broken crest?
Donkeys gain weight and are predisposed to fat deposits alongside the crest as well as fat pones along the back. Once a donkey develops a fat neck roll, it is very difficult to get rid of the excess fat in the crest, even if the donkey loses weight. If the fat deposit becomes too big and heavy, it damages the nuchal ligament and causes the crest to fall over to the side of the neck. This is known as a broken crest and is impossible to correct.

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Does a donkey need a stable?
Yes, donkeys need a shelter to protect them against the sun, wind, rain, hail and snow and must have a three-sided shelter or stable. Handling facilities, especially for Standard and Mammoth donkeys are also a must!

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Does a donkey need a pasture?
Yes! Donkeys need to get exercise, be able to graze and get fresh air and sunshine. Donkeys love to take dust baths and need a soft, sandy place to roll in. They are very adaptable and will adjust to less space, but a fair-sized pasture is a must because they are natural grazers and need lots of space. Donkeys that are kept in smaller pastures must have fresh, good quality hay and a suitable mineral block available at all times, as well as fresh, clean water of course. Daily exercise and environmental enrichment (stimuli), in the form of safe and suitable toys, are also very important to prevent boredom and abnormal behavioural problems.

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What kind of health-care does a donkey require?
Apart from food, water and exercise, there are five important aspects to your donkey’s health: Grooming, hoof care, parasite control, vaccinating and dental care. Keep in mind that donkeys are stoic animals that do not easily show pain even when they are in severe distress, so it is important to watch their behavior closely on a daily basis in case of problems. If you suspect that your donkey is unwell or ill, contact your veterinarian immediately.

  • Grooming: Brush your donkeys on a regular basis to keep their coats neat and healthy, and treat skin problems when necessary.
  • Hoof care: Clean your donkey’s hooves with a hoof pick on a regular basis, treat hoof problems when necessary, and get an experienced farrier to trim their hooves every six to eight weeks. Donkeys generally don’t need shoes unless they work (ride, pack, drive) a lot or have hoof problems that can be alleviated with shoes.
  • Parasite control: Treat your donkeys against external parasites (ticks, lice, mites, flies and other biting insects) as needed, and de-worm them every two to six months to kill internal parasites. It is important to rotate products to ensure all types of parasites, in different stages of development, are eradicated.
  • Vaccinating: Contact your local veterinarian to see what the immunization needs for your area are, and vaccinate your donkeys accordingly. Possible vaccines that you can discuss with your vet include: Tetanus, Rabies, African Horse Sickness, Anthrax, Equine Influenza, Rhinopneumonitis (particularly for pregnant jennets), Strangles, Potomac Horse Fever and Encephalitis (Eastern/ Western and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus and the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus).
  • Dental care: Get an experienced equine dentist to look at your donkeys once a year. Young donkeys often need wolf-teeth and caps removed and older donkeys need filing/floating to smooth sharp edges. Underweight or old donkeys should receive dental care every six months.
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What is the life expectancy of a donkey?
Donkeys are long-lived and with proper care and feeding, donkeys can live for 25 to 40 years. Some donkeys can live even longer than that!


Breeding Donkeys

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At what age can a jennet be bred?
Donkeys are only physically mature when they are three to four years old (Miniatures) and four to five years old (Mammoths). For this reason a Miniature jennet should not be bred until she is at least two-and-a-half years old, but preferably three years old, and a Mammoth jennet should not be bred until she is at least three years old.

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How long does a jennet carry a foal?
The gestation period of a donkey is 11 to 13 months, with an average of 12 months. The record is 13 months and 3 weeks! A horse only carries a foal for 11 months, and that is how donkey people know that longears are the superior animal, because it takes more time to develop the longer ears and larger head, and a larger head means larger brain capacity and greater intelligence of course!

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Are twins common in donkeys?
Yes, twins are 10 times more common in donkeys than in horses, especially in Standard and Mammoth donkeys. However, twins are bad news and only 1 in 100 sets of twins survive, compared to 1 in 1000 sets of twins in horses. Unlike cattle, a female twin carried with a male twin is not sterile. Because twinning does not always have a good outcome, it is safer for the jenny to have the vet pinch off one embryo, in order to give the remaining embryo and the mother the best chance of survival. So, if you breed Mammoth donkeys - ultra-sound!

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Can I buy donkeys that are related to each other and breed with them?
Inbreeding (brother x sister, parent x offspring) is never a good idea and should be avoided. Line breeding (half brother x half sister) is a better option, but after a while it becomes inbreeding, so it is a short-term solution. If you have an outstanding bloodline and you want to do line breeding to keep the physical features of your donkeys and improve your herd, keep in mind that both good and bad qualities are passed on and that the bad qualities are not always visible. Breeding with unrelated animals is what one should aim for in a breeding program.

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Where can I register my donkeys?
There is no registering authority for donkeys in South Africa at the moment, but there are many registries overseas that welcome donkeys from all around the world. Breeders who do not register their donkeys should nevertheless keep very accurate records of all their animals.


Donkey Activities

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What can a donkey do?
Donkeys are wonderful animals and can do just about anything!

  • Donkeys are wonderful pets: Donkeys are very social and affectionate animals that love to give and receive lots of attention. If you want a loving and loyal friend for life a donkey is a great choice!
  • Donkeys are not only fun, but also very safe to ride, which makes them outstanding mounts: Donkeys are great mounts and can be used in a work situation or for recreational riding. Miniature Donkeys can be ridden by small children, Standard donkeys can be ridden by children and small adults, and Mammoth Donkeys can be ridden by children and adults.
       Donkeys are calm and gentle animals, which makes them ideal mounts for children, the handicapped, nervous and older riders. When frightened, a horse will often panic and flee, putting its rider in danger, whereas a donkey will freeze, or run a little ways and stop to look at what startled it. Their ability to stop and assess a situation rather than flee is what is so desired in the donkey.
       Donkeys are not only level-headed but also very sure-footed, which makes them better mounts than horses on steep or rocky terrain. Keep in mind that a donkey should not carry more than 20 - 25% of its own body weight.
  • Donkeys are perfect for handicapped riding programs: Donkeys are affectionate and very calm, gentle and level-headed which makes them ideal for handicapped riding programs.
  • Donkeys are ideal to use for animal assisted activities (therapy work): Donkeys are perfect for animal-assisted activities. Their affectionate, calm and gentle temperament makes them excellent therapy animals for children, the handicapped, the sick and the elderly. Miniature Donkeys, especially, are ideal for use in schools, hospitals and nursing homes because they are easy to load and transport and appear less threatening due to their small size.
  • Donkeys are perfect for packing: Donkeys are wonderful pack animals. They are very popular with backpackers, who use them to carry loads when they go hiking or camping. Donkeys are calm, affectionate and very sure-footed, which makes them great companions on a trail. They can also be used on the farm to carry loads while working or doing chores, which makes them a great asset in any farming operation.
  • Donkeys are naturals when it comes to driving: Donkeys can easily be taught to pull a cart or a wagon as part of their job, or just for the fun of it. Miniature Donkeys can be used for recreational driving and larger donkeys can be used in a work situation or for recreational driving. Keep in mind that a donkey should never pull more than its own body weight.
  • Donkeys make wonderful stable companions: Due to their calm and gentle natures, donkeys seem to have a calming effect on horses, which makes them excellent stable and pasture mates for nervous horses as well as animals that are recovering from injury or surgery.
       Nervous horses have been known to calm down with a donkey as stable/pasture companion, and many nervous race and show horses have benefited from the calm and stable companionship of a long eared friend. Miniature donkeys are often used to keep injured horses company as they do not take up a lot of space in the stall of a horse that is recovering from injury or surgery. Use a gelding or a jennet as a stable companion.
  • Donkeys are excellent weaning companions: Donkeys make wonderful weaning companions for all equine foals - a tame donkey is introduced to the mother (horse/donkey) and its foal prior to weaning time, and then kept with the foal when weaning takes place. The donkey’s placid nature has a calming effect on the foal, which looks to it for support, and reduces the trauma caused by separation from its dam. The foal also imitates the donkey’s love for, and friendly attitude towards people. By using a donkey as a weaning companion the foal is less stressed and learns to trust people. Use a gelding or a jennet as a weaning companion, not a jack.
  • Donkeys can be used for mule breeding: Male donkeys (jacks) can be crossed with female horses (mares) to produce mules, and male horses (stallions) can be crossed with female donkeys (jennets) to produce hinnies. Mules and hinnies inherit the intelligence of the donkey and the athletic abilities of the horse and are (usually) sterile.
  • Donkeys can be kept for their valuable milk: Donkey’s milk is rich in vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, C, D and E) and minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc) as well as fatty acids, immunoglobulins and alkyl-glycerols. Donkey’s milk is very nutritious and its composition is very similar to that of human milk, which makes it the best substitute to human breast milk.
       Since the dawn of time orphaned human babies brought up on donkey’s milk have thrived, and it has always been a popular drink for the sick and elderly, as immunoglobulins found in donkey’s milk are known to boost the immune system and fight disease. The world’s most expensive cheese is made with donkey’s milk. Because it is so rich in fatty acids and vitamins A and E, donkey’s milk is also a very popular and valuable ingredient used in manufacturing a wide variety of cosmetic products.
  • Donkeys are perfect for helping out with chores around the farm: Donkeys are a huge asset on any farm. They are very popular with livestock farmers. Two or four donkeys are used to pull a wagon and feed all the animals on the farm. Using donkeys instead of motor vehicles reduces costs and is less damaging to the environment. They can be used as pack animals to move heavy loads. Donkeys can also be used to cultivate land or pull things from one point to another.
  • Donkeys are hardworking animals and can be used for cultivating land: For centuries donkeys have been used to cultivate land. Donkeys are ideal for farmers who do not have a tractor or live on a small holding. They can also be used in large-scale farming operations in combination with tractors and machines.
  • Donkeys are strong and can be used for logging: Large Standard and Mammoth donkeys, as well as the mules that they produce, can be valuable for extracting timber from forests. They can be used in both small and large-scale forestry plantations. Using draught animals in combination with motor vehicles is more economical and causes less damage to the environment.
  • Donkeys are great for trekking and ideal for tourism: Donkeys are very popular in the tourism industry. Backpackers can use them to carry loads when they go hiking or camping. Donkeys are calm, affectionate and very sure-footed, which makes them great companions on a trail. They can also be used to pull a cart or passenger wagon. Using donkeys instead of motor vehicles to go on outings is more economical and loads of fun! They are also a very popular choice to go on trail rides. Donkeys are level-headed and very sure-footed which makes them much safer mounts than horses. Miniature donkeys can be ridden by small children, Standard donkeys can be ridden by children and small adults, and Mammoth donkeys can be ridden by children and adults.
  • Donkeys are a very popular addition to petting zoos: Donkeys are friendly, calm and very affectionate which makes them a great addition to any petting zoo. Miniature donkeys, especially, are ideal for use in petting zoos, as they appear less threatening to young children due to their small size.
  • Donkeys are beautiful and can be exhibited at shows or take part in parades: Donkeys are very affectionate, calm, charming, and those long, soft ears and big, soulful eyes are oh-so-good-looking! They can be exhibited at shows and can look very impressive in a parade.
  • Donkeys are very talented and can take part in various competitions: Donkeys are highly intelligent and can be taught to do just about anything. A donkey can jump higher than a horse (of the same size) from a flat-footed start and can be taught to compete in coon-jumping competitions. Riding, barrel-racing, driving and even show jumping are only a few of many competitions that you can compete in with a trained donkey.
  • Donkeys are clever and can be taught to do various tricks: Donkeys are highly intelligent and love to please. You can teach your donkey to do tricks just for fun, or to strengthen the bond between the two of you, or you can go all-out and show off your talents at shows and events. A few examples of popular tricks include: smile, nod/say ‘yes’, shake head/say ‘no’, give me a hug, pickpocket, act ashamed, stick out your tongue, drink from a bottle, wave a flag, shake hands, stretch, cross legs, bow on one knee, curtsy bow, kneel on two knees, sit, lie down, roll over, stand on a pedestal, wave ‘hello’ while standing on a pedestal, the Spanish Walk, pick items up and carry them around, take a saddle blanket off your back, cover yourself with a blanket while lying down, jump through a hoop and give me a kiss.
  • Donkeys are perfect for special parties and events: Donkeys can be used at children’s birthday parties, corporate events, weddings, Easter and Nativity events, fetes, village fairs, adult birthday parties, Christmas events, educational events, and any other special occasions or themes that require a donkey. Donkeys can be used as an attraction to make a party or event even more memorable by carrying pack saddles filled with snacks, drinks or gifts, and mingling with guests. They can be penned up as a petting attraction for kids, and offer children’s donkey rides. Both children and adults can be taken on donkey cart rides, and Mammoth donkeys can be ridden by adults as well.
  • Donkeys can be used for film, television, theatre and promotional work: Donkeys can be used to appear in a film, on television or in a play. As well as to promote a product, service or company.
  • Donkeys are therapy for the soul: Donkeys have a certain calmness about them that is contagious. Their long, soft ears, big, understanding eyes and soft muzzles are exactly what one needs after a long, hard day. When one is feeling blue or discouraged, their affectionate nature and gentle personality can fix a broken heart and give you strength to carry on. Donkeys are very loveable and give the best hugs! Spending time with longears is excellent food for the soul.

The sky is the limit! The different kinds of things you can do with your donkey are limited only by your imagination. So go out there, work, play and make sure you and your donkey have lots of fun!

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Can donkeys be used as livestock guardians?
We do not recommend using donkeys as livestock guardians. Although all longears dislike predators, not all donkeys make good livestock guardians. It all depends on the specific donkey’s temperament. Using the wrong donkey for the job can lead to the donkey getting seriously injured or killed. Rather use an Anatolian Shepherd Dog as a livestock guardian - they are predators themselves, so are better equipped to protect the prey (sheep/goats) against other predators.
   Donkeys have a long lifespan and an effective livestock guardian can protect a flock against predation for many years. They also eat the same food as the livestock, unlike livestock guardian dogs who have to be fed separately. For this reason some people prefer using a donkey instead of a dog to protect their livestock, and often end up trying out more than one donkey until they find the right one for the job.
   Apart from running the risk of ending up with an injured or dead donkey, if one uses the wrong longear for the job, there are several other disadvantages that one needs to keep in mind. Miniature and small standard donkeys are too small, and will end up getting hurt or killed. Jacks (intact males) cannot be used as livestock guardians because they become aggressive once their hormones take over, and end up hurting or killing the animals that they are supposed to protect. Sheep and goat feeds containing anti-coccidial agents are lethal to equines and must be kept out of reach of the guard donkey at all times. Guard donkeys must also be kept away from all feeds that contain urea. Although a guard donkey should ideally be raised with sheep and goats from birth, or placed in the flock as soon as it is weaned, in order to increase the probability of bonding, the donkey will only be mentally and physically mature enough for the task once he is at least two years old, and even then there is no guarantee that the donkey will have the right temperament to be an effective livestock guardian.
   The use of stock-dogs must be avoided or limited around guard donkeys. Donkeys are very alert and can spot sounds and movement from far away with their long ears. They tend to dislike predators and will stomp on, kick and bite intruders. Some donkeys will repeatedly attack an intruder every time it moves, and will often carry on doing it until the animal is dead. However, while some donkeys show absolutely no mercy, which makes them great herd protectors, others make very poor livestock guardians, so getting the right donkey for the job is not easy.
   Before introducing a guard donkey to a herd of sheep/goats, one must first allow the animals to safely get to know each other, by placing the donkey on the other side of a common fence line. After two to three weeks of socializing the animals with each other, the donkey can be placed in the same pasture as the sheep/goats. If the donkey is aggressive or afraid of the livestock, or the stock is aggressive towards the donkey, the donkey must be removed immediately. Once the donkey has been introduced to the flock and has bonded with the sheep/goats, it will protect them against predators as it would one of its own; if the donkey has the right temperament. A docile and laid back donkey will not be of much use, especially if the predator is persistent. Only one donkey can be used for each herd of sheep/goats. Two or more donkeys will form their own herd and wander off, whereas a single donkey will bond with the sheep/goats and stay with them the whole time. Either a gelding (castrated male) or a jennet must be used. A jenny with an unweaned foal can also work. A jack (intact male) will become aggressive towards the livestock once his hormones take over and end up hurting or killing the sheep/goats that he’s supposed to protect.
   The sheep/goats have to be kept in small, open pastures so that the donkey can see the entire herd, because sheep and goats tend to split up into several small herds in huge pastures. Large pastures, dense bush and large herds of more than 200 sheep/goats will lessen the effectiveness of using a guard donkey. The donkey must be removed during lambing/kidding, particularly inside the kraal (sheep/goat enclosure), in order to avoid possible injuries, and reintroduced once the lambs and kids are old enough to go to pasture. The guard donkey’s basic needs must always be met by providing hoof care, parasite control, vaccinations and dental care, as well as an appropriate mineral block and a shelter. Because of all the cons and the risk of ending up with a seriously injured or dead donkey, we do not recommend this practice.

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Can donkeys be used as peace-makers in bull camps?
While some jacks can make very good peace-makers in bull camps, others are too docile and don’t have the right temperament for the job, which can lead to the donkey getting injured by aggressive bulls, or not being interested in keeping the peace at all. Bulls usually run on abundant pasture that is not good for donkeys. The high quality pasture feed that is used to fatten the bulls can cause the donkeys to founder and suffer from great discomfort. It also leads to obesity and other associated health problems. Only jacks (intact males) are used in bull camps. Jennets and geldings are not very good at peace-keeping and can get injured by aggressive bulls. A jack should be at least two years old and taller than 10hh before he is used in bull camps. One donkey can control twenty to thirty bulls. Jacks are known to kick and bite to separate bulls, and thus keep aggressors apart by breaking up fights. The donkey’s basic needs must always be met by providing hoof care, parasite control, vaccinations and dental care, as well as an appropriate mineral block and a shelter. Because peace-maker donkeys often end up suffering from health problems due to an inappropriate diet, and their basic needs aren’t always met, we do not recommend using donkeys as peace-makers in bull camps.


Resources

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Which donkey books can you recommend?

  • The Donkey Companion (Selecting, Training, Breeding, Enjoying & Caring For Donkeys) - Sue Weaver
  • Donkeys For Development - Peta Jones
  • Donkey Training (Training Mules And Donkeys (A Logical Approach To Longears) - Meredith Hodges
  • Donkeys (Small-Scale Donkey Keeping) - Anita Gallion
  • The Definitive Donkey (A Textbook Of The Modern Ass) - Betsy & Paul Hutchins, revised and edited by Leah Patton
  • The Professional Handbook Of The Donkey - Elisabeth Svendsen
  • Donkeys (Miniature, Standard, Mammoth (A Veterinary Guide For Owners And Breeders) - Stephen Purdy
  • Donkeys: Their Care and Management - M. R. de Wesselow
  • Caring For Your Miniature Donkey - Bonnie Gross
  • Donkey Foaling Manual - Bonnie R. Gross
  • Miniature Donkey Foaling Manual - Bonnie Gross
  • Donkeys Donkeys as Pets. Donkey Keeping, Care, Pros and Cons, Housing, Diet and Health - Roger Rodendale
  • The Book Of Donkeys: A Guide To Selecting, Caring, And Training - Donna Campbell Smith
  • Donkey Driving - Vivan Ellis
  • Miniature Donkey Miniature Donkey Owner’s Manual. Miniature Donkey Care, Environment, Health, Feeding and Breeding - Harry Holdstone
Bullet

Which donkey DVDs can you recommend?

  • Training Mules And Donkeys (A Logical Approach To Longears) with Meredith Hodges
    • 1 Foal Training
    • 2 Preparing for Performance: Ground Work
    • 3 Preparing for Performance: Driving
    • 4 Basic Foundation for Saddle
    • 5 Intermediate Saddle Training
    • 6 Advanced Saddle Training
    • 7 Jumping
    • 8 Management, Fitting and Grooming
    • 9 Keys to Training the Donkey: Introduction and Basic Training
    • 10 Keys to Training the Donkey: Saddle Training and Jumping
  • Donkey Training with Crystal Ward


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