How to Care for Miniature Donkeys

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Miniature donkeys make fun, intelligent and entertaining pets and companions. These little animals love attention and are not shy about asking for it, often nuzzling their humans, braying at them or making little grunts and other noises until they get what they want. Their compact size makes them easier to handle than their full-size cousins and allows them to fit in almost anywhere.

What to Feed Them

Miniature donkeys are small: The average height of a miniature donkey is only about 33 inches at the withers and they weigh anywhere from about 200 to 450 pounds. This means they don’t need a lot to eat, but they do need enough good-quality feed to keep them well-nourished. Give them some pasture to graze on and they won’t need much else. If pasture is lacking, they need about a flake of coastal or grass hay each day, split into two feedings. Don’t feed them alfalfa or other rich types of hay.

What Else to Give Them

Give a little bit of grain to miniature donkeys every day, but not too much or they’ll end up overweight or with founder, a serious foot problem. Each adult should get about a cup of grain a few times per week. Growing babies and pregnant jennets – the name for a female donkey, the boys are jacks – should have more. Keep a salt and mineral supplement where the donkeys can reach it at all times. Make sure they also have free access to plenty of water. They enjoy treats such as apples and carrots, but don’t give them too many at a time.

Keeping Them Safe

Although miniature donkeys will do their best to fight off any predators that come around, it’s best if they don’t have to, since their small size puts them at a disadvantage. Keep them behind a sturdy fence that’s at least 4 feet high, and if dogs, coyotes or anything else are a problem in your area, consider making it a bit higher and adding a strand of electric wire at the top. A three-sided shed faced away from the wind is plenty of shelter unless you have very harsh winters. They can go in a barn if it’s very cold but they need light and good ventilation if they do.

Shots, Feet and Other Care

Miniature donkeys should have their feet trimmed two to four times per year, depending on how fast their feet grow and how much running around they do to wear their hooves down. They also need regular shots to protect them from disease. Your vet is the best guide for this, but as a general rule donkeys should be vaccinated against West Nile virus, tetanus, rabies, encephalitis, influenza and rhinopneumonitis. Worm them every two to three months. Alternating the type of wormer you use kills more worms than always using the same kind.

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