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From the Farm: Donkeys as Pets

I have a lot of land and am looking for new animals, would a donkey be perfect for me?

From the Farm: Donkeys as Pets

Donkeys have been used as work animals for thousands of years, but they are also social, intelligent creatures that enjoy interacting with other animals and with their human owners. If you are considering getting a donkey, here a few essentially facts about these intriguing creatures to help you to care for them properly and satisfy their basic needs.

Things To Consider:

  • Donkeys are quite intelligent, even more intelligent than horses. You are likely to find that your donkey may need to “decide” to obey your commands, rather than obeying them routinely.
  • Donkeys are curious creatures that thrive on companionship, socialization, and mental stimulation.
  • Donkeys have their own personality traits that you should understand in order to bond and have a satisfying, cooperative relationship.
  • Some donkeys are aloof and need special time and interaction to help them become comfortable with humans.

Getting To Know Your Donkey

Donkeys are sociable creatures that enjoy observing and interacting with other animals, such as dogs, goats, or chickens. Another donkey makes a perfect companion. Because donkeys forge strong bonds, you should try to avoid separating the animals once they become familiar. When you are with your donkey, try to be calm, gentle, and consistent in your actions. This behavior has a reassuring effect on the animals and increases trust. Donkeys live for 30 to 40 years, so deciding to keep a donkey is a serious commitment.

Housing Requirements for Donkeys

Only farms or country areas with plenty of land will be able to accommodate their need for outdoor space. A pole barn makes a good indoor space for a donkey. It should have suitable space for plenty of bedding straw and sufficient ventilation while keeping out cold winds and rain. In hot temperatures, you should provide fans to keep your donkey cool, as well as shade for outdoor areas and plenty of fresh water. The stalls should be cleaned every other day, with a thorough sweeping and fresh hay for lying down.

Care and Feeding

Donkeys are generally fed barley or oat straw for their nutritional needs. They enjoy feeding on grass, but feeding should be restricted to prevent weight gain. You can also provide a special treat with an apple, banana, or carrot, unpeeled. A veterinarian that specializes in large animals can help you determine the right diet to help your donkey thrive, to maintain good hoof condition and to de-worm the animal periodically. Your donkey needs to be brushed regularly to keep the coat clean and in good condition.

Keeping Your Donkey Mentally Alert and Emotionally Happy

Because they are a curious species, donkeys will investigate any new object in their stalls or yards. Rubber buckets, tires or rubber boots are common objects that can be used as pull toys. Having a log to step over gives the animal a new object to navigate. A willow branch will give the animal bark to strip and chew. Donkey-appropriate licks placed in outdoor areas give them essential minerals. Sturdy, semi-deflated balls provide fun and exercise for donkeys. Even an orange traffic cone can be an interesting toy for your donkey.

Providing proper care for a donkey is not complicated, but it requires a commitment to understanding the natures of these amazing creatures. Kindness and consistency can go a long way in forging a strong bond with your donkey and can help him to thrive both physically and mentally. Satisfy their basic needs and you will experience an enjoyable relationship that lasts for many years.

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