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Care Of A Miniature Donkey
quality grass hay, such as
Always have water available to your donkeys. It is important that it be fresh, they will not drink well if the water is stale, dirty or algae is accumulating. Proper temperature is important, if it gets to hot, they wonít drink, keep it in the shade. In the winter if frozen over they will not be able to intake an adequate amount. This could lead to colic. We use heated water buckets in the winter to assure that the water is open and a good temperature for proper intake.
need to have shelter from the hot sun in summer to rain, sleet, and snow in the
winter. We provide shelter with our
barn, open covered areas and sheds in each pasture. A
simple way to provide shelter is a three sided shed with a roof; this should be
turned away from prevailing winds. Do
not close your donkeys up in the barn because you are feeling cold.
They need fresh air at all times or if put in the barn due to bad weather
conditions make sure you provide plenty of ventilation.
Unless you live in very cold temperatures it is not necessary to blanket
your donkeys. If you begin to
blanket them they will not grow an adequate winter coat and you will have to
blanket them all winter to keep them warm. As
a note donkeys seem to shed their coats later than horses do.
We usually are shedding out here in
Proper hoof care is essential to the well being of your donkey. Do not skimp when it comes to foot care. Balanced hoofs trimmed at the correct angle will assure that your donkey is comfortable and will continue to be structurally supported. The trimming frequency is dependant on several things. The amount of room your donkey has to move around on, type of ground and individual growth. Make sure that you are employing a qualified farrier to do this work for you. Horse hooves and donkey hooves are not trimmed at the same angle please make sure your farrier knows the difference. You can learn to trim and start doing this on your own. Our farrier trims the donkeys every 4 to 5 months. The exception to this is foals who we trim every one to two months to make sure that they are very balanced as they are growing. This also teaches them to allow their feet to be worked on at a young manageable age. Our farrier is great with the babies and allows them to act up at first but controls and teaches them what he expects. Make sure your farrier will nicely teach and not sour your babies to the idea of having their feet worked with. This will allow them to learn and tolerate foot work nicely throughout their lives.
Worming on a routine basis is an essential part of good donkey care. Take the time to learn from your veterinarian what is considered the normal schedule for your area. We use an every 2-3 month protocol. We also rotate our worming product to make sure that we are covering all the different types of worms. Rotating helps reduce immunity and loss of effectiveness of any given product. We worm our foals monthly starting at 8 weeks of age and at 6 months of age increase to every two months between worming. This assures us that our babies are not carrying worms during their initial growth period. Make sure the products you choose are appropriate for your donkey. If itís a foal make sure the product is suitable for foals. If itís a pregnant jennet make sure itís suitable for a pregnant animal. Since these tube wormers are made for equines of a large size, be sure to use a correct dose for the weight of your donkey. We estimate our donkeyís weight using a horse weight tape. Adult miniature donkeys can weigh between 250-450 pounds. Foals weigh considerably less, so make sure you are correctly calculating the weight and dose accordingly. The worming product will usually have a small dial to set the weight for the dose in 250 pound or less increments. You can always have your veterinarian run a fecal sample to see what if any worms your donkey might have. Mark your worming frequency on a calendar or health record so you can better track your timing and product type use.
This is a topic that you should consult an equine veterinarian that is familiar with vaccinations that are typical for your given area. Foals or Adults that have never been vaccinated need to have a series of boosters spread approximately 4 weeks apart. Then some of these vaccines will be given annually and others will be repeated every six months. We do most all of the typical vaccines available for equines and keep track of this information on individual health records. We also do additional vaccines for any pregnant jennet, boosters given during pregnancy and 30 days prior to foaling. This helps assure us that the foal will receive proper immunity levels offered in the colostrum (first nursing). We feel that by following a vaccine protocol we are assuring that our herd will remain healthy and disease free. Vaccines are given intramuscularly and should not be attempted unless you are well skilled in this practice. DO NOT give half doses of vaccines because you are dealing with miniature animals. Miniature donkeys require the same dose as full grown horses. As a note the only time a dose is reduced is when giving medications or worming products and these would be based on the weight of an individual animal and given at the direction of your veterinarian.
MANURE MANAGEMENT & FLY RELIEF
The final result of all that food is of course manure. Itís never a fun project, picking up all the droppings. However, to assure your donkeys remain healthy it is imperative that this task be done. We pick up all of the manure in the barn and pastures twice daily. The only exception to this is our large 2 acre pasture which grows natural grass and is too big to keep perfectly clean. We place the manure in piles in each pasture. During the summer and winter we sometimes spread this manure. During the heat it dries out quickly killing the parasites and during the winter it freezes the parasites. We also offer the piles to gardeners and put some in our own vegetable garden. Most gardeners consider manure a treasured find and are willing to haul it off for us. During fly season we add Fly Predators to our manure piles. Fly Predators eat the Fly eggs in the manure pile thereby reducing the fly population. We also hang fly traps in the barn, spray fly repellant on the donkeys and the donkeys wear fly masks. Fly season is never pleasant but by taking some steps in proper manure management you can make your donkeys and yourself a lot more comfortable.
There is a lot to consider under this topic. First and foremost is keeping your donkeys safely enclosed. The other most important thing is to protect them from predators. Every area probably has some sort of predator, even if the largest one is Manís Best Friend, the Dog. A lone dog or a pack of dogs/coyotes can do a lot of damage or kill a miniature donkey. Therefore, whatever type of fencing you choose it should be at ground level and high enough to keep out even dogs. A four foot fence is adequate for a miniature donkey assuming the predators cannot get under or over the top. We use 4 & 5 foot field fence and woven V mesh type fencing. We also have a hot wire strung at the top. Because of the spacing used for barbed wire and the fact it can severely cut an animal, we donít feel that this is a good choice. Make sure that your fencing choice doesnít have any sharp points that will cut your donkeys. We keep all gates secured with clips as they are very smart about opening gates. The final consideration is cost, fencing types vary greatly in cost, so a little homework in this area could save you some money. We also donít take the fencing for granted, we routinely check for wear or any signs of predator digging. We typically donít find anything but it makes us feel better that we are checking the fence lines.
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The above information is intended as suggestions or advice based on what we practice. It should not in any way be construed as the final word. None of the above should negate information from your equine veterinarian. They are your most reliable educated source and should be sought for determining and establishing individual needs and herd management practices.