What Do Donkeys Eat A Hearty Exploration of Donkey Diets

What Does Donkey Eat?

Haylage can be very variable in terms of nutritional levels; some haylage may be too high in energy to feed to donkeys. We at SPANA have been providing free veterinary treatment to working donkeys across the world for over 90 years. We have cared for thousands of animals, including those with nutritional problems, either due to their owner’s lack of knowledge or lack of access to nutritious foods. Donkeys have incredible digestive systems and are able to survive in some of the harshest environments on earth, including deserts (see where in the world SPANA works with donkeys).

What do animals eat

Donkeys are social animals and thrive in the company of other donkeys or animals. They form strong bonds with companions, whether with other donkeys or different species. Feeding your donkeys a lot of foreign grass and lush can lead to one disease. Always avoid sheep/goat or cattle feed containing monensin or urea because both are forbidden in organic feed. Donkeys’ are voracious eaters; they love to eat anything that comes their way.

What do animals eat

The donkey usually has a greater voluntary food intake per unit live weight than the ox and is better at digesting fibrous diets than the horse. Donkeys require less food than horses of similar size because they are more efficient at digesting plant food. Typically, if water intake is limited, horses and ponies reduce their feed intake. This is true for donkeys too, but what’s interesting is that unlike horses and ponies the digestibility of the feed that is consumed increases instead of decreasing. Donkeys also conserve water by decreasing their resting metabolic rate during periods of dehydration, which decreases water needs for thermoregulation. This occurs when donkeys are fed with concentrates that are high in cereal.

Donkeys often browse on bushes and trees in addition to grazing on grass. Because food availability in their native settings is sparse donkeys in such environments don’t only eat grass. They happily eat browse (woody shrubs, trees, and broadleaf plants) and forbs (flowing plants) as well.

What do animals eat

The donkey is smaller and so needs less actual feed than most cattle. However, the way in which the donkey processes the food and what it gets from it are different from an ox. It is important to remember this when feeding donkeys – they are not just small oxen.

This means that feeding urea can cause urea toxicity in the blood, which can quickly kill the donkey. Therefore all the protein needs of the donkey and the nitrogenous needs of the micro-organisms in its large intestine have to be supplied from protein in the diet. The donkey’s diet should never be supplemented by feed or fertilizer-grade urea or by ruminant concentrate feeds containing urea.

In a study in Zimbabwe donkeys drinking only every 48 hours, drank the same amount over a three-week period as donkeys allowed to drink as much as they wanted daily. Working donkeys can also be watered during work in the day with no harm. In any short rest periods it is important to make sure the donkey is in the shade and to offer it water. It may not drink straight away so let the donkey spend some time at the trough or with the water bucket (at least 5 minutes) to see if it will drink. When it starts drinking it may pause in drinking and look about, make sure it is allowed to continue until it has finished and turns away of its own accord. Donkeys on a forage only diet may not obtain all of the required vitamins and minerals from the straw, grass and hay in their diets.

Young animals need good feeding to reach their potential for growth. Good feeding of a female donkey helps it produce and rear a healthy foal to provide replacements or income from sales. A thin donkey is prone to disease, and harness sores, works slowly and does not reproduce. Freshly cut hay should be stored in a dry barn for at least three months before feeding. Do not suddenly introduce freshly cut hay to the donkey’s diet as it could cause colic or laminitis.

What do animals eat