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What do you feed mini donkeys?

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  • What do you feed mini donkeys?

    We are preparing to bring home our new weanling mini donkey next weekend.... so excited .

    Breeders are currently feeding a grain designed for mare and foal. He is between 5-6 months old and has been weaned and is eating that grain. They suggested, and most of my reading has suggested he stay on grain up til at least one year old. Looking for input on this one. My big guys are currently on beet/alf mashes and Blue Seal Min-a-vite multivitamin. Would this work for the donkey?

    Grains I have at my access include Blue Seal and Triple Crown. I have been specifically looking at:




    Based on his size, he would get about 1 lb. per day. Any suggestions/experiences?
    Gone gaited....

  • #2
    You have to be VERY CAREFUL with donkeys, they need much less in calories than you think they do!! It is not kind to overfeed them, and they will founder like ponies do!

    If he was MY donkey, he would get no MORE than a handful of grain a day. I do not want to hurry his growth, just let him grow at his own rate, with almost no suppelements. In my area, he would need Selenium and Vit E, since there is none in the soil. So that would be added to his HANDFUL of corn and oats grain. I do not feed young animal feeds, since I am not going for maximum growth quickly. A measuring cup is a GREAT tool, some hands are bigger than others! This insures a consistant amount fed to him, not guesswork. Count any treats in, they have calories. I would feed treats or grain in a bucket with such a young animal to prevent him nipping. I just don't handfeed ANYTHING to equines under 2yrs, which prevents bad habits from starting. Hard when they are cute, but good manners are essential on animals that may live 40 years! Helps them have a happy homelife.

    You will probably want to invest in a scale. You may be surprised at how MUCH a pound of anything can be. My HORSES don't usually get over 2 pounds a day, usually way less if they are not working. They are fed a mix of plain oats, cracked or rolled corn, with some soybean meal as grain. A pound of plain oats is much bigger/bulky, than a pound of the cracked corn, with the corn calories being about 90% more useable! Think rice crispies and chocolate chips, who has more volume in a pound, and more calories?! Feeding by weight, is more consistant, since plain grains can vary with moisture contents. Packaged feeds would be more consistant in weight per measure, but size of a pound has lots of calories for such a small animal.

    Donkeys, like ponies, are DESIGNED to survive on roughage and WORK to find that food in their daily lives! A good pasture, rich grazing PLUS grain, is overloading their systems with food value. Fat is hard on young bones, not designed to carry that big of load at young age. Feed producers have advertised until we consumers are CONVINCED we NEED their products to make us better equine owners. Not really TRUE, but we BELIEVE it is, so we buy from them, overfeed our animals. You are NOT a bad owner if your baby equine is NOT hog fat, it will NOT stunt his growth. Slower growth is better for him anyway, the way nature designed him to grow.

    You probably will want to limit his turnout so he doesn't gorge himself on grass. My friends with minis say that 15 MINUTES of daily grazing is all they NEED to be nicely rounded, pretty energetic, even working ones. They feed LITTLE quantity, hay is of lesser or poor quality, no grain at all. Minis get EVERY calorie from their feed, don't need rich hay or quantity because of their size. Again, designed to live on this kind of food originally. They are all in good flesh, with some verging on obese. All getting the same grazing times, some just run to fat easily. They spend most of their time in the drylot, so they won't eat and explode.

    You have to learn to think in miniature feed portions! It is not kind to over feed or allow him to hurt himself on rich grazing. Harden your heart to the big brown eyes. No extra snacks, no rich feed, unlimited grazing, it is for his own good!


    • #3
      air. I would feed him air.

      There's two kinds of donkeys: Those that have foundered, and those that haven't. Yet.

      No darn WAY he needs a lb of grain a day. no way. he's not a horse. he's a mini donkey.

      feed him a handful of grain as a treat once a day and some low quality hay. He is a desert critter used to getting by on nearly nothing.


      • Original Poster

        Thank you for your post goodhors!!!!

        I have two challenged equines now. A PSSM gelding and an old man. I invested in a fish scale, which is my BESTEST friend in the feed room. Due to their challenges, they get their beet (plain) and alfalfa cube mashes with added vits. It allows me to closely control what they eat, how much, and it keep as close to fiber as possible. The PSSM gelding gets 2 lbs. a day of a low carb/high fat feed and the old man gets 1 lb. of TC Senior for flavoring per day. The rest is mediocre first cut hay so I can feed free choice.

        Just bought everybody, including new donkey, a grazing muzzle. We have grass, but this allows me to turnout with limited intake. Both the big boys have been hand grazing this past week in preparation and the donkey is on grass already at the breeders.

        I was uncomfortable with the feed recommendations given to me by the breeder for the very reasons you outlined! I would prefer not to feed grain at all, but he is not my first baby and I recognize the need for vits/minerals for growth. Hence, the "want" to feed just a little handful of beet and a multivitamin/mineral instead, just don't know if that will cover it. I like to keep my guys a little lean with ribs palpable. I have seen some grossly obese minis and don't want that in my barn. Frightening! I also do not feed hand treats to my guys and little donkey would be getting NONE by hand. My Appaloosa, who was my baby, was nipping until he was 3, so I am a firm believer in no treats (unless for training purposes, even then it's Hilton Herbals ).

        We are also E/Sel deficient so either the multi or the grain does contain both.

        So.... I guess the bottom line is.... handful of grain OR handful of soaked plain beet and the appropriate amount of multivitamin?
        Gone gaited....


        • #5
          the latter


          • #6
            I have 4 and they only get hay. Stay away from the grain! Love my donkeys I could have a farm full.


            • Original Poster

              Yay on the beet pulp/multivitamin!!!!! I was hoping I could get away with it since I already have it on hand!!!

              Any other stories, suggestions, etc. you guys have would be great. This is clearly my first!
              Gone gaited....


              • #8
                Mine gets about a cup of beet pulp twice a day and multi vitamin. He only gets that because he would have a nervous breakdown if he didn't get fed when my horse does. He would be totally fine on hay only.
                CRAYOLA Posse: PLUM


                • #9
                  Hay, grass hay and one good vit/ min supplement

                  DO NOT FEED MINI DONKEYS any kind of grain, you just asking for trouble.

                  Hay grass hay, and not the best either. First cut, stemmy, stalky as little leaf as possible.
                  One good vit/min supplement.

                  Do not over feed them.
                  Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                  Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                  New edition of book is out:
                  Horse Nutrition Handbook.



                  • #10
                    My mini-donk lives in a barnyard area with sheep, goats, etc. and they all get hay. We are working on expanding the barnyard so they will have a grazing area. When we first brought little Lola home mfrom the auction, my friend (who owns the facility) was visiting Lola twice a day and bringing grain. She got alarmingly fat (she was already chunky) and I requested that there be no more grain. Lola is still a little chunky and I am working on training her to drive so she can work some of the fat off. Everyone I talked to about donkey diets reinforced the "no grain" edict. She is about the cutest thing in the world. Visitors walk away from the Clydesdales to visit with Lola!


                    • #11
                      My two donk weanlings get free choice hay (in a homemade nibble net) and a handful of safechoice twice a day. It amounts to less than a half a pound a day between two donks. They came to me semi wild and untouched. They are now friendly and eating treats from our hands. If they start to get pushy, we eliminate the treats for a while and start up again as long as the behavior stay...so far so good. 2 friendly nandleable donks and 2 happy donk parents.

                      My guys are not fat. Just right. We are prepared to cut back or add as needed. They are cute and irresistable. We love em.
                      Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

                      Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!


                      • #12
                        I have a Sicilian that is almost 50 years old. He gets a handful of forage extender pellets plus a handful of 'salad' once a day with all the hay he wants. When I rescued him he was so foundered his hooves were not only slipper toed but spiraling, as well. He has no coffin bone in his right fore -- its pretty much disintegrated. But he gets along just fine ... bucks up at the ponies or horses that are giving him a bit of grief and will trot away on hard stones like any of the others. His best buddy is a 17 hh OTTB (29 years old) - they're like Mutt and Jeff. They even stall together to eat! (If I don't stall them together to eat the TB will go nuts!)

                        The little guys don't need much -- and what they do get should be forage. I'd stay away from processed grain altogether.

                        Here's a photo of the two of them (silly critters!) http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6.../IMGA0725A.jpg
                        Last edited by caballus; Apr. 16, 2010, 12:10 AM.
                        --Gwen <><
                        "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."


                        • Original Poster

                          Callabus... almost 50???? And Fiance and I were joking we would have to leave a spot for him in our will!

                          After posting this thread and being reassured I could feed him like my big guys.... only scaled WAY down, I have decided on the handful of soaked plain beet, the appropriate amount of multivitamin, my first cut grass hay, and his grazing muzzle that is on order. That plan makes me feel very comfortable!

                          He arrives next weekend!
                          Gone gaited....


                          • #14
                            You will love your new mini Donk. My two are wonderful. They are weanlings and cuter than anything I have ever seen.

                            Wait until he learns that he has a voice. His singing practice won't be pretty at first.....but it does get better.

                            Congratulations on you new guy....post photos!!!
                            Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

                            Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!


                            • #15
                              Wonder Bread and Marshmallows

                              My friend feeds hers saltines, wonder bread and marshmallows. They got so fat that the "pregnant" one with twins was actually obese. They run to you when you call them, though.


                              • #16
                                My little donkey had a mild case of laminitis last week. I have kept him stalled (with an attached run) for the last week. Too much spring grass is my guess. He is usally turned out with the horses and gets free choice hay and grass plus a cup of nutrena safe choice 2x a day. He doesn't need the safe choice but I can't leave him out when the horses are being fed . I ran out of the coastal grass hay I would usually feed him so I was giving him some coastal/alfalfa mixed hay that I keep for my trail horse. He actually picked the coastal hay out and left the alfalfa! Weird little guy. Donkeys are designed to live in an arid environment with little forage so they do tend to pudgyness when allowed to live on lush pastures. I stall my guy at night and sometimes turn him out in a paddock for 1/2 days with very little grass but he gets upset when he can't with his herd. Your little guy will be fine with the beep and supplements....scaled to size.

                                You are about to find out that donkeys have 10 times the personality of a horse. They are sociable and are naturally friendly. They are very smart and tend to learn lessons very easily so be sure you are teaching them something you WANT them to know . They do tend to be more wary of strangers entering the farm and can be agressive to other smaller animals (dogs, goats, pigs). According to my vet, donkeys are not just like horses for medical purposes. You can give a donkey the same wormers and vaccines you would give a horse BUT you should be careful with other medications...bute is one that could be dangerous to use in a donkey. When my donkey had an abcess I told my vet I had given him bute and he told me I shouldn't have done that and that donkeys sometimes have "problems" with some drugs. So before you give your donkey anything other than the routine vaccines and wormers ask your vet and make sure your vet is well versed in the differences between donkeys and horses.
                                "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


                                • #17
                                  Very little. Hay and SMALL handful of grain so he doesn't feel left out if you wish, I need help also...I have a 30 yo standard donkey. He choked this fall so I took him off his bermuda hay and gave him Chaffhaye and a little Equine One ( a version of one and only) HOwever, spring has come and he doesn't get enough chaffhaye to eat it in a timely manner since I let him graze a while each day, and it will mold. Any source for chopped up grass hay that is not fermented?


                                  • #18
                                    I agree with most everyone above! My mini is 14 and I've had him since he was 5mos. old. He's turned out with my retired broodmare on approx. 4acres of grass and I feed him next to nothing! He gets a handful of equine senior (placed on top of a handful of bermuda coastal hay) twice a day just so he doesn't get upset when I feed the mare. I put her grain in a fence feeder that is just high enough for it to be a big struggle for him to try to steal.

                                    Not long ago I posted a thread asking for advice about a grazing muzzle for him. I've been putting off getting it, but with the spring grass I can already tell he's picking up weight again, and he's prone to diarrhea, so I've got to get one!

                                    BTW, they are the sweetest creatures! He will stand still all day long to be brushed and petted. I'd love to have another one, but if I get another animal of any kind I'm going to be living alone
                                    "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George


                                    • #19
                                      The one thing nobody has told you yet - donkey's lie.

                                      They'll look at you with the most pleading eyes and tell you how they're really truly starving before your eyes. They can even pull it off while standing belly deep in hay. They try to pull at your heartstrings until you're filling their feed tubs with Stud Muffins and Pasture Cookies. And that's when you must remember...... they LIE!

                                      Mine get a few carrots, some apple treats (just dried apple pommace) and ONE Willie Muffin. So they get to crunch away when they horses are crunching away on grain.

                                      Donkeys are funny. You must post lots of pictures!
                                      Sometimes I just think funny things - Dudley Moore in Arthur
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