Are you looking for information regarding the foods that your pet donkey will love to eat? This article aims to answer the question “what do donkeys eat”. Why is it important that you give your donkey the right kind of food? Well, obviously, giving them the right kind of food will supply them the adequate nutrition that they need to remain healthy. In order for you to know the best diet for your donkey, it is important to consider your pet’s age and overall health. Continue reading to know more about the type of food suitable for your pet. You will also learn the common health problems that your pet donkey might suffer from if not given appropriate food.
What do donkeys eat in the wild?
Donkeys belong to the family Equidae. Even though they are related to horses, donkeys have different nutritional needs compared to its cousins. Over the thousand years of evolution, donkeys have adapted to dry environment where there is a scarcity of food or its nutritional quality is rampant. Because of this, donkeys normally eat high fiber content diet in small amounts all day long. Donkeys are known to be a trickle or browse feeders, this feeding habit keeps their digestive system as healthy as possible. Browse feeding keeps these animals occupied throughout the day.
What do donkeys eat?
As far as captive or domesticated donkeys are concerned, they need a high fiber diet that is low in protein, low in sugar/starch/carbohydrates or calories. Because donkeys have the tendency to overfeed, restricted access to grass is needed in order to avoid being overweight. Donkey diet must mainly consist of barley or oat straw that is in good quality. Between oat straw and barley straw, barley straw is the best for your donkey.
If you notice that your donkey doesn’t respond well to their straw diet and is becoming thin especially in winter months, you might need to give them supplemental hay such as seed hay from Timothy grass or rye. If you are giving them hay, please be careful in inspecting for ragwort, a highly poisonous plant that is toxic to ruminants.
Because donkeys are trickle feeders, give them food as little and as often as possible. If you decide to change their type of feed for any reason, do it little by little or gradually for more than a couple of weeks. Feed your pets according to their age and weight. Do not feed your donkey with powdery or moldy stuff. Should you give them mineral lick, be sure to give them equine salt and not mineral licks intended for other types of livestock or ruminant as it contains different level of minerals not suitable for donkeys. Always make sure that fresh and clean water is always available.
Note that because of poor development of teeth in their mouth, some donkeys may experience difficulty in consuming straw, grass or hay. In order for them get the nutrition they need, these animals need to be seen by a qualified veterinarian to fix the dental and dietary issues. Sometimes owners have to chop their feeding stuff to help them minimize chewing. Preventive dental checks carried out by a veterinarian specializing in equine every six months. Drooling, reluctance in feeding, dropping feed and bad breathe should not be neglected as these are clear signs of dental problems in donkeys that may result to weight loss or malnutrition.
Knowing what donkeys eat is not enough in maintaining donkeys. Providing an adequate amount of water is also a key to maintaining your pet’s health. You can make water always available by setting up a watering through or bucket full of fresh and clean water all the time. Just make sure that the water doesn’t leak or scatter on the floor as they may result in a slipping accident or infection, remember that donkey need dry floor all the time. If it’s winter, make sure to clear off the ice on the watering through. If you can give your older donkeys warm water during the winter, your pets will be happy during those cold months.
Diseases associated with poor diet in donkeys
Now that you know what donkeys eat, let us discuss two main health problems that your pet donkeys will get if not given the appropriate food that they need, the laminitis and worms.
Laminitis is a common yet complex ailment of donkeys that is characterized by pain and injury to the animal’s feet. Access to grass and eating cereals that are high in sugar content is the main cause of this problem. It’s like letting your pets indulge in large amounts of sweets! By eating a lot of sugary stuff, their digestive track will become stunned and the good bacteria in their stomach will die. This problem will then lead to obesity. There is no cure for laminitis except limiting their food and preventing them in becoming overweight. Donkeys with recurring laminitis may need to be euthanized or put to sleep. So in order for them to stay healthy, avoid giving them lush grass or other high sugar content feeding stuff.
Donkeys can also be infested with intestinal worms. Because the farmers in the past used and abused the use of synthetic dewormers among donkeys and horses, these worms are now immune to these drugs and becoming more and more resistant to commercial dewormers. So if you notice that your pets harbors parasites in their stomach, you should consult your veterinarian as soon as possible as getting rid of worms in donkeys is not an easy task. Your donkeys dropping or feces must be tested in the laboratory several times a year to prevent the worsening of this problem. If your donkey has parasites, the vet will determine the best treatment possible to eradicate the problem.
Worm problems can also be evaded. Owners should keep the barn or pasture free from contamination. The practice of cleanliness will break the cycle of parasites. Worms need to live outside the donkeys gut for a certain period of time before being eaten by your pet. So by disinfecting the donkeys housing, you are minimizing the risk for these worms being ingested by your pets.
Now that you know what donkeys eat, you are now ready to adopting one in your home!