Breeds & Size
In the U.S., donkeys are classified by size. They are measured at the withers (shoulder):
Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys 36” or less
Small Standard 36 – 40”
Standard 40 – 48”
Large Standard 48 – 54” for Jennets
48 – 56” for Jacks
54” and up for Jennets
56” and up for Jacks
Donkeys are gentle, intelligent animals who posses a keen sense of humor. They are herd animals and are happiest with others of their own kind. They can become friends with horses or other farm animals, but should never be kept alone, as they will become very lonely and anxious.
Donkeys and mules are often said to be stubborn. This is not true. Donkeys and mules are very smart and cautious and like to be safe. They will often freeze and refuse to move when they sense danger. This is in contrast to the horse, whose first reflex is to flee from danger. Instead of bolting or running away, a donkey or mule will often stop and think about what is scaring them, trying to figure out the safest way to handle the situation.
We are often approached by people wanting donkeys to protect either sheep, goats, or other stock from coyotes or other wildlife threats. There are several reasons we do not adopt animals to be used in this manner.
- Mini and some small donkeys are no match for a coyote. Having seen donkeys after a run in with a domestic dog I have no doubts a wild animal would inflict at least as much damage. It is simply not safe.
- We have taken in many animals as surrenders due to the fact they attacked and in some instances even killed the stock they were meant to protect.
- Being on pasture all day is a big NO-NO for donkeys. We need to keep in mind that donkeys are a desert species that have evolved over the years getting by on minimal forage of minimal nutritional value, which they have to walk miles on hard, rocky ground to reach. We do them NO favors by putting them in a big, grassy pasture. They are NOT little horses with big ears! Their dietary needs and metabolism are much different than those of a horse. We strongly recommend a dry lot for at least part of the day. They need some time on terra firma. Our pastures in New England are often wet throughout the year. The moisture is not good for their feet. We use sure pack or stone dust as a base for our dry lots. They do need some time to be grazing and browsing but all day every day is too much.
The average lifespan of the donkey and mules in developed countries is 27 years, and some live into their forties or even more. Sadly, the average lifespan of donkeys and mules in developing countries is 1/3 what it is here. Meager food, scarce or absent veterinary care, and heavy work loads contribute to the shortened lifespan. Many families in developing countries depend on the donkey or mule's work for their livelihood.
Worming your Long Ear
Sarcoid Treatments Reviewed
Glossary of Longear Terms:
Equus asinus – the Latin name for donkey
Burro – the Spanish word for donkey
Jack – a male donkey
Jennet or Jenny – a female donkey
Mules -- the offspring of a female horse and male donkey
Molly mule – a female mule
John mule – a male mule
Hinny – the offspring of a female donkey and a male horse
Zedonks - the offspring of a donkey and a zebra.
Mules, Hinnys, and Zedonks are hybrids and are almost always sterile, which means they cannot reproduce.
Donkaholic – Any human afflicted
How much grain should I feed my donkey, and what kind?
Most donkeys do not need grain. Pasture and/or grass hay, mineralized salt formulated for equines, and fresh water are a good diet for most. Pregnant or lactating jennets, donkeys in heavy work, or elderly donkeys with poor teeth may need supplemental feed. Please ask your vet.
Click here for info about broken crests: http://www.hobbyfarms.com/livestock-and-pets/broken-crest-in-donkey.aspx
Do donkeys need shoes?
Most donkeys do not need shoes. Mammoth donkeys who are ridden extensively may require shoes if their hooves wear faster than they grow out. All donkeys should have their feet trimmed on a regular basis by a knowledgeable farrier.
What vaccinations should my donkey have?
In New England, most veterinarians recommend vaccinating against tetanus, rabies, eastern and western equine encephalitis and West Nile virus. Due to your local conditions, your vet may recommend additional vaccinations.
What about their teeth?
Just as with horses, donkeys' teeth continue to grow throughout their lives and the constant chewing of roughage causes them to wear. Because equines chew from side to side in the same direction, sharp points can develop on the sides of their teeth. These points can interfere with the eating and proper chewing of food, which can in turn lead to weight loss or other digestive problems. Donkeys should be seen by an equine dentist once a year (twice a year is recommended for the very young and very old). If sharp areas are present, the dentist will “float” or file them off. This is not painful to the donkey and is usually tolerated very well.
Must I treat my donkey for worms?
Donkeys and mules do get parasites and need to be wormed. We recommend bringing a fecal sample to your vet to find out what, if any parasites your donkey or mule has, and what to use to best treat the problem. We do not recommend "routine worming". Why put harmful chemicals into your animals if they don't need it? Check first! CAUTION: Special care must be given to donkeys who have not been on a regular deworming program and who may be carrying a heavy parasite load.
The American Mammoth Jackstock is one of the largest breeds of Donkeys in the world. For those who love long ears these donkeys are eye candy.
When donkeys are exposed to the public the question of what does one do with a mammoth donkey is often asked. Here’s the short list. Because of their genteel nature and individual personalities Mammoth Jennets and Geldings make truly wonderful pets and are especially suited to being around children. Their protective natures make them useful as livestock guardians or foal and stable companions. Recreational trail riders are discovering Mammoth donkeys can make excellent mounts when trained. Handicapped riding programs for the physically and mentally disabled are finding mammoth donkeys develop special bonds that are quite unexplainable. Others are discovering the enjoyment of how easily they adapt to driving. Across the country breed shows have been established to promote their versatility and beauty. Audiences find these shows extremely entertaining, as donkeys have been known to cut loose and do their own thing on occasion. On line chat groups, such as the pet groups at www.yahoogroups.com, have been established to help first time donkey owners face challenges that are unique to the breed. Answering questions like, “What do I feed my donkey” will generate a host of responses.
The Ass which is the correct term for donkey, burro or Jackstock has its own branch on the equine family tree. There are many differences between donkeys and their horse cousins. Their vocal qualities for instance, that base tone Aw-EE, Aw-EE bray is one of several forms of communication. The length of the ear on a Mammoth can reach almost two feet is an easily recognized characteristic trait. Their massive head blends into a strong neck. Lacking a true wither donkeys have a straighter back and a little different shape to the croup and rump, minus the heavy muscling found in a horse. The tail has a tasseled switch on the end and shorter hair. The mane’s are often clipped short as the hair is too stiff and upright to lie over. Mammoth Donkeys need good bone to their legs and will have more of an upright pastern angle with enough hoof to stay in a good relationship with their body. When looking at the conformation of a Mammoth Donkey you should be able to see a balance with good proportion of leg and neck to back and body.
Several Breed Registries are available in the United States. The popular ADMS, American Donkey and Mule Society, was established in 1967 as a National Breed Society and have successfully recorded the pedigree history of the breed and a database of information. They publish, The Brayer, a bi monthly magazine and maintain a catalog available to the public of long ear books and reference material. You will find www.lovelongears.com is an excellent source of information regarding Donkeys, Mules and Zebras.
The records indicate Mammoth Jacks were imported from Spain and other European countries to the United States as early as 1785 to produce working draft mules. Today you'll find some larger donkeys have developed a lighter bone quality especially useful in breeding mules that are quickly gaining in popularity. Once in awhile you will even find Mammoth Donkeys that have a single foot gaiting action being bred to gaited horses for outstanding riding mules. Mammoth Jacks not being used in a managed breeding program should be gelded and allowed to become productive members of society as they are NOT suitable as pets and can become dangerous.
Why a Mammoth Donkey? Why NOT! They have tons of personality are terrific hard working animals and LOVE attention! Your investment is likely to turn into a lifelong friend. Beware! When stuck with Donkey-Fever watch out... You'll soon be in the market for a second one!
Kristi & Teamdonk #1 and #2 driven Over 842 Miles and over 474 Hours Counting Since July, 2006
Below are books that we recommend if you are interested in learning more about donkeys and mules. You can also check out our Links page, where you will find many interesting websites dedicated to donkeys and mules.
The Donkey Companion by Sue Weaver (Available for purchase on our website)
Livestock Guardians Using Dogs, Donkeys, and Llamas to Protect Your Herd by Janet Vorwald Dohner (Available for purchase on our website)
Equine Angels by Frank Weller
The Definitive Donkey, a textbook on the Modern Ass by Betsy and Paul Hutchins
How to Care for Your Miniature Donkey by Bonnie Gross (info on care & handling applies to all sizes of donkeys)
Donkey Driving by Ellis and Claxton
Donkey Business III: a guide for raising, training and showing donkeys by Christine Berry and Jo Anne Kokas.
The Professional Handbook of the Donkey published by The Donkey Sanctuary An excellent health care resource. http://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk
Those Magnificent Mules: A Complete Approach to Athletic Conditioning by Meredith Hodges