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Donkey Care Basics

May 16, 2023

Are you interested in adopting a donkey? Donkeys are very fun and charming, and there are many of them who need great homes. Donkeys get along well with horses, but their care needs are a bit different in some areas. Read up on donkey care in this article from your veterinarian in Wickenburg, AZ, and the surrounding communities.


Donkeys are very sociable, and they tend to be very loving and friendly. They can get lonely, so it’s best to have at least two. (These guys also do quite well with goats, but that’s another topic.) Donkeys not only have long ears, but they also have long memories: they’ve been known to recognize both other people and other animals, even after being separated from them for years or even decades.


Donkeys need at least a good three-sided shelter, if  not a full barn. They hate rain, and don’t do particularly well in the cold. You may need to blanket your hooved pal during cold snaps. You’ll need to provide clean bedding and fresh water. Proper ventilation is also a must!


Donkeys are natural grazers, and will nibble on not just grass, but also bushes, berries, and fallen produce. Ideally, their diets should be high in fiber, such as hay or straw, but low in protein and sugar. Like all of our other animal companions, they love treats. It’s fine to offer the occasional apple or carrot, but don’t go overboard. Donkeys can quickly become obese! You’ll also need to provide a salt or mineral lick formulated specifically for donkeys.

Health Care

Regular exams, vaccinations, and parasite control will protect your buddy from many dangerous diseases and illnesses. You’ll still need to watch for signs of illness. Some of these would include lack of eating, depression, lethargy, limping, red eyes, and breathing difficulty. It’s also a good idea to brush up on some of the things that donkeys can be prone to. These include endocrine disorders, hyperlipaemia, equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, glanders, and African horse disease. Ask your vet for more information.


Like horses, donkeys need to be brushed regularly. Many donkeys really enjoy being brushed. This is also great for bonding! Proper hoof care and dental care are also crucial. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Our Advice on Donkey Care Basics in 2024

Can donkeys live with other animals besides other donkeys?

Yes, donkeys can coexist harmoniously with other animals besides their own kind. They are known for their sociable nature and can form close bonds with horses, and even do well with goats, among others. However, their care needs slightly differ, so it’s crucial to ensure all animals’ needs are met for a peaceful cohabitation. For those in Wickenburg, AZ, and surrounding communities, seeking advice from a local veterinarian can provide specific guidance on integrating donkeys with other animals and ensuring their well-being.

How well do donkeys tolerate cold weather?

Donkeys have a lower tolerance for cold weather compared to some other livestock. They particularly dislike rain and can suffer in colder climates if not adequately protected. Providing a sturdy three-sided shelter or even a barn to block wind and precipitation is essential. During cold snaps, it may be necessary to blanket them to ensure their comfort. Ensuring clean bedding and access to fresh water, along with proper ventilation in their shelter, is also crucial for their well-being in colder temperatures.

How much hay or straw should a donkey typically consume daily?

Donkeys require a diet high in fiber but low in protein and sugar, making hay or straw ideal for their daily consumption. Typically, a donkey should consume approximately 1.5% to 2% of their body weight in dry forage, such as hay or straw, daily. This means for a standard adult donkey weighing around 400 pounds, they would need about 6 to 8 pounds of hay or straw each day. It’s important to adjust quantities based on the individual donkey’s activity level, health, and body condition.

Are there any behavioral aspects specific to donkeys that new owners should be aware of?

Donkeys are known for their sociable, loving nature but require companionship to prevent loneliness, thriving in pairs or groups. They possess long memories, allowing them to recognize other animals and people after years apart. Unlike some perceptions of stubbornness, donkeys often display this behavior as a form of caution or when unsure, not sheer obstinacy. Understanding and respecting their intelligent, contemplative approach to new situations is crucial for a harmonious relationship. New owners should embrace these unique behavioral traits, fostering a patient, understanding bond.

What type of fencing is recommended for keeping donkeys contained safely?

For safely containing donkeys, sturdy fencing that prevents escape and injury is essential. A well-constructed, solid fence at least 4 to 5 feet high is recommended to accommodate their size and deter jumping. Smooth wire, wooden, or pipe fencing are suitable options, as they minimize the risk of entanglement or injury. Barbed wire should be avoided due to the potential for cuts and abrasions. Regular maintenance to check for damage or weak spots ensures the fence remains secure. For specific recommendations tailored to your property, consulting with a veterinarian in Wickenburg, AZ, can provide additional guidance.

Do you have questions about donkey care? Contact us, your veterinarian in Wickenburg, AZ, and the surrounding communities, anytime!

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