Working out if a donkey is for you is important business. Like any live animal they deserve time and care.
In this article you’ll learn:
- 4 key pros for owning a donkey
- 4 important cons
- Where else you can learn about donkey care
Ready to get started?
Let’s dive in!
Pros Of Owning A Donkey
There are many benefits to owning a donkey. But aside from the obvious – the fact that they’re gorgeous creatures – what are the other major pros?
Let’s take a look…
1. Great Companions
Donkeys make fantastic friends. They can be loving, warm and very obedient (when they want to be). Having them on your land can be a huge plus.
For a farm family with kids this pro is even bigger. As normal sized donkeys can safely carry up to 20 percent of their body weight, they make good first time riding companions. Your kids can get the horse riding bug early if they start out on donkeys.
2. Low Maintenance
Another advantage a donkey has over other farm yard animals is that they’re relatively low maintenance. They don’t require herding, shearing or corraling, you can just leave them on the pasture and they’ll go about their own business.
You don’t have to worry massively about a donkey’s safety either. They’re quite capable of handling themselves when it comes to things like coyotes or snakes. They’ll even warn you (usually by braying) if other animals in your care are under the threat of a predator.
3. Diverse and Full Of Character
You’ll never meet one donkey with same temperament of another. Or the same looks! They’re a varied bunch and have a lot of character.
From boisterous jacks (male donkeys) to loyal, follow-you-everywhere jennies (females), each donkey has very different individual merits. The same can be said for the differing breeds. A miniature donkey is very differen to a majorera for example – and not just in height!
As far as farm animals go, donkeys are fairly cheap to own and care for. Their food is relatively simple – they’re mostly happy grazing on hay – and they won’t run up too much of a vet or farrier bill in comparison to their horse cousins.
They’re also cheaper to buy than horses, they’re transport needs are less (given their smaller size) and they’ll live well into their 30s with proper care.
Cons Of Owning A Donkey
Even though I personally love donkeys, it’s important to be honest. Amid all their interesting benefits, they’re not for everyone or all farms.
Here’s a bunch of reasons why.
1. Horse Experience Does Not Translate to Donkeys
One important thing to talk about is donkeys being compared to horses. For many farm or ranch owners with experience owning the latter, there’s often the assumption that looking after donkeys is the same. But there are differences.
Donkeys differ from horses in their mental and emotional make-up. They’re less prone to getting startled and more independent. Training them can be much tougher.
The same must be said for feeding. Donkeys metabolize food much faster than a pony. For that reason they’re easy to overfeed.
2. Donkeys Don’t Do Well Alone
If you are interested in buying a donkey please be aware that they are very social animals. Getting one only to keep it alone is not a fair move. They enjoy the company of other animals and bond very quickly as a result.
Just because you once spotted a lone donkey alone in a field and thought it looked perfectly content doesn’t mean it was. Left alone they can get quite lonely and depressed.
3. Fat Donkeys
As mentioned above when compared to horses, donkeys are heavy grazers. They can go for long hours of the day munching down on plant material without any thought in terms of satiation. For that reason, especially for farm donkeys, there’s a big problem with donkeys getting fat.
With problems of obesity come potential health complications. Colic, laminitis and hyperlipaemia, are all common issues the animal can experience. So you need to be attune to the quantities and types of food they’re eating.
If they’re exposed to the public often you’ll want to restrict treats from things like hand feeding.
4. Hoof Problems
Even though I personally feel donkeys are less maintenance than horses (and lots of other animals), their hooves can be a bit of a hot topic. Even though they’re smaller, tougher and a bit more bendier than a horses hoof, they still need regular trimming and care.
It’s generally recommended for new owners to get familiar with their feet and try and clean them out often. They need to be trimmed once every couple of months – which is much easier if you have a local farrier on hand!
If you live somewhere super remote you’ll need to learn to do this yourself.
So, Are Donkeys Worth It?
Judging by the pros and cons listed above I’d 100% say yes. Donkeys are worth it because they offer so much without really needing much in return. For a young family new to farm or ranch life, they can make an excellent addition.
Interested In Learning More About Donkeys?
See our other articles on all things donkey care here. They make a great addition to any farm!
Image Credit: @erwanhesry at Unsplash