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August 29, 2006

What do I feed my Donkey?

I recently received an email from a new donkey owner asking what to feed their new donkeys. I thought some of you might find this info useful too.

Question: What feed do you suggest (for donkeys) and how often are you suppose to feed?

Do you have your donkeys on pasture or dry lot? Mine are on dry lot some of the time, and when they are there (or in the winter time), I feed them grass hay twice a day, but when I have them out on grass pasture, as long as there is enough grass for them to eat, they don't need the hay because they are eating it fresh.

When feeding hay, I have found that my donkeys do best on good fresh grass hay (not moldy). I don't feed alfalfa hay or alfalfa/grass mix hay. The alfalfa is too rich for the donkeys, and will cause a variety of health problems. They do very well on the grass hay though.

I don't feed sweet feed or grain as a big part of their diet. The only grain that they get is a little plain whole oats. I use the oats as a training treat (a few kernels at a time). And if the donkey is overweight, I try to use something non-fattening instead, like chopped carrot or apple bits as treats.

I also have a supplement dish that I fix for them in addition to their dinner hay feeding. It has a balance of other items that give them some nutrients that the hay may not have. I don't always feed their supplement dish every day if I run out of time, but donkeys who are having other health problems (poor hooves, etc) tend to do much better if I am faithful in feeding it every day.

The supplement dish contains rehydrated beet pulp pellets, whole oats, carrots, apples, and Manna Pro Sho-Glo vitamins. For my 47" standard jennet, I feed the following mix:
1/2 cup dry beet pulp pellets rehydrated in 1 cup of hot water
After the beet pulp has soaked up all the water (usually after soaking about 15 minutes), I stir in:
1 cup whole oats
1 cup chopped carrot (a food processor works really nice for chopping this!)
1 cup chopped apple (run through the food processor too)
1/2 ounce Sho-Glo (they include a scoop in the bag, and I put 1/4 of a scoop in Elsie's bowl)

My mammoth donkeys get twice as much as my standard jennet, Elsie, and I would imagine miniature donkeys would probably get about half the size serving that Elsie gets. It's important to feed this mix in individual servings so that each donkey gets the amount they are supposed to and you don't have some eating more than their share. I usually separate my donkeys into different stalls or small pens to eat their supplement mix, although there are other people who tie all of their donkeys up instead. Usually after a couple weeks of doing this the donkeys learn where their spot is and are easy to separate for "dinner".

If your donkeys are over weight you can reduce the oats a bit. This mix is not a required diet for donkeys, but if you want a way to give them additional nutrients and vitamins, it works well and is balanced for their needs.

I also have brown salt/mineral blocks available for the donkeys at all times. And plenty of fresh water.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 03:04 PM | Comments (1)

August 22, 2006

Treat of the Week - Juicy Orange Appetizers

Here is another treat that my donkeys absolutely love! But it can be a little sticky.


Select a nice fresh orange. Wash it and slice it in round circles. If you want to get fancy, you can garnish it with fresh green mint leaves.

Fresh oranges are one of my donkeys' favorite treats! If you are in a hurry you can just slice them in quarters, and the donkeys will enjoy them just the same. I give my donkeys up to one orange a day for the standard size, and sometimes two for the big mammoths.

I have also heard that some people have had success significantly reducing or eliminating problems of their donkeys chewing the wood off their barns and fences by adding a quarter if an orange per day to their donkeys' feed.

I didn't personally see a big difference in my particular donkeys last summer, but it is something worth keeping in mind to try if you have a longeared "beaver". From what I've heard, for some donkeys it can be pretty effective.

Either way, I'm sure if your donkeys are like mine, they'll love oranges! Last summer I bought a big box of navel oranges, and gave the donkeys a few slices every morning when I went out to check on them. They started looking forward to they morning orange slices, and would give me such pitiful neglected looks if I forgot to bring their orange slices one morning! They can be such characters sometimes!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2006

Montana Mule Days 2006

We had a super time at Montana Mule Days this year, and greatly enjoyed getting to meet a number of you and visit for a while!

Congratulations to all the great winners! And thanks to all the donkey folks who brought their donkeys this year. It was fabulous to see you all there, and to have the donkey numbers up again. We look forward to seeing you all there again next year.

I took Lily and Andy to Montana Mule Days, and we had a great time participating in a number of classes - some we had done before, and some were totally new to us. I think one of my favorites was the log pulling and team log pulling. My donkeys had only ever pulled a log once before, and just as singles (not as a team). I'd driven them single and double with my easy-entry cart and wagon, but not with a log hitched behind them. They did really well with only a few hitches along the way.


We also had a fun time bringing Santa and his donkey from the North Pole for the youth costume class. Here is a photo of Santa and Lily waiting for their class to begin, and another of them being inspected by the judge.

(photo by Kristi Kingma)


With the exception of a little rain on several of the mornings, Montana Mule Days was a fabulous, fun filled show, and we hope to see you there next time!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2006

Beware of EVA!

Although infrequent in occurrence, this is one virus that could affect the future of your breeding program.

Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA) is an infectious viral disease of horses and other equines that causes a variety of symptoms, most significantly abortions. Many horses that get EVA exhibit flu-like symptoms for a short time. Although some infected equines never show any noticeable symptoms, this nasty bug can cause one or more of the following symptoms:

1. Fever
2. Loss of appetite
3. Depression
4. Nasal discharge
5. Swelling or edema in the legs, scrotum, sheath or mammary glands
6. Conjunctivitis that may be accompanied by swelling around the eyes
7. Abortion
8. Pneumonia in very young foals.

EVA can be transmitted through both the respiratory and reproductive systems.

EVA is especially bad news for pregnant mares/jennets and mature breeding stallions/jacks! If the mare/jennet is pregnant when she gets infected with EVA, there is a high chance she will abort her foal. She can also spread the virus to her herd mates, causing many of them who are pregnant to abort, too.

Once mares/jennets have recovered from the acute stage of the illness, they will still shed the virus for a couple more weeks. Once they have fully recovered, they will no longer shed the virus, and can be re-bred. They will have no future reproductive problems relating to the virus.

Breeding stallions/jacks, on the other hand, will often have the virus settle in their reproductive tract and will continue to shed the virus in their semen for years to come, and sometimes for the rest of their life. If they are then bred to an EVA-negative mare/jennet, that mare/jennet will get sick with the illness and spread it to her herd mates and the cycle starts over.

There is an EVA vaccine available that has been used in certain breeds in the horse industry for quite a while. If you have a breeding jack or stallion that may be at high risk for picking up EVA at a show or from outside mares coming in for breeding, you may want to consider talking to your vet about vaccinating him if he is currently EVA-negative. However you will also want to keep in mind what your plans may be with regard to exporting your donkeys/mules/horses to other countries. Vaccinating them may restrict their entry into certain countries.

This summer there has been an outbreak of EVA in a number of states in the USA. In late June there was a large Quarter Horse farm in New Mexico that discovered EVA in its herd. From what I have read, a number of their bred mares were aborting, and after testing, they discovered that one or more of their stallions as well as mares they had bred were coming down with EVA.

According to the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association website, horses that had been on the New Mexico farm were sent to about 23 states before they realized there was an EVA outbreak on their farm. Since then there have been quarantine restrictions in at least 18 states.

As a result, the EVA virus has been circulating here in northern Utah. I was told that originally six mares in Utah were bred to this Quarter Horse stallion with EVA infected semen, and it's just been spreading in our area since then. There are a number of equine facilities in our area that are under quarantine now after horses at these facilities contracted EVA. And just yesterday I read that several more horses had contracted EVA from an infected horse that went to a local show.

This virus can be quite contagious, and once introduced, can sweep through a barn like wildfire. You may want to check with your state veterinarian to find out the EVA status in your state, and also may want to be careful about haul horses/donkeys/mules to sales, shows, and other equine facilities or places that other horses frequent until this outbreak is under control. To protect your herd, new arrivals should be isolated at least three weeks before coming into contact with any other equines, but especially jennets/mares in foal. I am keeping my donkeys at home until this outbreak is over, and hopefully they won't get it!

Please consult your local veterinarian for equine medical advice, if you have any questions about EVA, or suspect your donkey/mule/horse may have been exposed to EVA or sick with the virus. Your State Veterinarian can also provide you with information about any current outbreaks in your area.

Here are also several good website links for more information about EVA:

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)