If you ask 10 different donkey owners what to feed donkeys, you’ll likely get 10 different answers. That includes different answers from equine professionals! Feeding Donkeys can be as simple or as difficult as you would like to make it.
Donkey feeding and care will vary depending on the individual and what you are doing with your donkeys. A donkey that sits in the pasture all day will not need the same amounts of feed as a donkey that has a job. Larger working donkeys may need supplements. Pregnant donkeys may need extra nutrients too.
A pasture of geldings or non-bred jennets typically only needs low sugar grass hay or forage, a salt and mineral. For years, that’s all my standards needed. They always have healthy and shiny coats. They grew good hooves and did great on that simple diet. I always offer dried herbs and kelp as mineral supplements and health support too. (I’m a family herbalist, so I think everyone needs herbs!)
These days I have some bigger mammoths donkeys and working donkeys, I had to adjust their diets to make sure they are getting everything they need. My growing mammoth also needs more feed and extras.
Then when I take in a miniature donkey, I have to adjust for them because they don’t need as much food as the standards do.
If you’d rather watch than read…
Donkey Feeding and Care
So feeding donkeys isn’t difficult, but if you have different sizes of donkeys with different jobs, it can be something that needs to be worked out. I added more land to my donkey’s areas a few years ago and arranged things so they would have to do more walking, basically trying to create a donkey habitat. I do lots of activities with my donkeys now, like riding, driving, and hiking. Exercise is as important as what they are eating.
So I’ve adjusted my feeding program over the years. As my herd grew with different donkeys and more advanced training, my donkey feeding program adjusted too.
Feeding Donkeys: 6 Things they ALL get
Feeding my donkeys is still simple. Highlighted in yellow is my base feeding plan for ALL donkeys. Then I make adjustments if needed depending on the individual.
All donkeys, no matter the size, still get mixed grass hay in the winter free choice and they still get lots of forage from the land in the summer.
BUT, standard and especially miniature donkeys need to be fed in slow feeder hay bags. For more on those check here:
Barley straw is considered a great food resource for donkeys, but it is not available in my area. Mixed grass hay works very well though! No legumes, just local grasses. I buy from farmers who do not spray chemicals on their fields.
Donkeys on pasture can be a problem IF your pasture is rich thick grasses high in sugars and proteins. Mine is not. Here is a video showing everyone what I mean when I say I don’t have good grass.
My donkeys ALL get timothy pellets, lightly soaked with CA Trace minerals added. I feed approximately 1 cup of pellets per 100 pounds. If you need to guesstimate weight, look at this chart:
I give them an option of kelp supplement every month. I offer maybe 1 cup per 3 donkeys.
They have Himalayan pink salt and plain salt available.
I have used several kinds of kelp. This is a good one: Organic Kelp
You can find Himalayan pink salt at TSC or you can order it here: Pink Salt on a Rope. My donkeys LOVE it.
I also add an ACV supplement to their pellets. You can read about that here: Donkey Care: ACV and Garlic
*Standards or minis also get soaked beet pulp (no molasses!) is they are looking a little thin or they are working. About 1/2 cup per 100 pounds. Sometimes they get Special care by Nutrena at 1/2 cup per 100 pounds.
Rescue donkeys that are underweight will need additional foods, and so do pregnant jennets.
Feeding the Mammoth Donkey
**Mammoth donkeys are another story. They can be hard keepers. Nothing like the easy keeper standards… certainly not like minis. When I say mammoth, I’m talking about donkeys 14 hh and up. Plus, my mammoths have jobs. They are all in training or trained to ride and/or work. Keeping their weight up can be difficult.
My mammoths get additions of high fiber senior feed (recommended by both of my equine vets) and rolled oats (I may tweak this since I really don’t like feeding a pelleted grain but right now its what is keeping their weight up).
Standards and minis do not really need hay in the summer months, but the mammoths need supplemental hay here in the summer.
Feeding the Donkey
So there you have my base feeding plan.
- Grass hay or Forage
- Timothy pellets
- Equine mineral
- ACV supplement
I hope this helps new donkey owners make sense of what to feed their donkey. I know if can be confusing with so many opinions, sometimes good but sometimes bad advice, and then the articles that may recommend foods not available in your area.
That is the base of my feeding program and it’s worked well for my donkeys.
I do add in extras occasionally. Herbs, veggies, small amounts of fruits.
If you have an interest in offering your donkey herbs for health support check out his article:
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