Donkeys eat a variety of foods. They are herbivores which means they eat plant foods. Here on my farm, they eat the sparse grasses on my land, brambles, and honeysuckles. They also have a variety of wild herbs they enjoy such as dandelions and curly dock. In the winter they get a variety of grass hays to choose from. For this article, I want to focus mostly on what herbs donkeys can eat and why would you want your donkey to eat herbs.
Why Use Herbs for Donkeys
I’m a family herbalist and have used herbs for decades on myself, my family, equine, pets and livestock. Herbs that are beneficial for donkeys have been a major part of trying to get my donkeys’ natural living habitat set up. Herbs have been long used by wild donkeys as a way of self-healing and adding trace minerals to their diet. We’ve all watched our donkeys eat weeds, bushes and maybe even trees for a taste here and there.
Donkeys know what they need more for optimum health. That’s why feeding them only 1 kind of hay or having a pasture of 1 kind of grass can not meet a donkey’s nutritional requirements. Much like if you only ate 1 kind of food all day!
The natural approach to living has been an upward trend for humans in the last 25 years or more. Alternative medicines, natural foods, chemical-free products and more activity in our lives so we can live healthier, higher-quality lives. This type of natural as possible lifestyle can benefit donkeys too.
Herbs have naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and proteins. The major advantage of this is they are easily digested and absorbed with combined with the donkeys’ other natural foods.
10 Herbs Donkeys can Eat to Support Health
Here are 10 safe and health-supporting herbs you donkeys can eat to help get them started on their journey to better health naturally.
Raspberry leaves: To increase fertility. To relax and tone the uterus for ease of carrying and foaling. Speeds recovery after delivery
Echinacea: Detoxes the body and helps prevent infections
Valerian: Relaxes muscle tension and eases stress
Comfrey: Accelerates healing. Great for skin and healing bones. I wrote a book on the many benefits of comfrey you can look at here: Comfrey: The Most Useful Plant in my Garden
Mullein: Relives persistent coughs
Chamomile; Regulates allergies, sleep patterns, hormone levels, immune system, and digestive system
Tumeric: Fights inflammation
Nettle: Good source of iron and great spring detox
Garlic: Fights infection and internal parasites
Check out this video I made when I got in an order of herbs for my donkeys and find out my favorite inexpensive herb source.
How to Dose
There are many different ways to deliver herbs to your donkey. Tinctures, which essentially are extracts using alcohol, vinegar or molasses. There are teas you can make or simply feed the herbs to the donkey with its food.
I love having a system that lets donkeys choose! You can also set up a station of dried herbs in mineral feeders and let the donkeys eat what they would like.
If you like to garden you can plant a medicinal herb hedge for your donkeys to nibble on. I don’t have a hedge but I let my donkeys in to nibble back herbs in my herb gardens. Miniature and smaller donkeys are great for this but big mammoths might stomp to many herbs. It depends on the donkeys. I’m allowing miniature donkeys and standards in my garden here.
Here’s a little video and a peek into what they were eating last summer. Donkeys love to eat fresh herbs.
I wrote a book on growing herbs that do not need much or any upkeep. If you’d like to start an easy herb garden for your self or donkeys (BOTH!) You can read my book here Effortless Herb Gardens
Health is more than what a donkey eats
Something to consider when using herbs to support your donkeys’ health is taking into account your donkeys whole lifestyle not just what the donkey eats. For example, if your donkey is having a health problem you are treating with herbs but your donkey is on a diet of grains, the herbs may not give you the result you want.
The whole lifestyle needs to be considered. Things to ask yourself when there is a problem:
- Is your donkey on a natural as possible forage-based diet?
- Is your donkey stressed about something? Barking dogs? New pasture mate?
- Is your donkey getting enough exercise?
- Are your donkeys’ vitamin and mineral requirements being met?
- If lameness is an issue is your donkeys’ farrier doing a good job?
- Is your donkey living in a natural herd situation with plenty of space to move around?
- Do you use grooming products with chemicals? They may be causing health problems for your donkey.
Herbal support works best when all the donkeys primary care needs are being met.
Additional Natural Health Support for your Donkey
Another natural care article you might like Donkey Care: ACV and Garlic
Donkey Lovers List
Please sign up for my Donkey Lovers List to be notified of more natural donkey care articles, book releases, donkey training information and more.