how much should a donkey eat in the winter?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by spish, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. spish

    spish De Regenboog Kippetjes

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    i have a mini donkey who is 4 years old,(he's been under my care for 10 months) and now we're in the midst of winter ive been feeding him 'extra' as the grass is buried under snow. now my neighbour (who owns horses/ponys) has said im giving him waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much food. how much should he be getting? ive been giving 2 'slices' hay per day and a jug of 'donkey food' (sorry dont know the term for it but if you untie a bale of hay it falls into 'slices' best way i can describe it, and the donkey food is just labelled 'diet food' for retired horses/daily food for donkeys) the jug is about 500g worth?

    he still seems to be hungry after eating (i split that 'meal' up into two so he gets one lot in the morning '1 slice hay, 250g food', one in the evening) he's even taken to eating the hawthorn bushes surround the field as if he's starving, and he certainly doesnt have the 'fat neck' donkeys can get if over fed.


    so how much should a donkey eat? if anything i thought im under feeding him?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    First and foremost may I suggest you stop feeding him whatever your "donkey food" is (grain or pellets or whatever), he DOES NOT need it and it is just the big kick-me sign for health problems.

    As far as the amount of hay, you will need to weigh your flakes as they are absolutely not a standardized thing. Some peoples' bales may have 1 lb flakes, some may have 10 lb flakes, depends on bale size and how the field was mowed/swathed and how the baler was set when the hay was being done. Seriously, take your bathroom scale out there and stand on it once barehanded and once carrying a flake of hay, and see what the difference is, and do this for multiple flakes from multiple bales. This will give you a reasonable guesstimate of how many POUNDS of hay you are feeding.

    As to how much the donkey NEEDS, it is generally going to be around 1.5-2% of his body weight. If he is a typical-ish mini of say 300 lbs, that would be 4-6 lbs of hay per day. That's a decent quality grass hay, not alfalfa which is not really appropriate for donkeys unless you absolutely cannot possibly obtain anything else. [AND NO GRAIN, let me repeat that again, NO GRAIN [​IMG] ] Then adjust the amount of hay you feed as time passes and you can see how his weight and condition are doing. It is really better to feed by eye (on the animal, I mean) than by pencil-and-paper.

    If he is browsing hawthorn branches there are two equally-plausible possibilities, either you may not be feeding him enough hay so that even if his total caloric intake is sufficient (b/c of the grain or pellets) his rougage needs are not being satisfied; or he may be perfectly well getting enough hay and just FEEL LIKE chewing on your hawthorns, which is not at all uncommon in equines [​IMG] It is also possible he's finishing his hay so fast that he just gets "bored teeth".

    So to summarize, I would suggest: eliminate the "donkey food" cold-turkey, and adjust his hay to 5-6 lbs per day or offer it free choice unless he eats/wastes ridiculous amounts and starts getting fat. If the hay is being metered out by weight, rather than free choice fed, make sure to give it to him AT LEAST twice a day and preferably more often, and if you hvae clean ground or rubber matting you might even consider spreading it kind of thinly so he cannot snarf it down as fast.

    If you want opinions on his weight, you might try posting a pic so we can see his cute little self [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  3. spish

    spish De Regenboog Kippetjes

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    i shall definatly get some pics of him [​IMG] and i shall take a pic of the food so you can see whats in it (i have no idea!)
    many thanks for the advice, ive never owned anything equine before and got thrown in at the deep end with Barney (a 'gift' from two friends who got divorced, lost their house and kinda dumped the donkey on us as we had a field!) so im still learning, every day! its only lately i found out im meant to clean his hooves everyday with a hoof pick! (i was doing once a month or so!)

    is grain a big no no then? i only ask as our neighbours throw grain out for the chickens and Barneys is there like a race horse to munch it up....i'll have to put a stop to that then!
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I agree with patandchickens. He needs to eat in the winter nearly the same as summer if no one was around - he'd be eating grass.
    So I would give hay free choice. If he seems to be overeating after a couple of days, you can cut back but I bet your hawthorn bushes will be left alone.
     
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Yes, definitely. Not just grain but anything that isn't hay (no pellets or other processed feed either).

    You know about having a farrier come trim his hooves every few months? It is pretty important.


    Pat
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:I know they need to be trimmed we had lots of horses, ponies, mules, donkeys etc.
    But what I never understood was - who trims wild horses hooves? [​IMG]
     
  7. spish

    spish De Regenboog Kippetjes

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    we have a farrier come every 2 - 3 months but i understand that should be a bit more often with donkeys? (i made a post here last week about my donkey not coming out of his stall etc and someone mentioned his hooves need doing more often)

    im glad theres some people on here with good donkey advice..had no luck finding a donkey forum that was 'active'
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:I know they need to be trimmed we had lots of horses, ponies, mules, donkeys etc.
    But what I never understood was - who trims wild horses hooves? [​IMG]

    Are you serious?

    They die if their hooves make them too sore. It is that simple.


    Pat
     
  9. spish

    spish De Regenboog Kippetjes

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    cant they get something called lamenitis through bad hoof care/diet? its something ive been reading up on but there seems to be so many different types/factors. its seems a very scary illness/disease [​IMG]
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Yes, the risk of laminitis/founder is the very biggest reason that he should be recieving zero grain or pellets or anything else one might call "retired horse or donkey food". It is also a big reason to have a farrier out regularly, so he can tell you if anything like that is happening (or has happened in past) and deal with it before things get too out of hand.

    I would like to flesh out my above reply about wild horses' hooves btw (I was rushing out the door at the time) -- wild horse populations have been strongly selected for good hooves because the ones with less-than-inherently-excellent hooves tend to croak before passing on their genes very much if at all. Also their hooves get worn down by constant miles of travel, often on poor rocky hard surfaces. It is not just a 'sanding down', it is breaking off chunks as the balance of the foot dictates. Horses whose hooves are inherently tough enough to hold up to this survive and reproduce, horses with feet like modern TBs (lol) generally do not. Simple as that. Actually wild horse populations in some places DO have a high incidence of hoof problems and resulting lamenesses, particularly if there has been a lot of recent influx of domestic-horse blood (like from TBs or drafts with crappy feet genetics) and also if they are spending a large amount of time on lush pasture in moist-soil areas, so that the feet tend to get overlong and then break off in big catastrophic chunks, or deform to the point of becoming problematic.


    Pat
     

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