Components of a donkey habitat are similar to those of other farm animals—space, shelter, food, water and vegetation. Providing a habitat requires some thought because domesticated donkeys live 30 to 40 years and grow to between 450 and 700 pounds. Donkeys have worked hard and contributed to civilization throughout history. The donkeys in the United States are offspring of the original six that were brought by Christopher Columbus.
Donkeys evolved in the rocky highlands and low-land deserts of Asia and Africa where rainfall is limited. Because of this evolutionary journey, donkeys do not hold up well to rain and must be protected. They are susceptible to bronchitis and pneumonia when chilled, and a skin fungus called "rain scald" or "rain rot" from damp weather. Donkey shelters in warm climates are often sturdy, three-sided out-buildings. If the shelter is enclosed, animals need 30 feet of room and good ventilation because of urine, manure and body moisture.
Food and Water
Donkeys are herbivores who graze in pastures, and this supplies most of their dietary needs. Diets can be augmented with grains like crushed barley, hay, wheat bran, sheaf oats and small amounts of corn. Too much grain causes donkeys to become fat, and it is difficult for them to lose weight. University of Wisconsin researcher, Kelsey Wells, states that donkeys like special treats like raw veggies, bread and stale cake. Donkeys need up to eight gallons of water a day, and they are fussy about having it fresh. The Farm Animal Shelter, an advocacy program, recommends giving donkeys salt in the form of blocks that can be found at feed stores.
In addition to a pasture area that is free from poisonous weeds, donkeys need an area of sandy ground in which to roll. Rolling in the dirt makes donkeys more comfortable by getting rid of insect pests and removing some of the oils from their coats. Donkeys can be territorial about space. In fact, some farmers place donkeys with herds of sheep to discourage predators. Donkeys get along with other animals and enjoy being protective. It may be necessary to remove the donkey, however, if it becomes too possessive of newborn lambs.
- Photo Credit two donkeys image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com
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