ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Donkey Low Down

Updated on March 20, 2017
DonnaCSmith profile image

Donna Campbell Smith is a published author, freelance writer, and photographer. She also specializes in horses.

Donkeys number 44 million in a global census. There are 51,000 miniature donkeys registered with the American Miniature Donkey Registry and about 11,000 standard size donkeys registered with the American Donkey and Mule Society. The Bureau of Land Management reports 3,613 wild donkeys, also known as burros, in the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Oregon. The USDA reports that donkeys make up 12.2 percent of the equid types used in the country's equine operations.

It is thought the first domesticated donkeys descended from the Nubian wild ass, while others suspect they came from the Somali wild ass of Africa because they have leg stripes, which are also common to many donkeys. Egyptians first domesticated donkeys around 4000 BCE. The use of donkeys for transportation and beasts of burden spread from Egypt to southwestern Asia about 1000 BCE. Since that time they have been a major way of transporting goods and people all over the world.

Small donkeys in the western states are called burros, which is a Spanish word for donkey. Most of those are descended from donkeys brought to America by Spanish explorers and colonists hundreds of years ago. Donkeys come in a variety of sizes and colors. The mini, standard and mammoth can be shades of gray, brown, chestnut, rarely bay or black and sometimes spotted. Most have a dorsal stripe and shoulder cross.

Donkeys are cousins of the horse with some definite differences. While horses have 64 genes the donkey has 62. What we can see on the outside are longer ears, coarser hair with the mane and tail hair being shorter and stiffer than that of a horse. The donkey's hooves are smaller and the pastern has more angle. Donkeys do not have chestnuts on their rear legs like horses do, but they have more prominent ergots. Some larger donkeys' ergots are two inches in diameter and look more like a digital pad.

Donkeys have a straight, rather than arched, neck that ties into a witherless shoulder. The mane is short and stands up along the crest, and they do not have a forelock. The tail resembles that of a cow, with short hair until the end, where it finishes off in a tassel. Donkeys sound different, too. Their larynx is made slightly different than the horse, which accounts for their distinctively different sounding voice. The donkey's nasal passages are smaller than the horse's. Most donkeys are very vocal, braying to greet you or let you know its time to eat, or when they perceive danger.

Known to be hardy animals they live an average of 30 years, but have been known to live until forty years old. Donkeys do not need rich pasture or very much grain. In fact, one of the most common management problems is over feeding, which can lead to digestive, metabolic and foot problems.

Donkeys have a high pain threshold and this is a problem because conditions such as colic and founder can go into advanced stages before they are noticed. Owners are warned that mild signs of pain in a donkey should warn of serious trouble.

Feeding your donkey is much different that feeding horses. Donkeys have a unique metabolism, developed from their natural desert habitat, in that they need less energy and protein in their diet than horses. Be careful not to over feed your donkey. Donkeys thrive on forages high in fiber. For donkeys kept in a paddock, quality grass hay diluted with straw can provide adequate food with the straw satisfying their grazing instinct while limiting calories. Hay should be free of mold, weeds, or any foreign objects. Donkeys kept in a pasture will not need additional feed in the summer. In fact they may need their access restricted in the spring and summer months. This can be accomplished by dividing the pasture and rotating the donkeys on smaller tracts or by using a grazing muzzle. Supplement pasture with hay and straw in winter. Donkeys seldom need concentrated feeds or grains.

In addition to packing, pulling and riding donkeys are used as herd guards. Miniature horse owners and sheepherders like to keep a donkey with their herds because donkeys will chase away dogs or other predators that venture into the pasture. He will also tattle; braying to let the world know his herd has been invaded. Miniature donkeys are particularly popular as pets. One reason donkeys make good pets is because they do not like to be alone, and are happy for companionship with their human friends, especially if there is not another donkey around.

Mammoth donkey and standard donkey

Most donkeys are of mixed breeds. In the US they are categorized according to size: miniature, standard and mammoth.
Most donkeys are of mixed breeds. In the US they are categorized according to size: miniature, standard and mammoth. | Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • donotfear profile image

      donotfear 9 years ago from The Boondocks

      I love donkeys...they are so cute and have such personality! Great article...

    • DonnaCSmith profile image
      Author

      Donna Campbell Smith 9 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Thank you!

    • chermarie profile image

      chermarie 9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Nice article on donkeys. I read a few of your other horse hubs! Great information.

      As a horse owner I love reading about these incredible creatures. Keep up the great writing!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)