Private breeding farm in The Netherlands.
MINIATURE DONKEY TERMS :
Jack - Intact Male Donkey - stallion
Gelding - Male donkey who has been "fixed"
Jennet or Jenny - Female Donkey - mare
Foal - Newborn/Baby Donkey
Weanling - Foal who has recently been weaned
Yearling - One year old donkey
CARE / RESPONSIBILITIES :
Miniature Donkeys are fairly easy keepers. They are a hardy species. But with any animal comes some extent of work.
Basics of Care and Management of Miniature Donkeys :
Building/providing an adequate shelter. Installing proper fencing and pasture area. Mucking out (stall or barn area, etc.). Making or Buying (loading, hauling, stacking) good hay during winter months. Barn, Fence, Pasture Maintenance Trimming Hooves (every 2-4 months) Health procedures (vaccinations, teeth, worming program, etc.)
Miniature Donkeys don't require a lot.
Keep water available at all times (make it lukewarm water in cold winter weather).
During summer months miniature donkeys can graze on grass (be careful with grass that is too rich/high fructan).
During Winter months (months that grass is not available) miniature donkeys will need good quality grass hay.
You can supplement with grain/muesli - but must be careful to feed in small/appropriate amounts - because donkeys can founder just like a horse, and can also get obese easily. So you may give small amount/s of grain if desired.
Pregnant or Nursing Jennets may receive small amounts of grain to supplement their diet and insure that they're getting proper nutrition for her and the foal. Don't overdue it - it could be dangerous to the Jennet and the foal if she's overfed. And can also cause delivery problems.
COMPANIONSHIP AND AGE :
Miniature donkeys must not be raised alone. They must have companions.
Geldings make the best pets. They are easy to handle and train.
Miniature donkeys could live up to 30 - 40 years old. One of the oldest donkeys reached the age of 62.
MEDICAL NEEDS :
Vaccinations - Miniature Donkeys are given the same vaccinations as horses. Ask your veterinarian for more information on vaccinating your mini donkey.
Wormer - Miniature Donkeys need to be wormed, ask your veterinarian for more information .
A Three Sided Shelter is the minimal that should be provided for miniature donkeys. They need some type of reliable shelter to protect them from the snow, rain, lightening, heat etc. This shelter needs to have a all year round dry ground to lie down and stand on.
Pasture - there should be a enough good grassy pasture for your mini donkeys. Allow them free access several hours a day to the field.
Fencing - Just be sure that there are no "large gaps" in your fencing where a mini could escape and disturb the neighbors.
Once you're comfortable with being a miniature donkey owner, then perhaps you might consider starting a breeding program.
Only animals with extended pedigree should be bred. Ask your studbook/registry/veterinarian.
The more inbreeding, the more likely we'll see foals born with abnormalities.
To prevent inbreeding problems (for example the known problems with the respiratory system, dwarfism, decreased fertility, mental retardation, heart problems, early death, eyesight and hearing problems etc), be absolutely sure the jenny/mare is bred to an unrelated jack/stallion.
To reduce risks, try to avoid having the same animal anywhere in the first three generations pedigree (parents, grandparents and great-grandparents) of the newborn foal. Four or more generations free of inbreeding is preferable.
As a breeder you always have to prevent inbreeding depression. An inbreeding depression means that the animals always perform less as a result of the inbreeding, what you mainly see in the reduced fertility and vitality.
Once the Jennet is old enough to be bred - then if planned - she can be put in with a Jack for breeding.
When you have the Jennet vaccinated against Influenza & Tetanus approx. 1...2 months before due date, the foal can benefit from this.
If a breeding is successful - the Jennet will carry her foal for approx 11½...13½ months, on average 12 months.
If you started a breeding program, and have been successful at foaling - then the first thing you need to do with the newborn foal is imprint it. What does imprinting mean ? It means that when the newborn foal is born - rub and pet it all over. This is done to help the foal learn your touch and the end result is a nice, huggable, loveable tame foal / donkey. You need to "imprint" your foal at least a couple times a week. But daily is preferred. Obviously the more often you imprint and fool with the foal - the tamer it will become, and the more you'll be able to handle it. When imprinting - talk to the foal in a smooth soothing voice / tone. Use a gentle touch.
HALTER TRAINING :
The earlier you get your foal / donkey adjusted to wearing a halter - the better. Once the foal is well adjusted to wearing a halter - then you can try the lead rope. Just remember - a little at a time. Don't overwhelm the foal / donkey with to much training. And have a gentle touch. But a firm grip. And if the donkey does really well - then reward with treats.
Miniature Donkeys are huggable, loveable animals. However, their training and the way they're raised has a lot to do with their personality, If raised with a lot of love and attention, and good care and management - then they can be your best buddy. So if you decide to persue ownership of a miniature donkey (or any animal) then please do your research, and know what you're getting into. Then find good pet prospects to bring home and just love them and then they will love you even more....