The Full Story and...what do you do with them?
Robert Green first imported miniature donkeys in 1929 to the United States from the Mediterranean
islands of Sicily and Sardinia where they were used as work animals (Gross 9). One of the largest
original breeders of miniature donkeys in the United States was August Busch of Busch Beer.
He liked to give away the donkeys as gifts to his friends (Gross 9). Miniature donkeys have made
their way into show biz...check out this link and watch them stand tall with the big boys!!
The average life span of a miniature donkey is from 25 to 45 years. This is one reason why they make excellent pets, they can last a lifetime! The average gestational period for miniature donkeys is around 12 months. Miniature donkeys typically weigh between 18 to 25 pounds at birth and are usually on their feet within 30 minutes. A mature miniature donkey will weigh between 200 to 450 pounds. The height of a miniature donkey is 36 inches and under. Male donkeys are called jacks. Geldings are male donkeys that have been castrated. Female donkeys are officially called jennets but are affectionately called "jennys". Baby donkeys are called foals and are the cutest things around. Foals are usually weaned at four to six months of age.
Miniature donkeys come in many colors. The most common and predominant color is gray-dun. Donkeys can be completely black, white, spotted or dark brown. Sorrels are various shades of reddish brown. Donkeys do not breed true to color. This is part of the excitement of having foals; the color is always a surprise (Gross 10).
Miniature donkeys are very low maintenance animals as they are very hardy and healthy. They like to graze on grass all day long. This grazing can be supplemented with a good quality of hay that is a mixture of grass and a little alfalfa. During the winter or when grass in not available, their diet can be supplemented with a 10% to 12% protein horse feed and/or oats. Adult donkeys utilize their feed efficiently and will get a fat roll on their neck and other places if fed too much. Miniature donkeys should be provided with a good source of clean water, as they will refuse to drink stale or dirty water.
A shelter should be provided for donkeys. They do not like to be out in the rain, snow, and wind. They should also have some place to get out of the hot sun. However, miniature donkeys should not be locked in a barn all day, as they need fresh air and opportunity for exercise. Miniature donkeys like to have a buddy and cannot be pastured alone. They just will not thrive as donkeys are very sociable and herd-oriented animals.
Miniature donkeys should be vaccinated on a yearly basis. Donkeys should typically be wormed every three to four months, possibly more often depending on their grazing environmant. Miniature donkeys require very little grooming but they will follow you around the barn for a good brushing once they get used to it. They grow heavy coats in the winter that they will shed in the spring. Donkeys may be clipped to help the shedding process. The hooves of a miniature donkey are not the same as horses and typically must be trimmed four or more times a year to keep the hoof in good condition.
Now back to the original question of "But what do you do with them?" Some see miniature donkeys as a good business investment. With the right breeding practices, business management and appropriate health care, donkeys can provide a good retirement or second income. Donkey management as a business though requires plenty of work and attention to donkey-need details. A lot of emphasis is placed on color. Sorrel, black, and spotted donkeys are very popular and can bring a very good price in the right market.
Miniature donkeys are often taken to nursing homes, schools, camps, and used in live nativity scenes. We have allowed our minis to participate in Christmas programs in local churches in the Alabama area. The peaceful and affectionate nature of the donkey makes this possible. The elderly and children especially love this animal that seldom bites or kicks.
As Christ followers, we love and find The Legend of the Donkey Cross a fascinating aspect of the donkey
lure...and it fuels the naming of our farm:
"Bring me the colt of a donkey," was the Master's request. A young donkey was brought to Jesus to carry
him to Jerusalem. A week later Jesus was ordered crucified. The faithful little donkey so loved the Lord,
that he wanted to help carry His cross. But alas, he was pushed away. The sad little donkey waited to say
good-bye until nearly all had left. As he turned to leave, the shadow of the cross fell upon his shoulders.
And there it has remained, a tribute to the loyalty and love of the humblest of God's Creatures. (Singer)
With its adoring and loving personality, long ears, sweet face, "breys of sunshine" and fuzzy coat, the miniature donkey continues to gain popularity throughout the country. As their numbers increase, more people will come to know the miniature donkey and realize what they can do with them.
Works Cited Singer, Mary. "Legend of the Donkey's Cross." 20 Jul. 2002 .