Donkey Dos and Don’ts

Feeding Donkeys

Donkeys are growing in popularity as pets, even here in Kentucky, home of the Horse Capital of the World! Because donkeys look so similar to ponies, their owners may think Hallway Feeds is a good option to ensure they get all the nutrition they need. However, donkeys and ponies are very different—with different digestive systems, different metabolisms, and different overall needs. While we have plenty of feeds and balancers that are appropriate for ponies, we do not recommend most of our products for feeding donkeys.

Forage Preferences

Forage is the basis of all equine diets. However, the kind of forage that is most suited to a particular species varies.

For example, ponies are grazers, and they can meet a lot of their nutritional needs out in the pasture. Donkeys, however, are both grazers and browsers. This means that in addition to grass, they can eat shrubs and woody vegetation; their digestive systems can handle low-quality forage that a pony may not be able to digest efficiently. It also means that if a donkey is let loose in a lush pasture, he’s more likely to put on too much weight. (And yes, overweight donkeys can develop laminitis.) Ideally, a donkey’s year-round diet should include more mature hay than grass, to help keep his condition in check.

Grain Tolerance

An even bigger difference between ponies and donkeys is their tolerance for grains.

Depending on a pony’s condition, size, and workload, he may need to consume a feed to ensure he gets the nutrients he needs for optimal health. This could include something like Fibrenergy, a textured feed with the kind of protein, vitamins, and minerals vital to a working pony.

Donkeys, on the other hand, don’t need this kind of supplementation. In fact, cereal grains should never be fed to a donkey; a donkey’s increased metabolism of energy and protein makes cereal grains completely off-limits.

Dietary Similarities

Ration balancers are the one nutritional element that can benefit both ponies and donkeys. A product like Hallway Feeds Pure & Simple Balancer can support a healthy digestive tract and has the protein, vitamins, and minerals that many equines need to ensure overall health. Note, though, that a donkey would be fed a balancer at a much lower rate than a pony. Consult your vet for appropriate advice.

In addition, both ponies and donkeys need plenty of fresh, clean water and access to a free-choice, equine salt block.

Your Donkey’s Health

For those of you caring for donkeys, we hope this information has been helpful. Although we don’t generally advise against our products, we have carefully created them to suit the specific needs of horses, and therefore cannot recommend them for your pets. The one exception would be a ration balancer, fed at a much lower rate than our packaging states. Please talk with your vet for further guidance.

Feeding donkeys over a stone fence