Donkey eat grass

Diet of donkeys

Low-fat pastures

The donkey is a desert animal that still performs tremendously with little food. His digestive system works extremely efficiently and can process and convert even the most meager food. In the warm season it is completely sufficient to let donkeys graze on a pasture that is not too fat. Herbs, chamomile, fibrous grass and even thistles are gladly accepted. The donkey also likes to nibble thick branches and twigs from non-toxic, unsprayed trees and bushes (such as willow, beech, hazelnut, fruit trees), and it even needs wood and bark for its digestion. If fresh drinking water is then provided, the long-eared person is already satisfied.

Hay straw

In the seasons with little forage or in housing systems without permanent access to pasture, donkeys should always have fiber-rich hay and straw available as basic food. Here, too, tree wood is a welcome addition to feed to satisfy the nibbling pleasure (and also protects the stable equipment).


In addition to the basic feed, donkeys should be supplied with minerals. These can either be sprinkled over the feed or attached in the form of lick stones in the stable or on the pasture. Lick stones for cattle are even better suited for this than those for horses, since they contain calcium and phosphorus in addition to sodium and chloride. If sheep or goats are also kept together with donkeys, the licks must not contain any copper!

The potions

Mobile water barrels with self-drinking troughs, for example, are suitable as drinkers, which can be moved to the water pipe for filling. Pasture pumps, with which groundwater or water from flowing water is pumped into the drinking device, have also proven their worth. Since donkeys are incredibly happy to play and can use almost anything to nibble and scrub, such drinking facilities have to be checked for functionality on a daily basis. In winter when there is severe frost, prevent the drinking trough from freezing. If donkeys are used to it and the water quality allows it, they can also be fed directly from flowing water on the pasture. However, care must be taken to ensure that the access area is not wet and boggy.

Unsuitable for donkeys

A freshly overgrown spring pasture with thick clover and grass cover is not suitable for donkeys. They quickly become fat and sick as a result. Unfortunately there are far more over- than undernourished donkeys in this country! The consequences are metabolic diseases, liver damage and, above all, hoof changes. Energy-rich feed such as concentrated feed, oats, cereals, beet pulp or bread should therefore only be offered to donkeys in exceptional cases, for example as a reward or to nurse them up after debilitating illnesses. Suckling mares can also be supported with high-energy feed during lactation. Spoiled, contaminated or moldy food belongs in the garbage and may no longer be fed to animals. (Heike Pankatz)

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