Donkeys love being outside, where they can roam free and roll on the ground. And, while rolling on the ground helps to scratch their backs, it's also a natural behavior for donkeys to cover themselves in dust, which provides great insulation and protection from extreme cold and heat.
Here at the farm, my Sicilian donkeys, Rufus, Clive and Billie, are outside all day long in a large paddock near my stable. In the late afternoon, they are brought back in, where they are groomed and fed.
It’s been awhile since I updated you on my donkeys, and I am happy to report that the three amigos are doing very well. Here are some of our latest photos - enjoy.
This week has been very cold here in the northeast, but my sweet donkeys don’t seem to mind at all. We went down to their paddock to see what the three amigos were doing.
This is Billie. She is the only Jenny of the three, and the only female in my stable.
This is Clive – a little taller than the others, but very friendly.
And this is Rufus. Donkeys are very social animals, and have a very keen sense of curiosity.
Donkeys are happiest with plenty of space to roam around and graze, which they do for the majority of the day. The three are in their large paddock from morning until late afternoon when they are fed and put back into their shared stall.
They can also be very playful. The three ran behind the run-in shelter and then slowly came out when we showed them a treat. A run-in is essential for donkeys. Donkeys originated in a desert climate, but are very hardy, provided they are given adequate accommodations.
Their treat is an apple – donkeys love apples. Rufus takes the first bite.
And then Billie takes a bite.
And then Clive – yum. Donkeys cannot be overfed. Eating too much protein and other nutrient-rich foods can make them sick. They also tend to gain weight very easily.The three shared this one apple.
During the winter, when the grass is dead, or at other times of year when there’s not enough, we supplement with good quality meadow hay.
Because of the low temperatures, Sarah wanted to bring the donkeys in just a few minutes earlier.
Donkeys are herd animals, so they don’t like being separated from other members of their pack. These donkeys are never apart.
Here is Billie, waiting patiently for the others.
Here they are all ready for the short walk to the stable. They also tend to prefer being in a certain order, with Billie in the center, and will nudge each other to get into their “spots”.
Donkeys have a reputation for stubbornness but this is because of their highly developed sense of self preservation. It’s difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something that’s contrary to its own best interest or safety.
Sarah walks the three down the cobblestone courtyard toward the stable.
The three share one large stall. Donkeys are calm, intelligent, and have a natural inclination to like people. Here they are waiting for their daily grooming.
After being out all day, each donkey is given a good, thorough brushing while the others watch from nearby.
While Sarah brushes them, the donkeys are secured to the gate in front of their stall. All three donkeys are very well-behaved. I think they are wondering how long this would all take, and whether there will be a little treat at the end – maybe a carrot – right my donkeys?
Donkeys and horses are ungulates – hoofed animals. Sarah uses a hoof knife to remove debris. While cleaning the hooves, it’s a good time to make sure they are all in good condition. Donkey hooves support the entire weight of their bodies, and need to be properly maintained. Hooves should be trimmed by a professional farrier every six to eight weeks.
The donkeys’ faces are also wiped down on a daily basis with a warm damp towel.
After a good brushing, the trio is fed a light dinner, mostly to ensure they get all their needed vitamins and minerals.
They also get a good amount of fresh hay in their stall for the evening.
Billie is still hungry, and is the first one to get to the hay.
After a nice meal, what’s next? Maybe a nap? See you tomorrow, my dears.