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What Does It Mean When A Donkey Brays?

 We moved to our new farm on June 1st, 2014 in Sequim, WA with this big change came five new equine; Roy a mini donkey age four, Maximus a black mini age two, Miss Trophy a stunning black mare age six, Oboe and Tuba rescues standard size donkeys in their teens. Select Donkey Whisperer Farm to see photos of each of our eight equine. Each of our equine are part of our family and in their forever homes.

First and most importantly understanding the personality of our donkey is imperative to learning how they communicate. Rio our Mammoth donkey is an introvert he has never ever let out a complete bray and he is eight years old however he does expresses himself in other ways.  Tuba is an introvert too 🙂 Rocket Man, Oboe, Maximus, Roy, Miss Lily, Miss Trophy are all Extroverts. Meaning they like to let out a low nicker (horses) and bray a little to say hello when I step into the barn 🙂

Donkeys Braying Singing or Distress “Crying For Help”

When I first started reading about donkeys people would say my donkey sings when talking about the donkey braying.  Donkeys can sing and donkeys can bray a distress bray.  I respectfully disagree that braying is all the same as it is not.   Just like dogs can sing along with their human and dogs can bark when stressed so can donkeys.    I do think a high-pitched sound like the violin can make a donkey bray and this is singing, similar to a dog who will sing along when we encourage them with high notes.  The donkey has amazing hearing.  I think when the donkey hears another donkey braying with the distress bray they understand the distress sound as it is their language.

Please don’t think a donkey that brays all the time is normal maybe something needs to be corrected to keep the donkey relaxed and calm.

Kinda like a dog that keeps barking in the neighborhood this is not normal for a dog to keep barking and barking frantically.  Most dogs bark when something stresses them out, they are tied and distressed, they hear something or like mine when I come home to greet me.  Some animals are more vocal than other animals just like people have personalities I believe animals have personalities!  Some animals are more vocal and extroverted and some are more introverted and quiet.

When I step out into the barn all the Extroverts say good morning and then they stop, it is brief and very inviting. The introverts Rio and Tuba stand back and wait patiently at the door for their morning kiss and eye check to remove the gunk donkeys get in their eyes. Rio will try to bray if very stressed so in my mind if he was not being touched, fed, and watered on a regular schedule he would learn quick to use his vocal cords.  On large donkey farms where many donkeys are living and they can only hear and not see one another it is perfectly normal for donkeys to talk to one another by braying, again this is a different bray than a distress bray.  As the owner and human leader we must learn the different sounds of the donkey braying.

Here is a video of a donkey hearing a violin sound and responding with a bray notice the bray is not the stressed bray.

Select video of donkeys Morning Bray Farm listening to a donkey braying sounds like a distress to me and several of the donkeys act stressed and bray stressed.

Our new Donkeys Oboe and Roy do a small bray each morning to say hello, I say I’m coming good morning that’s enough and they stop. 🙂

Please remember if your donkey is braying all of the time the distress bray something is wrong, it is important to learn the difference between a sing and a distress bray.


GOD bless you and your family two and four-legged!


31 Responses to “What Does It Mean When A Donkey Brays?”

  1. winddrinker

    I love donkeys! I have loved them from the day one of my clients brought a donkey to the stable and asked for help in training the donkey to ride dressage. I discovered then how intelligent, sweet, kind and protective they are of their people and property. You are so lucky!


  2. The Sundog Drift

    Thanks for the info. I agree…if they are braying they are stressed and something is usually wrong. At our place it means breakfast is late.


  3. andysalwaysright

    The donkeys in the sanctuary I worked on in Aruba would bray if I didn’t have their food out by 3pm for the afternoon feed. They were a little fat but happy and healthy. They do have such different personalities though and some preferred human company over donkeys. They could be very jealous if another was getting attention. They would bond with me and lay their heads on my shoulder. A lot of braying would start if one donkey was putting the moves on a female. I assume that’s a bray of excitement. Occasionally an unfortunate wild goat would get in and that’s when they roar! Very territorial and vicious when they want to be, but generally very sweet 🙂
    They are also sooo nosey and clever. Nothing in this world is donkey proof! Where there’s a will, there’s a donk!


    • Donkey Whisperer Farm

      Hi thank you for reading my blog, thank you for taking a moment to comment. Large donkey farms are indeed much louder than a small one like ours. My point is to share that not all donkey brays are the same some are a distress and some are a come feed me now. We are blessed as our donkeys hardly ever bray as their meals are always on time and they are happy, additionally no other donkeys to call out to on the farm. Nice to meet you. Melody


  4. bkpyett

    Fascinating! Our dog cries when it hears certain music, my husband wondered if it was hurting her ears…. maybe she’s just joining in? Thanks for your follow.


  5. jwuollife

    I think all animals communicate, just because they’re not human, doesn’t make them any less intelligent, or sentient. Thank you for dropping by 🙂


  6. George McNeill

    Played the video off the donkeys listening to braying on youtube, never seen a reaction from the dog like it. Sat blot upright and then ran to the window to check the yard, Sat and sang with them. Made my morning. Love it.

    Liked by 1 person


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