Thinking About Health Concerns of Donkeys and Mules

Health Concerns of Donkeys and Mules

Working with donkeys and mules takes training to an entire new level. Donkeys have photographic memories. Mules are half horse and half donkey meaning some mules will be more like a donkey and some more like a horse.  Not every mule is going to make it to the Grand Canyon. What’s the big deal? Horses are flight equine. Donkeys are seriously smart and into self-preservation. All equine have personalities just like people extroverted more go than whoa. Introverted more of a deep thinker and more whoa than go.

Donkey – Equus Asinus or Ass

Three sizes


Standard or burro

Mammoth Donkey

JackThe term used for the male of the ass species.

JennetPronounced JEN-et, it is the correct term for the female of the species. The most commonly used term is jenny.

BurroA word taken directly from Spain. It means the common, everyday working donkey found in Spain and Morocco. Many people call a wild donkey a burro in the Pacific Northwest.

Donkey sizesDonkeys come in all shapes and sizes ranging from the Miniature Mediterranean 28 inches to Mammoth 16’2 hands. The ears of a donkey are much longer than the horse.

Mule – The mother is a horse and the dad is a donkey. Mules are Usually sterile.

Hinny – The mother is a donkey and the dad is a horse. The death rate is high when trying to breed this way. 

Female mule – Also known as a Molly.

Health Concerns

Diet is number one in the U.S.A. Donkeys evolved from the desert meaning they are seriously easy keepers. The overweight donkey is prone to laminits, colic, founder, hoof problems, abscesses, fat deposits. I.E., Neck crests and breaks. Death is final all due to poor diet. Donkeys must live on a dry pasture for the majority of their day. Donkeys will eat themselves to death if given the chance. Never feed donkeys alfalfa, oats, grass full-time grazing, bread, grass clippings. A safe reward for your donkey is a bite of a carrot. A bite. Never feed apples, pears etc., to your donkey. Donkeys evolved from the desert think about what is in the desert.  Donkeys are seriously Easy Keepers.

Fecal samples are a must to prevent worms. Donkeys must have vet checks and regular hoof trimming just like the horse when living in domestication.


Donkeys gestation is twelve to thirteen months. Vet care is a must if you think your donkey is pregnant get a vet check do not guess.

Donkeys are stoic – Meaning donkeys will never show pain until it is too late. Be sure to not wait too long to get medical attention as your donkeys life is depending on you.


The Donkey Whisperer Farm trains the owner or caretaker to train the donkey via our video training series Donkey 101 and Donkey 102. Take Melody Johnson to the farm with  you via your smart device. Each training program has a written PDF to print out and take to farm with you. We train the owner or caretaker to train the donkey worldwide using resistance free methods. Select OUR STORE to purchase donkey halter/lead lines, donkey training stick and string and our Donkey Training Video Series.

Senior Donkeys Need Help In The Winter

Hi Melody,

I have a 38″ donkey approximately 29 years old.  He is thin and I wondered what you feed your senior donkeys to put weight on them?  He has had his teeth done and is wormed every other month.  I live in Michigan so I want to get weight on him before the winter.  I feed him 3-1/2 lbs. of Timothy Hay Cubes per day

Hi Jeannette,

Most importantly understand donkeys can get arthritis just like people. So we need to be addressing ways to help the donkey with pain during the winter. Pain sucks and can trigger your donkey to slow down eating. I give Cosequin ASU  as we have two senior donkeys on this in the winter.

Blanketing is important to help your donkey survive the cold. The older donkeys, sick or very young need a little help. Be sure and take a look at Donkey 102 VIDEO ON DEMAND for blanketing and more. All of my teaching videos come with an E-BOOK. No blanket is waterproof so get two so you can dry the other blanket during long storms. I blanket when we hit the 20’s. Donkeys cannot take the cold. They are made to live in the hot desert and cold at night. Not the cold and frigid weather. It is important to check the blanket often and change to a dry blanket when the blanket is wet. Never leave a blanket on that is wet and take off when the weather is above freezing.

Parasite Control

Please do fecal samples with your vet. Over worming destroys the immune system and can cause resistant parasites worms. I have one donkey on my farm that has resistance to Ivermectin. Nothing I can do to stop it. I have tried for the past five years. Since this donkey lives with his donkey buddy’s all the donkeys are constantly gaining parasite counts. I can never let this group of donkeys into a pasture the other donkeys or horses use or the parasites would spread to the entire farm. Resistant parasites are a huge problem as people worm every other month, destroying the immune system.  I send fecal samples to my vet in the spring and fall. My vet tells me what wormer to use. Select De-worming for a healthy equine.


Tested hay 10% or lower in sugar and protein is highly recommended. Test hay at Equine Analytical Lab  For donkeys who have few teeth left a mash is recommended it is important to ensure the sugar and protein content is 10% or lower and portion control is recommended to prevent obesity. Do not feed straw to donkeys with few teeth (all forage including straw must be tested). Obesity in donkeys causes a slow and painful death. Clean warm water is a must. Donkeys will drink more water when it is clean and warm in the winter. I give free choice lose coarse salt. Salt should have no selenium if your hay has selenium testing hay is important.

Hay is very important to be tested to come in 10% or lower in NCS sugar and protein. I feed orchard here in the PNW. Timothy is safe if no alfalfa. If your senior donkey has a hard time chewing you can soak but do not leave soaking too long.  Senior Feed look for low sugar in small amounts once a day will help too. I use the Hay Pillow as this slows down digestion and prevents parasites. I place mine in the shelter inside a plastic slow feeder. This is a wonderful way to keep the fuel moving for donkeys without getting too fat and or colic. Senior feed (small amount in the morning and at night) will help. Make sure to find low sugar. I would do my best to maintain the weight all year in lieu of gaining in the summer. The donkey needs to stay healthy all year long.

I hope this helps,

Melody Johnson

You Are A Teacher

Donkey News


May 8th Is World Donkey Day


The Donkey Whisperer Farm trains the owner or caretaker how to train the donkey. Donkeys are deep thinkers. Donkeys are not horses with long ears. Donkeys are seriously into self-preservation. This means we humans must learn how to read the donkey for signs of stress, relaxation and learn timing. Stay ON DONKEY TIME. The three-second rule. How to tame the donkey. Train the donkey to follow-us as a leader. Pick up the feet with no kick is imperative to the donkeys life. If we cannot pick up the feet the donkey has a grim chance of survival.

The Donkey Whisperer Farm teaches the owner how to teach the donkey using timing, words and endorphins. We do not use clicker training as this will not carry on into the donkeys entire life. People understand how to say Whoa or walk-on etc.,. Clicker training will not carry on into ridding the donkey. Sadly, clicker training makes it worse for the donkey as the new owner does not know how to use clicker training and the donkey is sold off into the public.

Please take a look at our Our store as we teach world-wide.  Donkey 102 prepare for the farrier and problem solve. Google translator is an invaluable tool to share our educational program worldwide.


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The Donkey Whisperer Farm values you. This is a program built to train the owner or caretaker to train the donkey.

We want you to learn how to train the donkey so the donkey can stay living with you and not go back into re-sale. Donkeys are game players. You must understand their mind, behavior, and personality.

Did you know introverted donkeys do not bray?

Yes. Just like people this donkey is the quiet donkey. This donkeys is smart. Please do not send your donkey off to a trainer or bring a trainer in. The best person to train a donkey is the human the donkey trusts. Donkeys need to see a reason for each and everything they do. Bribing a donkey will never work.

Donkeys evolved in the desert. Donkeys have strict diet needs. Please take the time to learn how to train and care for your exotic desert equine the donkey.


Select Donkey 102 to order now.

Enjoy your donkey and please Stay On Donkey Time. Never drill your donkey. Wait another day. Your donkey needs time to think and process what you are teaching.

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Donkeys Are Smart. Donkeys think all of the time. Donkeys can teach humans so very much about ourselves and life.

We are all about donkeys!

Donkey Whisperer Farm is all about donkeys! We celebrate, educate and promote these magnificent and intelligent beings. We are dedicated to building public awareness about equine personality, behavior and are deeply invested in educating and empowering you with safe, holistic, resistance-free training methods that foster a strong bond between you and your equine.

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Interesting fact:

Dream big, plan, execute the plan and never give up no matter the obstacle.  You will land very close to your goal eventually.

Attitude Is I Don’t Care. The end result will be exactly this “I don’t care”.

Living Every Day With Purpose Makes A Difference

We must work hard and play hard. The key is to get to work, nothing in life that is great is free.  Most importantly keep moving. The body was made to stay in motion. Our brain is the most important muscle we have. Use it or lose it.

Resource: Why Is It Important To Have A Plan In Life

Building A Custom Fit Donkey Halter “Shipping To Greece”

The Donkey Whisperer Farm ™ is a worldwide leader in training the owner or caretaker to train the donkey. We provide Donkey 101 & Donkey 102 E-VIDEO SERIES. Our donkey halters are custom made by hand in the U.S.A. with quality material. The halter is made by hand with soft yacht rope to never mold, a brass screw on snap and a leather end stamped with our business logo.

Our Business Logo is ON DONKEY TIME ™ meaning we must never drill or push the donkey. Less is more, tomorrow the donkey will show you what he/she learned the day before. Always end on a good note.

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Donkey Care, Behavior, Personalities And Actions

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The Donkey Whisperer Farm creates the worlds best halter/lead line in the world. Quality!

Use our measurements for the mini or standard/burro donkey with the matching lead line.


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