Miniature Mediterranean Donkey Association
Care, welfare & management
  • Donkeys are desert animals and thus with our wet temperate climate and lush pastures are in a somewhat alien environment. This single factor determines the basis of their care and particularly feeding and how it significantly differs from horses and ponies.
  • Donkeys are herd animals and a single Miniature Mediterranean Donkey is a very lonely donkey and is unlikely to thrive. They should always have at least one companion. Goats, sheep and ponies are not suitable as companions.
  • Two miniature donkeys will require a minimum 1 acre of land. Poor quality or wetness in winter may indicate the need for a greater area. This should be subdivided into sections to ensure against overgrazing and prevent over eating.
  • Droppings should be cleared daily from the pasture.
  • Miniature donkeys are healthy animals but do require shelter from bad weather. Unlike native ponies, donkeys are not waterproof and a 3 sided field shelter, with entrance facing away from prevailing winds, is the minimum requirement and will also provide shade in Summer.
  • Fresh water must be provided daily. Dirty/stale water will not be accepted, even leading to dehydration.
  • In freezing conditions warm water is highly recommended as donkeys will not drink icy cold water. Most donkeys normally need to drink more water in winter than in Summer as they are consuming more dried food.
  • We recommend miniatures are stabled at night, especially in winter. Additionally for security purposes a stable with security lights is the safest place for such friendly animals all year round after dark.
  • A full conventional equine de-worming programme is necessary throughout the year.
  • The same annual vaccinations as for other equines are recommended with protection against Tetanus being the essential minimum.
  • Miniature donkeys will need regular hoof care and feet should be trimmed every 8-10 weeks and teeth should be checked regularly.
Worming advice for your donkey

Donkeys are affected by several different parasites or worms, and must be wormed regularly. The interval between routine worming depends on the type of wormer being used. As a general rule, worming is usually recommended approximately every 8 weeks. All available wormers come within three chemical family groups namely:

  • IVERMECTIN e.g. (Furexel, Eqvalan)
  • BENZIMIDAZOLE e.g. (Panacur, Panacur - Equine Guard)
  • PYRANTEL e.g. (Pyratape P, Strongid P)

With the exception of Panacur Equine Guard most wormers come as paste in tubes or granules. Normally a tube of paste is the dose for 600 Kg body weight and for a sachet of granules it is 300 Kg body weight.

ROUTINE WORMING IS ESSENTIAL

Worm all newcomers on arrival and isolate for 72 hours. Pasture and stable hygiene is vital. Pick up droppings. Not all parasites are controlled by all wormers.

Always check with your Veterinarian about which wormer to use and when. Follow his/her advice. You need to know the weight of your donkey, as this will affect the amount of wormer administered.

The most common parasites or worms to affect your donkeys are :-

  • Threadworms - Mainly in foals especially when suckling. Infection comes from the dam causing debilitating diarrhoea.
  • Roundworms - Especially in foals. Tends not to damage the gut but competes for food leading to poor development. Severe infestation can cause dangerous colic. Eggs are viable in soil for a very long time. Keep pastures clean.
  • Strongyles - These are Encysted Small Redworm Larvae and Migrating Large Redworm and cause large intestine wall damage, bleeding, poor condition and anaemia.
  • Bots - Stomach damage. Eggs are visible during summer stuck to hair typically on lower legs. They appear as white/cream tiny grains. Wiping off helps, with a wet sponge/cloth before they get licked off and ingested. Treated by single dose of IVERMECTIN in December or two weeks after the first frost (irrespective of annual drug rotation).
  • Lungworm - Migrates through the body to the lungs doing damage and causing permanent respiratory problems. May be controlled by routine worming.
  • Tapeworm - Infests the Ileum and small Intestine.

WORM COUNTS

An alternative to worming your donkeys every 6-8 weeks is to have a worm count on the faeces by taking a sample to your veterinarian. If your donkeys do not mix with other horses and donkeys and do not travel out of their own environment, they may not need to be wormed so frequently. There is now a laboratory that can also do a postal service for the cost of £9.50 each sample. Their free kit containing everything you need to collect and post your samples.

Their web site is on our links page or you can telephone Westgate Laboratories 01670 791994

ESTIMATING THE WEIGHT OF YOUR DONKEY

When you need to worm your miniature donkey it is most crucial to know their weight. You will need to know this also for many drugs and anaesthetics as all doses are proportional to body weight. If you don't have access to a weighbridge or method of weighing your donkey, then a means of estimating must be used. Many weigh-bands and formulae were designed for horses and do not suit all donkeys. Similarly some donkey formulae tend to become inaccurate when applied to miniature donkeys. One formula we recommend is a little more involved but much more accurate. Keep a record of weights as this may also assist your veterinarian in the future.

Make sure that your donkey is standing square and is relaxed. Use a measuring tape that is long enough to measure the length of the donkey. It is also advised to have another person or helper present that can assist with holding the donkey and tape.


Weight (kgs) = ((Height-Belly height) x Girth x Length) divide 3500

All measurements are in centimetres

As a check most adult miniature donkeys will be in the range 80 -120 kgs

A further essential part of parasite control is based on stable and pasture management. Worming alone is not satisfactory. Droppings should be picked up from all donkey areas regularly.

To check the efficiency of your program and with a view to minimising the amount of wormer you administer to your donkeys, it is advisable to submit fresh dung samples to your vet for worm egg counts to be done, (every couple of years), which will give a good indication of worm infestation levels. Guesswork plays no part in parasite control. Always worm all your donkeys at the same time.

MMDA Welfare Officer - Annie Pollock (01590) 626224, Zoe Pritchard (01925) 740676