Are you considering adopting a donkey? There are many rescue donkeys out there in need of wonderful homes. These sweet, personable equines really have a way of melting hearts, and can be really fun to keep around. A Derby veterinarian goes over basic donkey care below.


Donkeys don’t need fancy stables, but they do require clean, dry shelter, whether it’s a barn or a three-sided shed. They also need turnout time, so they can graze and stay active.

Choosing Your Donkey

Donkeys are usually extremely sweet, but they are also rather opinionated. They don’t like being shouted at or being forced into doing anything. (The saying ‘stubborn as a mule’ definitely applies.) If you’ve never had donkeys before, pick one that is docile and already trained. You’ll also want to consider what you want a donkey for. If you just want one as a pet, a gelding or jenny is a good bet. If you’re planning to breed, you’ll need at least one jack (intact male) and at least one jenny. If you want to ride, get a larger one. 


These guys are very sociable, and get quite lonely by themselves. While you can keep donkeys with horses, it’s best for your hooved pal to have another friend of his own kind. Donkeys can form extremely strong bonds with one another. Consider adopting a bonded pair.


We recommend brushing your donkey every day. This is also great bonding time! Most donkeys aren’t fond of baths, as they don’t like to get wet. However, they may still need occasional ones. Proper hoof care is also critical. We recommend cleaning the hooves daily and trimming them at least every two months. Ask your vet for specific advice.


Donkeys are herbivores. Their diets should be high fiber and low in sugar, protein, and starches. Good barley straw, supplemented with hay and grain and vet-approved supplements, is a safe bet. You’ll also need to offer salt/mineral licks. Only offer clean hay: moldy hay or straw can make your donkey extremely sick. Just don’t offer cereal grains.


Your donkey—or donkeys—will need regular veterinary care. That includes preventative care, such as worming. As with any other animal, you’ll also need to watch for signs of illness. Call your vet ASAP if anything seems off.

Do you have questions about donkey care? Contact us, your Derby pet hospital, today!