A few interesting facts about donkeys. 
Donkeys are sensitive, and need regular care
A sweet older donkey whose ears appear to be severely damaged from sunburn and frostbite.  At a rural auction. 
​Donkeys are sensitive creatures whose natural home is in a desert like environment.  In the large open space of a desert donkeys can hear sounds 60 miles away.  Because their natural home is a desert like environment, they are used to walking several miles each day in order to graze on sparse grasses and find water.  They are able to digest and absorb close to 95% of what they eat. 

When donkeys are raised in areas in North America and Europe they eat grasses which are rich in non-structural carbohydrates.  Donkeys in North America and Europe tend to be housed in areas where the ground is soft. Also, they do not get the exercise that they are accustomed too in a more natural environment.  As a result of the grasses and lack of daily movement, donkeys can easily put on too much weight. 

The sugars in the grasses set of a chemical reaction in a donkey's body that causes their hooves to become inflamed and sore.  Also because the ground is soft in North America and Eurpoe, a donkey's hooves can easily become overgrown.  The excess weight, and the inflamed overgrown hooves cause lameness in donkeys. 

Donkey owners must ensure their donkeys eat grasses and hay that are appropriate for donkeys - hay that is low in sugars.  Donkey owners must also ensure that their donkeys live in an area that best resembles a natural donkey environment where they can have access to sand, and hard dry surfaces.  And donkey owners must have   their donkey's hooves trimmed by a hoof care professional every 6 - 8 weeks for regular maintenance.  If a donkey has lameness issues his/her hooves may need more frequent trimming.  And a donkey should be vaccinated for rabies and tetanus, have his/her teeth checked annually to ensure that his/her teeth are not developing sharp points, and be dewormed regularly. 

Donkeys tend to be affectionate animals and enjoy rubs, hugs, and brushing by their trusted human companions.  However, some donkeys have endured terrible abuse at the hands of people.  These donkeys may be shy, fearful.  They may kick out at people or run away.  Patience is required when handling an abused donkey.  It is our responsiblity to understand that when a donkey kicks or runs away, he/she is only responding to us as they have learned from us.  But please refrain from feeding donkeys surgary treats very often.  A slice of apple or carrot is fine as a treat on a specical occasion.  

The misconception that a donkey is a good 'guard' animal is based on a donkey's keen senses of sight and smell.  It is also based on their ability to stand their ground when confronted by something new or dangerous.  But at the same time, this misconception exploits a donkey's sense of fear.  Donkeys are often loyal to their herdmates and to themselves.  When a fox or coyote threatens them, they may react in fear.  To take advantage of their sense of fear is exploitative and cruel.  What is the solution for people who need a 'guard' animal?  Improve the fence around your property.  There are some great options in fencing now.  

Donkeys live naturally in a semi-desert environment where they would walk for many kilomerters over sand and stones.  The grasses in such environments are sparse.  Their hooves would naturally be worn by the sand, stones, and hours of daily movement.  But in domesticated places grasses are too rich and their ground is too soft.  When donkeys eat rich grasses, the metabolic waste and sugars from the grasses are interpreted by their bodies as toxins.  In order to rid their bodies of these toxins, donkeys hooves grow very fast.  Because their hooves grow fast, they need regular care from a hoof care professional such as a farrier. 

Above picture:  Carrie and Jonas, mother and son, rest together.  These two are very close and have never been separated.  The eat together, rest together, walk about the paddock togheter, and play.  They were rescued from a hoarding situation of neglect.  Jonas was 2 years old, ungelded and had not been handled.  His hooves were deformed.  Through careful and quiet handling he accpeted interaction with people.  He watched us brush his mother and watched me trim her hooves.  He learned, through watching, that people can be kind, helpful, and enjoyable to be around.