NEER North
52 Ash Street, West Newbury, MA 01985

All about Donkeys and Mules

Donny and Slick, both NEER north alumni

written by: Laura Strassman

Donkeys, Mules and Horses are each a separate species however all evolved from the same family
Equidae and all belong to the subspecies called Equus.

Donkeys have longer ears than horses, and thinner manes and tails. Donkeys originate from
Africa and evolved in a warmer climate. Donkeys’ hooves are smaller and more upright when
compared to horses.

Mules are a mixed breed. A donkey father and a horse mother.
They tend to be very strong for their size versus horses and more tolerant of weather than donkeys.

Hinnys are a donkey mother and a horse father- they tend not to be as strong as mules.
Two mules cannot reproduce as they have an odd number of chromosomes. That is why mules
and hinnys are always half horse, half donkey.

Donkeys are very social animals and it’s best to have two.

Donkeys need low sugar high fiber food such as barley straw and are grazing animals so they will want to be roaming around eating- grass should not be the majority of their diets you will want to feed them straw throughout the day. Hay Pillows or hay nets hung throughout their enclosure will help to encourage movement.

Of course, like other animals, they need fresh clean water available at all times.

Unlike horses, their coat is not very waterproof and will get soaked in rain. Donkeys always need access to a dry shelter, which can be a three-sided type shed. Donkeys will get soaked through to the skin in the rain they will seek shelter when it is rainy or windy. If you live in colder locations with winter snow and ice then they need a barn that can be closed up and straw to keep warm.

Like horses, donkeys should be groomed/brushed regularly, hooves trimmed every 4-6 weeks depending on their growth, and teeth checked every year. They need vaccinations that may vary by your location and a deworming regimen as advised by your veterinarian.

Mules most often get the best traits of the donkey and the horse in terms of their health and care needs. They are much more tolerant of dry conditions and need less water and rarely become dehydrated. They live longer than horses on average. They have very strong hooves and often do not need shoes, just regular trimming. Mules typically require very little grain feed, subsisting just on adequate amounts of forage.



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