How Much Does A Donkey Cost?

If you’ve been thinking about getting a donkey, you may be wondering how much it will cost to acquire your new pet and how much it will cost to keep him or her. So how much does a donkey cost?

As with most equines, the cost of purchase varies widely, ranging from free to many thousands of dollars. The amount that you end up paying will depend a great deal on what you want.

If you just want a pet, companion animal or pasture ornament, you may do very well taking on a “free to good home” donkey or rescuing a donkey from the kill pen at your local auction yard. If you choose the latter option, you will pay the going, per pound meat price for the animal you choose.

If you’re looking for a well-trained donkey that you can trail ride, show, work, etc., You’ll pay a price commensurate with the amount of training the animal has had, it’s size, breeding, gender and a number of other factors.

Prices start at around $300 for one donkey and can go up to $2,000-3,000, and even higher.

Just as with horses, a well bred, well-trained, large, rideable/drivable donkey can cost several thousand dollars. Likewise, specialty donkeys, such as miniatures may come with lengthy and complex pedigrees that will cost you a pretty penny.

You may be able to find a nice miniature through your local Humane Society or animal control.

After You’ve Bought Your Donkey, More Expenses Follow!

donkey ongoing expenses

Keep in mind that once you’ve located a donkey that you want, you’ll need to get him from point A to point B. This means you’ll either need to have a truck and trailer of your own or you’ll need to hire one.

Be advised that donkeys are very social animals, so if you get one, you’ll need another one. You may purchase a very costly, well-trained, pedigreed donkey as your personal riding animal.

He or she will be perfectly happy with a less spendy companion found through free ads, local auction yard or the SPCA.

Just remember that animals with iffy backgrounds may end up costing you a great deal in veterinary fees. Additionally, your ongoing upkeep for your companion animal will be just about as much is that for your trained and pedigreed animal.

Begin With Housing And Fencing

Before you ever look at a donkey, you’ll need to be sure that you have a place to keep one. Ideally, you should have a good, sturdy barn. If you live in a climate that doesn’t get too cold and doesn’t have a lot of inclement weather, a three sided shed will do.

Donkeys do best when their food consists mostly of grass and hay, so you’ll need to have good pasture with a nice, sturdy, safe fence. Use ranch panels or horse fencing to put together your fence.

Avoid barbed wire as it can be quite dangerous. Be advised that donkeys are notorious for escaping electric fences.

Budget For At Least Annual Vet Visits

Donkeys need all of the veterinary care that a horse would need. Your vet should come out at least once a year to conduct a thorough exam and administer all necessary vaccinations for your area.

Your veterinarian will also take care of dental needs, and your donkeys’ teeth should be floated at least once every two years to maintain a good chewing surface.

Locate A Good Hay Supplier

Look for a good, local source of hay. It’s a good idea to purchase local hay because it will cost you less to have it delivered or even to pick it up yourself if it is conveniently nearby.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to find a hay supplier who grows a mixed, unfertilized pasture hay. This is preferable to highly fertilized, very rich mono crop hay when it comes to donkeys.

Donkeys do best with an abundant amount of highly fibrous, moderately rich natural hay, and this type of hay is usually less expensive. Typically, they do not need grain; however, you should talk with your vet about planning your donkeys’ specific diet.

Donkeys Need Stuff!

donkeys can be expensive

In addition to hay, your donkey will need equipment such as:

  • Grooming Implements
  • Watering Trough
  • Supplements
  • Salt Blocks
  • Lead Rope
  • Feed Dish
  • Fly Spray
  • Halter
  • Saddle
  • Bridle

… and more depending on your intended use of the donkey, your area and your climate.

Locate A Good Barefoot Farrier

Donkeys typically don’t need to wear shoes. Their hooves are tougher and stronger than horses’ hooves. A strong, healthy donkey can generally go barefoot as long as its hooves are regularly and well maintained.

Look for a barefoot farrier who has verifiable experience trimming donkeys’ hooves. Don’t let anyone tell you that donkeys’ hooves are the same as horses’ hooves. They aren’t!

So How Much Does It Cost To Buy And Keep A Donkey?

how much does it cost to buy and keep a donkey

Your costs for buying and keeping a donkey will vary wildly depending upon what you need and where you are. When determining how much it will cost you to have a donkey, look through the categories above.

As a rule of thumb, you’re probably looking at around $1,000 per donkey per year as your ongoing maintenance cost.

Decide what you’re looking for in a donkey and locate local sources for the type of donkey you want and need. You’ll be able to determine your potential costs by making phone calls and talking with local donkey owners.

If you don’t have property, you will need to buy or rent land to keep your donkey. You’ll need a couple of acres minimum per donkey. To find out how much this will cost you, you’ll need to look into local land prices and/or equine boarding prices.

Likewise, you’ll need to price out the cost of shelter (your donkey needs a place to sleep) and fencing and the manpower necessary to install it.

To determine the cost of veterinary care, hoof care, hay and supplies, you’ll need to make phone calls to your local vets, farriers and feed stores to determine what’s available to you and how much it will cost you.

Just as with all other costs associated with equines, these items and services vary greatly depending upon where you are and what you choose to purchase.

For example, in some areas hay may cost between five and ten dollars a bale. In areas where hay is scarce, that same bale of hay might cost you as much is twenty-five dollars. High-end feed stores, rodeo suppliers and the like may be more costly than your local, unassuming feed store.

Vets and farriers who specialize in performance horses will be more costly than your average, everyday, run-of-the-mill farm vet or farrier.

It’s easy to see that the amount it will cost you to acquire a donkey and keep one depends on a wide variety of factors unique to you and your area.

The best way that you can determine exactly what cost you should anticipate is to do very thorough local research. Begin by talking to local horse and donkey owners to get good referrals to local sources, services and supplies.

Donkey Needs

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it a good idea to get a rescue donkey?

If you are very experienced in dealing with equines, getting a rescue donkey can be a good idea. For inexperienced people, it can be overwhelming or dangerous. Unwanted donkeys that you might find at auction may be abused or neglected animals, wild-caught animals or unhandled or spoiled animals. All of these can be extremely problematic. You are really best off seeking out a reputable breeder or looking through ads posted by individuals on local message boards and services that match current owners with those seeking donkeys and other animals. It is always best to be able to see the donkey in its home environment, interact with and get to know it before bringing it home.

2. Is a donkey a long term commitment?

A well cared for donkey can live to be fifty years old, so taking one is, indeed, a long term commitment.

3. How can donkeys get by on poor pasture?

Donkeys have a slower rate of digestion than horses, ponies and even mules. They are able to eat a wide variety of plants and grasses, and the food stays in the hindgut and in contact with digestive bacteria and enzymes for a long period of time. This means that the maximum amount of nutritional value is extracted from foods consumed.

4. Is it safe for donkeys to eat shrubs and trees?

In most cases, it is safe for donkeys to trees and bushes, but it can be quite unsafe for the arboreal victims! You’ll do well to protect your garden plants, trees and bushes from donkeys and to redirect their appetite toward brambles and the like. When you prune your garden shrubs and trees, you may want to toss the branches to the donkeys. Check first to make certain you aren’t offering something potentially harmful. Most types of shrubs and trees are non-toxic, and a well fed donkey will not usually eat something that is dangerous.

5. What are the most important health concerns for donkeys?

You want to be sure your donkeys receive good tooth care in order to chew grain and forage thoroughly and get the digestive process started correctly. You must be sure to de-worm your donkeys on a regular basis to further assist good digestion and overall good health. Be sure your donkey is active, and don’t overfeed. It’s very easy for a donkey to get fat, and this has just as many generalized health concerns for donkeys as for people. Make sure your donkey is tended to by the farrier on a regular basis. A trim every six weeks or so will help keep the hooves healthy and strong and helps prevent any musculoskeletal problems that might develop as a result of poorly cared for hooves.

5 thoughts on “How Much Does A Donkey Cost?”

  1. Hi, I have an Arabian mare that I rescued from a kill pen. She’s very green and spooky. She needs to be trained which will do this Spring, as we are in thd thick of winter. She needs a companion, but I don’t wantvto end up sith another animal that has been this abused and dangerous. She has run me overtwice and bucked me off once. Injuries lasted until the snow started. She needs a companion but not one who won’t benefit her. Should I take her to the auction to meet her bew friend?

  2. I have a 5 yr old female goat who was best friends with my 27 year old Arabian mare that just died suddenly in surgery due to cancer. She is so lonely…bothering neighbors. She stays in my room quite often…overlooking my horses pasture. Do you think your mare might be a good companion?


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