If you’re going to have a donkey, you’ll need to have two. Donkeys are very sociable, and they like to be kept in small herds. If you’re not able to have two donkeys, a donkey will bond with a pony, horse, cow or other creature. Be careful about putting donkeys with animals that are smaller than they are as some donkeys (especially jacks) will aggress.
In any event, if you’re going to have donkeys, you’ll need to have an adequate amount of land to keep them happy. So how much land does a donkey need?
What You'll Learn Today
How Much Space Does A Donkey Need
Generally speaking, about a half acre per donkey will do; however, this varies depending upon the size of the donkey and the quality of the pasture:
- A tiny miniature donkey may be perfectly happy in your standard sized backyard.
- A medium-sized, standard donkey needs a half an acre.
- A horse-sized mammoth donkey will need an acre.
If pasture is poor, even a large parcel of land won’t have value as a source of forage, but it will have exercise value.
Here is a great video of donkeys going out on pasture.
If you have a couple of standard donkeys on an acre of land, you won’t want to give them full access to the whole acre all of the time. Instead, it’s a good idea to divide your property into two or three grazing paddocks. These should all connect with your donkeys’ shelter area.
This sort of setup allows you to manage your pasture in a way that provides fresh grass at all times. You would simply keep your donkeys in one paddock (open to the shelter area) while the grass in the others has a chance to grow.
Once the donkeys have eaten down all of the grass in their current paddock, close the gate to deny them access to it and open the gate to one of the other paddocks.
Practice Good Housekeeping
In addition to providing your donkeys with ample fresh grass, pasture rotation is also a good way to help keep some pests and parasites under control. Always keep manure picked up and properly composted to help kill off any insect eggs or larvae that might be lurking within.
Can’t Donkeys Live On Open Pasture?
Donkeys need to have shelter from rain, wind, snow and harsh sun. In most situations, a three sided shed provides adequate shelter. Your donkeys must have access to their shelter, water, salt block and free feed hay at all times. This is why you will want to set up all of your paddocks so that they open into the shelter area. This makes pasture rotation very easy.
What Can You Do About Poor Pasture?
When you rotate your pasture, you have a good opportunity to improve the resting pasture while the donkeys are grazing on active pasture. When a paddock is on break, inspect it carefully and deal with any weeds that may be taking up space that could be better occupied by grass.
Once you’ve removed weeds, you may want to till the entire area and plant some good grass seed. Bermuda grass and Timothy are excellent choices. Avoid ryegrass.
Always allow resting pasture to be graze-free for a minimum of three months at a time. This not only allows plenty of time for fresh grass to grow, it also ensures that the lifecycle of many parasites that may have made their way into the soil will be disrupted.
It’s important to note that this sort of pasture rotation doesn’t eliminate the need for a good deworming program. It does help manage intestinal parasites in between worm treatments.
What If You Don’t Have Half An Acre Of Pasture Per Donkey?
In all circumstances, you should provide your donkeys free access to fresh, clean grass hay. Use a hay net to present the hay as this will slow your donkeys down, keep them busy and help replicate the experience of grazing.
Adding soaked beet pulp to your donkeys’ diet can also help provide important roughage that ensures good gut health. Beet pulp can make up about 50% of your donkeys’ forage requirements.
Of course, pasture turnout is also valuable as a form of exercise and recreation. If you don’t have a good large turnout area for your donkey, you’ll need to be sure he gets plenty of exercise through riding, pulling a cart, packing (donkeys can carry a significant weight), lunging, or if he’s just a pet going for brisk walks.
Toys (like these here) can also be a great source of exercise!