How Much Weight Can A Donkey Carry?

Donkeys are stronger and more surefooted than horses, and they are much more dependable in challenging situations. Maybe that’s why they have been well known as “beasts of burden” throughout human history. Even today, all around the world donkeys are an important mode of transportation and way of carrying goods from one place to another. Read on to learn more on how much weight can a donkey carry.

Examples Of Donkeys Work Throughout History

  • Ancient Egyptians used donkeys to carry loads of precious metals from Africa into Egypt.
  • Donkeys carried bolts of silk on the famous trade route, the Silk Road, which ran from the Mediterranean to the Pacific Ocean.
  • In ancient Rome, donkeys were used on farms, in vineyards and in the military.
  • Donkeys carried heavy loads of grapes along narrow paths in the vineyards of Spain and Greece.
  • Today, donkeys are still in use in many areas to plow land, carry goods to market, hall water and collect wood for fuel.

Donkeys Carry Loads In The Mountains Of India

Why Are Donkeys So Well Suited As Pack Animals?

Smart, reliable donkeys are safety conscious. This is a trait that is often mistaken for stubbornness, but a smart rider or packer understands that when a donkey refuses to do something, it probably has a good reason.

Unlike horses, when donkeys are faced with challenging or frightening situations they tend to stop, study and think the matter through. This quality makes them a good partner on the trail.

How Much Weight Can Donkeys Safely Carry?

the weight of the donkey

In addition to their superior intelligence, donkeys are also quite a bit stronger than horses. A donkey in good condition can carry between 20% and 25% of its body weight. It’s important to understand that the load must be correctly balanced and well secured.

So how much do donkeys weigh and how much can they carry? There are three sizes of donkeys: miniature, standard and mammoth – each with different average weight.

1. Miniature Donkeys

Miniature donkeys typically weigh about 400 pounds, so could potentially carry a load of up to 100 pounds; although, a load of that size would probably be ill advised for miniature as they only stand about 3 feet (9 hands) high or less.

This means that a miniature donkey could carry a light pack or a very small rider. A well trained mini could be a good mount for a child.

2. Standard Donkeys

Standard donkeys typically stand about 11 hands high (44 inches) and weigh about 500 pounds. Therefore a standard donkey could potentially carry as much as 125 pounds.

A standard donkey is a good mount for a small to medium-sized woman or small man and a good pack animal for a medium to large sized load.

3. Mammoth Donkeys

Mammoth donkeys stand about 14 hands high (56 inches) and weigh about 950 to 1000 pounds. A mammoth donkey in good condition could carry as much as 250 pounds.

A mammoth donkey is a good mount for an average to large man or woman. These donkeys can also carry large loads if packed and balanced correctly.

Pack With Care!

Pack With Care

It’s important to understand that just because a donkey could potentially carry a heavy load, it is not necessary or advisable to fully burden the animal. The donkeys in the video above are overloaded.

Notice that the packs being put on the donkey in this video are not too heavy for a slim woman to lift and handle, though they would be too heavy for her to carry on her own for a hike in the mountains.

The Weight Of The Donkey Is Not The Only Consideration!

When determining how much weight a donkey can carry, the animal’s weight is only one factor. There are a number of other considerations you must take into account.

  1. Level of maturity is a very important consideration. A donkey is not fully mature until it is three or four years old. It is very unwise to begin heavy training of any kind until your donkey reaches a minimum age of three. Keep your donkey’s load light until he is well past the age of four.
  2. A donkey in poor health will naturally not be able to carry as much as a healthy donkey. Donkeys that have been neglected or abused should be allowed to rest and recover before being asked to carry any load. Are they strong enough yet? Do their hooves need trimming?
  3. Out of shape donkeys cannot carry as much as fit donkeys. If your donkey has been out to pasture or kept up in a stall for a period of time without exercising, you’ll need to get him in shape before doing any serious packing or riding.
  4. How hard is the trail you plan to travel? You have to factor in the ruggedness of the terrain, access to water and the weather conditions when you are deciding how much to ask your donkey to carry. A rough and challenging trail will naturally put limits on the weight a donkey can comfortably or safely handle.

Donkey Packing

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to travel as light as you can. When packing your donkey, think about it as if you are packing your own backpack to carry along a trail you plan to hike. Don’t bring along unnecessary items.

Choose The Right Size Donkey To Suit The Rider

In terms of riding, be considerate. Keep yourself fit and don’t overburden your animal or yourself with excessive weight, and be sure to instill this consideration in your children.

If you have a child who is currently enjoying riding a miniature or a standard donkey, prepare both the rider and the mount for the inevitable time when the rider outgrows the donkey.

You can do this by making sure that your child understands how important it is not to overburden the donkey and by training the donkey for packing and/or driving so that there will still be plenty of activities your child and his or her favorite donkey can enjoy together.

Nicky Ellis
Nicky has been an editor at Farm & Animals since 2019. Farm animals have been in her life from her earliest memories, and she learned to ride a horse when she was 5. She is a mom of three who spends all her free time with her family and friends, her mare Joy, or just sipping her favorite cup of tea.

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