Meet the donkeys!
Kate Mary Simon Tessa Cajun & Kazoo!

Also Fi's first donkey Saturday, and our beloved Nicky (dec.)

Click on the names above to see each donkey's page
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This page was last updated on 16 October 2003

Nb. Have a look at the donkeys working at Churchill Island, Easter 2002.
We use our donkeys for riding, harness, farm work & packing. They are also terrific pets.

If you are interested in getting a donkey too, please read the information below!
Photo left.

From left: Mary, Kate, Fiona, Simon, Cajun, Tessa, Kazoo & visiting Franny.

January 2004.

Are you too big to ride your donkey, unable to afford harness gear or simply wanting a pet?

Well your donkey will really enjoy going out for walks with you. Look for obstacles that are fun to train your donkey in becoming accustomed to different situations. Gratings, different surfaces, steps, adventure playground equipment, logs, bridges and creeks can all be used as training devices.

As you train your donkey, it will increase it's trust in you and be prepared to do whatever you ask. Make it all a game with lots of excited praise when your donk does the right thing. It is also a guaranteed way to get to know people in your area and raise the image of donkeys with the public.

Doing things together definitely builds up the closeness of your relationship and brings a deep satisfaction.
                       
Donkeys require regular care for their health & well-being.

Company
Donkeys are very sociable. Most people can't average more than a couple of  hours per day outside interacting with their donkey, and many spend much less time than that. So think of your donkey's needs and get at least a pair of donkeys. Other companion animals are better than nothing,  but think how you need the company of your own species for conversation and social activities...in the same way, your donkey really needs other donkeys for fulfilment.

Hoof care
Ross trims our donkeys' hooves every six weeks. Fiona's first donkey Saturday required shoeing for riding, however none of her subsequent donkeys have required shoeing for road and track work. It is important to get information on the correct shape to trim donkey hooves, whether you do it yourself or employ a farrier, as donkey hoof trimming is done differently to that for horses.

Living in a relatively wet area, we have to work at minimising seedy toe (a bacterial hoof rot) during the wet months. In each paddock, we have a donkey shelter with a brick floor. In winter, the donkeys have their haynets in the shelters, so they spend many hours each day standing on a dry, hard surface. Therefore, the amount of time spent standing on wet, muddy ground is reduced. This also reduces the chance of mud fever (infection on the skin above the hoof area) and rainscald (a bacterial skin condition over the body).

Other treatments we use against seedy toe are application of  iodine disinfectants and/or copper sulphate to the underside of the hoof. These assist in drying the hoof and combating the bacteria. Cotton wool is used to plug the pockets and to keep the treatment from falling out! Fiona often also feeds 'biotin' powder during winter, and applies hoof dressing regularly. Commercial preparations against hoof rot can also be used but some can burn the animal and aren't healthy for you either.


Finally, regular exercise on firm surfaces keeps good circulation happening in the hoof and keeps the 'frog' of the hoof in good condition. So go for regular walks, rides or harness drives!

Grooming
Grooming is a weekly fun task. The donks really love it and by improving circulation, it assists their coat condition. Many people allergic to horses are not allergic to donkeys, which are animals with a sweet but subtle individual scent.

Worming
To keep your donkey healthy, worming needs to be done every three or four months. Rotate paddocks after worming.

Tetanus/strangles injections
These injections are due annually for boosters after the first course of treatment when you get your donkey. It isn't hard to give injections, so ask the vet or feedstore staff to explain you how it is done. This also means you have the knowledge if you end up having to administer a course of anti-biotic injections to your donkey. Getting the vet in each time an injection is required is expensive and unnecessary.

Dental care
This is essential. Young & old donkeys should be checked every six months; otherwise get your donkey checked every 12 months. Teeth get sharp and effectively mean the donkey ends up chewing its own mouth. When we got Tessa checked by the equine dentist, he discovered that she had bad mouth ulcers resulting from sharp, unattended teeth. Poor teeth can also cause weight  loss, pain and problems with riding/driving.

Working with your donkeys

Donkeys remind me of working dogs. They just love being busy doing what they were bred for. Donkeys also really enjoy seeing new scenery. You'd get bored if you lived in one paddock all day too!

Riding
Provided you have a donkey which is capable of taking the weight of you and your saddle, go ahead and ride. Miltary saddles, stock/semi-stock & western saddles in small, light sizes are all very suitable for donkeys.  Most donkeys are slower and quieter than most horses. This means you can enjoy the passing scenery, wildlife, fresh air, etc. They are good mounts for nervous riders and children. Donkeys can give you a good trot and canter, but don't expect to go racing up mountains. Some donkeys can pace or lope too. Obstacles such as embankments, creeks and small jumps add spice to your ride. One thing donkeys are good at is going all day at a steady pace. (Well, stop for lunch & other breaks!)

Harness
Donkeys are excellent harness animals. They are good at pulling, and you can travel faster and further in harness than with the same donkey ridden. Many vehicles are suitable for donkeys in single or multiple harness.

Packing
Part of a donkey's social nature means that they love following a leader in line. Whether its you who is leading or another donkey doesn't really matter. This characteristic means that donkeys are extremely good pack animals. Their pace, size and willingness to work are very suitable for packing too. Instead of going on a bushwalk carrying all your gear, take along your donkey to do all the carrying while you simply hold the lead rope!

Farm work
We use our donkeys to snig firewood from gullies and fence posts up hills. Our donkeys have spread gravel with a scoop, moved hay & fencing wire on a sled, and ploughed. Some people have baskets on a pack saddle and use them for fruit or flower picking. (Watch out that the donkey doesn't eat your crop!) Your imagination is the only limit to what you can do with your donkeys. Further, donkeys can handily get to places with equipment that a car cannot go.
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