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Blanketing Donkeys

Vicki Knotts Abbott ©   Dec 3, 2002  [Back to Article List]

I keep a variety of blankets and sheets handy in case I do need one, but I
don't blanket except in emergencies or for traveling during the cold months.

In my barn I have "draft-free" free stall areas so all of my donkeys can get
out of the wind. When I take the saddle off they stand in a draft-free area
while I rub dry and fluff their fuzzies with handtowels. Donkeys have three
layers of hair in their winter coats. The top layer is their "raincoat" to
repel rain, snow, and sleet. They get daily grooming with rubber curry to
keep their winter coats thick and plush for insulation. I was in the middle
of, I mean cooking supper the other day and looked out the
window and saw all 7 donkeys standing in the rain getting soaked with
nature's donkey-bath. The weather forecast was for dropping temperatures so
I brought everyone in and rubbed and fluffed. The downy third layer of hair
next to their skin was still dry.

I adjust the amount of hay I give them according to the weather. If its wet
or WINDY I give more, if the air is calm but cold, I give more than their
normal amount but slightly less than the amount if its windy or wet. If the
sun is shining and they are sun bathing I give them their normal winter
amount. Right now I'm feeding five mammoths, two standards and an ancient
sheep (about 7500 pounds of donkey bodyweight) and they are getting two 40
pound bales of grass hay when the air temperature is above 30 and calm. I
don't want them to hang out in the barn all day if the sun is shining (barn
air gets stale fast) so they get a small amount of hay in the morning and
afternoon, slightly more in the evening at sunset, and the majority of their
hay at 10pm when I make the final barn check at night. If its raining,
snowing, sleeting, or windy I increase the amounts during the morning,
afternoon, and evening feeding.

A blanketed donkey gets hot fast and the worst thing for the health of his
skin when he has his heavy winter downy coat of hair is for him to sweat.
Also confining a donkey "at night" in a stall can interfere with the way
nature intended for them to keep warm because it does not allow them to come
and go as they need to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If they get cold they
will come inside. If they get overly warm they will go outside. Instead of
blanketing Ben and Badger it would be better to "wind-proof" an area for
them so they can decide when they need to warm or cool their body. I
mentioned above about how fast the air in a barn gets stale. To get an idea
of the amount of ammonia fumes that can accumulate in a clean stall in a
matter of a few hours without fresh air circulating to dispel it, put a
bucket of manure in the trunk of your car. I know at times it seems like a
good idea to confine them in a stall, especially for foaling, but that
exposes them to stale air that can affect their breathing. They need fresh
air, just like we do.

On really cold bitter days and nights I leave the lights in the barn on.
You would be amazed how much radiant heat a 60 watt lightbulb puts out. Add
that to their body heat and even on the coldest, windy days the
wind-sheltered areas in the barn (with its three open doors for fresh air)
still stays toasty warm to wear I peel off my insulated coveralls while I'm
feeding, grooming, and mucking.

Vicki Knotts Abbott©2002

Dec 3, 2002


 Message #18003 / DonkeyMuleInfo

[back to article list]

Opinions expressed in articles on this website are those of the author(s) of each story or article and not necessarily those of  Shadow Ridge.  Shadow Ridge does not necessarily agree with, support, or endorse any definitions, treatments, opinions or statistics stated by these authors. They are entirely responsible for the content of their respective story(s) or article(s).

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Annie Caswell Donkey Prints, Tote Bags and Checkbook Covers

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