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What is a good size for a riding donkey ?   [back to article list] 

Source:  [DonkeyMuleInfo] Digest Number 2765

I have a BLM donkey that I am training for driving. If he is also
trained for riding, how much weight can he safely carry? I weigh 160,
the donkey weighs 800 - 900 pounds. His conformation is good. I have a
draft horse/mini horse background and this boy just seems so slight of
build I don't want to overburden him.
How much can they carry when they are trained for packing?
Donna


Donna,
The rule of thumb is that a donkey can safely carry
25% of their weight, including tack. I am thinking
that he probably doesn't weigh as much as your
thinking though. Our 15h mammoth gelding only weighed
in at about 900 lbs, per the scales at the vet's
office. If this is a smaller donkey, he's probably
more like 500 lbs? There is a way to measure them and
figure out their correct weight, hopefully someone can
send you the formula. Or, I will try to find it!!
tanya, colorado

Tanya,
Height X torso length X girth circumference divided by 300 provides a
bodyweight guessimate. The measured-weight is usually fairly close to what
their weight is on a scale if the donkey is physically mature and not
grossly obese or severely underweight.

The plump 43” mature gelding I had a few years ago measure-weighted
(43x48x51.5) at 354 pounds but on the scale he weighed 362 pounds. The 48”
mature gelding I had measure-weighted (48x55x57) at 501.6 pounds and he
weighed 494 pounds on the scale.

I have the scale weighs of some of the donkeys here from their vet visit Aug
27th and can compare them to their HTG measured-weighs:

Nellietoo, a 51” mature jennet on the scale weighed 624 pounds, her
measure-weight (51x57x63) was 610 pounds (14 pounds, about 2% of her actual
weight difference compared to her measure-weight).

Q-Te, a 53” mature gelding on the scale weighed 688 pounds, his
measure-weight (53x65x61) was 700 pounds (12 pounds, about 1.7% of his
actual weight difference compared to his measure-weight).

Maude, a 53” mature jennet on the scale weighed 772 pounds, her
measure-weight (53x67.5x64) was 763.2 pounds (8.8 pounds, about 1.1% of her
actual weight difference compared to her measure-weight).

Lexi, a 53” mature jennet on the scale weighed 802 pounds, her
measure-weight (53x68x65) was 780.8 pounds (22 pounds, about 2.7% of her
actual weight difference compared to her measure-weight).

Carmen, a 55” mature jennet on the scale weighed 877 pounds, her
measure-weight (55x71.5x67) was 878 pounds (1 pound difference between her
actual weight and measure-weight).

Jesse, a 56” mature gelding on the scale weighed 817 pounds, his
measure-weight (56x67x65.5) was 819 pounds (2 pound difference between his
actual weight and measure-weight).

Woody, a 58.5” mature gelding on the scale weighed 1012 pounds, his
measure-weight (58.5x72x71) was 996.8 pounds (15 pounds, about 1.4% of his
actual weight difference compared to his measure-weight).

Diamond, a 60.5” mature gelding on the scale weighed 1177 pounds, his
measure-weight (60.5x74x76) was 1184 pounds (7 pounds, less than a 1%
difference of his actual weight compared to the measure-weight).

(All 8 of these donkeys were rated by the vet as being in good body
condition).

There can be a larger difference in the measure-weight and scale weight of
younger donkeys who haven’t reached physical maturity yet and it can be very
tricky with immature miniatures. The youngest of the three miniature
geldings here is a 31.5” yearling who weighed 137 pounds on the scale, and
his measure-weight (31.5x34x36) was 128.5 pounds. That’s a difference of
8.5 pounds between his scale weight and measure-weight or about 6% of his
bodyweight. That’s right on the margin of whether his measure-weight should
be used. One of the others is a 32” yearling gelding who weighed 129 pounds
on the scale, and his measure-weight (32x34.5x37) was 136 pounds. That’s a
7 pound difference or about 5% of his actual weight, also making it
questionable whether to use his measure-weight as a weight guessimate. The
other 32” yearling gelding weighed 157 pounds on the scale, and his measure
weight (32x35.5x38) was 140 pounds. That’s a difference of 17 pounds or
almost 11% of his actual weight difference from the measure-weight and that
is too much of a variance to use as a weight guessimate. All three of these
yearlings have another inch or so of height to go, and over the next 3 years
their torso will also length a bit more and widen and deepen so at physical
maturity they will about 33” in height and weigh in the 300 pound range.

The measure-weight method of guessimating bodyweight is not recommended to
be used for immature donkeys (anything under 5 years old or until they have
a full mouth of adult teeth), and it should not be used for mature donkeys
to estimate their weight if they are obese because it can under-estimate
their weight, or if severely underweight can over-estimate their weight.

Bone weighs more than muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. Something
else to keep in mind is an abundance of body fat is usually an indication of
a malnourished donkey under all that blubber. Body fat is like a parasite.
It takes the nourishment it wants so it can keep multiplying and adding more
fat, and leaves very little nourishment leftover for the donkey to be able
to maintain its own health.

When determining the weight-burden capacity of a donkey, don’t forget to
reduce the load weight by the amount of blubber the donkey already has to
carry. Sometimes it can be as much as an 80% reduction if the donkey is
very overweight. The maximum safe loadweight is 25% of a mature donkey’s
own bodyweight. Mature is when they have a full mouth of adult teeth, until
they do have all of their adult teeth, they are physically immature and
should not carry any loadweight except their own body. So let’s say the
donkey is a 7 year old 48” gelding. His bodyweight in good condition would
be about 500 pounds, making his maximum loadweight 125 pounds, but say he is
a pudgy little fellow who tips the scales at 540 pounds. You would need to
reduce his loadweight by the 40 pounds of blubber his frame is already
burdened to carry, leaving his loadweight capacity at 85 pounds. That 85
pounds has to include the weight of the pack saddle and pack, or the weight
of the saddle and rider.

A mature donkey like Woody, who is 58.5” and weighs in the 1000 pound range,
has a loadweight capacity of about 250 pounds, but he can’t be expected to
carry 250 pounds on steep, rugged terrain without risk of injuring him. A
lot of determining loadweight is based on common sense. The further they
must travel and the more difficult the terrain, the less they should be
expected to carry and that includes driving too. The loadweight is not
lighter just because it is on wheels. They still have to be able to get the
loadweight rolling and be able to hold it back on hills, push it up slopes,
and be able to stop it without damaging their hocks and stifles.

Vicki/ladywife

Reprinted with permission. Copyright © Vicki Knotts Abbott.

Source:  [DonkeyMuleInfo] Digest Number 2765
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DonkeyMuleInfo

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