Hi Melody,

I have a 38″ donkey approximately 29 years old.  He is thin and I wondered what you feed your senior donkeys to put weight on them?  He has had his teeth done and is wormed every other month.  I live in Michigan so I want to get weight on him before the winter.  I feed him 3-1/2 lbs. of Timothy Hay Cubes per day

Hi Jeannette,

Most importantly understand donkeys can get arthritis just like people. So we need to be addressing ways to help the donkey with pain during the winter. Pain sucks and can trigger your donkey to slow down eating. I give Cosequin ASU as we have two senior donkeys on this in the winter.

Blanketing is important to help your donkey survive the cold. The older donkeys, sick or very young need a little help. Be sure and take a look at Donkey 102 VIDEO ON DEMAND for blanketing and more. All of my teaching videos come with an E-BOOK. No blanket is waterproof so get two so you can dry the other blanket during long storms. I blanket when we hit the 20’s. Donkeys cannot take the cold. They are made to live in the hot desert and cold at night. Not the cold and frigid weather. It is important to check the blanket often and change to a dry blanket when the blanket is wet. Never leave a blanket on that is wet and take off when the weather is above freezing. Warm clean water is vital for donkeys in the winter as donkeys will drink more water when it is warm and clean in the winter.

Parasite Control

Please do fecal samples with your vet. Over worming destroys the immune system and can cause resistant parasites worms. I have one donkey on my farm that has resistance to Ivermectin. Nothing I can do to stop it. I have tried for the past five years. Since this donkey lives with his donkey buddy’s all the donkeys are constantly gaining parasite counts. I can never let this group of donkeys into a pasture the other donkeys or horses use or the parasites would spread to the entire farm. Resistant parasites are a huge problem as people worm every other month, destroying the immune system.  I send fecal samples to my vet in the spring and fall. My vet tells me what wormer to use. Select De-worming for a healthy equine.


Tested hay 10% or lower in sugar and protein is highly recommended. Test hay at Equine Analytical Lab  For donkeys who have few teeth left a mash is recommended it is important to ensure the sugar and protein content is 10% or lower and portion control is recommended to prevent obesity. Do not feed straw to donkeys with few teeth (all forage including straw must be tested). Obesity in donkeys causes a slow and painful death. Clean warm water is a must. Donkeys will drink more water when it is clean and warm in the winter. I give free choice lose coarse lose salt. Salt should have no selenium if your hay has selenium testing hay is important.

Hay Mash – Hay Pellets

Use for donkeys that have limited teeth or gum problems can not eat dry hay or straw. Standlee Orchard Hay Pellets work best made to be the consistency of oat meal. Miniature donkeys get one cup in the morning and one cup in the evening. Standard Donkeys two cups in the morning and two cups in the evening.

All forage (hay or straw) must be tested to come in 10% or lower in NCS sugar and protein. I feed orchard here in the PNW. Timothy is safe if no alfalfa and you have tested as timothy, teff and orchard can get really high in sugar. If your senior donkey has a hard time chewing you can soak but do not leave soaking too long.  Senior Feed look for low sugar in small amounts once a day will help too. I use the Hay Pillow https://www.thehaypillow.com/ as this slows down digestion and prevents parasites. I place mine in the shelter inside a plastic slow feeder. This is a wonderful way to keep the fuel moving for donkeys without getting too fat and or colic. Senior feed (small amount in the morning and at night) will help. Make sure to find low sugar. I would do my best to maintain the weight all year in lieu of gaining in the summer. The donkey needs to stay healthy all year long.

I hope this helps,

Melody Johnson


Senior Donkeys Need Help In The Winter

2 thoughts on “Senior Donkeys Need Help In The Winter

  1. I wouldn’t be worming any equine every other month. Donkeys, like horses, can become resistant to the dewormer if used too frequently. If there are real concerns about parasites then have a stool sample analyzed; it is approximately the same cost of a dewormer, doesn’t lead to resistance and is generally more healthy for the donkey. Also, you can supplement hay with hay cubes soaked in warm water (so the consistency is like a thick porridge). When I need to encourage any horse or donkey to eat I also add a little molasses.

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