What to feed a baby donkey
How to Care for a Baby DonkeyBy Kimberly Scott | Updated August 11, 2017
Things You'll Need
hay, horse feed, grain, pasture grass
Loose equine minerals
Do not help the foal shed its winter coat too early. Donkeys shed their winter coats late in the spring and can easily get sick if they are shed before the weather is completely warm.
Keep the pasture coarse rather than lush, since donkeys gain weight easily. If you do not know how to trim the donkey's hooves, find a farrier who is practiced at trimming donkey hooves.
Donkeys are members of the horse family, and have been domesticated for 5,000 years. Their wild ancestors, African wild asses, still live in northeastern Africa. Donkeys live between 30 and 50 years, and are intelligent animals that make good pets and work animals. Although donkeys are related to horses, they are sturdier and are often considered more intelligent. Donkeys need to be cared for differently than horses, which should be taken into consideration when raising a baby donkey.
Watch the newborn donkey carefully to make sure that its mother cares for it, it drinks its mother's milk and that it moves around well. Call a veterinarian if the baby does not pass manure within the first 24 hours after birth or seems unable to do so. Clean the foal's naval stump in an iodine solution to prevent infection. Keep the baby donkey with its mother until it is 4 to 6 months old.
Provide a shelter for the foal, especially during the first two weeks of life. Immediately dry off young foals that get rained on and keep them warm. Provide a shelter with at least three sides and a roof that is big enough for both the mother and foal. Provide the donkey and its mother with 1/2 or 1 acre of pasture. Encircle the pasture with wire or electric fencing.
Allow the baby donkey to continue nursing until it is 4 to 6 months old, when it will be weaned. The baby will start to taste its mother's feed when it is 2 to 4 weeks old; at this point, provide it with some feed of its own in a feed bin that its mother cannot reach. Offer the donkey hay or prepared horse feeds, with a small amount of grain or pasture grass. Cut out the grain when the foal is no longer a baby. Provide both mother and foal with fresh, clean water at all times. Give the donkeys access to a salt lick and loose equine minerals at all times.
Groom the foal with a stiff brush. In the spring, once the weather is warm, use a shedding blade on its winter coat. Provide the donkey with a dirt area in its pasture so it can take dust baths.
Ask a veterinarian to give the baby donkey vaccinations every year. Ask a veterinarian or equine dentist to check the donkey's teeth for overgrowth every one or two years or if it is having difficulty eating. Trim the donkey's hooves every two to four months. Give the donkey a dewormer every two or three months. If there are multiple foals together, separate the males from the females when they are 5 months old so they do not breed before they are physically mature.
- Government of Alberta: The Donkey
- Low-Down Donkey Outfit: Donkey Care and Information
- Keep the pasture coarse rather than lush, since donkeys gain weight easily.
- If you do not know how to trim the donkey's hooves, find a farrier who is practiced at trimming donkey hooves.
- Do not help the foal shed its winter coat too early. Donkeys shed their winter coats late in the spring and can easily get sick if they are shed before the weather is completely warm.
Care of the orphan donkey foal
Finding a nurse mare has many advantages, but they are rarely available. A mare that has just lost her foal is ideal. Success depends on a number of variables affecting the mare to foal relationship, including:
- Mares that have had a stillborn foal or have not suckled are less likely to accept
- The longer the period between the death of the mare’s foal and the introduction of the orphan foal, the less the chance of success. After 2-3 days of not being suckled the mare’s milk may dry up
- If the size discrepancy between mare and foal is great, chance of acceptance is less
- If the foal has never suckled, it gradually loses the instinct
- A mare’s mothering instinct varies between individuals. Some mares show extreme hostility at first but, once they have accepted a foal, they can make the best mothers.
There are a number of ways to help avoid or overcome rejection of a foster foal:
- Move the mare to an alternative stable from one she might associate with her dead foal
- The amnion, meconium or hide from a dead foal should be smeared over the orphan foal before presenting it to the mare
- Place a strong smell over the mare’s nostrils, eg Vicks vapour rub. Also place this on the foal, especially over hindquarters, head and neck. Renew at frequent intervals
- Put the foal to the mare when it is hungry, eg every three hours. Introduce the mare to the foal when she has a full udder
- Restraints such as chemical tranquillizers or hobbles can be used. The need to use restraints should diminish at each subsequent meeting.
Observe the mare and foal when first left together. Some mares and foals are best kept separated by a partition, which will allow the sight and smell of each other, but will protect the foal.
If unsuccessful on the first encounter re-introduce after a short period of time, as success may be achieved after further attempts. If the mare is still showing an antagonistic response after 10-12 hours then the chances of success are poor.
Colostrum must be given within the first 12 hours of life; the first feed should be within 2-3 hours of birth. The recommended amount is 250 ml every hour for the first six hours, making a total of 1. 5 litres. Absorption rapidly falls after three hours of age so foals should be encouraged to nurse as soon as possible - if in doubt the foal's IgG levels can be measured 16-20 hours after birth.
In a case of rejection of the foal, obtaining the colostrum from the mother would be preferable, or it could be taken from another mare within two days of giving birth. A healthy mare should have enough for 250 ml to be taken off after her own foal has sucked although it is useful to check colostrum quality first using a refractometer. Clean hands and the mare's udder before milking and sterilise all utensils.
Colostrum from a cow is not really suitable, although if fed in large quantities it would be better than having none. Collect colostrum and freeze at -15-20°C. Store in 250 ml batches, when required defrost slowly in hot water until it reaches 38°C. If the foal has received no colostrum, or IgG levels are measured at <800 mg/dL then plasma (preferably hyper immune) must be administered intravenously during the first 12 hours of life. Catheter placement and plasma administration is usually performed under sedation. Good levels of sedation in the donkey foal have been achieved with IV diazepam at 0.1-0.25 mg/kg.
If a mare is not producing enough milk for her foal, the mare’s diet can be supplemented while the mare is in lactation. To try and increase milk production, the following methods may be successful:
- An injection of oxytocin, 0.5-1.0 ml to stimulate the milk flow
- Feed lucerne (alfalfa) or allow grazing on lush, green grass.
There may be no alternative but to hand-rear, in which case, you should consider the following:
- Hand-rearing a foal is neither easy nor cheap and those involved should be prepared to commit their time and resources. Experienced, conscientious helpers are essential
- A foal can develop poor behavioural characteristics if hand-reared without other animal contact. Sheep and goats make good companions, but the foal should also be allowed to see other equines. When out in the fields (once the foal is over one month of age), it can be joined by a quiet pony or donkey. This companion will act as a role model
- Make sure the foal gets regular exercise, especially as it gets older and stronger. As milk contains very little vitamin D, the foal should be allowed outside regularly in the sunlight. Donkeys exposed to sunlight for at least three hours a day can produce their own vitamin D, which is essential for proper bone development
- The foal should be kept in a warm, dry place, and sheltered from the wind. A clean, loose box with clean bedding is ideal. Ideally the box should have been empty for 2-3 weeks before housing the foal and there should be no incidence of enteric disease associated with the area
- The box and all equipment used should be cleaned, disinfected and/or sterilised. Anyone entering the box should take the necessary hygiene precautions, particularly in the first 72 hours. The foal can be given covering antibiotics for the first few days if desired, although this is a matter of preference and is not generally advocated.
Bottle feeding is time-consuming but it is preferred. This could be used in the transitional period before a foal is trained to drink from a bucket. A lamb's teat is the closest in shape and pliancy to those of a donkey mare. If the foal rejects the teat, place an index finger in its mouth and, if it does not suck, move the finger against the roof of the mouth. Slowly replace the index finger with the teat once sucking begins and be patient. Keep the bottle in an upright position.
Bucket feeding is ess time-consuming once the foal has been trained, but it is much harder to introduce than the bottle. This is usually best started when the foal is two weeks old or older. Milk should be offered ad-lib in a wide, shallow bucket placed at head height. It should be replenished twice daily, and the bucket cleaned thoroughly.
To train, place your fingers into the foal’s mouth and, as it begins to suck, slowly lower your hand into the bucket of milk. It may be necessary to push the foal’s head down to show it the bucket. At worse, it may take a whole day for a foal to learn to drink from a bucket.
Sometimes a weak foal needs to be fed via a nasogastric tube. Insertion of the tube can be quite difficult. Great care must be taken during placement to ensure that the tube is in the oesophagus. A 'portex' male urine catheter 20°F can be used to intubate donkey foals but ensure the end is capped to avoid aerophagia. This can be secured into place. As gastric intubation is a risk factor for gastric ulceration in foals, the use of Omeprazole (GastroGard®) may be indicated (although this product is not licensed for use in foals under four weeks of age). Donkey foals should be accurately weighed and care taken with dosing of any drugs.
Protocol for hand-rearing
- Warm milk to 38°C for initial feeds, gradually reducing to air temperature over the first week
- Changes should always be made slowly over 24-48 hours
- A 10 kg foal requires 30 kcal/kg (125 kJ/kg) per day
- A sick or premature foal requires 36 kcal/kg (150 kJ/kg) per day
- The recommended volume of milk for a healthy foal is 100 ml/kg body weight per day. For a 10 kg foal this means 1 litre of milk a day, eg 10% of its body weight.
A foal naturally sucks from its mother about seven times a day. Ideally it should be fed at 2-3 hourly intervals, although during the first week it is preferable to feed every 1-2 hours. If the foal is sick, it may be unable to tolerate more than 50-100 ml every hour, so more intensive rearing is required. As it improves this volume can gradually increase to 200 ml an hour.
Day 1 & 2: Feed 100-120 ml every two hours (10-15% of body weight) - 10-12 feeds per day.
Days 3 to 7: Increase the volume of each feed to 150-200 ml (25% of body weight). Reduce the number of feeds to about eight a day, feeding every 2-3 hours. Milk-based pellets can be offered from one week old. From three weeks old this can be supplemented with TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer, introduced slowly up to 100 g/100 kg.
Weeks 2 & 3: Give 300-350 ml at each feed, reduce to six feeds a day on a four-hourly basis. Allow access to fresh water and consider training to bucket feed. The foal may pick at the straw bed and allow a limited quantity of good quality hay/haylage and access to grazing to start the foal weaning.
Week 4: Feed 500 ml five times a day. Do not wean off milk until eating adequate dry food. The changeover should be gradual to allow the digestive enzymes to adapt.
Weeks 8 to 12: Weaning can be progressed during this time. Give one litre of feed, four times daily at eight weeks, then three feeds a day at 12 weeks. The foal may still be taking 0.5 litres of milk a day. A hand-reared foal should be fully weaned by five months of age.
Types of milk to consider
This is obviously the best option for the foal, but is not always readily available. Milking a mare is very time-consuming.
Goat or cow's milk
This is much easier to obtain but not similar in composition, as it contains higher total solids, fat and protein but is considerably lower in sugars. The need to mix powders is avoided, but it can be expensive, particularly with regard to goat's milk. Goat's milk is considered to be good foster milk as the fat particles are smaller than in cow's milk. It is more easily digested and it also seems very palatable. Cow's milk can be made to resemble mare's milk more closely by adding one teaspoon of honey to a pint of 2% fat milk. Jersey milk must not be used due to its high fat content. Cow’s milk may contain a surprising number of bacteria so it is advisable to pasteurise it by heating to 70°C for 15 seconds.
- 300 ml cow's milk
- 150 ml lime water (50 g hydrated garden lime in 10 litres of water - leave overnight to settle, and then pour off limewater from sediment)
- 20 g of lactose/molasses/honey/brown sugar.
The ideal formulation contains 15% fat, 22% crude protein and less than 0.5% fibre. Calf milk replacers are not recommended. They are a poor source of high quality protein and often contain antibiotics. There are suggested formulae for calf milk replacers (eg Denkavit) without antibiotics.
Human formulae should be avoided, as they are not tolerated by the foal’s gastrointestinal tract. Poor milk replacers can cause stunted growth. It should also be noted that following the manufacturer’s guidelines may cause dehydration and constipation. It may be best to use 12.5% solution of replacer, giving 10% of the foal’s body weight and slowly increasing by day 10 to 20% body weight.
There are many brands of artificial milk for foals, just search the Internet for foal milk replacer. For example:
- Aintree Foal Milk Replacer
- Mare's Milk Replacer.
Nutritional: Causes and prevention
The processing of milk substitute causes a loss in basic amino acids. A good quality replacer with 22% crude protein should be chosen. Excess liquid milk substitute at any one meal can swamp the digestive enzyme system and acidity control in the stomach, causing rapid proliferation of pathogenic enteric organisms. Give feeds little and often. Infection can easily be picked up from the environment, human contact and dirty utensils. Keep hands and utensils clean. Milk left to stand allows growth of bacteria. Only use fresh milk. Shop-bought milk can contain quite high levels of bacteria, which may or may not be pathogenic. Sudden diet changes can upset the digestive enzymes. Changes should always be made slowly.
Lactose intolerance: Causes and treatment
Lactose intolerance diarrhoea can be found mostly secondary to intestinal damage caused by an infectious agent and can be identified rapidly as it responds to the removal of the milk and returns when milk is fed again. Oral lactase therapy has been used in donkey foals (eg 4-6 drops PO q 4h of Colief®).
Treatment of diarrhoea
The milk substitute should be withdrawn and replaced with a solution of 50 g glucose in 500 ml warm, boiled water for one or two days. The return to milk should be gradual, alternating with the solution. The number of feeds per day should be increased with the same total daily consumption. Consideration should be given to supplementing with lactobacillus paste during dietary changes. Intolerance to the milk substitute causes colic, diarrhoea and/or bloat. This could also indicate gastroduodenal ulceration, so antiulcer medication should be considered. Decreasing the volumes or increasing the frequency can be tried, or a change to an alternative source.
Calf feeding | How and what to feed calves from the first days of life at home (instruction)
To lay the foundation for high productivity of calves, it is necessary to provide them with a balanced diet. For newborns, the first and best food is colostrum, which is an indispensable source of nutrients and immunoglobulins that create the main defense against infections. As they grow older, the diet of animals is changed. At the same time, high-quality compound feed is necessary for good growth of calves. In addition, taking into account age and breed, special additives are selected.
In the company "Yuzhnaya Korona" you can purchase high-quality and highly physiological feed for fattening calves and young cattle. Our factory produces safe certified products that improve the physical performance of animals.
- What to feed calves
- Feeding steps
- How to feed calves: basic ways
- Benefits of feeding calves with compound feed and premixes
- Common mistakes when feeding calves
- Benefits of Yuzhnaya Korona compound feed for calves
What to feed calves
If two basic conditions are met, a high weight gain will be guaranteed:
- calves should have good immunity;
- fast transition to roughage consumption in accordance with the most balanced composition.
During the first 90 days of animal growth, cartilage tissue is replaced by bone, live weight gain occurs moderately and averages 500 g / day, a voluminous type of digestive system is created, and finally, colostral immunity is replaced by acquired immunity.
Feeds of vegetable origin in calves are not digested. Until the age of 10 days, the proventriculus is not yet fully developed, and the abomasum does not produce enzymes so that vegetable protein, starch and sucrose can be digested. Mistakes in feeding and growing during the milk period can provoke indigestion, respiratory infections, various diseases, slow down development, and cause stress. What to feed calves correctly for rapid growth and how much to feed?
Colostrum is the cow's first milk after calving. It is recommended to give its first portion in the amount of 3.5-4 liters during the first hour of life and then another 2 liters after 10-12 hours. Properly performed first feeding with colostrum is critical for the formation of colostral immunity, which guarantees good health, proper development, high milk production and longevity of cattle in the future. Then, until the age of 15 days, the calf is recommended to be fed with mother's milk, then according to the scheme - milk replacer (whole milk substitute), reverse.
The entire feeding system of young animals is aimed at preserving and strengthening the protective properties of the body of calves. What to choose - whole milk, its substitute or a mixture of both. The farmer usually focuses on affordability and economy. From the point of view of labor organization, milk replacer is more profitable to use on larger farms: they begin to use it 10–14 days after birth. In addition, milk replacer at a price lower than natural milk contains 2.5 times more vitamins A, D3, E. The substitute also has a constant level of nutrients and hygiene parameters: infectious diseases that manifest themselves in the herd are not transmitted from cows to calves.
To ensure a smooth transition to roughage, from the third day it is recommended to introduce granular compound feed into the diet. It helps to accelerate the development of the absorbing surface of the scar, that is, it increases the number and length of the villi of the scar epithelium. The advantages of a factory-made starter food are freshness, palatability and variety.
It contains a lot of protein and energy, so the calf can not be fed hay until he is accustomed to grain feed. Also, one should not forget about the unlimited, constant and free access of animals to drinking water. Thanks to this, the young are more willing and accept roughage in greater quantities. At the age of up to 2 weeks, water is boiled before use and cooled to a temperature of 20-25 ° C. At the age of 2 weeks, water is given without prior boiling.
How to feed calves? The diet is planned taking into account the physiological needs of animals in each of the age periods:
- Dairy - 60-90 days. The main food for animals is dairy feed. The other part of the diet consists of concentrates, hay, grass cuttings. But they are accustomed to roughage gradually. So, by the age of 1 month, the calf should consume about 200 g of hay per day. It is required to distribute feed separately, and it is necessary to monitor their cleanliness and freshness. For example, hay contaminated with animal saliva can quickly turn sour, so you need to replace it in a timely manner. Since the feeding system of young animals is aimed at preserving and strengthening the protective properties of the body, it is important to include factory feed in the diet. It provides a balanced set of all the necessary vitamins and microelements, which is almost impossible to achieve with self-preparation of grain mixtures.
- Post-dairy - lasts 90 days or until the calf is 6 months of age. We recommend using starter feed because it provides a smooth transition from milk to coarse and succulent feed. In addition to providing the calf with all the necessary nutrients and energy, reducing milk costs, it also accelerates the normalization of cicatricial digestion, reduces stress factors and the risk of generalized dyspepsia. The introduced vegetable diet assumes several varieties of feed at once, including root crops. When using a grain mixture, you must also remember to add premixes.
- The period of intensive growth - until the calf reaches the age of 12 months. Gives high growth, up to puberty. Attention is paid to stable and complete feeding with the rational use of bulk feed in the form of feed mixtures with compound feed for young animals.
- Final fattening - until the calf reaches the age of 18 months. What to feed calves? Animals are given feed with a high concentration of energy to increase fatness, slaughter yield of meat and improve its quality. The diet may include root crops (5-8 kg), roughage (up to 6 kg) and succulent feed - 25-30 kg per head per day.
Nutrient requirements of calves by weight
(German Agricultural Association DLG)
|Component||Calf weight, kg|
|Net Lactation Energy (NEL) (MJ)||9. 4||11.0||12.6||14.2||15.8||17.4||19.0|
|Crude protein (g)||300||340||380||420||460||500||540|
How to feed calves: the basics
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