How to Care for a Baby Donkey

By Kimberly Scott

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.