FAQ: Questions about donkeys, answered.

Q: What is the difference between a donkey and a mule?
A: A donkey is a vegetarian quadroped and a member of the equine family. The equine family is made up of asses (donkeys), zebras and horses. Since they are in the same family, donkeys and horses can interbreed. When this happens, the foal is called a mule.
Q: How old do donkeys get?
A: With adequate care, in the Canadian climate donkeys can live to be 35+ years old.
Q: Why do people have donkeys?
A: In North America, donkeys and mules are primarily pets. In the western states and provinces, donkeys and mules are often used as pack animals in recreational activities. Donkeys can be trained to pull carts for pleasure-driving, while riding mules is popular.
Q: Could I own just one donkey?
A: Yes, although two donkeys would be much more contented. They are very sociable creatures and are most comfortable with their own kind. We do not normally place one Donkey out on a foster farm.
Q: Are donkeys as stubborn as they say?
A: No. Donkeys are not flight animals like horses are. When a donkey is faced with a strange situation, its instinct is to stand still and to consider what is expected. If it is being asked to do something that is not in its interest to do, then the donkey will remain where it is. Some people call that stubbornness while others realize that it’s just common sense.
Q: Are donkeys really 'guard' animals - do they guard sheep from coyotes?
A: This is a common myth that needs refuting. Donkeys are not, inherently, guard animals. They will only guard a sheep (for example) if they have bonded with the sheep, for example if a jennet and her foal are placed with a flock of sheep, then the foal is likely to develop a bond with the sheep. However, if a donkey is simply placed in a herd of sheep, it will be no more useful a guardian than one of the sheep in the herd. A much better guardian of sheep is the Bernese Mountain Dog, which has historically been used to great success as a guardian of livestock.
Q: Should a donkey be placed with cattle in order to calm the calves?
A: This practice is not in the donkey's interest at all. Cattle are fed an extremely rich diet and if a donkey is fed with the group, then it can become extremely obese. This, in turn, can cause hoof problems for the donkey. Also there is the matter of sociability: donkeys are herd animals, most content with their own kind. There is little, if any, reason for them to bond with cattle.