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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Fascinating Donkey

     Donkeys are among the most fascinating members of the horse-like family. We usually think of donkeys as pack animals or being ridden, but they also make gentle, loving pets, especially for children and the elderly. They are also used as stable companions for horses, and when pastured with sheep and goats donkeys will protect them from attack by dogs and coyotes...guard donkeys! 
     Like zebras and mules, donkeys are different from horses. You'd pretty much have to be familiar with horses to notice a lot of donkey characteristics, but one thing you can's mist is donkeys have big ears. Donkeys come in a variety of sizes from the Miniature Mediterranean (under 36 inches) to the Mammoth Jackstock (14 hands and up). The rare French Poitou donkey ( there are fewer than 200 purebred left in the world today) is characterized by it’s huge head and ears, and very thick, shaggy, curled black coat, can stand 14 to 15 hands high. (There are.) The types of donkeys Donkeys are classified by their size: 36.01-48", Standard; 48.01" to 54 (jennets) or 56 (jacks), Large Standard; and 54/56" and over, Mammoth Stock. They often live for 25 or more years. 
     Donkeys can be used just like horses with a saddle and in harness, but donkeys are more laid back and self-preserving in nature than horses and this can sometimes cause problems and it explains why they are often perceived as being stubborn. They try not to do anything that they perceive as being dangerous or unpleasant to themselves. Thus, sometimes they refuse to do as directed by humans. 
     It is this 'looking out for Number 1' attitude that makes donkeys great guard animals -- a donkey gelding or jennet can watch over an entire herd of cattle, sheep or goats because of their natural aversion to predators. Their large ears give them an acute sense of hearing and they can bite and kick with both their front and back legs and that, along with their keen sense of danger and self-preservation makes them excellent guard animals. Dogs and donkeys don't usually mix well, so they are especially useful in when it comes to discouraging attacks by animals like wolves. Because of their natural dislike of canines they have to be trained to leave the house or farm dog alone.  

All About Donkeys   
Fun Donkey Facts

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