In Arkansas, where I live, winters sure are perplexing. One day it’s a balmy 68 degrees in February and the very next day the weatherman is calling for ice!
Now I am sure that most people have been caught a time or two claiming, “If you don't like the weather right now, just wait a few hours and that’ll change!”, but man this year has just felt different. It has been a real roller coaster.
So, not unlike many other mornings, I am up with the thunder storms that yet another cold front has blown into town.
Also not unlike many other mornings, I start off with my favorite cold weather beating beverage, Jacked Up Joe. I know I tend to yakkity-yak on and on about this coffee, but they really do put a fine roast on America’s favorite wake up call.
Whilst sipping my hazelnut-creamer-infused coffee, I was annoyingly (sorry if you love T-storms, but I am too light a sleeper to make it through unscathed) watching the storms and thinking that I really hope the donkeys are finding shelter through the chaos.
I know we have touched on some basic ‘how to’ care tips for miniature donkeys, But making sure that your animals are truly cared for is paramount in this particularly chilly winter.
These are all questions that I have had and I am sure most miniature donkey owners have had as well.
My wife would argue the more blankets, the better. My wife is also a lightweight when it comes to the cold (and whose idea of the perfect vacation is a tropical beach opposed to a snow-peaked mountain). I, however, am the picture of bearded manliness and prefer the cold (lol). Just kidding.
While I do enjoy the cold, I wouldn't know what to do if I didn't have the right tools to help combat it.
I recently reached out into the miniature donkey community to do some more exploring on what our they would need to stay warm in the cold.
We all know by now that miniature donkeys grow their winter coats during the cold months of the year. These longer winter coats are really all your miniature donkeys need during the cold months.
The only time a blanket is needed for your mini donkey is if you keep it’s coat clipped (for showing and what not). It's not so much that there needs to be concern with cold weather, but if it is cold and wet and windy, then some extra measures need to be taken because the long winter fur may not be all that is needed.
There are differing opinions on blanketing, for a couple of reasons. It’s actually a personal decision and you’ll see arguments supporting both sides.
For instance, a blanket that slips out of place can cause your animal to spook, and may lead to injury. Another consideration is that the blanket may give your donkey added warmth, but in return will likely decrease it’s natural winter hair growth.
The general consensus is to not blanket unless there’s a compelling reason (such as extreme cold temperatures, chance of getting wet, sick or elderly, clipped for show, etc). Remember, their winter coat grows best when not covered. It ‘fluffs’ up and traps warm air from their body to keep them warm…a blanket may interfere with this natural process.
I think most miniature donkey owners/breeders/farmers would agree that a three sided shelter really is the best option for your pasture pals.
The shelter should have a floor that drains well, and some form of bedding so that the donkeys can lie down in comfort.
They need something that can guard them from the wind and elements. They really do not like being wet. And being wet AND in the wind is a big negative.
For your viewing pleasure, look at the backside of the above shelter... 🤣
(I'm not saying your shelter needs to be this elaborate, but why not?)
Donkeys’ coats do not appear to be as waterproof as those of horses, so it’s important that donkeys have access to shelter 24 hours a day, especially in wetter parts of the country.
Our little bad “asses” can deal pretty good with the cold (unless its excessive) but adding wind and moisture changes everything.
Miniature donkeys can get feet/hoof problems if they are standing in the mud/wet for too long. There may be further need to clean out their hooves in the cold weather, so that ice won’t build up too much if it is a particularly long cold snap.
Donkeys will also huddle up with one another in the cold to help keep warm, so please please don’t keep them separated from each other during the cold months (really ever, they need each other!).
At the end of the day just remember, these are not proud animals. They don’t need all the amenities of champion thoroughbreds, but they do need proper shelter and especially during winter!
When I was younger all I ever wanted to drink was ice cold beverages. Sure sure, I wanted the occasional hot chocolate or hot cider. But, for the most part, however, I wanted the cold stuff…even if it was blizzarding outside.
Now that I have a few (ahem…) years under my belt, the want of cold liquids has waned. Call it brain freeze, call it sensitive teeth (lol), call it whatever. Well the same goes for your equine. Your donkeys probably aren't too keen on drinking ice cold water… when it's cold as ice outside.
Making sure your minis have access to warm water is pretty key to keeping them comfortable in the cold. If they aren't drinking enough, then they probably aren't eating much either. The better they eat, the better they withstand the cold weather.
I couldn't bear the thought of my favorite little mini donks out there in the cold, big ol chompers just chattering away because they are too cold.
Making sure all your bases are covered in the winter is a must for all animal owners. If you have questions, reach out! The miniature donkey community is full of wonderful people willing to help.
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