February 01, 2022

Boy do I like a good hearty meal in the morning. I am sure that would come as a shock to those that have been around me.

A good, hearty meal, but also some variety goes a long way, don't you all agree? Speaking of variety, this Butter Pecan Jacked Up syrup is hitting just right on my flapjacks this morning.


butter pecan pancake syrup


Seeing all the varieties of food that we as humans get to partake in, some good and some not-so-good (lol), really got me thinking about whether or not my second favorite little miniature donkey, Samantha, likes variety in her diet as much as I do. 

The old head gears started turning, wondering if Samantha would benefit more from having a variety of different foods or if she benefits more from eating the same things most of the time. 

I mean are miniatures purely herbivores? Are they omnivores? Do they need meat or a protein source? Can they eat as much as they want or do they need to be limited in the amounts they eat?

Making sure your minis have the right sustenance is pretty important so you can assure that your little loves live a long and healthy life.


So, what exactly do miniature donkeys eat?

farmer feeding mini donkey

The answer to that question is… simple is best.

What does that mean though? Well naturally diets could vary from animal to animal depending on their needs, age, condition, etc. but we won’t broach the variations.

We are just going to keep it simple and assume that all your miniature donkeys are healthy, happy, and you plan to keep them that way. 

Now, when it comes to mini donkeys there are several areas where you could reach out to get information… but I have picked the brains of some long time donkey owners (they have probably raised and kept some 70-100 mini donkeys) to help shine light on the best avenues for feed.

Mini donks are typically a grazing equine that will snack on grass that grows wherever they are kept.

But wait, it's Winter and most of the grass where minis are kept is dying and hibernating until Spring rolls around. In this case, you will need to supplement your mini donks diet with additional sustenance. There are quite a few varieties of hay, straw, grains, and fruits/veggies that your mini donks can have in addition to or in place of grass. Now let's jump into the various things your minis can eat.



HAY! Hay is the easiest and best thing to supplement your miniature donkeys food with if they are not getting enough grass to graze on. Hay is a high-fiber low-protein source of sustenance that your miniature donks will love. Just be sure and trust your hay supplier as toxic weeds are hard to distinguish once dried and in hay. Also its usually best to avoid alfalfa hay for donkeys as its too rich. Some show animals will consume alfalfa but its not the norm for pasture donkeys.

STRAW. Straw is another good source of sustenance for your miniature donks. There are several types of straw that your mini donk could have access to, but the best option and one that resembles what your donkey would seek out in the wild such as Barley Straw. Next best options are Oat and Wheat Straw, but they are a little tougher to chew and don’t provide as much energy.

CHAFF. Chaff? What the heck is Chaff? I thought that is what happens to my inner thighs when I run for too long (which is any amount of running, lol), jk. It's pretty simple, Chaff is chopped up hay/straw mixture that can contain several different types of hay/straw. Chaff encourages chewing so it can be a good substitute food for your mini donks.

HIGH FIBER PELLETS. When your mini donks are perhaps a little underweight, high fiber pellets could be a great source for bulking up your minis. Mixing them with hay/straw is a good way to get your older/sickly mini donks to eat. 

DRIED BEET PULP. Huh? Dried Beet Pulp? It is a sweet little by-product of sugar makers that your minis are just gonna love. It is a product to use sparingly though, because it can cause your mini donk to get overweight pretty quickly. It is another mix-in option to try and get your old or underweight mini donk to start eating. 

FRUITS AND VEGGIES. Your mini donks will hee haw big time for fruits and veggies. They can be a great source of healthy nutrients for your minis, but they must be given in moderation as they can lead to an overweight mini. (Fun fact, overweight minis can be seen as a form of donkey abuse).

MINERAL LICKS. Pretty self-explanatory. It is good to keep a mineral/salt lick onsite for your donkeys to help keep them healthy when they might not be getting enough from their daily diet. Check to see if Selenium is deficient in your area. If so be sure to choose minerals that include it.

FRESH WATER. DUH. And not pond water, either. Fresh, clean water. Heated buckets are necessary for winter.


According to The Donkey Sanctuary (THE authority on everything donkey):

  • All feed stuffs should be of high quality.

  • All equines are sensitive to toxins that can be found in spoiled feeds.

  • All feed stuffs should be free from mould.

  • All changes to their diet should be made gradually, over at least 7-14 days.

  • Donkeys prefer to browse for their bulk and fibre throughout the day.

  • Donkeys prefer to eat little and often. Provide aid-lib barley straw.

  • Do not over feed your donkey; check the body condition of your donkey regularly.

  • Donkeys do not need high levels of sugar in their diets.

  • If in any doubt about the energy value or the quality of any feed, it is advisable to seek expert advice.

  • Always provide a suitable balancer or mineral lick and permanent access to a clean water supply.

  • Never feed grass clippings and ensure that your neighbours are aware of the dangers of doing this as it can lead to colic.

There is quite a bit of debate over feeding donkeys grain. You will find references on each side. Oats, whether whole or crimped, are fed quite often. Many purchase feed such as that made by Purina and others. Do your research to see if this is the best choice for your donkeys.



What can donkeys NOT eat?

The absolute main thing to remember when giving feed to your miniature donkeys is to make sure there is nothing spoiled, molded or rotten in the mix they are eating from.

You need to be vigilant when checking your additional sustenance. If your straw/hay/grains are spoiled or rotten, it could be hazardous and toxic to your beloved animals.


There are a number of things to be aware of that are in the wild that can be toxic to your minis:

Maple leaves are a biggie. Particularly the red and silver variety. They contain toxins that could be fatal to your mini if ingested.

Linseed Straw, although a type of straw, is not a good thing to feed your mini donk as the seeds of this straw are poisonous to your donkeys as well.

Bracken Fern is also a plant that your miniature donkey should avoid, (you as a human should also avoid it as its fatal to you too, lol).

Ragwort can easily get mixed in with your hay/straw and it is also toxic to your mini. It’s a good idea to know your hay/straw provider and know what exactly is in the stuff you're buying.



It is important to watch what your minis are eating and make sure that they are not overeating. Just like you would monitor your favorite dog/cat’s food, your minis also need that kind of attention.

If you need further guidance you can always reach out to fellow miniature donkey owners, they are a pretty open and helpful community.

For more info on miniature donkeys or if you are in the market for fun miniature donkey merch click here and happy browsing!



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