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Birth, weaning and reproduction in donkeys

Birth
  • Donkeys have been reported to show grief at the death of a foal, actually crying tears and braying continuously for the foal to move.
  • Putting an older foal with the Jenny helps as they nuzzle each other and seem to share the grief.
Weaning
  • Weaning can be a very stressful time for Jenny and foal, and some owners advise gradual weaning over a period of up to 3 months rather than abrupt separation. 
  • If the foal is weaned between 6 and 8 months, any noise or distress can be eliminated if only a fence separates the pair so the foal can still see and smell his mother.
  • Other breeders advise abrupt weaning; otherwise the dam will take longer for her milk supply to dry up.
  • Breeders suggest providing the weaned foal with an assortment of toys such as old tyres painted different colours, a soccer ball to push around, large drums to negotiate, hessian bags filled with tin cans and ice cream containers that foals love to carry around.
Reproduction – donkeys and mules
  • Some female mules have been fertile.  No female hinnys have.
  • No male mules or hinnys have been fertile.
  • Female mules and hinnys can be used as embryo recipients for horses.
  • Female mules and hinnys show oestrus but it’s usually very erratic.
  • The male mule makes a good teaser, and can be useful to train horse mares to accept a jack when on free range.  Normally mares don’t like jacks, even when they are in heat.
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