What Do Donkeys Eat? Foods That You Should Feed Them

Akinwalere Olaleye
Feb 29, 2024 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Nov 24, 2021
A brown donkey eating grass.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.8 Min

Humans have domesticated many animals, and among them, there is one species, a monogastric herbivore, who eats roughages, cellulose, and hemicellulose efficiently.

This species is a donkey, which is a widely-used farm animal. The donkey is a domestic animal that needs supplementary feedings during both the dry and drought seasons for its health.

In most years, during an adequate rainfall season, this animal grazes successfully in a lush pasture and remains in good condition.

One of the essential aspects of the farm animals is the feeding process. A lot of knowledge is required to maintain its proper behavioral function and the requirements of sufficient nutrients for their proper functioning in production processes like work. During times of deficiency, during their feedings, use the available food judiciously, which is achieved through appropriate consideration of their body conditions, which is scored by the feeding guidelines, and the availability of proper requirements of the nutrients data being used. In the areas of arid and semi-arid conditions, the donkeys require feed in a wide variety of ranges. They eat forbs, shrubs, and the tree's bark while grazing.

But sometimes, the owner may wonder if their donkeys become fussy eaters, so do they need training or encouragement in drinking or eating while having treats during extreme weather conditions?

After reading about this domestic animals' diet, check out the difference between donkey and mule and burro vs. donkey.

Why do donkeys eat tree bark?

Donkeys love to stay in open and broad areas. But if they are kept in confinement for long, they tend to develop some habits as they get irritated and bored. They develop the habit of chewing wood when they are bored or annoyed. Harm is caused to the woods as well as the donkey itself.

Their chewing habit causes damage to their incisors and also increases the risk of swallowing spinsters, and sometimes they may even be trapped in their mouth.

The chewing of wood is also due to the deficiency of donkey vitamins in their bodies. When they feel a food scarcity, they peel the barks of wood and start chewing. They chew the bark of some species like the Boscia foetida and Acacia. Donkeys have a habit of copying the work of others, like human children. Thus when they find their pasture mates chewing woods, they also imitate them. Then they get a habit of chewing bark.

We have often seen donkeys in the barn. They feed on grass hay or feed straw there. The amount of barley straw they have depends on their body conditions. Winter grazing is also done by them, which benefits crops from parasite attacks. Some old and sick donkeys are given these as they are nutrient-dense food and contain high amounts of fiber, and they act as supplements to their body. Donkeys who regularly eat fresh grass don't require much hay. You should control the amount of hay and barley straw depending on the requirement of the body. Young, healthy donkeys can be provided with wheat straw as it contains a high amount of fiber but is lower in energy levels. Legume hay, meadow hay, and seed hay are rich in protein, and calcium is helpful for the donkeys. High fiber hay pellets should be provided to underweight donkeys.

Why do donkeys eat their own poop?

You have surely seen some animals eating their own poop. It may feel sickening to us, but they eat their own poop, referred to as coprophagia. This method helps them in accessing the nutrients which they were unable to digest in the first go. It is a widespread phenomenon in the animal kingdom.

The method of coprophagia is commonly seen in younger donkeys. They start eating their poops within a few months after their birth. In this way, they usually intake the cellulose digesting bacteria and other microbes, which are present in large amounts in their feces. You'll not notice this phenomenon in elderly donkeys as they have a balanced diet. But sometimes, they practice out of boredom or due to a lack of stimulatory activities. You can call this a bad habit found in your donkey or a behavioral disorder.

What do donkeys eat for snacks?

Donkeys generally enjoy a large variety of snacks. Feeding donkeys with treats like apples and carrots cut in tiny pieces, bananas, watermelon, oranges, and even pears are healthy. They also enjoy peppermints, parsley, pretzels, and gingersnaps.

They also like crackers, sweet potatoes, licorice, and even Weetabix. Mineral licks are provided to donkeys so that they never feel any shortage of some vital minerals. Donkeys enjoy sugar beet as snacks for their meals.

But the owners of donkeys should feed donkeys with nutritious meals. As they were initially desert dwellers, thus they prefer to have woody plants and shrubs. A donkey's digestive system is very efficient and can extract every bit of nutrients they get from their food. Thus the snacks are not very suitable for the donkeys, unlike for humans and equines.

The donkey owners always want to keep their pets healthy. Donkeys require fewer proteins and more fibers, unlike horses. They feed donkeys the correct amount of food, so they get proper nutrition depending on their requirements, age, and health. Fruits and vegetables are usually provided to them in their meals. They also feed on highly fibrous plants. Various tempting treats are also offered in a donkey's diet. These treats include a dash of cinnamon or some pieces of iced vegetables.

You should be very careful while introducing any new item in the donkey diet. You can introduce one piece at first, give them time to get used to it, and then provide it regularly to their diet. Chaffs are suitable for donkeys who have difficulty eating straw or grass hay because of their poor dentition. Donkeys, instead of ripping a plant with their teeth, tend to grab them with their lips. In winters, a mineral Lick, good grass hay, freshwater, and mineral supplement are the main requirements for most donkeys. Concentrate feeding is also done to provide supplements to the Donkey.

What do donkeys eat in survival craft?

In the game survival craft, the donkeys work the same as the horses there. The donkey has the appearance of a tan-colored coat with a white muzzle and has large ears.

Here the donkeys are herbivores as in real life. They feed on red flowers, purple flowers, white flowers, tall grass, and ivy available there. In survival craft, they are usually found in grassland biomes. The donkey is the most stubborn animal which is used for rides there. For longer riding benefits, they eat plant matter like flowers and grasses.

What do donkeys eat in rimworld?

In the rimworld, the donkeys are the herbivores that are tamed.

They are mainly found in temperate forests, arid shrublands, and deserts. Thus they feed on plant and plant parts like the leaves, branches, and bark of woods.

Donkeys eating hay.

What do donkeys eat in the desert?

Human beings have used donkeys for a long time. These animals are initially from the deserts and thus can easily survive dry weather conditions and poor quality diets. They also can hide their pain and distress.

The wild donkeys have adapted to the hard life and the scarcity of quality vegetation. They also face a shortage of food due to the arid and semi-arid conditions. The donkeys in the deserts can eat thorny plants, and their strong digestive system enables the digestion of these plants and helps in the extraction of moisture. These wild donkeys feed on low-quality forage, shrubs, and tree barks. They can live for long without drinking water, and donkeys require less forage compared to horses.

Do donkeys eat cabbage?

We have seen donkeys having various meals, but they generally like to have plants and plant materials. They also feed on grasses. But a donkey diet should not include foods with high sugar content like biscuits, bread, and cake.

They should not be given cruciferous vegetables like cabbages, cauliflowers, or broccolis. Onions, leeks, garlic, stoned fruit, potatoes, and tomatoes should also be avoided.

Naturally, these species eat sufficient forage for about 10-18 hours throughout the day but eat a small amount more often. Donkeys have a small stomach and small intestines that have a small capacity and cannot break down large meals into singular pieces at a single time.

The meals they intake should be split into smaller pieces or proportions throughout the day to prevent colic during concentration. Accessibility of lush pastures of grasses and legumes of hays with high sugar amounts and protein content should be monitored and limited.

Do donkeys eat cucumbers?

Humans enjoy tasty and healthy veggies, the cucumber. Similarly, it is also a very healthy vegetable that can be given to a donkey. Feeding donkeys with cucumbers is a good idea as they are a substitute for high-fat and processed snacks.

They should be added in limited amounts to a donkey's diet. Cucumbers are full of antioxidants (vitamin A, K) and contain various healthy nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and omega 3.

Donkeys that are not overweight are termed healthy might eat 2% of their body weight every day. They should have the freedom to choose how much to eat but provide barley straw, grazing grass, and hay in smaller amounts, so they do not overeat. This species needs a proper amount of food in dry conditions, about 1.5-1.8% in body weight every day. But the total amount of grass, hay, straw, and chaff should be calculated before it becomes wet due to external conditions.

Do donkeys make good pets? Donkeys make great pets among many other species as they are very sweet and gentle. This species is very smart and intelligent, while their anger may become visible when being yelled at or forced to do something. So, it would be wise for the owners to be gentle with their donkeys. Consistently, this animal is very affectionate and seeks to trust its owners or other friendly animals to be petted or stand nearby. Donkeys, compared to other species, are pretty close to dogs, horses, and other pals.

Since donkeys do not prefer to stay alone, they become sad, depressed, and alone while staying without their buddies. This species is strongly recommended for its bond-making capabilities and its powerful gesture of keeping those bonds intact forever. For example, they can easily bond with horses. Donkeys ideally require at a minimum half-acre of grazing area. The Donkey Sanctuary of the UK is an animal welfare organization made to give the donkeys a quality life.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what do donkeys eat, then why not take a look at how long do donkeys live, or how long do donkeys live?

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

Read full bio >