What Do Donkeys Eat?

Donkey Sancturary picture of a donkey eating its first meal after two weeks Like all animals, donkeys are considered to be heterotrophic. More specifically, they are herbivores because they only eat autotrophs including wheat bran, crushed barley, linseed, sheaf oats, clover, alfalfa hay, and small quantities of corn. Treats for these animals include raw veggies, bread, and stale cake. The liquids these animals consume include milk from the female, jennet, and water. Interestingly, donkeys will never drink stale water and must be within a two to three day reach of a water source. The overall diet of donkeys consists of low protein foods because food high in protein can cause them to develop skin rashes.

Over the course of evolution, donkeys are considered to be grazers, meaning that they snack continuously throughout the day. Donkeys require an abundance of  food intake because  plants are composed of many indigestible components. In fact, the digestive efficiency of herbivores ranges from only 35-50% whereas carnivore digestive efficiency is 80-95%.

Seacrest picture of donkeys snacking on carrotsDonkey have a well developed digestive tract, yet unlike cows, sheep and goats, donkeys do not possess ruminants. Non-ruminant animals do not possess a rumen, reticulum, omasum, or abomasum. Instead, once their food is ingested it will eventually go through a functional caecum. The functional caecum is at the posterior end of the digestive system and is responsible for additional break down of nutrients through bacterial fermentation.

The picture on the left is a donkey eating for the first time in two weeks and the donkeys on the right are treating themselves to carrots.

You've almost mastered the donkey. You just need some background information on their history.


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