Whats that saying? Stubborn as a ?
So to those not in the know, donkeys and mules would appear to be no different to horses. The myth is that donkeys and mules are notorious for being stubborn and have for as long as anyone can remember been used as pack horses to transport goods. A characteristic not associated with horses.
For all those long ear, donkey and mule lovers out there we are going to help set the story straight. So where do we start? In the beginning I suppose. Let’s break it down a little.
D is for Donkey H is for Horse
So let’s start with the one of the most noticeable characteristics. Donkeys have much longer ears than horses when proportioned to the size of their head. Their mane and tail have a much coarser hair and because of this stiffness many working donkeys keep their mane clipped short. These stocky animals have shorter legs than horses with smaller and rounder hoofs. Good legs and feet are a high priority for breeding Mules.
Another one of its unbeatable telltales is the donkeys bray as opposed to a horses neigh. Did you know that a donkeys bray can last for 20 seconds and has a range of 3km? It’s no wonder they have such long ears.
Renowned for its gray color. Whatever the coat shades there are some other defining markings that are their own. No matter the shade they have dorsal stripes and shoulder crosses, dark ear marks, a white muzzle and eye rings.
Here are some definitions to sort out any confusion:
Jack – refers to a male donkey or ass
Jenny – is a female donkey. Sometimes referred to as Jennet
Hinny – the offspring of a female donkey and a male horse
Foal – a young donkey
Donkeys have a great temperament v Horse
One of the trademark characteristics of a donkey is their reputation for being stubborn. Unlike horses they are incredibly hard to frighten or force into a situation. It comes down to a self-preservation trait. Once their confidence is own any donkey owner will tell you they are the most loyal and hard working companions.
Throughout history donkeys have been used since the 4th century as working animals and kept domestically. Since that time they have globally been used for farming, dairy and meat animals as well as being kept as pets. Donkeys have been used extensively as pack animals in times of war. Their steadfastness and temperament meant they were less flighty than horses and also required less feed and maintenance.
M if for Mule – The Hybrid.
So a mule is a direct product of mating a Jack donkey with a female horse. Mules are the perfect balance between donkeys and horses. They exhibit more patience than donkeys and are more sure footed than horses. The size of a mule will depend greatly on the breed of horse it has been bred from. Due to mules being an excellent hybrid of both the donkey and a horse they have a greater capacity to carry heavier weight than a horse or donkey. They have a “harder” skin which makes them more tolerant to sun rain as well as carrying weight without affecting their coat. This makes them the most suitable choice for a pack animal. One of the other interesting facts about mules is their high intelligence. They seem to exceed that of its parents.
Here are a few more definitions to add to your vocabulary:
John Mule – refers to a male mule. Can also be called a horse mule
Mare Mule – is a female mule and sometimes called a Molly mule
Mule Colt – is a young male mule
Mule Filly – is a young female mule
This hybrid of horse and donkey really is everything and a little more.
Diet of a Donkey
Like the donkey, they don’t require a complex diet. Donkeys and Mules have similar needs. They largely subsist on grazing from dry pasture. They have a much stronger digestive system even though it is the same as the horses. Grazing plus additional grain is all both the donkey and mule need. Their volume of feed will be dependent on the workload that they carry out like a horse. Keep in mind that even though their digestive system can break food down easier gastric ulcers in donkeys can develop as they are still susceptible to over eating.
There is a wealth of information to help you know how to care for long ears. For more information contact your local, long ear, donkey or mule association,