Your miniature donkey brings you great joy, enough to the point that you’ve wondered, what if you had more than one donkey? Sure, you could always adopt a few, but you had something else in mind. Namely, you were thinking of breeding your own. How do you go about doing so?
To breed your own mini donkeys, you should:
- Choose the right donkeys
- Get your donkeys for mating examined by a vet
- Prep the animals for breeding
- Let the donkeys mate
- Care for the female during pregnancy
- Watch and assist during labor as necessary
- Raise the baby donkeys
In this article, we plan on going way in depth, exploring the above steps in tons of detail so you know just what to do. By the time you’re done reading, you should feel comfortable exploring the idea of breeding mini donkeys and maybe even trying it!
How to Breed Mini Donkeys
Selecting a Healthy Donkey
You may not have been ultra picky when adopting or buying your first mini donkeys. Now that you’re thinking of using your donkeys for breeding purposes though, it’s time to get a bit choosy. You want strong, healthy donkeys to reproduce.
You will have to select both a female and a male. Females go by the name jennets and males jacks, which we’ll refer to them as for the duration of this article. When choosing a mini donkey for mating, you want to check for the following qualities:
- Rear leg straightness, in that the hocks should be straight with no inward or outward turning
- Leg length, which should be average for a miniature donkey
- Wider, straighter hips so the jennet can give birth (not necessary for jacks then)
- A ribcage with plenty of depth and length
- A height of 32 to 36 inches
As for the age range of your mini donkeys, look for ones that are three years or younger. These donkeys should have grown to about full size and developed all the necessary features for reproduction, gestation, and successful birth. They should also embody the above features exceptionally well.
We want to reiterate, it’s okay to be a bit picky here. Young or unhealthy donkeys might not have the physical capabilities to carry babies to term, which would result in a lot of wasted time, money, and effort on your end. Also, you risk the health of the jennet, possibly the jack, and potentially even the babies as well.
Getting the Mating Donkeys Examined by a Veterinarian
That’s why you should never choose the two donkeys you’ll use for breeding without a visit to the veterinarian first. Not only can a vet confirm the age of your mini donkeys in question, but they can check for the above indicators of good health as well.
Speaking of health, during the appointment, your vet will test for genetic and communicable diseases in both your jennet and your jack. If one or both donkeys have such diseases, then you might want to reconsider using them for breeding. Once more, they may not be in optimal health for carrying babies to term. Plus, the jennet could potentially pass on some diseases to the babies. This puts their health and even their lives at risk.
Finding a vet to see and care for miniature donkeys is no easy feat, but you want to ensure you do search for a good one. You will see a lot of your vet during the jennet’s pregnancy and afterwards, so you want someone with expertise who you can trust. Research exotic and specialty veterinarians in your area. Before scheduling an appointment, stop by or call and ask to speak to the vet.
Ask them if they’ve ever assisted with mini donkey breeding before. If not, you might want to keep looking. You will need expertise at times, and two beginners striving to breed mini donkeys doesn’t always work out as intended.
Setting up a Breeding Area
Once your donkeys get a clean bill of health, you can take them home. Now, you want to begin to get the ball rolling in terms of breeding your mini donkeys. That means getting the jennet pregnant.
As the donkeys get back home, you might put them both in their individual enclosures or keep them in one enclosure together. You want to set up a clean, quiet area without other animals nearby. Then, call on a partner or assistant who can help you get the donkeys ready to hopefully mate.
First, you want to take the jennet and wash her genitals. Use iodine soap for this job, as it’s exemplary in killing bacteria. Then, take her tail and cover it. You can use an elastic bandage for this. Wrap firmly but not too tightly that it’s uncomfortable for the jennet. By doing this, her tail doesn’t interrupt the breeding process.
Next, move onto the jack. Again, you want to use iodine soap to clean his genitals. Then, put a leash on him. There’s no need to cover his tail or do any further prep work for the jack. He should be ready to go after a cleaning.
Don’t step out of the enclosure and expect your donkeys to just figure out what to do next. This is where your assistant or partner can really come in handy. They should keep the jennet in place for mating. The jack should get curious at this point, sniffing around the jennet.
This signals to her that the jack is interested in mating. It’s ultimately her choice if she wants to accept, so don’t force anything. Doing so could lead to injury, both to the mini donkeys and possibly even you and your assistant or partner.
If the jennet readjusts her tail so the jack can enter, then the two mini donkeys are ready to start mating. If the jennet does nothing with her tail, then you might want to repeat the steps in this part of the process again. Did that not work? Then consider trying another day.
A receptive jennet still needs help, as does the jack. You want to have your jack on a leash, as mentioned. Stay near the leash’s end so you can pull it if need be. You want to give the jack space so he can do what’s necessary for breeding.
Once the animals have finished mating, you may have to move the jack from the jennet, but it depends. Guide the jack back to his enclosure, taking off his leash after you do. Also, unwrap your jennet’s tail covering and put her in her enclosure as well.
Determining Pregnancy in Female Mini Donkeys
Mating doesn’t always go successfully. Thus, you’ll want to know the jack got the jennet pregnant. It’s not always easy to tell right away, so you’ll have to keep your eyes open for subtle signs.
For instance, the jennet should stop going into heat. That’s not necessarily a surefire sign she’s pregnant though, as heat cycles differ throughout a given year. You can’t even necessarily go by the size of her stomach, either, as it takes a long time into the pregnancy of a donkey for her stomach to grow.
It’s all a waiting game, then. Jennets will gestate for 12 months, so yes, they’re pregnant even longer than us humans. The further she gets into her pregnancy, the more symptoms and signs you can generally see.
Her pregnancy bump will appear after some time. You can’t always see this from a back view, nor can you by looking at the mini donkey around the front. Instead, it’s ideal to get a side view to determine the size of the bump.
If you have an overweight donkey, then you know they have fat in their abdomens. A baby bump doesn’t look like that. It hangs down further than belly fat would. Also, it tends to settle on one side over another.
The closer your jennet gets to birth, the more she changes. Milk leakage from the udders occurs at about the three-week mark. The udders, now that they’re lactating, also become big and swollen. That’s about as clear-cut a symptom as any.
Still, there are yet more ways to confirm your jennet got pregnant. She may stop eating or consume very little. At night, she doesn’t sleep, and she finds it hard to settle down, acting restless. You may also notice the jennet seems kinder, letting you get close and maybe even touching her.
If you prefer, you can look at the vagina. There will be swelling of the vulva lips as she prepares to give birth. Your jennet’s tail will change as well, particularly the bones near it. You should notice greater flexibility of these. Also, the pelvic muscles relax as she gets ready to give birth.
Since the pregnancy of a jennet lasts for 12 months and her symptoms don’t appear until months and months into gestation, if your mini donkeys mated, you should assume the jennet got pregnant.
Caring for the Pregnant Female
Your jennet is officially pregnant, and thus, she’s going to require more care. You want to keep her in a quiet enclosure all her own, no other donkeys or animals. She should eat the same amount of food you’d usually give her. Yes, even though she’s pregnant. That only changes when she’s about three months out from giving birth. Then, you want to increase her food consumption, giving her half a quantity more than what she normally receives. This will support her and the foal, or baby donkey, growing within her.
Pregnant jennets need exercise, too, so don’t neglect that. A bit of jogging or light running around the farmland or field should suffice. You can do this daily or nearly every day. Just make sure you’re not doing so much physical activity that the jennet seems slow or exhausted. Remember, she’s housing a foal, and that’s a pretty major job.
You should also take her to the vet at least once during her pregnancy. The vet can check the jennet over and ensure the pregnancy is ensuing as it should. If the vet believes any complications or risks could happen, you can work now to mitigate these.
You will have to change your jennet’s enclosure as she gets closer to giving birth. Within 30 days of that event, more if you prefer, make sure she’s living in a foaling stall. You want this stall as comfortable as possible.
Again, keep mini donkeys and any animals far from the foaling stall. Add shavings or straw that the jennet can use for bedding. Then, let your jennet live there. As the days before birth draw ever nearer, some more changes may occur. For one, the teats may now develop a coating of wax. Also, your jennet can turn very mean, sometimes even aggressive, as she gets up to this big milestone. This is normal, so don’t worry.
Preparing for Labor
The big day has finally arrived. Your jennet is giving birth. Besides having her cozy and comfy in the foaling stall, you also have to be there when she finally has her babies. Like other animals, this will often begin when the amniotic sac releases. Most people refer to this as water breaking.
Then, the jennet will have contractions. These may be slow going at first before becoming more rapid as she gets closer to birthing. When the process begins, it typically takes about an hour. When the foal is pushed out, you will see their forelegs instead of their head. Again, don’t panic, as this isn’t abnormal. It’s also not guaranteed in all instances, in that some babies aren’t born with their legs out before the rest of them.
You should try getting rid of the mucus that can cover the nose and mouth of the newborn foal. That said, you must read the moment and the mood of the jennet. If she doesn’t want you getting near her babies, then refrain from doing any cleaning right then and there. The babies will be okay for a few minutes. You might want to have your assistant or partner on hand to step in when necessary.
What do you do if the jennet is pushing but no foal shows up? You can intervene, but you want to make sure you’re as clean as possible. Disinfect your arm up past the elbow, just to be on the safe side. Then, push into the body of the mini donkey to sort of rearrange the positioning of the foal. If their head and their hoofs aren’t pointing the same way, for example, then birthing can present big challenges. You must make sure you don’t have any long fingernails, nor do you wear any rings or bracelets while helping out, as that could severely hurt the jennet.
Sometimes, the foal comes popping out with a single foot first. This isn’t right, so don’t encourage the mother to keep pushing. Instead, you’ll have to give the foal a nudge back inside the mother and then redirect their body and their positioning. This lets you ensure their head or forelegs don’t come out at a potentially injurious backwards angle.
When the baby foals have been birthed, you still have one more job to do. You want to oversee the breakage of the umbilical cord. This should separate on its own as the jennet and foal move about. By cutting or breaking it yourself, you could put the foal’s health at risk. It may take hours or days for the umbilical cord to detach, but still, let it happen. It will.
Raising the Baby Donkeys
With the foals born, the jennet will begin her own care rituals for the new babies. The placenta will get released from her body about an hour after birth. Sometimes, she opts to eat it. If she does, let her, as doing so isn’t considered unnatural. If she’s not interested in it and several hours have passed, you may opt to dispose of the placenta yourself.
With the placenta dealt with, the jennet should begin bathing her foal via her tongue. This full-body bath will be their first, and a nice introduction into the world. Foals may try to stand, but they won’t be very successful as they get used to their legs. The jennet may use her udders to help the baby along and keep them standing upright.
Foals could try standing within the first day of birth, sometimes within the first couple of hours. Thus, you should watch the foal and see how it behaves after leaving the womb. If the foal can’t stand but struggles to and the jennet doesn’t help, you can do something. Otherwise, step back and watch the moment happen.
You must also make sure the foal consumes the milk of its mother. This colostrum has the nutrients the foal needs to safeguard itself from illnesses and diseases. Without it, the health of the foal may be at risk. Thus, if two hours or more have passed without the consumption of this milk, you may want to encourage the foal the best you can to drink. Otherwise, you can call your vet and see what they recommend.
Even if all seems well, you want the newborn foals checked out by your vet sooner rather than later. The vet can confirm any birth defects or issues that might make the bred foals potentially unhealthy.
Within four months of their life, the baby donkey will go from the colostrum or milk of their mother to grass or grains. Don’t try weaning them any sooner than that. If nine months have passed and your foal still relies on the milk, then you must wean them. Otherwise, them and their mother can become inseparable, and not in a good way.
It can take a year or two for the mini donkey to grow to close to adult size and three years before they reach max mental and physical maturity. Then, they’ll live until they’re about 25, the standard for mini donkeys.
You may opt to keep the foals for yourself. Maybe they’re pets or perhaps you have a farm and they assist in ways, such as herding other animals. You could also sell or adopt out the foals if you so feel inclined. If the foals grow up healthy and strong, you could use one or more for breeding purposes to keep up your population of mini donkeys. That’s completely up to you!
If you’re interested in breeding mini donkeys, the process begins with having a strong male donkey or jack as well as a female donkey or jennet. These mini donkeys should go to your vet to ensure their health. Then, you can encourage them to mate, helping out with the process if necessary.
The average length of a jennet’s pregnancy is 12 months. Most of her symptoms won’t begin until later in the pregnancy, such as lactation, udder swelling, and a visible rounded abdomen. It’s important you’re on hand during the birthing to ensure the foals come out in the right position and don’t risk hurting themselves
It can take about three years for most foals to fully grow, in which case you might look into using them for continuation of breeding. We hope this guide proved a useful resource as you get into the exciting and sometimes challenging world of breeding miniature donkeys. Good luck!