How to Become a Donkey Breeder
I was prompted to write this after being asked if there was any money in breeding miniature donkeys. A person had a few acres and thought this would be a good business idea. Let's find out if breedng donkeys for profit is a good idea?
Donkeys are members of the equine family, in behavior they are not quite horse-like as they tend to require gentler handling and like to think about what they are going to do before they do it. Before anyone considered breeding donkeys they need to be sure that the donkey is an animal they enjoy owning and looking after, and have the right facilities to do so.
Facilities Needed for Donkeys
You do not need a barn, but one is strongly suggested, as well if you really want to sell your donkeys for a good price you will need to take them to shows, so a barn, and an arena are important in preparing them for shows.
Donkeys will not have to be kept in stalls year round, only when preparing them for shows, however large box stalls are also good at foaling time or if an animal is injured and needs to be put on “stall rest”.
You will need ample pasture space, one pasture is not enough, as you will need to separate your animals based on age and gender. While some breeders will keep jenny's loose with a jack, the younger animals should not be kept with a mature jack. Keeping the opposite sex donkeys together can make it hard to predict when a jenny is due to deliver. Each pen should have a shelter, either in the form of a shed, or trees.
Donkeys are thrifty eaters and do not need as much hay as horses, however you still must consider feed expenses. If you have a enough pasture they can graze on that in the summer, but if you have more donkeys than pasture you will need to feed year round. They will need hay in the winter, and may need a small ration of grain when in foal or when nursing, although caution should be used when feeding grain as donkeys are prone to founder and getting a fat neck.
Jacks are sexually mature to breed at one year of age, so are jennys, however they should not be bred until they are 24 months old or may be stunted and have problems related to being bred too soon. Most good breeders wait until the jack is 2 years of age before breeding him (and then to only a few jennys), and until jennys are 3 or 4 years of age.
Donkeys have a gestation that is roughly a year long, although some carry for 13 months. Twins are rare. Delivery usually goes without a problem but you must be prepared for emergencies. In other words you should not breed unless you can afford emergency veterinarian expenses.
The Logistics of Breeding Donkeys for Profit
In order to breed good quality donkeys you need to start off with good quality donkeys, you will want to buy registered animals that are worth breeding. Note that registration is not proof of quality.
Good breeders, the ones that sell for high prices, only have registered animals, they take them to shows to prove their worth as breeding animals and to prove the animals are worth high prices. If you think that because you saw a donkey sell for $5,000 that your donkeys are going to sell for that much, you are probably wrong unless you invest in top quality breeding stock, and take them to shows. All this creates expense, will you make more than you spend? Probably not.
Most breeders of donkeys have other incomes and breed the donkeys more as a hobby. For example they may have jobs off the farm or may produce other types of livestock, such as sheep, for the majority of their income, You should not try to breed donkeys for profit unless you know you have a market for them (buyers) otherwise you may find yourself with more donkeys than you know what to do with.
In addition to feeding, donkeys have other expenses, such as vaccinations, worming, and hoof care. It may be hard to find a good farrier for a donkey, some people learn how to trim them themselves.
If you are still interested in becoming a donkey breeder join your local donkey and mule club and become associated with the donkey and mule registry in your country.
Breeding a rare breed of donkey might be worth considering only if there is a demand for them.