Teamdonk’s Feed Program

Over the past ten years this has been the Teamdonk feed program and has been a huge success.  Feeding donkeys products designed for horses have resulted in hoof, skin and hair issues that are frustrating to deal with.  Since I’ve switched to Vickiladywife’s recipe a lot of those problems have disappeared.   Simply put donkeys have a different digestive system than horses.  My rule of thumb has become less is better, less nutrients and a lesser quality of hay especially in the protein levels. This feed regiment is one that I have been using and recommending to others to try, the feedback over the years has been extremely positive. 

This is a once a day feeding for Mammoth Donkeys in the 750 to 1,000 pound range.

Soak 1 heaping cup of Beet Pulp Pellets, this is over the top heaping probably closer to 1 ½ cups of beet pulp pellets or shreds in 2 cups of tepid water for two hours per donkey   

****Because of the recent discovery of the amount of Iron in Beet Pulp and being advised to limit the amount of Iron in the diet the beet pulp has been reduced to ½ cup and will eventually be phased out.****

Mix together each item per donkey and add to the soaked beet pulp

1 cup of whole, cracked or rolled oats, ½ cup of wheat bran

1 ounce dry molasses mixed with 1 tablespoon of Magnesium Oxide

2 oz Milk replacer powder or pellets   I use Purina’s Foal Lac.

2 oz of a good vita/min supplement such as Manna Pro Sho-Glo. I use Horse Guard which was formulated for the Pacific Northwest.  I caution you to not feed over two ounces to a mammoth sized donkey as their systems cannot tolerate any more than that. This 2 ounce amount is now being fed three days a week; Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays because of the high selenium amount in this and the American Stockman Se-30 Trace Mineralized Salt with Selenium.  This product recommends not to feed additional Selenium so I have added other salts to cut back on the Selenium amount in it also.

  Then I stir it all into the soaked beet pulp and feed.  It is recommended to feed the beet pulp within 12 hours of soaking, in my dry climate I can feed it within 24 hours without fear of spoilage.

WHAT IF MY DONKEY WON’T EAT IT?  If your donkey refuses the beet pulp at first don’t despair there is a way get them started. First decrease the beet pulp to a smaller amount then add some extra dry molasses you may have to play with the amounts. Magnesium Oxide has a bitter taste so scale back on that also or drop it complete out when first starting them on beet pulp.  When your donkey decides to enjoy this mixture then gradually cut back on the molasses as you increase the beet pulp. In tougher cases I have also used sweet feed to get them started then slowly decreasing the sweet feed as they decide beet pulp is not bad medicine.  As soon as they are eating the beet pulp give away the rest of the bag of sweet feed, it’s just needed to get them started eating the beet pulp mixture.  Make the changes gradual and before you know it you’ll have them begging for their daily ration.  My pickiest eater took approximately six weeks to get to where he would eat beet pulp.

WHY FEED THESE INGREDIENTS?   The Magnesium Oxide helps to reduce the neck crests and fat pockets donkey naturally get. Magnesium is also known to play an important part in reducing equine obesity, and can lessen the risk of laminitis in animals prone to it during periods of strong spring grass growth. Magnesium plays an important part in nerve and muscle function, and animals deficient in this important element can show signs of nervousness, wariness, excitability, and muscle tremors. A deficient horse is likely to have a poor tolerance to work and its muscles will tie up quite quickly.

The crude wheat bran aids in digestion as well as a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, Manganese and Selenium.

 The milk replacer is a good balance for the missing calcium and phosphorous levels in the grass hay, also it’s great for bones, teeth, hooves and hair. These nutrients together will increase a donkey’s energy level, which will increase his metabolism a win/win situation!  

 I recommend using an easy to acquire vitamin-mineral supplement that fits the needs of your area.  I use slightly less than 2 oz of Horse Guard which is designed for the Pacific Northwest’s selenium needs, 4 ounces is recommended for the 1,000 pound horse.  I also use my own scoop, not the one that comes in the bag and I never feed the recommended dosage designed for horses.  That amount has been known to lead to serious hoof issues in donkeys such as abscesses.  Dynamite horse feeds are another one that needs cut way back.  Those are the two that I have the most personal experience with.

 The maintenance level of oats is 1 cup per 500 pounds of bodyweight, when the workload increases you can double that amount for maintenance.  That will be 2 cups of oats a day. 

 Next is the soaked beet pulp for the calcium and iron boost.  1/2 cup of dry beet pulp soaked in 1 cup of tepid tap water is the maintenance level for 500 pounds of bodyweight, in training you could double the maintenance amount, so that’s 1 cup beet pulp soaked in 2 cups of water.  A working or young mammoth could be fed 2 cups of beet pulp soaked in 4 cups of water, if you think it is necessary or for weight gain.  I only feed one heaping cup of beet pulp combined with the other products year around, even when they are driving every day, as that seems to work for me.  If you cannot find beet pulp in your location this was recommended to me as a good product 

 The ingredients are stored in white plastic buckets with lids as most everything comes in 50 pound feed bags.  I am able to get all the ingredients from my local feed store.  I am guessing my costs are probably in the neighborhood of a dollar to two dollars per day per mammoth, but this is only a guess.  The savings is in the nonexistent vet and farrier bills and healthier donkeys.

Avoid feeding corn products and alfalfa to your donkey, their digestive systems cannot handle this type of feed, which is one reason sweet feeds are not recommended.

 FLAX SEED was added on the advice of my farrier who worked at the larger California race tracks.  You will find wonderful information regarding flax seed and its benefits on the internet. It has become an important part of the Teamdonk feed plan. Flax is available at health food stores for around $1.89 a pound for seeds.  My feed store special orders a 50 pound bag of whole seeds for $36.00. 

 Put one ounce of flax seeds per animal in a small coffee grinder, grind it up so they can absorb the nutrients, and feed that mixed in with the other beet pulp ingredients twice a week on Wednesdays then again on Sundays.  It is terrific for their coats and hooves and again I feed this year around.  By keeping your flax seeds out of the sunlight they will store for a long time it’s also a great source of Omega 3 nutrients.

My current choice for loose salt is American Stockman Se-30 Trace Mineralized Salt with Selenium.  Our area is deficient in Selenium.  This product also contains Zinc, Iron, Manganese, Iodine and Cobalt.  It’s very important for our donkey friends to have access to these nutrients at least once a day along with plenty of clean water.

 We are lucky to be able to grow our own hay. It is a native Meadow Foxtail blend with a protein level of 8 to 9 percent.  The hay we raise to sell is a timothy mix and during the coldest months of the year we feed this hay.  They have access to a round bale 24/7 and will pick at the hay even when the spring grass is coming on and into early summer.  They do put on extra weight during the winter months which I feel is needed for their warmth and comfort.  Driving puts them back into condition during the working months. When buying hay, if you can find barn stored hay that is a year old and looks and smells good don’t be afraid to feed it. 

 That is a pretty good all around assessment of the Teamdonk Feed Program and as they like to say the proof is in the pudding… just take a look at Liberty’s coat in this 2008 photo…

Click to enlarge the photo

Horses and mules love the beet pulp recipe also and will reap the nutriment benefits as well. 

 More info from Vickiladywife: The Donkey Sanctuary in England has done extensive research on donkey nutrition and blood values, since the blood values of a donkey are not the same as a horse. I am no expert but I used their data as a baseline and compared it to the values of healthy donkeys and spent years evaluating food sources to find what would keep a donkey healthy, provide the nutrition he needs and maintain his energy level. The feed manufacturers produce a product packed with high levels of fats that will keep a horse round and sleek because horses are grazers and not very feed efficient. Donkeys are very feed efficient and the high levels in horse feeds can be Donkey Killers. Donkeys cannot tolerate that level of fat. Even most grains are too high in fat for a donkey or they contain high levels of nitrates. Therefore it is not wise to just open a bag and scoop out this amount or that amount. Grains of any kind have to be feed in combinations to balance out the good stuff and the bad stuff.

The most important thing to keep in mind is what you feed a donkey depends on his work load, and yes, even just standing in a pasture is a work load. Work is defined as any activity that increases a donkey’s nutritional needs. If the donkey is a mature adult with a light work load (pasture ornament), most of his nutritional needs can be met by grazing a suitable grass. But keep in mind just because you see green, it does not mean it is a good nutrition source. If the pasture has steep hills or sucking mud pits, that increases his work load because he has to expend more energy fueling his muscles to go up, down, or getting across it. If he is a young, immature donkey then his work load is higher because he is still trying to provide for the growth, provide for the essential internal mechanisms (health, lungs, liver, etc), and fuel his muscles so he can walk. If he has a parasite load, internal or external, that also increases his work load. If he is in training or being ridden or driven, that increases his work load (nutritional needs). If a pasture bully harasses him, that’s another notch up on his work load, for pregnancy add another notch. Lactation, add several more notches. Adverse weather, add another notch. Transporting, add another notch. What you feed today might be too much or not enough to feed him tomorrow. Just like an athlete who carb loads for a marathon, you have to consider what a donkey’s workload is on any given day and make the adjustments to supply his need. The adjustments are small, maybe an extra 1/4 cup of whole oats today, or because there is a break in the weather and he is not going to be as weather-stressed, reduce the amount slightly. Any time you change the amount of whole oats (make sure they are not race horse oats, crimped or steamed oats.) *1 You must change the amount of soaked shredded or pellet beet pulp too because the whole oats are the counter-balance of the shredded beet pulp.

*1 NOTE, I have gone from the whole oats to a rolled oat.  The reason for this was to break the hard shell of the oats down.   I feel that donkeys, horses and mules need this crushed to reap the benefits of the nutrition.  Cows can bring it back up and re chew it but our animals only get one shot at the nutrition in oats.

*2 Note, See the related post on Feeding Teamdonk Costs

*3 This is the Important Note***** This diet is in the process of being phased out and replaced with LMF for updated information please email *****


About Teamdonk

Teamdonk is all about Kristi's three driving and riding donkeys. Join us as we share our adventures. Meet the boys Luc, Galahad and Merlin. Don't forget to visit the older blogs at, 2010, 2011, 2012 13 & 14 add the year like this
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5 Responses to Teamdonk’s Feed Program

  1. Jennifer Verhoog says:

    Why are rolled/crimped oats not recommended for donkies? I’ve recently inherited an old, neglected jack who is in horrible shape. I really apprciate your article!
    Thank you

    • Teamdonk says:

      Funny you should ask about this. Just today we were talking about the whole oats on the ground the birds pick up after feeding. We have both decided that if the hard hulls on the wheat was cracked or rolled the donkeys would better digest it and not waste so much. So as of today I am switching to rolled oats. This was something Vicki recommended and I had been feeding rolled oats and changed to whole oats. Should not be a problem Jenn! Thanks for asking.

  2. Jody says:

    So with this feeding program…and as I understand it, you feed your donkeys ONCE a day with this meal, and then they get hay/grass the rest? I just acquired a donkey in December, and then figured she needed a buddy and got my second donkey 3 weeks ago. I have only been feeding them hay. I also have a horse.

    • Teamdonk says:

      Yes Jody it is once a day to get the supplements into them. I’ve noticed their hooves are starting to look a little stressed so I am now feeding Horse Guard only three days a week. Don’t want to over supplement them. Our hay is such a poor quality that they need this extra boost. Now if you are feeding a good quality hay you may not need to give them any extras. You really have to design it around what your hay or pasture is lacking without over feeding any of the Vita/Mineral components. My pasture is starting to green up a little so some of those missing nutrients are now showing up in the grass. Your best bet is to get your hay tested and if possible get your supplements custom mixed.

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