What Kind of Food Do Donkeys Eat?

Donkeys eat dry matter and fibrous foods such as straw, hay, bark and shrubs. Although they eat grass, they should not overfeed on either it or clover.

In the wild, a donkey feeds on a variety of vegetation, from bark and shrubs to berries and grass. In captivity, a donkey requires high-fiber foods, such as barley and hay, with only small amounts of low-fiber grasses. Chaff or grain husks and fiber nuts are two other high-fiber options. Owners need to avoid feeding a donkey oats, as this grain can cause inflammation of the hooves or laminitis. A donkey also requires a salt or mineral lick.

Barley straw is the main component of a donkey’s diet. Not only does it have high fiber, but it is low in calories, which keeps the animal from putting on too much weight. An owner should only feed a donkey oat, wheat or linseed straw under certain circumstances. Oat straw has a higher calorie content and is only suitable for older donkeys, while wheat straw requires a young donkey with strong teeth to eat it. Linseed straw can only be fed to a donkey if the linseed has been previously boiled.

An owner needs to allow hay to dry out for at least three months before feeding it to a donkey, and only give it to the donkey if it contains no mold. Both meadow hay and seed hay are good options because of the high fiber content, but cow-pasture hay should only be fed to a donkey if its is mixed with straw. When procuring meadow hay, an owner needs to make sure that there is no ragwort in it, a yellow wildflower that is toxic to donkeys.