Our sweet John Donkey “Herschel” just loves to chow down on coastal hay. He’s at the bottom of the pecking order in the herd, so despite me spreading out their grain feed in separate troughs, they often nudge him away. He’ll then poke about for something else to eat so he gets first shot and a few flakes of hay. During cooler weather, we will supplement the grain with store-bought bales because the pasture grasses are played-out and not full of nutrition in the winter.
As you can see and hear, he enjoys coastal hay. It is interesting how their lips are so instrumental in pulling the food into their mouths. I often marvel and how tough the insides of a donkey’s mouth must be to chomp on dry grass. But they love it!
Although free-grazing in warmer months is all the grasses they need, you can figure out how much hay they eat if they are dry lotted. Conventional donkey wisdom suggests about 1.5 percent of their body weight each day is what they need. Some donkeys will only eat what they actually need but others will overeat and get fat neck rolls. If this happens you can control their access to food in a dry lot and get their weight down pretty quickly.
We reckon Herschel is about 15 now. We’ve had him at the sanctuary for just over ten years. He was introduced to us on the same day as Zeus, Kharma, and the late Jenny BonBon. We believe he’s the offspring of Zeus and BonBon. When the John Donkeys pair-off sometimes, Herschel will follow Jules around. Jules came to the rescue also about 9 years ago as a yearling along with his sister Mocha. Herschel looks up to Jules who has taken over as the boos of the John Donkey herd. Zeus and Kharma stick very close to one another, but they are all generally within eyesight of each other.