Something which has been quite new to me this summer was taking part in the foster welfare workshops which ran all over the country throughout the months of April to October. Our last workshop took place this week in Manchester; the first one took place at the beginning of April at Paccombe Training Centre here in Devon.
I must say I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity of getting out and about amongst the donkey owning public, hearing people’s stories and sharing in their experiences.
The workshop title was ‘Foal to Forty’ and our remit was to cover everything that could happen in between! Quite a task indeed. Faith Burden, myself and two of our vet nurses, Michelle Gunn and Vicky Banfield, were responsible for speaking about feed-related issues, giving specialist advice on most aspects of donkey nutrition, from condition scoring, to the nutritional requirements of mares and foals, to hints and tips for feeding an unwell donkey. As well as nutritional advice, aspects of management and health care from ‘foal to forty’ were covered by either Ben Hart (our Donkey Care Training Manager at Paccombe Training Centre) or one of our Welfare Officers.
Although the long hours travelling weren’t always that enjoyable, coming away from every workshop I undoubtedly felt very positive, knowing that I’d answered a nagging question for someone or given an owner some useful alternative feed options.
In the last year there have been a couple more products brought onto the market which have been formulated specifically for donkeys’ needs. We all know donkeys are different to horses in their nutritional requirements, and a lot of horse feeds are too high in energy levels putting donkeys at risk of becoming overweight or developing laminitis. It’s nice to have an ever increasing armoury of feed products which are ‘safe’ for donkeys in terms of being low enough in energy and high enough in fibre to meet their needs.
If you or anyone you know needs feeding advice but were unable to attend one of our workshops this summer; please don’t hesitate to contact us via the Welfare Department as we are always happy to give free feeding advice.
You may also be interested in having a look at this short video which features Faith Burden (Head of Research) demonstrating how to condition score an older donkey, and discussing some of the things to think about regarding how they may differ in body shape to a younger donkey.
We’ve had a very busy but enjoyable summer here in the Research Department, with Sarah and Kim leaving us temporarily on maternity leave and Kristin Hayday joining us on secondment from Isolation for the time being, our office dogs are also very pleased to welcome Mac into the department!