Poo picking of the donkey paddocks is one of the tasks that the farm staff least enjoy. Each donkey “poos” several times a day and several more times each night. Their digestive system is designed to work best if they trickle feed, this means that they browse and nibble on the various type of fibre that we offer them. Because their stomachs work continually to digest the fibre 24/7 a “poo” can be produced as often as every other hour, multiply that by the number of donkeys on each farm and you get lots of piles of “poo” every day!
The farm staff “poo pick” the smaller paddocks by hand on a daily basis...not actually with their bare hands but using a tool called a “pooper scooper”!
Our larger paddocks are swept clean mechanically several times a week. This operation is weather dependent as on a wet day the donkey droppings would stick into the rotary brush and end up being smeared around the field (not good). On a dry day the nugget-like droppings are whisked into the collection bucket of the paddock sweeping machine which is pulled along by a tractor.
If the donkey droppings are not collected there is a chance that worm larva can migrate from the dropping onto the grass where they lie dormant until they get eaten by another donkey. The larvae then hatch out in the donkey’s stomach. Worms can be spread around all the donkeys in this way.
Donkey droppings left on the grass makes any grass that grows through it taste sour and this is not palatable for the donkeys, they will not eat it so the field growth becomes uneven and there is less grazing available for the donkeys.
Our pasture management is further enhanced by allowing local farmers to graze their sheep in the donkey fields during the winter months (when it is too wet for the donkeys to be in the fields). The sheep are less fussy about what the eat and tidy up the paddocks by eating everything in sight. There is an added bonus as they are ruminants and have four stomachs; equine worm larvae do not survive and the worm’s life cycle is broken.