Earlier this month I visited our Derbyshire Centre to see how Chris Pile and his team were coping with the 37 donkeys in their care. Last we heard they were snowed in with temperatures of minus 16 degrees. I was very lucky to arrive on a blustery but sunny day and spent some time looking around the barns and stables where Chris has made improvements, such as creating exercise areas with bark surfaces next to each field shelter so that the donkeys can come outside and roll even if the grass is too wet for them to go into the field.
We went to the new arrivals shelter to meet Arnie who is a 10 year old Poitou donkey. Those of you who have been to Sidmouth to see our Poitous will know what to expect but if you have not visited us then do look at the webcam on our website for the "Poitou experience"!
Arnie is a stallion so cannot mix with the other donkeys yet until he has been castrated as we have a no breeding policy. I'm pleased to say that he is very friendly and loves attention which is quite a good thing as one of the first jobs that the grooms took on was to remove the matted dreadlocks that had formed on Arnie's coat.
Pure bred Poitous have long coats which do not moult like our donkeys do so each year it gets longer and longer and if it is not looked after it quickly becomes knotted and tangled until they felt up and become really matted. A bit like a long haired cat gets matted patches in their coats. The grooms were able to cut the matted areas off and then they hung them over the fence!
He is much more comfortable without them and Hannah, Kat and Joy can start to groom him in the normal manner.