Two very differing welfare visits in one day. The first to a farm in Suffolk who have sadly decided to relinquish two donkeys that suffer badly with seedy toe. East Anglia has a variety of soil types but heavy clay is prevalent in a lot of areas which does not suit donkeys' feet at all. It is fine in the summer, being rock hard and dry, but come winter and we are all up to our ankles or fetlocks in not so glorious mud! And very sticky glutinous mud at that! Donkeys don't do mud and genuinely seem to dislike it which is no real surprise as their natural desert type habitat is very far removed from the very wet conditions that we seem to be experiencing in this country every winter.
Seedy toe, or white line disease, is caused by bacteria in the soil and it would seem that Suffolk has more than its fair share as we see so much of it in these parts. The white line starts to crumble away under the hoof wall and can go right up to the coronet band if left untreated, resulting in a complete resection of the hoof wall. Keeping hooves clean and dry is the best way to deal with donkeys' feet but it is sometimes a fine balance between keeping them confined to stable/small yard and keeping your donkeys sane and happy.
As you can see from the photo, the farrier in this instance has correctly cut away the hoof wall and the areas of seedy toe underneath. Keeping it exposed to the air but clean at the same time is no easy task but wire brushing and spraying with an antibacterial spray will help. It always looks worse that it is and isn't painful for the donkey.
There appears to be no rhyme nor reason as to why some donkeys are more prone than others and in my experience the colour of the hoof makes little difference. Donkeys just don't seem to suit our climate particularly well.
A difficult, heartbreaking decision for the owner of these two but one done in the best interests of the donkeys.
Then on to a foster home for a delivery of two established driving donkeys together with a four wheel cart and a two wheeler plus all the harness!
Emma is very keen to drive and already has two of our donkeys on foster, Little Fluff and Wellington. These two are quite young and it will be a while before they can be put between shafts but Bart and Penny will be able to give Emma the necessary experience.
The very well respected Mike Daniels, who has driven commercially and for pleasure for many years, and is often seen out and about with his two stunning Fresians, will be coming over to put these two (and Emma!) through their paces.
Mike will be giving Emma support and backup so that she can safely drive around the countryside near where they live.
I plan to go over when Mike is there and get some more photos of them all in action so will keep you all informed!
Donkeys love to be doing things and it is wonderful when we have foster owners like Emma. We all wish you many happy driving hours with your new team, Emma!