Farmers have some common misconceptions about donkeys, which I think I helped to put right at some recent livestock events.
Donkeys are not as hardy as people think and that they need caring for just like any animal. Some people think they can be left out in any weather and they’ll take care of themselves- but you can’t do that with donkeys!
They can also be used to pacify bulls and kept alongside cattle as they have a calming effect and can prevent them aborting their calves- at times of stress for example. There is a Donkey Breed Society, with its own stud book and showing rules, specialist judges and special classes at the Royal Highland Show and other top agricultural shows, for example, and people were fascinated to hear about it and to hear about The Donkey Sanctuary’s international work. Everyone had a lot of sympathy for the hard life of a working donkey in these countries.
So it’s not true that they just eat and take up space- the traditional attitude of some farmers to donkeys!
Quite a few were reminded by my presence of how much fun it was growing up with a donkey on the farm and a few came out with some great stories. So I hope I managed to change a few people’s minds and to raise awareness of what we do and to get the message across that donkeys deserve a bit more respect and more of a second look!