Well it may still be summer, with the August Bank Holiday just been and gone, but recently there has been an unmistakable nip in the air. Reminding us that summer is nearly over and autumn is just around the corner.
2014 has had one of the driest and sunniest summers we have seen for some time. This year we have seen bumper hay and straw crops across most of the country. While supplies are abundant and prices are low, it will be a good time to think about stocking up for the winter.
If storage on site isn’t an option, you can still think about your winter supplies planning ahead to help alleviate any shortages later on in the year. Getting together with other donkey owners in the same area to buy in bulk and store the straw at a neighbour’s premises will make sourcing easier and prices more competitive.
Keep in regular contact with and build up a relationship with your straw supplier, emphasizing that you use straw for feeding as well as bedding.
In preparation for the turning weather, now is also a good time to wash, check and repair any rugs if you haven’t already done so. Check your fencing and shelters for any rotten wood and replace as necessary.
Most donkeys will start to grow a thicker coat for the winter, don’t worry if they look a bit hairier (and messier!) than normal. It’s important to carry on with daily grooming and checks as cuts and bumps won’t be so visible underneath a long coat.
Whilst grooming it’s important to run a hand over and condition score your donkeys, keeping an eye on any older donkeys that may begin to drop weight in the coming months. Remember to introduce any extra feeds slowly (over 2-4 weeks) to allow your donkey’s gut flora time to adapt to the new feed.
If you need any advice on supplemental feeds please have a look through our ready prepared factsheets in our donkey health and welfare section and if you need any further advice, you can contact a member of our research team their feeding and nutrition advice form