When our Ireland Team received a request from a donkey owner desperate for help, we responded with advice and support.
The two stallions, Ned and Jack, had belonged to the owner's late father and had roamed dairy farmland with cattle for over ten years. The donkeys were unused to being handled, and when anyone tried to trim their hooves, it was a stressful experience.
In recent times, due to fencing at the farm deteriorating, the donkeys had repeatedly escaped onto roads and nearby properties, causing damage. As a last resort to prevent the donkeys from escaping, the owner confined the animals to a boat shed as he was afraid to let them out.
Supporting donkeys in the community is a vital service we provide, and our team was eager to help.
Donkey Welfare Adviser Clare Crowther visited the donkey owner and met Ned and Jack. They shared a shed with a boat and some old farm machinery and were extremely nervous of human contact. They ran from one end of the shed to the other, kicking out defensively if approached.
Their body condition was good, but their hooves were overdue a trim. The owner spoke of how farriers had trimmed the donkeys' hooves but had found the stallions challenging to handle and were reluctant to return.
Clare quickly saw how caring for Jack and Ned had become an overwhelming burden, and she was determined to improve their welfare by providing the support the donkey owner needed to care for his animals.
The donkeys had received a diet of oats and vegetables, so Clare advised about nutrition and the importance of worming the animals. The donkey owner agreed to provide barley straw so Ned and Jack would have access to appropriate forage at all times.
Clare and the owner quickly agreed upon a plan of action to improve the donkeys' living conditions. They selected a pasture area close to the house to be a paddock after being cleared of hazards and securely fenced.
With access to a yard and shelter, the donkeys wouldn't be outside in bad weather and would have an area of concrete to help improve their hooves' health.
Crucially, Clare arranged for an experienced farrier who enjoys working with donkeys to trim Ned and Jacks' hooves. Accompanied by two assistants, the farrier calmly and safely caught the donkeys. Happily, Ned and Jack relaxed, and the farrier trimmed their hooves with ease. The donkey owner was delighted and will continue to use this farrier in the future.
Clare arranged for a local equine vet to castrate the donkeys and booked an equine dental technician to check Ned and Jacks' teeth for the first time.
Over the autumn, Ned and Jack settled into their new paddock and shelter near the house. Instead of wandering through several acres without regular human contact, they began living alongside and interacting with people. As a result, both donkeys are more friendly and don't run away when they are approached.
Clare said: "Ned and Jacks' welfare needs are being met in terms of environment and diet, and they are safe in their securely fenced paddock. By living alongside and having positive interactions with people, the donkeys are quickly gaining confidence and are more friendly. I am delighted that we have been able to support this donkey owner and that he has the knowledge and confidence to care for Ned and Jack into the future."
Thanks to your generosity, we helped Ned and Jack remain in their home.
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