Gastric ulcers in donkeys: prevalence and effect of diet

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Retrospective data analysis from PM records. Variables examined included location and size of ulceration, body condition score and feeding regime.

  1. To determine the prevalence of gastric ulceration in a population of elderly donkeys at PM.
  2. To determine the site of gastric ulcers and to evaluate the extent of ulceration.
  3. To determine if forage and concentrate feeds are risk factors.

Gastric ulcers recorded in 41% of 426 donkeys necropsied. Of which 89% of these donkeys had ulceration of the margo plicatus (squamous area), and 10% of had ulceration of the glandular area. 49% of ulcers were medium size (>2cm squared but <10cm squared), 28% small and 23% extensive. Donkeys on cereal based supplementary feed had 55% prevalence rate, donkeys on fibre based supplementary feed had 33% prevalence rate, donkeys on forage only had 34% prevalence rate. Chi-square test found association between cereal based diet and presence of ulcers.


Gastric ulceration common at necropsy. This is the first evidence of this nature in this equid species. Maybe surprising as donkeys in the UK are thought of as relatively sedentary with a low stress lifestyle and free access to forage - not typical risk factors for gastric ulceration. Supplementary feeding of fibre based products does not increase risk of ulceration compared to forage only diet.