You may see some of our donkeys wearing an unusual type of rug. These rugs give our sensitive donkeys protection from the biting midges in the spring and summer. They are called the Culicoide midge and their saliva is particularly irritating to approximately 1% of the donkey herd. Once bitten the donkeys scratch and create sore places which the midges then use as the perfect site to bite again. This condition is known as Sweet Itch.
The close weave fabric is lightweight and the cover-all rug is specially made to fit each individual donkey as it is very important that their body is as completely covered as possible. The mane and tail areas are usually the most affected as the midges seem to like to get into the long hair. The Culicoide midges cannot get through this rug to bite the donkey.
The donkeys start wearing their special rugs as early in the year as March so that they are protected before the midges start to appear and will wear a rug 24/7 until October or the first frost which kills off the midges. If we did not have these rugs the donkeys would not be able to go outside to graze in the summer months except after dark. As you probably know midges are at their worst at dawn and dusk.
Each affected donkey needs to have 2 special rugs as they have to have one to wear and one in the wash. Fortunately they are light enough to go into our washing machine and do not have to be sent away for specialist cleaning. They are quite tricky to put on but the donkeys seem to know that once they have them on the relief from the fly bites makes it worthwhile.
Donations made towards the cost of these rugs are always gratefully received as they are essential equipment for the poor donkeys that have this unpleasant allergy.
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