This is probably the number one question that I see pop up on Facebook and donkey related conversations, especially with this onset of frigid temperatures. The answer I have come up with is: maybe.
As Emma and Ramsey have demonstrated for us this year, a baby donkey less than 4 years old will very likely benefit from a blanket if you are in a very cold, windy climate. A healthy adult donkey in good condition with plenty of roughage to keep the internal fires burning will probably be just fine.
A few signs of a cold donkey are a tightly clamped tail, hunched back, grumpiness and unwillingness to be touched. Those things are all rather subjective though so it can still be hard to tell. Fortunately, there is a very simple test that will tell you right off if your particular donkey really, truly needs a blanket (this works for horses too). All you really need to do is go ask your donkey, here's how:
- Step 1: Go out and put a blanket on your donkey (if you haven't got a proper blanket, an old quilt will do for the moment) and watch him very carefully.
- Step 2: If the animal begins to shiver within a few minutes, than he needs a blanket.
- Step 3: If there is no shivering within ten minutes, than he will continue to be fine (and safer) running around naked.
- If your donkey had been rather grumpy and irritable and cheers up with a blanket on, but does not shiver, than he will likely appreciate having a blanket. He will get along OK without it if you are opposed to blankets, but he might like one.
The second most frequently asked question is: where can I get a blanket for my donkey and which one should I buy?
After trying on a number of blankets, the one that I find works best for my donkeys is the medium weight Rhino Pony Wug (that really is how they spell it) with a high neck. Ramsey is modeling his new Wug....
If the Rhino is too expensive or you can't find one, look for something with a high neck. I have found that a lot of blankets do not fit my donkeys well, especially around the shoulders. Below is the blanket Emma wore last year. It fit well, but you can see that it puts a lot of pressure on her chest and withers. It rubbed quite a bit by the end of the season. It never made her sore, it worked and it was half the price, but I worried about it pinching the nerves in her shoulders and would go with another's Rhino if I had to.
As for where to buy a blanket for a donkey, I have had good luck finding small sizes in two places:
Just For Ponies
The Rhino blankets are not cheap, the one Ramsey is wearing sells for $180 unless you can find a good sale. They do hold up well though. I rather wish Rhino was paying me to say all this, but alas, this is all just my opinion on a question I get asked quite frequently.
There is one other one-time-only buying opportunity...You can buy this Rhino Wug that my two have both outgrown....