Welcome to my blog - a diary about living with donkeys, notes about care, my training sessions and the absolute pleasure of donkey companionship.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Donkey Treats!

Positive reinforcement training (aka clicker training) uses a system where you break down behaviours into small, teachable steps, quickly mark the correct behaviour with a "yes-answer" signal (the click in clicker training) and follow this by rewarding the animal with something they really, really want - in the donkeys' case FOOD!

So, basically it's:  Behaviour = Click = Reward

The question is, what can I use as a food reward that is healthy for donkeys?  And if you are training as much as I do, that means offering quite a bit over the course of a day.

The best things I have found are simple Timothy hay pellets, however they are only sold in the US and not in Canada!  I have been lucky to have had a friend bring me 2 bags awhile back and I got another 2 on my way to Clicker Expo in Portland last year but I am very nearly out of them now.

I have looked at various feed tags on bags of horse feeds but even the best ones are either high fiber, high FAT or else they have a lot of molasses and other unwanted things, like oil.

I could cut up apples and carrots but don't really want to add another task to my list - I want something in the barn that I can quickly fill my treat pouch with.

So I am now wondering if I can make my own donkey treats!  Here's a list of things I feel would be safe and healthy to feed donkeys but I am missing a starch or binder to hold them all together.

carrots (grated),  applesauce, flax "eggs" (which is just flax seed in water), dried nettle or raspberry leaf, mint, a bit of ginger, banana

I'd like to form cookie dough logs that I can bake and then cut into very small pieces.  But I doubt the above concoction would hold together.  The only thing I can think to add is whole oats ground into flour.
I know that some people feed oats to donkeys ... personally I try to avoid cereal grains, but I may need to include them here and hope it's okay.

Any other ideas out there?


  1. How about tapioca flour? As someone who is on a low-carbohydrate diet, tapioca flour gets used in a lot of things as a binder because it's lower in starches than your typical flour, and many people use it in gluten-free baking.

  2. Wow what a great idea and I would never have thought of that! Thank you! Here's what I have found out:


    Tapioca flour contains no fat in a 1/4 cup serving, according to Bob's Red Mill. In contrast, traditional flour contains a miniscule amount of fat in a 1-cup serving -- 1 gram of fat -- but this becomes negligible in a 1/4 cup serving size.

    A 1/4 cup serving of tapioca flour contains 26 grams of carbohydrates, but no grams of either dietary fiber or sugars. In contrast, traditional flour contains 23 grams of carbs, including 1 gram of dietary fiber, which constitutes 3 percent of your daily recommended intake if you follow a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.
    Other Nutrients

    There is no protein in a serving of tapioca flour, although it contains 2 percent of your daily value of iron. In contrast, traditional flour contains 3 grams of protein per 1/4 cup serving, as well as 8 percent of your daily value of iron.

  3. Use flour, minced apple slices, minced carrot slices, molasas, oats, and some water. I made some and the donkeys LOVE them. Plus, it only takes a few minute to whip them up. Store them in the fridge and use them up by two weeks, though.

    1. It's best to avoid cereal grains and sugar in any form (molasses) for donkeys.
      So that means no flour, oats or molasses. Sure the donkeys love that stuff but it's actually not good for them. Think of donkeys as "insulin-resistant." Metabolic issues can show up later (after a diet of fructan-rich grass or hay or sweet feed!)

  4. Small chunks of watermelon rind (after you eat the good parts yourself), bread crusts and heels and stale bread products, cucumber peels, fingerling bananas (tomorrow I'll try leaving the pesticide-free peels on)