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Friday, January 25, 2013

Morning Mash

When it comes to feeding donkeys, it seems I am always second-guessing my last decision!
This winter, I had decided not to feed a morning mash - my thinking was that "simpler is better!"
So, no pellets of anything, no processed feed, no GMO products, and nothing that isn't organic.

Then Dorrie had that nasty impaction colic and I "second-guessed" my decision!  And you know how if and when you've ever had food poisoning, somehow your intuition leads you to the culprit?  You just "know" it was the cheese, or the mayonnaise or ...  well, when Dorica coliced, I just "knew" it was the full bale of barley straw I had been putting out in a slow feeder bag, combined with low water intake.

Of course, I can't prove this, but my gut tells me that this was the problem.  Dorrie LOVES her food and perhaps the fact that she had competition from the other donkeys (she's not used to sharing) caused her to overeat. 

The slow feeder bag had 1.5" holes, as compared to their regular hay bags that have 1" holes and it's amazing how much bigger the spacing is!  Too easy to get mouthfuls of straw.  I didn't think they would gorge on straw but I think she did.  Her teeth do need floating and that's another concern, but they're not "bad" enough to cause her to colic, so says the vet.

So in the interests of providing more water in their diet, every donkey gets a morning mash.  You should hear the carrying on while I'm in the feed room getting it ready!  Here's what I do:

In the evening, I put 1/2 cup of soy bean hulls + 1/4 cup of beet pulp + a few Timothy Balance hay cubes in a container and bring it into the house where I add water - I have a line on the container that tells me how much - I guess it's at least 1 cup.  The more water the better but some donkeys don't like to eat a mash that's too sloppy, so you have to fiddle a bit.  I will usually add more warm water in the morning.

When I go out at first light, I take the soaked mash with me and divide it among 4 bowls. 

Then I add:
1 tsp. salt - either sea salt or coarse pink Himalayan salt
1 Tbsp. ground flax seeds - I keep a coffee grinder in the barn and grind every other day
Vitamins/ minerals - either Dr. Reed's pellets or Pure Form for Minis
any other "special needs" e.g Rose is getting a hoof supplement, Dorrie got probiotics for 2 weeks after her colic episode and sometimes I add psyllium if I see diarrhea

Wow!  That's hardly keeping it simple!  Plus, even though I have 2 heated buckets in the barn, I top up smaller buckets with fresh water and boiled water (until it's tepid) and it's been interesting to see that those are the buckets they choose right after eating.

I've just been able to get more Timothy hay pellets (straight hay) and more Timothy Balance cubes (hay + beet pulp + some minerals) so I'm going to switch and use this for the mash and no more soy bean hulls or beet pulp pellets.

So now I'm an advocate for a morning mash - as wet as they'll eat, with salt at the very least, to encourage them to drink more.


  1. Sounds great, they are such lucky donkeys :-)

  2. Oh FH I'm SO glad you approve! You'd tell me if you think there's something different I should be doing, wouldn't you?

  3. Mine are getting mash in the morning as well....as soon as the water trough was freezing I knew they would not be drinking as much as they should. THEY LOVE MASH!! I'm using pelleted feed & hot water, nothing extra...it really is amazing how much those pellets expand. I make mine nice & soupy. By the time I get to the pasture the water has cooled off & is ready to eat.

  4. Hmm this is so helpful! I just bought a donkey in December and recently discovered he doesn't like mushy food, I've been trying to figure out what I can put in it to make it more appealing to him and I think this has sparked some ideas. Thank You!