Let’s Talk about Hooves!
Proper hoof care for donkeys follows the same timeline as for a horse or pony. Scheduling regular trims (done correctly) every 6-10 weeks is, in most cases, generally a good interval. Some donkeys’ hooves grow quickly and need trimming closer to 6 week intervals, while others’ hooves don’t grow as fast. Other donkeys might wear their feet off on rocky terrain, and might be fine going as long as 10 weeks between trims.
The important thing is that their feet shouldn’t look obviously ready for a trim. You want to maintain a good looking, well-balanced and proper length hoof all the time. So, each trim by your farrier should not result in very much hoof being trimmed off. An eighth to a quarter inch is about all you should ever see trimmed off at one time. This is proper hoof maintenance!
A donkey’s hoof needs to be trimmed a little more upright than a horse’s hoof, keeping slightly more heel and taking off a bit more toe. A lot of farriers don’t realize this, so although the donkeys’ hooves are being trimmed regularly, many have feet that are still too long.
One very important aspect of hoof care that needs addressing is that it is the responsibility of the owner to make sure their donkey is well-behaved for the farrier. It is not the job of your farrier to train your donkey to stand still and allow its feet to be handled. It is the owner’s job! If you cannot handle your donkey’s feet because they are terrified or simply haven’t been trained, you cannot expect the farrier to be able to do it. You absolutely must figure out how to work with your donkey to get it to allow you to work with its feet. There are lots of online resources to help with training in general. The Donkey Sanctuary (https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/) is one of many good sources of information on donkeys and donkey care.
If, for whatever reason, you cannot physically handle your donkeys for the farrier, then at the very least you should have your vet present to sedate the donkey mildly so that it is quiet and relaxed for the farrier. Although we don’t recommend using sedation in place of training, it is still far better to sedate them every few months so that they can get a good hoof trim than it is to ignore their feet. Sedating them is not complete anesthesia, laying them on the ground. It just helps them feel more relaxed and remain quiet, not fearful or combative. It will result in a much better trim for the donkey, and a happy farrier.
Here are some examples of hooves not trimmed:
Here are some examples of hooves properly trimmed: