Can Donkeys Eat Bread? (Oh No!)

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

The issue of whether donkeys can eat bread is quite tetchy as most donkey owners and experts believe bread is bad for donkeys.

The reason is donkeys are originally desert dwellers mostly surviving on dried grass which their digestive systems are adapted to. 

The grain used in producing bread is rich and contains a large variety of sugar which the digestive system of the donkey is not used to and by feeding the donkey bread consistently, you run the risk of making your donkey sick.

To be on the safe side, it is best to avoid feeding bread to donkeys and this article will explain why bread is bad for them. 

What Are The Health Benefits Of Bread To Donkeys?

Can Donkeys Eat Bread
  1. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the major driving sources of energy for the body. They serve as fuel and bread provides the body with both complex and simple carbohydrates. 

Complex carbs provide the body with more nutrients while the simple carbs provides fast burning energy which serves as fuel for activities throughout the day. 

  1. Fiber

A serving of bread can give you at least one gram of fiber. Fiber is important for making digestion seamless and promoting gut health through the presence of prebiotics.

Fiber also helps to feel fuller to avoid overeating at a go. 

Bread often contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which are beneficial to the body.

  1. Protein

Bread is a good source of dietary protein.

Protein serves quite the important function in the body such as maintaining bone health and improving muscle mass and density. 

  1. Micronutrients

Bread is rich in micronutrient content including iron, riboflavin, calcium, thiamine to mention a few.

These micronutrients all perform important functions in the body from smooth cell functioning to circulation of blood to healthy bone and teeth development. 

  1. Folic Acid

Folic acid is a synthesized version of folate which is a B vitamin. Our bodies cannot produce folate so we have to get it from foods we eat.

Folic acid is important for bodily functions such as promoting the growth of red blood cells and helping cellular division. 

How Often Should I Feed Them Bread?

Some donkey owners do feed their donkeys bread from time to time as a treat.

That is totally up to their discretion however as they might be limiting other sugar rich foods to avoid sickness to the donkey.

Donkey anatomy is very delicate and they are easily prone to obesity and weight gain, not to mention hoof sickness called laminitis when they are exposed to a lot of sugar. 

Bread might have less negative effects if the donkey is fed to them sparingly and if you would feed bread to your donkeys then ensure its’ a once every other day event to avoid getting your donkey sick.

Can Baby Donkeys Eat Bread?

It is best to not give baby donkeys bread to avoid digestive problems which they might be too delicate to handle.

Baby donkeys are usually breastfed by their mother during the first 6 to 8 months of their life before they are weaned.

However by 2 to 4 weeks old, the foal can start eating separate food and should be given hay and some pasture grass to supplement.

Their eating will improve daily as they grow and the pasture should be coarse to avoid obesity at an early age.

Sugar rich foods including bread should be avoided for the foals and their weight should be watched and maintained.

You can give vegetables such as lettuce and carrots and less sugary fruits as treats to the foals. 

Can Donkeys Eat White Bread?

White bread is bread from processed refined grains from which the bran and the germ have been removed.

White bread is made from a heavily processed, simplified carbohydrate. It’s fast and easy to break down, but it’s low in nutrients.

Even for humans, white bread is often classified as junk food and can cause a spike in blood sugar levels contributing to conditions like diabetes. 

It is best to avoid feeding white bread to your donkeys as it is easy for them to have spiked sugar levels which they cannot process and end up obese and with laminitis. 

Can Donkeys Eat Brown Bread?

Brown bread is usually produced with whole wheat flour and unlike white bread, the bran and germ are not removed in the course of production of the bread.

Brown bread on the whole is believed to be a healthier and more nutritious option than white bread, however it also should be eaten with moderation.

Brown bread is not a safer option for donkeys as the grains used in processing are still a little too rich for the donkeys to process.

Can Donkeys Eat Moldy Bread?

On no account should you feed your donkey with moldy bread or any other moldy food.

Moldy food is poisonous to your donkeys and is highly dangerous to their health. The donkeys might have allergic reactions to the mold which can be fatal.

Donkeys can also get mycotoxins from eating moldy food. Mycotoxins are poisonous substances produced by fungi in molds that are toxic to a wide range of animals. 

Donkeys can be exposed to mycotoxins through tainted food or bedding and symptoms of mycotoxin poisoning usually include weight loss, appetite loss and a host of other symptoms. 

Things To Watch Out For Before Feeding Them Bread?

It is best to avoid feeding bread to your donkey as the potential risks far outweigh the benefits.

Bread might provide your donkeys with nutrients but they are not able to effectively supply all the important nutrients they need.

Laminitis is a disease which your donkey can have when it has been imbibing too much sugar.

Laminitis is often difficult to treat and in a lot of cases, the animal usually has to be put down to remove them from pain.

All these should be taken into consideration before feeding bread to the donkeys and precautions should be taken to limit other sugar rich foods.

How Can I Feed Bread To Donkeys?

To easily feed bread to donkeys, you can cut the bread into small pieces and then place in their feeding bowl for them to eat.

You can also use bread and jam sandwiches to tempt fussy donkeys into eating their meals or using medication.

Bread and jam sandwiches are easily made by spreading jam on bread, you can add healthy nuts and vegetables to make it more appealing.

This can either be hand fed to the donkeys or cut up into pieces and placed on their feed to encourage them to eat.

Conclusion

Bread is a staple food eaten by humans the world over and many donkey owners often wonder if it is right to give their donkeys bread.

Donkeys cannot process a lot of sugar and the grains from which bread is made are high in sugar.

Donkeys can easily gain weight, become obese and get disease when they have a sugar rich diet.

Feeding your donkeys bread should be avoided, however if you do have want to give them then ensure you limit sugar from other foods including pasture so your donkey remains healthy and disease free. 

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About the author

Kloee Ngozi

Kloee is a backyard farmer and avid gardener who enjoys tending to her garden and plants. She is so engrossed with her plants that she has pet names for all of them. She likes to relax with a bottle of wine and read a book.