Donkey hoof care forms a greater part of their welfare as untrimmed hooves can cause a lot of pain.
Caring for your donkey’s feet requires regular farrier attention, daily picking out of the hooves and regular trimming to avoid overgrowth.
As a donkey owner, have it in mind that donkey hooves are quite different from those of horses and as such, they require different care.
This article will discuss how to care for donkey hooves, why you should have them trimmed and a step by step guide to successfully trim your pet donkey’s hooves.
Why Do Donkeys Need Their Hooves Trimmed?
Donkey hooves are different from those of horses both in appearance and physiology.
For example, donkey hooves have been adapted for desert living and as such, they have wider hooves with a higher water retainment ability.
This is just one of the ways in which donkey hooves differ from horse hooves and you can read up more about those differences.
Donkey hooves tend to grow out over time and as such they need regular trimming every 6 -8 weeks.
If your donkey hooves are not properly trimmed regularly, it will grow out over time and give a ‘Turkish slipper’ appearance.
This makes walking very difficult for the donkey while causing a lot of pain as the donkey’s heels have collapsed under the foot.
Related: Here is an article I wrote on donkeys losing hair and treatments
Step By Step Guide On How To Care For Donkey Hooves
There are two ways to ensure your donkey’s hooves are well cared for regularly and they are daily cleaning and regular trimming.
1. Daily Picking
This involves cleaning and picking out donkey’s hooves every morning to ensure there are no stones or pebbles lodged in the sole.
It also helps to easily discover hoof problems that might be cropping up. Here’s how to pick your donkey hooves:
- To start with, rub your donkey gently from the back to the hind leg as this helps calm the donkey and prepare it for the cleaning.
- When picking the foot, ensure the leg is under the body. Do not pull the leg out wide from under the donkey as this will cause joint pain later.
- Use a hoof pick to pick out dirt and mud in the donkeys’ frog.
- Move the pick from the top of the donkeys’ to the middle to clear out any dirt.
- Also use the pick to remove stones from the white line of the hoof.
- Use the hoof pick brush to brush away any remaining dirt
- Run your hands over the soles of the donkeys hoof to check for any swelling or abscess
- Gently lower the foot back to the ground and repeat the procedure for the other legs.
Trim your horse hooves or schedule a farrier appointment every 6 – 8 weeks to avoid overgrowth.
When trimming your donkey hooves, remember to keep them calm.
You could do a brief grooming of their coats to calm them further.
Also, extra care should be taken with donkeys who are getting their first trimmings. It is important to build trust with them.
- To start with, rasp the walls of the donkeys’ hoof so they are even with its sole.
- Trim away dead and uneven material from the hoof frog. The frog should be kept in contact with the ground while performing this procedure.
- Check the bars for overgrowth or folds. If there is overgrowth, it should also be trimmed to ensure it slopes from the heel to the cleft.
- Scrape dirt or any flaky material from the sole and give the outer part of the hoof wall a short trim to stop cracking.
- Front hooves should have the same length and the same goes with the back hooves.
- Ensure the sole is not over trimmed to avoid bleeding and pain to the donkey. It is necessary to not take off more hoof than is necessary.
It is better to work with a farrier who has donkey experience to trim your donkeys’ hooves.
Sometimes a donkey can start experiencing pain and lameness after the farrier visit, it means you need to change your farrier to a more careful and experienced person.
Also check out this article I wrote on how strong are donkeys
How Often Should You Clean Your Donkey’s Hooves?
Donkey hooves should be cleaned and picked every morning before the donkey is turned out to work.
This procedure helps pick out mud and stone from your donkey’s hooves.
You can also use this time to check your donkey’s hooves for any swelling or abscess that might be causing it pain.
Donkey hooves can sometimes be problematic and the daily picking helps you discover any injury the donkey might be hiding before it gets bad.
Also your donkey hooves should be trimmed every 6 – 8 weeks to avoid overgrown hooves that can cause pain and difficulty walking for your horse.
Regular farrier visits should be scheduled to avoid hoof problems.
What Happens If You Do Not Trim A Donkey’s Hooves?
Horse hooves can go for years without being trimmed and remain fine especially if they are in an area with good tracks.
However it is not the same with donkeys, donkey hooves are more dense and tend to grow out faster.
When donkey hooves are not trimmed out regularly, such a donkey will develop the ‘turkish slipper’ foot syndrome.
This means the donkey’s hooves have gotten overgrown and have curled and this makes it extremely difficult for the donkey to walk.
Not trimming regularly also predisposes the donkey to hood problems such as seedy toe, laminitis, foot abscess and the likes.
Regular trimming would have discovered these problems in time.
Does Hoof Trimming Hurt?
Donkey hoof trimming when carried out by a professional and in a proper way does not hurt.
It is important that when trimming, too much of the soles are not cut away as that will cause the donkey much pain.
Before trimming starts, ensure the donkey is calm and establish trust so it is not agitated and kicks out.
While lifting the foot to check the hoof, take care to keep it under the donkey’s body to avoid joint pain.
Over-trimming causes bleeding and bruising and as such trimming should only be carried out by a donkey hoof professional or a farrier with donkey experience.
Hoof care and trimming is very important for your donkey’s health and well being.
You do not want your donkey to develop curled feet and as such you schedule regular trimming appointments.
Also endeavor to pick out your donkey’s hooves every morning so it stays clean and doesn’t get discomfited from stones and pebbles that might be stuck in it.