Why Is My Donkey Eating Wood? (Answered)

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

Donkeys are intelligent creatures who prefer to be outside in broad areas.

As a result, if confined for an extended period, they may develop negative habits out of boredom or irritation.

Chewing on wood is a systematic way for donkeys to relieve boredom and annoyance.

This habit not only harms the wood, but it can also harm the animal by producing excessive wear on the incisors and increasing the risk of splinters becoming trapped in the mouth or being swallowed.

Furthermore, vitamin deficiency can cause a donkey to chew in wood, but the most popular reason is boredom.

Read on to know more about the effect of chewing woods.

Reasons why a donkey can start chewing wood

Why Is My Donkey Eating Wood

You should know that wood chewing isn’t something donkeys in the wild do.

So for them to exhibit the type of behavior, there must be something wrong. 

Here are some of the reasons donkeys chew wood.

1. Boredom

Donkeys are gregarious animals who flourish in small groups of companions, such as small family groups or bonded pairs.

Donkeys can display natural behaviors when they are grouped together, such as playing or grooming each other.

If you house your donkeys in a stall or paddock, most times can cause boredom.

This is because you keep them from their mates, not being able to interact, at the same time they are also being fed a lot of concentrate with little grass to prolong their chewing, which can cause them to become bored. 

Related: Here is an article I wrote on why donkeys dig holes

2. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.

Pica is when a donkey craves to eat non-edible items to compensate for lack of salt.

This condition affects both equines and humans and it is a sign of a significant nutritional and hormonal imbalance

3. Habit

Some donkeys may have picked up the habit of chewing on wood from their pasture mates.

They, similar to human children, imitate what others do, even if they would never have thought of it on their own, and the habit remains.

However, when it comes to training the donkey out of the wood-chewing tendency, things get a little tricky because you may need to enlist the help of more than one donkey.

How do I stop a donkey from chewing wood?

To stop your donkey from chewing your wood, have it checked by the veterinarian, said as to rule out any issue, medically or nutritionally.

This will be easier to curb this behavior.

Allow your donkey to go outside

If you keep your animals indoors all day, they will likely develop bad habits like wood chewing. 

Even if there isn’t much to do other than eating hay, they can still get bored.

Enabling your donkeys to live as organically as possible with other horses, outside with lots of grass or hay to graze on, can help them stop chewing on wood.

But there are scenarios when this isn’t possible, for example, when the animals are sick.

2. Surfaces of Wood Should Be Treated or Protected

Sprays, pastes, or washes with a bitter taste applied onto wood surfaces could be a possibility.

The disadvantage of using material like this is that they are washed away in the rain, and some donkeys appear to be oblivious to the taste.

Also, be sure that whatever you’re using on the wood isn’t poisonous.

Another way is to nail metal caps to fence rails and posts, also wrap the trees in a protective mesh.

Finally, you can use electric fencing along the top rail of a fence to keep dedicated chewers at bay, or you can set up small enclosures around trees to keep your donkeys from getting too close to chewing.

Also check out this article on why donkeys lose their hair

3. Allow your donkey to socialize

Enabling socialization amongst your animals can help stop this bad habit. Now match these skills with outdoor activities. Then, your donkey won’t be bored. 

However, ensure you don’t put two chewers together or allow one to influence the other, as this can negatively affect you.

4. Provide your donkey with an alternative 

You can always give your donkey something else to play with instead of focusing on the wood.

Donkeys are very curious, so a rubber ball should do the trick. This will divert its focus away from the wood surfaces.

5. Examine Your donkey’s Nutrition

You can always talk to the vet, but reducing the grain content in your animal feed can stop them from chewing wood.

To satisfy your donkey’s natural grazing instinct, make sure to provide as much roughage as possible.

What are donkeys lacking when they chew wood?

Tree bark is high in nutrients, and as previously said, a nutrient shortfall may be why they are eating your wood.

If something is missing from your donkey’s diet, a blood mineral test performed by your veterinarian will generally reveal the problem and urge your veterinarian to take corrective action.

Why do donkeys chew on their bit?

It’s actually a good sign if your donkey chews the bit lightly on occasion. The animal appears to be at ease.

That’s a different story if they continually and aggressively bite the bit.

It’s possible that anything is amiss with your donkey’s teeth or that the bit isn’t the right fit.

When selecting a bit, consider the thickness of the tongue, the height of the palate, the mouth’s width, and the head shape.

If your mare chews on one sort of bit excessively, try a similar bit made of a different substance or size to see if it makes a difference.

Why do donkeys eat tree bark?

1. Deficiencies in the diet

A shortage of vitamins or critical minerals may cause your horse to eat bark or chew on wood in some cases.

Request that your veterinarian sends a blood sample for complete mineral analysis.

This will reveal or eradicate any nutritional deficiencies in your donkey’s diet.

She might also suggest putting a salt or mineral block in the paddock or pasture as a preventative measure.

As a result, boredom is the primary cause of this growing habit in the vast majority of cases.

2. Boredom

Bored donkeys frequently engage in obsessive behavior such as removing the bark from trees.

Donkeys are gregarious creatures who enjoy being with other people.

If feasible, entertain your animal by introducing him to at least one pasture companion, or give him a toy to play with and occupy his time.

3. Habit

Bad habits, whether in animals or humans, are difficult to break.

However, initial positive feedback from eating wood to relieve boredom or dietary inadequacies will encourage your horse to keep doing it until the habit is established.

Even if preventative measures address the problem, your horse will most likely continue to seek after wood and tree bark.

Are donkeys destructive?

Donkeys are significantly more intelligent than horses, and when bored, they may be destructive.

Donkeys are incredibly destructive, causing significant damage to native plants and erosion.

They compete with native species and even stock to keep them away from water sources, so there is competition, and their manes and tails act as a means of weed dispersal. 


Figuring out what is missing in your animal’s diet and life can help you know why they are chewing your wood and how to stop it.

You should keep in mind that donkeys are social animals and prefers their own kind.

Don’t keep just one donkey amid several other types of animals.

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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.


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