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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is BRAY a rescue?
    No, we are not a rescue. BRAY is an education- and welfare- based nonprofit. Our goal is to provide education and support to owners, prospective owners, and the general public regarding donkeys/hybrids and their unique needs, as well as enrichment opportunities for owners of donkeys and hybrids, so the animals are able to live their best life possible.
  • What is the difference between a "burro" and a "donkey"?
    The short answer? Nothing! They're both "equus asinus." The word "burro" is the Spanish word for "donkey". Commonly, in the Southwestern United States, the word "burro" is used for feral and formerly feral donkeys while the word donkey is reserved for domestically bred animals (miniatures, standards, and mammoths), however this is simply a regional colloquialism and is not a hard and fast rule. There are no native species of "wild" donkeys in the United States: the donkeys found free-roaming in the United States are feral. They are descendants of domestic donkeys released into the wild by their owners. This was a common occurrence as western mining boomtowns went bust and mines closed down, or prospectors, and trappers hung up the gear of their professions. There are several species of true wild donkeys in African and Asia: Equus Africanus (African Wild Ass) Equus Somalicus (Somali Wild Ass) Equus Hemionus (this includes the Asian Wild Ass and subspecia of Kulan and Onager) Equus Kiang (Kiang) Many of the above species are endangered and none are domesticated.
  • Are donkeys cheaper to own than horses?
    Yes and no. For an in-depth cost breakdown of donkey ownership please see our "Cost of Donkey Ownership" breakdown in the "Education" tab. Yes, donkeys are typically cheaper to acquire than horses. Unhandled donkeys can be adopted from the Bureau of Land Management for $125, or purchased from a breeder or private owner for anywhere from a few hundred dollars to around $5,000 for a fully trained animal. Donkeys also eat slightly less than a horse of comparable size. However that is where the savings end. Donkeys require the same veterinary, hoof, and dental care as a horse, as well as sturdy fencing, plenty of room to move around, a trailer if you plan to take them anywhere, and often custom tack, as there are very limited choices for donkey-specific items (and they do need donkey-specific tack.)
  • Should I get a donkey for a livestock guardian or horse companion?
    No. Donkeys are generally ill-suited to being livestock guardians or horse companions. BRAY recommends donkeys live with other donkeys. People may recommend donkeys as livestock guardians due to their tendency to be territorial and stand their ground rather than flee predators. However, donkeys are not *only* territorial to predators. Many a farmer has arrived in their pasture to see that their donkey has killed their goats, sheep, chickens, dogs, or calves, even if the donkey had previously been living peacefully amongst the herd or flock. Donkeys do best when kept with other donkeys, ideally of comparable size. Donkeys' diets are unique, and most commercial animal feeds are designed to *add* weight to animals, while donkey owners typically work hard to *prevent* weight gain in their donkeys. If kept and fed with a herd of goats, cattle, or horses it is very likely a donkey will quickly become obese and begin to suffer from joint pain, laminitis, and founder. A standard donkey kept at a healthy weight will typically live on a dry lot and consume about the same amount of low-calorie grass hay as a miniature horse, with some straw as a supplement.
  • Where can I learn more about owning donkeys?
    Check out our free, downloadable Beginner's Guide To Donkey Ownership, under the "Owner's Guide" tab, follow "BRAY Club" and join "Dusty Donkeys" on Facebook, and join us for our free educational events, such as BRAY Day.
  • I have a donkey or mule/am interested in buying a donkey or mule, how do I train it?
    Unlike horses, where training options and training philosophies can be found in abundance, new donkey and mule owners may find that they struggle to locate a trainer to assist with their animals. Many horse trainers are unsure of how to work with donkeys, and unfortunately they are largely seen as a "lesser" animal amongst much of the equine community, so finding trainers of any sort of quality can be a struggle. But fear not! There ARE competent donkey and mule trainers, and many will even help you to become competent in training your personal animal. If you are seeking a list of trainers recommended by BRAY, click over to the Education page and you will find trainers under the "training" section. If you wish to seek out your own trainer, or are looking to find the perfect fit, read on for some pointers: - Training methods: donkeys and mules are extremely intelligent creatures, with a strong sense of self preservation and a long memory. Most will find that positive reinforcement (R+) and some added in negative reinforcement (R- or pressure/release) to offer some clarity on what you are asking to be a good recipe for long ear training. If you help them to understand why they should choose to participate in activities with you (typically starting with some food rewards, and progressing to further enjoyable enrichment), they are much more likely to view you as a good and just partner and herd mate. -Rescue donkeys: donkeys who have been treated unjustly or unfairly by people can be very difficult and take a very long time to rehabilitate. If you are not up to the task of allowing them to progress on donkey time (or it's more drawn out cousin: mule time, sometimes up to several years) it may be best to avoid long ears from rescue situations such as sale barns, as they often have fairly severe emotional trauma to recover from. If you DO choose to bring home a traumatized animal, The Donkey Listener, linked on our education page, is a great place to start your training journey. -Beware the heavy-handed trainer: if you are seeking out trainers or training philosophies keep in mind that your long ear has a strong sense of justice, and with that a long memory and capacity for grudge holding and retribution. Many an old mule skinner will caution you against raising a hand, rope, or whip to a donkey or mule as it will result in an animal who is shut down, flighty, dangerous, or sometimes even biding their time before taking an unexpected opportunity to settle up with someone they feel has done them wrong. Being a kind, just partner will, instead, yield a willing, confident animal who seeks out your company and will be willing to make an effort for you. - Seek quality, not quantity: just because a person has had many animals cross through their ranch gates, or has been working with them for many years, does not necessarily make a good trainer. Ask to see finished animals a trainer has worked with, and watch the trainer working with some animals. Pay close attention to how they handle animals when things go wrong to ensure they keep calm, and appear to understand when an animal is over-stimulated or over threshold. Ask the trainer what they are doing at any given time. If they can't explain it to you in a way that makes sense, they are likely not making sense to the animal either. -Scrutinize the condition of the animals in their care, and their facility: Dirty pens, bad fencing, mucky water, poor quality or spoiled feed, poor coats, overused equipment, and long, neglected hooves are all signs of a trainer who is not properly caring for their animals and their facility, or who is overextended. You should choose a trainer who will put your animal's physical wellbeing first, because a physically unwell or unsafe animal cannot arrive to a correct emotional state for learning or training. -Training should be boring: no, not for your animal, they should be emotionally engaged, but for a spectator. While meeting goals, or achieving something new can be very exciting for you and your donkey, these things are best done in a calm, relaxed manner. If you go to watch a trainer work with an animal, and you can scarcely see through the dust as they're dragged around like its a scene from a John Wayne movie, while an animal bolts, heaves, thrashes, gasps and sweats? Run, don't walk away from that trainer. If you are not seeking a rodeo going forward, do not accept a trainer who causes one. Some small discussions and give-and-take are to be expected, but an animal should never looked panicked or appear to be pushed over threshold into fight or flight by the trainer, especially not repeatedly and for extended periods of time. - Cause no harm: it should go without saying, but a trainer or training philosophy which accepts or encourages causing harm to an animal, such as whipping, tying in a way to cause harm, using chains, cables, ropes, bits, or halters in a way which cause fear, wounds, welts, bruises, bleeding, scrapes, burns, galls, or other injuries, is a trainer you should stay far, far away from.
  • I'm looking to adopt a donkey, do you have any available?
    No, BRAY does not have any animals available for adoption or sale. However, if you are in Arizona and are seeking help locating a donkey to add to your farm please reach out, we have many contacts throughout the state who may be able to help you find the perfect long-eared addition to your family.
  • How can I get updates for events with BRAY?
    Follow us on Facebook or keep watch of our events page for updates.
  • Do I need to own a burro, mule, hinny or other long ear to participate in BRAY events?
    It depends on the event, and to what level you are participating. For instance, all participants must have a donkey teammate for BRAY burro races, while there can be several human participants with each donkey in BurroCaching. Educational activities, such as attending the presentations at BRAY Day can be done without a donkey. We are also often in need of volunteers at events: everything from setup, to course marking, to facilitating kids' games, so if you are interested in participating without a donkey, volunteering is a great option.
  • How do I know if I have a burro or a donkey?
    The word "burro" is simply the Spanish word for a donkey. In the Southwestern United States the word burro is used for feral, and formerly feral, donkeys while the word "donkey" is reserved for domestically bred animals (miniatures, standards, and mammoths). All burros are donkeys, but depending on your geographical location, not all donkeys are burros. If your donkey was formerly feral, then rounded up and adopted out by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) it will have a freeze brand on the left side of its neck. This freeze brand is a unique code that states the estimated year your donkey was born, what state it was processed in, and its 4-digit ID number. An example of a freeze brand on a brown burro is pictured.
  • What is a mule? What is a hinny? How about a zedonk and a zonkey? How do I tell them all apart?
    Mule, hinny, zedonk, and zonkey are all donkey hybrid animals. This means that one parent was a donkey and the other was a horse or a zebra. Which animal is the sire (father) and which is the dam (mother) is what determines the name of the hybrid. A mule is a donkey sire (father) and horse dam (mother). A hinny is a horse sire (father) and donkey dam (mother). A zedonk is a zebra sire (father) and donkey dam (mother). A zonkey is a donkey sire (father) and zebra dam (mother). All of the hybrids are typically sterile, though there have been a few instances of female mules being able to reproduce. This is due to the number of chromosomes of the hybrid. Horses have 64 chromosomes, donkeys have 62, and zebras have between 32 and 46 (it depends on the species of zebra). Mules and hinnys receive 32 chromosomes from their horse parent and 31 chromosomes from their donkey parent, resulting in 63 chromosomes. Zedonks and zonkeys can be differentiated from mules, hinnys, and donkeys by their zebra characteristics. Typically they inherit larger amounts of body striping from their zebra half, which often extends up the rump and shoulder, at minimum. Mules may "primitive markings", which can include leg barring (striping), dorsal stripes, shoulder barring, and even "cobwebbing" on their face. When it comes to mules and hinnys only a genetic test, or knowing their parents/breeding, can be used to tell them apart. Mules are far more common than hinnys as conception is far higher when the lower chromosome parent is the sire (father). Breeding hinnys is hit and miss.
  • How can you tell the difference between a mule (or hinny) and a donkey/burro?
    To tell the difference between a donkey-hybrid and a donkey/burro start by looking at the tail: a donkey has a tufted tail while a mule (or hinny) has a tail like a horse. The other key piece is to look at the chestnuts: donkeys only have chestnuts on their front legs while mules, like horses, have them on all four.
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