Donkeys in orchards?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Anuhea, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. Anuhea

    Anuhea Junior Member

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    I've heard donkeys are good in orchards and won't eat the trees. Can anyone attest to this? The person who told me didn't know first hand. Thank you.
     
  2. Burra Maluca

    Burra Maluca Junior Member

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    Re: Donkeys in orchards?

    I frequently tether Teia to olive trees or orange trees, and sometimes have her loose in a small walled bit of the olive grove. She's much better with the trees than a horse or a goat would be, but not 100% perfect! I wouldn't risk her near young trees, and I've found that she sometimes helps to 'prune' the trees so that there are no leaves below head hight. This isn't always a bad thing as it means that I can fit under them and gather fruit more easily, but don't let them in when there's fruit they can pinch. Also, I would only do it when there is plenty of grass for them to eat so they don't start chewing the bark- she has never actually done this but I've had so much experience of horses doing it I don't want to take any risks!

    Here's a photo of Teia hard at work keeping the grass short and weed-free around one of the olive trees...

    [​IMG]
     
  3. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Re: Donkeys in orchards?

    Eloise,

    Where are you so we can respond based on what sort of orchard you have?

    cheers,

    ho-hum
     
  4. Anuhea

    Anuhea Junior Member

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    Re: Donkeys in orchards?

    Howdy Ho hum, I'm on Maui, windward side, low elevation...subtropics. We'll be growing avocado, citrus, and many other subtropical fruits. Thanks!
     
  5. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Re: Donkeys in orchards?

    Ok,

    Eloise,

    I live tropical and also owned a donkey for many many years. Donkeys are fine in an orchard because they genuinely do prefer low nutrition and often dry material. Donkeys are also more careful than horses in that they tend not to stand on sprinklers etc.

    Donkeys will eat [male] pawpaw flowers and nibble a few leaves. They will also fairly effectively weed grasses out of a legume groundcover like pinto peanut. The trees I have seen donkeys eat are tamarind and mulberry and even then no real damage was done.

    The only caveat I will add is that donkeys are very individualistic and so you will have to keep an eye your donkey for the first while. They are hard to generalise about. If your orchard is particularly green a donkey would appreciate a bale of poor quality grass hay.

    We have a 7 month drought here every year and the grass becomes as dry as tinder and horses loose condition fast. Most afternoons we would bring the horses up on the lawn and ''Ponkey'' came too. He seemed to appreciate the cool but generally didnt eat any lawn but rather would munch on the dry stuff that the sprinklers didnt reach. Ponkey was also a master at gate opening and if he could get into the vegie garden he would demolish the corn at any age, it was his favourite. Funnily though the only other vegie plant he ever seemed to eat was basil. He also liked to keep the sugar cane tidy and eat the dried base leaves.

    Here is a warning. I am assuming you do not have much donkey experience. Do not fall for buying or taking on an entire male animal. Donkey jacks are and can be very dangerous and really best left to the experts. Unlike horses they are difficult to castrate properly. I have seen a lot of very trustworthy horse stallions and bulls that I would let my kids play with. I have never seen a trustworthy donkey stallion but I live in an area with hundreds of thousands of wild feral donkeys and have zero experience with Irish Donkeys.

    All this aside, donkeys are great friends, pets and workers with absolutely minimal extra care required. All our horses needed continual hoof care. In twenty years Ponkey's feet were only ever occasionally cleaned and he was wormed annually. Donkeys dont need grain and should only ever be fed small amounts as a treat or training aid. If you like animals - donkeys are addictive.

    cheers,

    ho-hum
     
  6. Anuhea

    Anuhea Junior Member

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    Re: Donkeys in orchards?

    Thanks Ho hum, that's a good bit of useful info. Sounds like the best donkey is a female donkey. Thanks!
     

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