Overweight donkeys can lead to a lot more problems than you know!
Millie is in the purple halter and Marley is in the blue.
It is so very important to keep equines healthy! The picture of Millies rear-end (for educational purposes) have accumulated fat pads which develop when donkeys become overweight. Fat pads can become dangerous to an equine's health, because they can break open and become necrotic skin (the death of cells in open tissue). If not treated properly and sometimes even after all treatments are tried (as a result of lack of blood supply to the tissue and infection), the wounds are unable to heal. This can become an extremely painful diagnosis, which sometimes- regardless of the treatment-can result in lameness, in which there is no cure and euthanasia may sadly be the only option. However, this can easily be prevented if the right steps are taken!
Since donkeys are usually known as the protectors (often used to watch over cattle or other barnyard animals) the misconception is that they can just be stuck in a field with knee high grass- free to graze to their hearts desire. This can be the worst thing for a donkey's health! Others often believe that they need some type of sweet feed as a supplement, but this can unnecessarily pack on the calories really quickly and is not needed unless they have trouble gaining weight! (High calorie feed such as senior feed is typically only fWed to senior donkeys who actually need the extra calories to maintain weight- such as when they begin to have trouble processing food as they get older or ones with underlying medical conditions.)
Another reason why it's important to maintain a donkey's weight is because overtime their weight often accumulates around their neck, until it starts to turn to one side. When closer to an ideal weight, a donkey's neck is supposed to be in a straight line, however if not caught in time, it can result in what is called a "broken crest". It is a permanent condition that can be painful and cannot be corrected-no matter how much weight they lose. The picture to the left of Marley's neck is the beginning phase of accumulating fat which would continue to grow overtime until becoming so heavy it would give way and completely fall to one side.
Luckily there is a way to make sure this does not happen to your beloved donkeys! In addition to both of the reasons above, being overweight also increases the risk of laminitis. Laminitis (or founder) pushes the coffin bone down so the pointed tip of the bone is aimed down towards the bottom of the hoof. If it progresses too far it is extremely painful and can be fatal.
There are many rules and charts to follow on the internet to see what the ideal weight is for a donkey. A simple way to check is to feel the ribs- if you can feel them very easily, they may be too skinny; if you have to search to find them, they are overweight. Try to make sure they are right in the middle and don't have signs such as accumulating fat pads or a turning neck-to make sure your donkey is able to live a happy and healthy long life!