Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Does this Halter Make my Neck Look Fat?

Horse people often consider a donkey to be a rather funny looking animal, they have big ears, a thin tail, no withers, and can kind of look lumpy.  Horse people are well aware of what a fat horse looks like, but few understand how donkeys get fat.  I need to point out that it is fairly easy for a donkey to get fat, especially when kept with horses.  Donkeys are very food effecient, having come from Africa, and do not need as much food to survive, therefor a donkey with little activity, and a fair amount of food - will get fat!

To understand more about donkeys and fatness, we must look at the ships of the desert; the camel!

 Most people have the wrong idea about camels and their humps.  We have been told camels store water in their humps. A lot of children, and some adults, have the image of a camel with a hollow hump and water sloshing around in there, but this is not accurate at all.

The camel's hump is where it stores its fat. The hump is an adaptation to living in the hot desert. A camel's hump is made up of fat cells and muscle.  By storing all its fat in one, or two, humps, rather than distributing it all over its body (as most animals do) the camel can stay cool in the hot climate. Donkeys have a similar adaptation.

The donkey has its fat storage area along the sides of the crest of its neck.  When a donkey gets fat, the top of its neck gets thicker, and fatty.  In extreme cases the crest will even fall over.  At this point it is very hard to correct. 

Above you can see our donkey, Aggie, showing her displeasure at having her picture taken to demonstrate a fat donkey.  You will note how tall the grass is.  This summer we have had so much rain that our pasture is over grown.  This area is one of the more chewed down places, and the grass is still lush and tall. 

Aggie's neck did not get fat like this over night, it was a big bit when we got her (not unusual in our area) and got bigger since, but this year, it has gotten particularly bad.  This afternoon I am going out to give her some exercise to help it from getting worse.

I have seen some donkey's where they neck is falling down and we really do not want that to happen to Aggie.  At that point it is not uncommon for a donkey to get so fat it gets fat lumps all over its body. 

Owners of donkeys must remember that the donkey is adapted to areas where food is scarce, to over feed a donkey (to give it grain) can be cruel - we never give Aggie grain - she got this fat on grass alone!

Read more on Donkeys and Camels - click here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi-
    Were you able to slim Aggie down at all? We have two miniature donkeys who just in this past year started to get fat, much to my dismay...I had really prided myself on being very careful with hay/treats. One of them has the beginnings of a fast deposit on his neck. Please let me know if you were able to slim Aggie down with walks - that's what our plan is with our boys!