Probably THE most important aspect of donkey welfare and one which causes most problems and concern to Welfare Organisations.
Donkeys are very stoic, have high pain thresholds and it's often when the problem is very acute that they begin to show signs of discomfort. A donkey does not have to show signs of lameness for there to be a problem. Do not delay, call your farrier or vet to attend as soon as possible.
Regular visits from the farrier may reveal any likely problems at an early stage and identify conditions such as Seedy toe, Thrush, abcesses and Laminitis.
It is important when walking, that the donkey is properly balanced - the hoof is constantly growing and additional length can cause him to walk more on his heels than the sole. A good farrier will not only trim off the length at the foot' front but also pare underneath on the sole ensuring his balance is correct. Feet that have been neglected for years can cause long term and irreversible damage - the sides of the hoof wall gradually grow down turning underneath preventing the sole reaching the ground. The hoof wall can also split badly and infections occur.
Laminitis is a particular problem in donkeys, it is extremely painful and can be the cause of an animal having to be euthanized. It cannot be cured, only managed with rest and pain relief. Here in Ireland the main causes include the wet, boggy land many donkeys have to endure, unsuitable feeding and lack of regular farrier attention - each of which can act as a trigger for laminitis.
Ideally a donkey's feet need to be picked out daily. Its a very quick process and one which your donkey should be able to deal with as part of his routine. Animals which have not been used to having their feet picked up can be difficult at first but patience and routine should overcome any problems. Better to have the donkey used to the process before you need the farrier to attend, it will be easier all round.
Watch the video to view how a ferrier trims and balances a donkey’s hooves!
Thank you to the ferrier, Mark Hester, for demonstrating the process!
Please note that IDWO makes no ferrier recommendations. We have provided a list of ferriers under the Factsheets tab.