Saturday, March 28, 2009

Donkeys and dog dishes

Shortly before the death of my billy-goat Gavroche (from causes that still remain a mystery), I had bought him a big bag of goat food. A fortnight ago, I decided to see whether the donkeys might appreciate this factory food in the same way that my dear departed Gavroche did. Well, they certainly do.

Often, when it's fine weather and the donkeys glimpse me walking around outside, they stand waiting for me on the edge of the lawn, just beyond the electrified ribbon (in which I often turn off the current for weeks on end, because the presence of the white ribbon is sufficiently dissuasive). And, if they don't soon see me moving to the place where the food is stored, and coming back out with their silver dog dishes piled high with green pellets, they start to bellow... in a way that only donkeys can bellow. But it's not as if they're starving, because the slopes of Gamone are starting to get covered in luscious grass.

Normally, I'm wary of taking food that was intended for one animal and feeding it to another, but I don't think there's any problem in this case, since sheep, goats, horses and donkeys must surely eat the same basic stuff. I made a huge blunder of this kind, many years ago, when I fed caged rabbits with green pellets intended for horses. All four rabbits were dead the following day. If I understand correctly, the horse pellets contain small quantities of minerals that are great for horses, but apparently mortal for rabbits. When I told this story to an employee of an agricultural supplies store, he said: "Ah, Sir, our life in the agricultural business would indeed be so much easier if we could sell some kind of standard food to be eaten by all farmyard animals." As they say in French, that situation will surely come about, one of these days in the not too far-distant future... when hens have developed teeth. Meanwhile, I can vouch for the fact that donkeys are eating goat food from dog dishes.


  1. What a great photo of the donkeys pausing as they chew a mouthful of goat food from dog bowls. They look like they're discussing it. It's a lovely image.

  2. Bill, Take care with any prepared animal foods formulated for animals other than horses or donkeys as they may contain copper (copper sulphate) which could be lethal for horses and possibly donkeys also. Good Luck.

  3. Annie: I'm pleased to see that you admire my donkeys. They're fine beasts, and remarkably intelligent.

    Bruce: Thanks for your informed advice. I really must be more careful about this animal food issue. I constantly fall into the trap of believing that, because an animal likes to devour such-and-such a foodstuff, it won't be harmful. Long ago, when I had chooks at Gamone, I left them a self-service supply of wheat. A young lamb came upon the wheat, gorged himself on it, and died the next day. Fortunately, I make an effort to avoid food errors in the case of my dog... and for me, too.