Nutritional needs of donkeys and their most frequent nutrition-related diseases

Authors

  • Valentina ŽALIG Univ. of. Ljubljana, Veterinary Fac., Gerbičeva 60, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Breda JAKOVAC STRAJN Univ. of. Ljubljana, Veterinary Fac., Institute of hygiene and pathology of animal nutrition, Gerbičeva 60, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Igor UJČIČ VRHOVNIK Univ. of. Ljubljana, Veterinary Fac., Institute of hygiene and pathology of animal nutrition, Gerbičeva 60, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Klementina FON TACER Univ. of. Ljubljana, Veterinary Fac., Institute of hygiene and pathology of animal nutrition, Gerbičeva 60, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.14720/aas.2013.102.1.14905

Keywords:

donkeys, animal nutrition, metabolic diseases, equine metabolic syndrome, obesity

Abstract

In recent years, the number of donkey’s owners is increasing in Slovenia and in other western countries. Historically, donkeys were used as working animals, in particular in areas where feed was scarce, due to their lower requirements and better endurance compared to horses. In contrast, nowadays donkeys are of little economic value, being primarily kept as pets or companion animals. Despite their similarity, donkeys and horses differ in some critical physiological characteristics that should not be neglected, in particular nutrition and feeding strategy. Donkeys have evolved to live in semi-arid environments in Sub-Saharan Africa with only poor quality, highly fibrous vegetation. In our environment they have to be carefully fed not to become overweight that can lead to several metabolic disorders. The lack of physical activity, rich diet and absence of nutritional requirements for donkeys that have been until recently extrapolated from horse nutrition are some of the main reasons for increasing overweight and obesity incidence among donkeys in developed world. In the review article we present the important characteristics of donkey’s nutrition and digestion, current understanding of donkey nutrient requirements in comparison to horses and obesity related comorbidities, such as hyperlipidemia, laminitis and equine metabolic syndrome.

Published

20. 12. 2013

Issue

Section

Professional Article

How to Cite

ŽALIG, V., JAKOVAC STRAJN, B., UJČIČ VRHOVNIK, I., & FON TACER, K. (2013). Nutritional needs of donkeys and their most frequent nutrition-related diseases. Acta Agriculturae Slovenica, 102(1), 39–45. https://doi.org/10.14720/aas.2013.102.1.14905

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