The Paw Report, Episode 813 – Miniature Donkeys
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The Paw Report, Episode 813 – Miniature Donkeys

December 5, 2019

[music playing]
Kelly: They are unique, intelligent, social, and
well small, miniature donkeys are native to the Mediterranean islands and were brought
to the United States in the 1920’s. Today the cuddly and cute animal can be found
on many farms in the U.S. We take today’s Paw Report on the road to
visit Continental Farms in Washington, Indiana to learn more about this friendly and endearing
little creature. Stay with us. [music playing] Rameen:
The Paw Report on WEIU is supported by Rural King, America’s farm and home store, livestock
feed, farm equipment, pet supplies and more. You can find your store and more information
regarding Rural King at Rob:
Dave’s Decorating Center is a proud supporter of the Paw Report on WEIU. Dave’s Decorating Center features the Mohawk
Smartstrand Silk Forever Clean carpet. Dave’s Decorating Center, authorized Mohawk
color center in Charleston. Kelly:Well you’ve noticed we’re not in the
studios of WEIU TV for this episode of The Paw Report. Again we have gone on the road, and on the
road we have to Washington, Indiana to Continental farms home of a beautiful herd of miniature
donkeys. And the owner of that beautiful herd is Wayne
Schuetz and he’s invited us to his farm today. So, thank you Wayne for inviting us to Continental
Farms. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful
day then we’ve had today. Wayne:
It’s a wonderful day and we’re really happy to have you here doing this segment for us. Kelly:
Well, thank you very much and as I mentioned we’re talking about miniature donkeys. I won’t go into grave detail of how I came
across the topic but it was exciting when I found it on the internet. And so, I’m going to pose the first question
to you is how did your family get started raising miniature donkeys? Wayne:
That’s kind of a long story in that we did raise dairy goats for a period of time, about
17 years. And somewhere along the way towards the end
of our dairy goat career my wife one morning sitting in the room in here turned to me and
she said, “You know what I’d like to have?” “No, I don’t know what you, tell me.” “I’d like to have a burro.” And I said, “Where did that come from?” And, “Well I just”. My guess is that she had been reading one
of the books that she likes to read and they had discussed about burros and stuff. Anyhow I said, “Well, I’m not opposed to that
so let me do a little research.” And of course the internet is a wonderful
thing. I managed to find some different farms that
had some. Of course they’re not real plentiful but anyhow
I did my research, found some farms, and we made some trips to some different farms and
finally at about the fourth farm that I went to I ended up buying two. So, we had some, two donkeys, and some dairy
goats all living together and along the way I had reached a point where I decided it was
time to move on and I sold the entire dairy goat herd to a lady over in southern Illinois. And then proceeded to reach out to places
where I could find other miniature donkeys and learned about pedigrees on them and just
kind of worked towards getting a quality herd. All of the donkeys are registered, they have
a pedigree that goes with them. Many of my stock comes, some of it comes from
up in Canada, some of it in Nebraska, Vermont, different places but we did the pedigrees
and found the quality animals we wanted and just have a lot of fun raising them. Kelly:
Well you mentioned you went on the internet and did some research and I’m sure in that
research you discovered where the miniature donkey originated from decades if not centuries
ago. Wayne:
Yeah, obviously I may be old but I wasn’t there originally. They came from Sicily and Sardinia is my understanding. I said that our donkeys are registered. They are registered as Mediterranean Miniature
donkeys. So, perhaps that gives you an idea of where
they originated from. They come from places that were I guess more
like south Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, where they didn’t have a lot of green grass and
didn’t have much to thrive on so they are a very hearty animal. They do well without much in the way of nourishment
and the like. Kelly:
Not in the way of nourishment you said. That leads me into the characteristics of
these little guys. Height, I think is my number on question,
weight, colors, life expectancy, tell me all about these little animals. Wayne:
Good questions and questions that other people need to think about if they think they might
want some. Height, our miniature donkeys are registered
up to 36 inches. If they’re taller than 36, and that’s measured
at the top of their shoulder is what we call the withers. So, if they’re more than 36 then they go into
a classification of just donkey. But a miniature donkey has to be less than
36 inches. Weight, a mature one will weigh 200, 300 pounds,
somewheres in that area. Color wise, they do come in various colors. The original ones, the ones I think of as
being the original donkeys were gray. Pictures you find of them just goes back to
them being gray. Somehow they’ve branched into where we have
red, we have black, brown, and we have some spots. So, there’s a variety depending upon what
color you like and sometimes that’s the deciding factor that people make. They are very friendly, always seem to be
wanting attention, want you to pet on them. And so, one of the reasons why people will
pick a certain donkey is that they find that it’s one of them that keeps coming up to them
wanting them to pet on it. I will mention that anybody that’s a perspective
owner needs to know that they are very social animals and they do need to have a companion. They need to have two donkeys at a minimum. They can get along with other equine like
a pony or something like that but they do best if they have at least two donkeys not
just one. Kelly:
A friend. Wayne:
Yes. Yes. Kelly:
How long do they normally live Wayne? Wayne:
They say 30 to 35 years, it depends on where you do your research. Some of them will say 20 to 35, but they are
something that once you get them you are kind of committed for a period of time. Kelly:
And you have about 30 head here. Wayne:
Correct. Kelly:
You mentioned, and maybe you can tell us a little bit about your farm, and your head,
and maybe take us on a little tour because we are going to show the viewers more of this
beautiful land that you have here. You have all ages. Wayne:
Yes. Kelly:
And all colors. Wayne:
Yes. Yes. We do breed them and raise them, producing
the little ones. The little one stays with their mother for
about five to six months and then we wean them. We seem to have people that contact us wanting
to start a herd and we end up selling a few here and there, manage to keep the numbers
down. Kelly:
You talked about their personality and you said that they’re very friendly. Wayne:
They are. Kelly:
What are some of their other traits that you’ve noticed over the years from … You said that
they want to have a buddy so if somebody is out there thinking about maybe getting a miniature
donkey they need to have a friend with them. Other personality traits that you’ve noticed? Wayne:
Okay. They are, they kind of get a bad rep in that
people say that they are stubborn like a mule and what it amounts to is that they are not
animals that will just bolt and run like a horse might do. They tend to analyze the situation if you
want to lead them up and load them into a trailer and they’ve never been in a trailer
before they won’t just jump in there. They’ll just brace themselves and analyze
the situation to see if there’s anything that might harm them, and then once they decided
it’s okay then they’ll go ahead and get in. So, trying to get one to do something that
it has not done before may cause it to lock up all four and not move until it has a chance
to see what it is you’re asking it to do. Kelly:
I would classify that as pretty intelligent. So, I would say and maybe you can expand upon
that, the intelligence level of these little creatures. Wayne:
They seem to be pretty easy to train, to lead, and we sometimes teach them to pull a cart
which is a wonderful thing. Especially we like, and we put them in parades
and the like. So, once we hook them up to a cart or maybe
in a parade going down through, it’s fun to watch the little kids saying, “Mommy mommy
look, look, look, look”. And the kids love seeing them. As I said before we sometimes go to shows
with them and they can be led through obstacle courses or we drive them through obstacle
courses, just a lot of things. There’s also a few farms in various states
that tend to have miniature donkeys as therapy animals for children especially who have some
type of a problem. And some people take them to nursing homes,
and the old folks just love. “I can remember when Uncle Charlie had one
of them.” Kelly:
Sure. Wayne:
And that kind of thing. It brings back memories and they have a wonderful
time with them. So, there’s different things you can do with
them as well as just being with them and petting on them. Kelly:
And watching them like you and your wife enjoy doing. Wayne:
Oh yes. Kelly:
What are there, do they have a specific care or housing need? Obviously you have two beautiful barns here
and but what about maybe your daily routine, and care, and food for the animals? Wayne:
Like any animal you want to make sure they have some kind of shelter if the weather’s
bad or if it’s real hot, or cold, or whatever. It doesn’t require very much. It doesn’t have to be something real special. A three sided structure with a roof over it
can be sufficient to house them. That way if it’s raining and they want to
get in out of the rain they can but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to. Sometimes they’d just as soon stand out in
the rain and get wet but they need to be able to have some kind of shelter that can give
them some shade if it’s real hot. They tolerate the heat real well. They do tolerate the cold as well. I’ve never had any of them have any problem
with the cold weather we have here in the Midwest in the middle of the winter. But they need some type of shelter, they need
fresh water, they should have some kind of fresh water every day for them all of the
time. They can pretty well live on pasture, grass,
through the Spring, Summer, and Fall. In the winter when the grass is not so plentiful
we do supplement with hay, but it’s just a grass hay. We don’t use … Kelly:
Alfalfa or … Wayne:
Alfalfa, and it’s too rich for them. We do give them a little bit of grain, just
maybe a handful of grain once a day although it would not be necessary. Some people that get, maybe they’ve got just
two or three donkeys, they can buy a pelleted product from a farm store and give them a
little bit of that once a day. So, they don’t require very much in the way
of nutrition. Kelly:
Do they require a lot of exercise or do you just let them graze? Wayne:
Just let them graze, they’ll get their own exercise. We do also medication wise we give them a
worming medication. About every third month they’ll get a little
dab of worming medication which goes in the mouth and helps control the possibility of
any worms. They get their feet trimmed about every three
months. Kelly:
So, do you have a farrier come out and take care of that? Wayne:
Yeah. I have a guy come by and he trims them all
up. Kelly:
You mentioned some things that you’re able to do with the donkeys and as we came to your
beautiful home and farm I’ve noticed lots of ribbons around the house and in the barn
area. So, there are things that you do specifically
with the donkeys. Wayne:
Yes, correct. Kelly:
Share with us that but also maybe some uses that other folks might have with them. Wayne:
Well, I mentioned the fact that you can go to shows with them, and parades, and that
type of thing. Kelly:
And there are different categories at shows that you take them to? Wayne:
Yup. I have two geldings which are trained to drive. They pull a cart and you drive them. They are great in that I can put them in a
halter glass where you lead them around. Then they have what’s called in hand trail
where you lead them through and past certain things that might spook them. And then, when you get done with those various
glasses you can hitch them up to cart and you can drive them again through a obstacle
course to see how well they can perform. And then, you have pleasure driving which
is probably my favorite. It gives you a chance to dress up in attire
that would have perhaps been from bygone eras shall we say, not necessarily real long in
the past. But you get to dress up in a special attire. The ladies are always spiffied up with their
big hats, and their special dress, and all. They really put it on. So, yeah we do that. Shows are something you can go and do, and
it’s usually a one or two day event. I’m going to a show this weekend, taking my
two drivers and going, and going to have some fun. Kelly:
You’re also quite active in an association geared specifically for the miniature donkeys
which I wasn’t aware that there was one out there. What is the association and maybe talk about
how popular are mini donkeys in farms not just in Indiana but maybe the Midwest or the
country. Wayne:
There are quite a number of farms down in Texas, a pretty fair amount over in Missouri,
Kansas, that raise miniature donkeys. We don’t have so many here in what I classify
as the Midwest, in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, but there are some. There’s three of us breeders in Indiana that
are pretty active in raising them and showing them. Kelly:
And also that’s led to your affiliation with this association. What is the association you’re affiliated
with? Wayne:
Well there’s the American Miniature Donkey Association. Kelly:
So, there are members all over the U.S. then? Wayne:
All over the United States yes and Canada. There’s a lot of breeders in Canada. Kelly:
And that also is probably a help source for you if you have questions yourself or if you
need to rely on the help of maybe some other breed or some things that maybe that they’ve
encountered with their herds. Wayne:
Right, yeah if you have a problem with one, that you just want to know a little bit more
than what the veterinarian has been able to tell you. “What experience with you had with a sore
foot, or runny nose, or whatever.” It might be you can talk with other breeders
and they can tell you what they’ve done and then … Kelly:
If somebody out there is entertaining the thought of getting a miniature donkey and
I’ll go back to the beginning of our conversation when your wife just said, “I think I want
a burro”. What’s advice that you can give to somebody
that’s starting out? Obviously they need to start with their research. Wayne:
Yeah. Kelly:
Where do they go from there? I mean how do they … What does a person
need? What type of knowledge, a home, acreage, what
do they need to know? Wayne:
They need to think about how they are going to care for it. Do they have some kind of housing, able to
put out water and some hay in the winter time. Kelly:
Is there a specific acreage that you would recommend somebody have? Because they do need to be pastured. Wayne:
Yeah. Kelly:
You know you have I don’t know have, I don’t know how much … You might be able to tell
us how many acres you have here. Wayne:
Well, all together I’ve got nine acres but I think that probably five acres is tied up
in the shop, the house, and two barns so they’ve only got about four, possibly at the most
five acres of land. So, it doesn’t take a lot of land to raise
them. Kelly:
You said they do get along with other animals, what about dogs, and cats, and other domesticated
animals? Wayne:
Some people have some large guard dogs that they put in with their donkeys if they are
living in an area that has a problem with coyotes or some kind of predator animal they’ll
perhaps have a large guard dog. I don’t have any dogs. My son has a couple of dogs and he’ll sometimes
come and they don’t exactly get along but it’s because they’re curious. They’ll look at them and think, “Is that dog
going to hurt me or not?” And so, they’re kind of cautious but I know
that they can learn to get along. Kelly:
I have a feeling after being on this farm as many years as you have, you’ve got a lot
of great stories to tell and to share. You smile when I light up, I said that. Share with our viewers some of the most memorable
moments that you’ve had with these little guys. In fact, when you were showing us around they
all came up and one really took a liking to your jeans, he kept nudging you and wanting
to bite your jeans, but that’s just small. I’m sure you’ve got many stories, most memorable. Wayne:
They come up to you and they want you to pet on them or give them attention of some sort
and if you don’t do that they will have tendency to get ahold of your jeans and tug on it until
you finally start petting them. I have a jack down here that came out of Canada
and he’s always been from day one, he was just really well cared for. People really paid attention to him, petted
on him. When I walk into his pen, he’ll walk over
to me and he’ll put his head up against my crotch area and if I don’t start petting on
him then he just starts pushing on me until I’m about to fall over. He wants attention, never aggressive in any
way, but he knows how to get my attention. I think that the story that I like to relate
in regards to these wonderful animals is about the couple that had bought a small farm and
wanted to raise some livestock of some sort, wanted some animals for themselves. And so they called me up and asked about if
they could come and see my animals and I obviously told them yes I’d be glad to have them come. And they said that they were interested in
maybe getting baby doll sheep, or some alpacas, or some miniature donkeys. I said, “Well okay”. So, when they came I said, “How’s your research
doing? Have you been to any places?” “Yeah. We want something that we can pet on and play
with. So, we went to an alpaca farm.” I mean I’m sorry, “Went to the baby doll sheep
farm”, and said, “We told the guy we wanted something that was friendly, that we could
pet on, and the like. So we walked out into the pasture and they
just scattered all over the place. They were not friendly.” And so, she told me then that they went to
the alpaca farm and the alpacas came up to the fence and was there for them to pet on
them but after awhile one of them spit on her. And they said, “Well we just don’t want to
tolerate that”. So I said, “Well let’s go down and walk into
the pasture here and let’s see what happens”. And so, we walked into the pasture and we
stood there for a little bit and the next thing you knew we had about 10 or 12 of them
all around us sticking their nose right up there wanting us to pet on them. And, consequently that was what made the decision
for them. Kelly:
That sold them, and they have now some miniature donkeys in their family. Wayne:
They do yup. Kelly:
Well Wayne I can’t thank you enough for inviting WEIU to this beautiful Continental Farm here
in Washington, Indiana, and sharing all of your knowledge on these beautiful little creatures. That I know after our viewers see it it will
melt their heart. So thank you so much for joining us for this
episode. Wayne:
I am so happy to have you come and do this segment. You mentioned about the website. If people should want to go to the website
it’s Kelly:
And there’s more information on everything that we talked about today. Wayne:
There is. There is. Kelly:
Alright, thank you Wayne. Wayne:
Well, thank you very much. Kelly:
And thank you for joining us for this on the road episode of the Paw Report in Washington,
Indiana. For now, I am your host Kelly Goodwin and
we’ll see you next time. If you’re a veterinarian, trainer, groomer,
specialist, rescue organization, or shelter that would like to partner with the Paw Report
by providing expert guests for the show, please contact us by emailing [email protected], or call
217-581-5956. If you have a topic you’d like to see on the
show or questions for our experts, contact us with those, too. Rob:
Dave’s Decorating Center is a proud supporter of the Paw Report on WEIU. Dave’s Decorating Center features the Mohawk
Smartstrand Silk Forever Clean carpet. Dave’s Decorating Center, authorized Mohawk
color center in Charleston. Rameen:
The Paw Report on WEIU is supported by Rural King, America’s farm and home store, livestock
feed, farm equipment, pet supplies and more. You can find your store and more information
regarding Rural King at Additional support for The Paw Report on WEIU,
is brought to you by viewers like you. Thank you. [music playing]

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