Turfgrass, a New Option for Donkey Pastures

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minature donkeys

Two miniature donkeys enjoying their zoysiagrass pasture.

Grady Miller and Miguel Castillo

Ever thought about what would be the ideal grass to use for Donkey pastures? Back in the fall, we – a Turfgrass and a Grassland Specialist – had the opportunity to visit a local donkey owner that felt that he had found the ideal turf/pasture grass for his donkeys. He has maintained two donkeys in a ~0.6-acre field for about 4 years. Donkeys have unique nutritional needs separate from horses. They should not be put on lush pastures or they risk developing colic and other gastrointestinal problems. Donkeys are better served on low nutritional-value pastures (less protein and calories) and their nutritional needs can be easily met by supplementing with straw/hay as needed. It is also best if there are not a lot of weeds in the pasture since some of them could be potentially harmful. So a dense stand of turfgrass is helpful to minimize weeds. Donkeys also like to paw the ground, so having a pretty tough grass is beneficial. We do not think this has been researched, but it seems that zoysiagrass checked a lot of boxes when it comes to donkey pastures. It is a tough grass with low nutritive value, has a dense canopy that reduces weed encroachment, once established it does not grow as tall as other grasses, and provides a low maintenance green pasture.

zoysiagrass in pasture

An overview of the zoysiagrass pasture (taken in September)