It is not unusual to hear visitors to the Sanctuary exclaim that they would love to look after a donkey themselves and possibly become a DSC Foster Farm. Thoughts of the peacefulness of a rural afternoon spent in a barnyard, the comforting presence of equine friends, the hypnotic nature of the grooming process – there are so many benefits to be gained from the taking on of the responsibilities of care.
At the same time, though, as with everything in life, there are other dimensions to be considered before any action should be taken, not the least of which are the monetary costs attached to the feeding, housing and medical care of very large animals. (DSC donkeys are placed in pairs so that each can be assured of companionship.) The other day I tallied up the various expenses. It had been many years since my last reckoning and in the intervening period the numbers had increased substantially.
Hay is now $5/bale and one of barley straw is $3. Given that a Standard donkey can go through 3 1/2 bales of each per week for feeding and bedding, in a year’s time over $2800 would be spent. Visits from the farrier at $32/each mean a yearly total of $384. Then there are 3 deworming treatments/year, another $80, along with annual inoculations and a checkup by the veterinarian: $200. These costs are in addition to the initial investment in such stable supplies as a donkey care reference book, water bucket, grooming caddy, halter, lead rope, rubber bowl, fly mask, brushes, combs, first aid, broom, blanket, bedding fork ….. the total can reach $500 for items like these in the blink of an eye. Finally, there are the significant housing costs to be considered: a small stable, a minimum 1 acre fenced paddock per animal, hydro, a constant source of water, and access to a trailer if transportation of the donkeys is required.
Whenever someone enquires about the possibility of becoming a foster farm for DSC donkeys, we always bring up these costs of care. They are real and most of them are ongoing.
Sandra Pady, Founder