New Forest Donkeys
The New Forest Donkeys can be found wandering in the villages of the New Forest.
These animals generally prefer drier conditions normally. These can often be seen in Beaulieu and in Brockenhurst. They, like the ponies can be very sociable, but remember it is illegal to feed them.
Historically the first recorded Donkeys in England were kept by the Romans to pull carts, ploughs and other vehicles and tools. Donkeys were one of the first draught animals to be used in agriculture domesticated around the same time as horses (roughly 3000BCE).
They are related to Horses and Ponies, however have a more docile and occasionally stubborn temperament. The Latin name for donkey is Equus Asinus, which is where the term Ass comes from. The male Donkey is known as a Jack and female, a Jenny. Donkeys communicate with each other through touch and voice, which can travel up to 2 miles!
In the New Forest, Donkeys can be found roaming throughout, although the Donkeys in the forest are mainly pets; they survive well all year foraging, there is no need for them to be herded up and taken off the forest in the winter season. Donkeys like other grazers eat grass, hay, brambles, hedgerows, bark and some types of flowers.
They are found in small numbers in the forest; around one hundred are turned out each year, compared to the thousands of Cattle, Horses and Ponies.
As the Donkey is not indigenous to Britain there is no specific New Forest or English breed. Some of the Donkey sanctuaries and farms in the new forest specialise in breeding varieties of Donkey from many parts of the world. Interestingly some Donkeys are bred for their milk.
A rare breed of Baudet du Poitou Donkeys can be found on Norley Farm in Lymington. In the 1970s the Poitou breed was dying out and it is said that fewer than eight hundred exist worldwide. Four foals were successfully bred at the farm in 2011; this type of Donkey breed has matted long shaggy hair (like dreadlocks) and at around 16 hands is bigger on average than other breeds.
Please visit our New Forest Donkey Gallery on Flickr to see our collection of pictures of Donkeys in the New Forest National Park.