Our Animal Welfare Policy

We are 100% committed to ensuring our donkeys have the very best of care 365 days a year. The donkeys are members of our family and we know each one thoroughly as an individual. In order to ensure their happiness and wellbeing we have very high standards in place.

CARE AT AN EVENT
  • Donkeys will have continuous access to fresh water. We will supply this but it is always helpful to have access to an outside tap/water source at an event, so that we are able to top up supplies. Not a condition of booking but helpful to have.
  • Donkeys will have food appropriate to each individual’s dietary requirements available. For the majority this will be grass or hay but others may be supplied with hard feed during breaks or upon the conclusion of the event. We will supply this.
  • The trailer or lorry transporting the donkeys must be adjacent to the area they are working in for the duration of the event. This is to provide a quiet area away from the public for breaks when required, shelter from the sun, and protection from the rain. It also enables us to take care of a donkey in private should a veterinary issue arise.
  • Should rain become very heavy, the donkeys will be moved to shelter. If they are sheltering in a trailer or lorry, the public will be able to interact with and possibly sit on the animals but rides will obviously not be able to take place until the donkeys come back out.
  • Strict welfare breaks are always enforced. Our break policy is ten minutes every hour or the equivalent (20 mins after 2 hours/30 mins after 3 hours). After three hours, donkeys providing rides must have a half hour break away from the public, where they are not interacted with at all. The maximum length of time a donkey providing rides can work for is five hours a day, incorporating two half hour breaks. It is possible to agree break times at the time of booking.
  • Donkeys hired for petting will be provided with a pen in which they can move out of reach from the public, should they wish to do so. It will be confirmed at the time of booking whether the client or we provide the pen.
  • Strict weight restrictions will be applied to every rider. For the standard donkeys, no rider over seven stone or 12 years of age will be permitted to ride. We reserve the right to refuse a rider, should our staff deem that they are too heavy for the donkey. It is our policy to not use weighing scales because we feel this can cause more embarrassment to a child, however if a client wishes to provide scales and weigh any child our staff feel is too heavy, we are happy to comply with this.
  • No adult will be permitted to ride the donkeys, unless agreed at the time of booking. If it is agreed that an adult is able to ride, he/she must comply with the weight restrictions in place.
  • We will carry a mobile first aid kit for the donkeys and all staff are trained in the treatment of minor cuts, abscesses, how to manage choke etc. We are registered with vets who are able to give 24 hour assistance and/or recommend local vets in the case of emergency.

PARKING AT AN EVENT
When we arrive at an event, it is essential that we are able to unload the donkeys safely. It is important that the following conditions are met:

  • The vehicle cannot be moved (unless in case of an emergency) once the donkeys have been unloaded. In the majority of cases, the driver will also be the donkey handler and therefore once the donkeys have been unloaded, the driver will not be able to leave them unattended in order to move the vehicle. Please provide us with a space to park where the vehicle will not need to be moved.
  • We cannot be unloading the donkeys in an area where there are moving vehicles in close proximity. If we need to unload on a road or in a carpark, the event organisers must provide staff in high-vis clothing to prevent moving vehicles coming close to the donkeys. The donkey handler must be able to concentrate 100% on the animals and not be involved in stopping traffic. If the donkeys have to be led along a pavement/road, event organisers must provide staff to walk behind and in front of the donkeys to stop traffic/move pedestrians as required. Our staff are multi-talented but they need to concentrate on the animals, not crowd control and/or trying not to be run over!
  • The transport must be parked adjacent to where the donkeys will be working, for reasons outlined in our ‘Care at an Event’ section. If this isn’t possible, we must be told at the time of booking and an alternative solution must be agreed. If we arrive at an event and are unable to park in the donkey area without prior agreement, we may not be able to safely operate. There may be occasions when the vehicle doesn’t stay at the event. In this case, we will provide a pen for the donkeys as an alternative welfare area to the lorry/trailer.
  • We won’t know which vehicle is coming to your event until staff are finalised and changes often occur right up until the day before the event.The biggest vehicle that we would bring to an event is a 3.5 tonne lorry with the following dimensions:
    Load Width: 2.1 Metres ▪ Overall Length: 6.7 Metres ▪ Overall Height: 2.9 Metres
    Please keep the dimensions above in mind when deciding where to position the donkeys. Clients have previously expected us to park in a space suitable for a Smart Car. We would like to clarify that your donkeys will not be arriving in a Smart Car! Please also consider the height of the vehicles and keep in mind that we will not fit under low awnings. This has previously ended in scratches, dents and tears. Finally, the donkeys will not use an ejector seat to unload, so please consider we will need room to drop the ramp (around 2 metres long) either behind or to the side of the vehicle.

TRANSPORT TO AND FROM AN EVENT
All of our working donkeys are used to travelling and do not mind it at all. They enjoy the chance to munch on some hay and most of them load themselves with no encouragement from us! We ensure the following policies are in place:

  • All trailers and lorries used for transporting the donkeys will be clean, safe and have adequate ventilation.
  • Donkeys will be travelled loose, enabling them to balance, move around as required and lower their heads, thereby preventing the risk of travel sickness.
  • Unless segregation of certain donkeys is required, partitions will not be used, to enable the donkeys to move freely around as they would in a stable.
  • Hay will be provided throughout the journey.
  • Frequent stops will be made to ensure the donkeys have water and are comfortable.
  • On long journeys, the donkeys will either arrive at the event the day before, or stay there (or local to the event) that evening, to ensure they have adequate rest.
  • All of our staff are very conscientious drivers, taking bends slowly and braking gently to ensure the donkeys are relaxed and happy in the back!

CARE AT HOME

  • All of our donkeys live in herds with their friends. They are carefully monitored to ensure that none are excluded and are able to gallop and play freely.
  • Every donkey has 24 hour access to a shelter or stable, which are kept clean with adequate bedding.
  • No donkey will work more than four days a week during our busy season.
  • All the donkeys have at least three months off work each year. During this time they stay with us. We do not send donkeys to ‘winter homes’. They remain at our yard, where we look after them personally every day.
  • All donkeys have access to good quality hay and feed, with dietary plans in place for each of them.
  • Each donkey is listened to as an individual. A working donkey is normally a happy donkey. They like to be kept busy, see new places and interact with people. The exercise is also good for them. However, if a donkey is no longer enjoying his work, we either use him just for petting, or he stays at the yard or is rehomed to a 5* home. No donkey is ever made to work.
  • All of our long-term working donkeys are guaranteed a home for life with us. When they get old, they retire in quiet groups. If younger donkeys no longer wish to work, we find them excellent homes with the requirement that they come back to us if the new owner is unable to keep them.
  • We use the best specialists available. The donkeys are given physiotherapy by The Horseback Vet, we use the best equine vets and excellent farriers. For any extreme illnesses, we consult and use The Donkey Sanctuary’s superb veterinary team and facilities. There are extensive budgets in place to provide each donkey with any treatment he should need.
  • All of the donkeys have their own personal saddle blankets and tack fitted specially to them, in order to ensure maximum comfort. If a donkey is relaxed and happy to work without a bit, they work in headcollers, again to maximise their comfort.
  • All of the donkeys are inspected by a vet at least once a year. They are all wormed in accordance to veterinary recommendations.
  • Each donkey is known to us individually. We know where each one likes to be scratched, what they like and dislike, what their favourite treats are, what they are comfortable with. They truly are a part of our families and we love them very much.