Donkey Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

Donkey Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan


Donkey Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

A female donkey, called a jenny, is pregnant for about 12 months; however, gestation varies among different species from 11 months to 14 months. Jennies usually birth a single foal, with twins being rare. Although jennies come into heat with about 10 days of giving birth, their reproductive tract is not normal at that point, and they usually don’t breed again until one or two cycles have passed. Some breeds do not come into estrus (also known as heat) when they have a foal at their side. The average reproduction rate for domesticated donkeys is three foals over four years.


Foals weigh between 19 and 30 pounds (about as heavy as a small dog) and can stand and nurse 30 minutes after birth. Jennies are very protective of their foals, who are weaned at about five months. A donkey can mate when it reaches two years of age.




Donkeys are picky about who is in their herd, yet they don’t care who they mate with and often breed with other members of the Equus family. The offspring between a jackass and a mare is called a mule, which is also valued as a working and riding animals. Less common is the offspring between a stallion and a jenny, known as a shinny. Both types of crossbreed are usually sterile. Donkeys can also breed with zebras with the offspring most often called a zonkey.


The average lifespan for a donkey is 27-40 years, however, they can live for much longer. The oldest donkey on record was a female domesticated donkey in the U.S. who lived to be 54.

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