Irish Donkey Welfare Organisation
SHELTER & HOUSING
Unlike horses, donkey's coats are not waterproof. Their coats contain very little oil, allowing rain to fall through the hair and onto the skin itself (similar to ourselves). Hence the main reason for a need to provide a form of shelter.
Donkeys will during bad weather, take advantage of natural shelter such as bushes and trees but a purpose built or adapted shelter is preferable.
Thought should be given both to the siting and the layout well in advance. Mucking out and moving of dung needs to be taken into account as does your walking backwards and forwards during winter months and on rainy days.
The recommended size to suit a pair of donkeys is 100sq ft, this will allow ease of movement and for them to lie down comfortably. It doesn't need to be too tall which is a waste of materials, but a comfortable height for the donkeys, not forgetting yourself. More importantly should be draught proof (most donkeys dislike wind intensely even more than rain!) so consider this if you are constructing something new. However there does need to be a circulation of air.
The structure can be made of concrete blocks but a timber frame with galvanised sheeting is a more reasonable alternative. A door is not necessary and allows access at all times.
Floor space can be concreted (don't forget to make a slight fall to avoid puddling!) or use cow mats. Make sure that it is easily cleaned whatever is used.
Section off a part of the shelter if possible for the bedding area. If using straw or shavings its a good idea to put in a length of timber to keep the spillage of bedding at a minimum. Most donkeys will not use the bedding area for toilet purposes.
Ideally there needs to be an area of hard standing outside the entrance to the shelter and will prevent poaching during wet weather allowing their feet to be dry other than when inside. Again this can be made from concrete, stones are not recommended but paving slabs are a good alternative.
A shelter does not need to be purpose built. Any existing building can be adapted to suit but relevant aspects mentioned above should be born in mind.
There are no hard and fast rules about the design of a shelter so long as it is practical for both donkey and owner. It can be as basic or as elaborate as you wish - just needs to be functional!