In their natural habitat donkeys browse on sparse, fibrous vegetation, wandering over long distances in a semi-desert environment, and survive for perhaps 10 - 15 years. In developed countries, with their characteristically damp temperate climates, most donkeys are kept as pets, enjoying a surfeit of good grazing and taking little exercise. They may well live beyond 30 years of age. Consequently, it is almost inevitable that food problems will develop in this environment.
Good hoof care is essential if these problems are to be minimised. This necessitates attention to each of the following:
- Daily hoof care and regular, route in farriery
- Good pasture and stable management
- Correct feeding
- General health care.
Neglect of any of these is a risk factor for the development of foot problems.
Unless otherwise stated, this chapter focuses on the donkey kept in the UK and similar environments.