I had donkeys on the farm as a youngster, but more recently I rescued two donkeys this past winter. The female is a small standard the lady was trying to pass off as a mini (she most definitely is not a mini) and the male is a standard size burro who was originally acquired through the BLM many years ago.
Feed wise they are easy to care for because as mentioned above they utilize what they eat very well. Mine survive just fine on plain grass hay and a mineral salt block. Too well in fact. If I did need to feed them any grains I would check into a low starch formula like SafeChoice or something made for minis or past foundered horses because they can founder easily.
I do treat them with a little bit of grass clippings, but
only because I know exactly what is in my grass and that it is organic (has been for 6 years now) with no sprays or chemicals on it what-so-ever.
Temperament wise they do think differently than horses. Their sense of self preservation is very high and they are quite smart. They have minds like elephants, forget nothing, and are not easily convinced that humans are smarter than they are, therefore they should do what the silly humans are telling them to do.
Their reaction right off the bat is often.. “Why? What’s in it for me if I do what you are asking of me.”
But, once you gain their trust and friendship they are very loyal.
I think the tests they would require depend on where you live and where you plan to take them, if anywhere. A health certificate/brand inspection/whatever your state calls for should get you what you need to travel to your home. I would advise calling your local vet to inquire as they would know.
As for the escape artist reputation… I can see where minis are able to get out of typical horse fencing with no problems, but with their smarts I would think being able to open gates would be more of a concern. I have 5 foot no-climb fence (for all my critters) and have yet to have an escapee, beyond the brave small chicken who can fly.
Once you get to know donkeys, they are wonderful creatures and a joy to have around. Many of them make good livestock guards and are very alert. Mine will bray when there is something wrong, or when someone comes up the drive, which is helpful.
My BLM burro went through some rough stuff when he was younger and takes some extra thought in how I approach him with normal stuff, like the farrier, worming, and such but if you rub him with the curry he will stick to you like glue. I use the curry brush as a reward for tolerating things like being wiped with fly spray. He has now figured out the fly spray is a good thing, but it took me a little bit to find the right approach with him because of his mistrust of people in general.
Here are some websites I found very helpful… http://donkeyrescue.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=cms.page&id=1003 http://calkinsart.net/donkeyinfo/index.html http://www.donkeyforum.proboards.com/
Rosie and Chico-