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MuleWrangler 12-30-2010 08:44 PM

Crossing a donkey with a gaited Rocky Mountain?
I am extremely ignorant of breeding genetics and had an idle question for you experts out there. If I were to breed a grey spotted donkey (not paint-spotted but more dappley, with white underbelly and legs) that I do not know the background of (other than he comes from the estate of a very prominent mammoth jack breeder) to a gaited chocolate and flax RM mare with chocolate and flax in her background on both sides, would there be any way to tell how the mule baby would turn out? The donkey naturally racks in the field (I have heard all donkeys are naturally gaited, but don't know this for sure).

Any idea of color? And I would assume a natural gait would probably pass on to the baby, right?

Please don't get into the old, "Why do you want to do this when so many horses are being killed," or, "Why are you wanting to do this since your animals aren't world-class winning superbeasts???" I am just curious about what would happen genetically.

haviris 12-30-2010 09:18 PM

If the donkey is spotted, there's a 50% chance of a spotted foal. Not sure on the gaited question, but I think the foal would most likely be. Don't know if that helps.
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MuleWrangler 01-02-2011 02:53 PM

Thanks, haviris! I appreciate your response. And Gypsy is gorgeous!

Anyone else have any thoughts?

Cat 01-02-2011 03:04 PM

You have no guarantee on the gait. You can cross two gaited horses and sometimes the offspring does not gait. You see that happen in TWH around here and an un-gaited TWH is the roughest thing in the world to ride. Its poly-genetic with many factors and sometimes they all work out and you get gaited offspring and sometimes it doesn't.

As to the genetics - I'm lost when it comes to mule genetics. It seems a lot of the standard rules go out the door with the hybrid factor. I'm sure there are genetic rules that are followed - like certain donkey colors are dominant over horse horse colors, etc - but I haven't studied mule colors enough to figure them out. I do believe the spotting factor works the same in horses and donkeys so that there is a 50% chance of the offspring being spotted unless the donkey his homozygous for it and then there is a 100% chance. As to what the actual color will be - not sure.

Most chocolate flaxen Rocky Mountains are actually silver blacks. Since we aren't sure if she is homozygous or heterozygous - from just the horse side you could have black, chesnut, or silver black (flaxen chocolate) passed on. How this would interact with the donkey gray - not sure.

Indyhorse 01-02-2011 03:09 PM

I am still learning myself, but to my understanding, donkeys do not have a paint/pinto gene that works the same way horses do - they have a spotted type of genetics but it does not work together with horse genetics in making mules - and mules take after the donkey side of the family when it comes to coloring, so you can never have a "true" paint mule. I have always heard your best chance of getting a spotted/pinto-like mule is to breed a colored/spotted jack to a solid horse mare.

Ah, found the source of that tip:

The only colors mules do NOT come in is true horse pinto (due to the genetic factoring of these colors, there are some mules who are close to, but not quite, tobiano patterned, and none recorded in overo). Mules from Appaloosa mares often have extremely loud patterns, with spots enlarging or "skewing" in variants of the horse appaloosa. Breeders wishing for a mule with four white feet should try a tobiano mare. The mule will probably have four socks and/or stockings, with the most usual combination being four white feet and a splash of white on the tail. The genes of the mule seem programmed for the unusual, and very strange, loud spotted pinto and appaloosa variants are common. In fact, the best way to produce a spotted mule is to cross a spotted jack to a solid colored mare. The resulting mule may have pinto-like patches in a variation of the donkey-spot pattern. Appaloosa mares crossed to spotted jacks have often produced mule foals that appear to be roan-patched pinto, with dark leopard appaloosa spots over the dark areas.

Here is a pretty involved article about donkey color genetics!

MuleWrangler 01-02-2011 03:31 PM

Very cool, thank you for the info, Cat and Indyhorse! I'll go research those links.

And that's funny about the mules with white stockings and splash of white by the tail--that's almost exactly what my mule has (he also has a patch of white on his belly). His father was a black donkey and his mother was a black and white 1/4 draft / 3/4 paint horse mare.

MacabreMikolaj 01-03-2011 02:59 PM

I don't have a lot of input, but I would like to say I find your post a perfect example of a situation where I personally find "backyard breeding" acceptable - you may not have "perfect" specimens, but really now, how many ads are you going to find for a gaited mule? I know they DO exist, but this is a perfect example of having a very definitive "focus" to the breeding.

Sorry, I just find that in a single paragraph you've managed to convey a better breeding focus then the pages and pages of people who just want a foal! Kudos to you, whether you decide to breed or not!

And thanks for the post, I definitely learned a lot more about mules and coloring which is totally beyond me!

MuleWrangler 01-03-2011 03:29 PM

Thanks, MM! I have what I consider to be an exceptional donkey--he has excellent conformation, great health and an awesome, easy-going, friendly personality. I would like to breed him once or twice, but was just curious about what kind of combinations would make what kind of foals. I live in an area where people do ride, drive and work mules, and there is definitely an interest in good ones. I want to do a lot of research before I even consider putting him to a horse, though. Thanks for your support!

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