Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Donkeys have a gestation period of 10 1/2 to 13 months. I pasture breed and have an idea when a donkey is due to foal, but I usually do a visual check and feel the udder to help me determine when birthing is close. I begin checking the udder about 11 months after I put the jennet with the jack to be bred. This can be a very reliable way to predict foaling, but sometimes they fool you. Even the most predictable jennet that has foaled several times can fool an experienced breeder. That is because the jennet will bag up and seem to be within a few days of foaling, but after a few days the bag goes way back down. Then about a week later she will bag up again and then it can go down again. This just happened to me. I had a jennet that was hugely pregnant and bagging up, so I put her in the birthing pen, thinking that she would foal in a few days. That was 3 weeks ago. She finally had the baby four days ago and of course the udder was very full and hard the night before. Also, when you feel the udder, there is a front and a back section. When both sections are very full and hard that is a good sign. Some donkeys don't actually bag up very much before they foal, especially maiden jennets. They they will just surprise you when you go to the barn the next day and there is that cute little foal, still a little wet, nursing away.