If you are a new donkey owner or if you are planning to breed a donkey, you might have had this question in mind.

How long does a baby donkey stay with its mother? Would the mother donkey really take care of the baby?

The average length of time that a baby donkey stays with its mother is between 4 and 6 months from birth. As a donkey owner, it is important to provide the best care for the baby donkey during this period.

Let’s discuss more on this.

Quick Info: A baby donkey is commonly called a foal, while the mother donkey is referred to as a jenny. 

How long does a baby donkey stay with its mother?

A baby will usually stay with its mother for about 4-6 months, however, there are several different instances where the foal may not be with the mother that long. For example, it’s very common for a foal in the wild to stay with its mother for about 2 years, until she naturally weans the foal.  However, if the mother rejects the baby donkey, then the foal will have to be raised by humans in order to survive.

Jenny and foal in a farm
A jenny and foal on a farm

How long does the foal drink the mother’s milk?

The baby donkey will drink the mother’s milk while it is with its mother. This is normally for the 4-6 months that it will stay with the mother, however, if the mother rejects the foal, then the foal will need to have milk supplemented to it to survive. If the foal is living in the wild, the foal may nurse on the jenny for longer than 6 months.

In the case of domesticated donkeys, if the mother doesn’t provide enough milk for the foal, then the foal will have to have additional milk supplemented to make sure it is growing properly. All newborns need colostrum, which is the first milk. Colostrum helps build antibodies in the foals and is a thick, yellow liquid, compared to the normal milk we typically think of.

How does the jenny care for the foal?

Most jennies want to take their babies and will gladly accept them. A jenny will clean the foal and then encourage the baby donkey to stand on its feet, shortly after birth. Oftentimes a jenny will be protective of the foal after foaling and can try to bite, kick, or even strike at people, even if she knows them. So care must be taken when interacting with a jenny and the baby donkey.

Caring for the foal as a donkey owner

Care must be made ahead of the jenny foaling or having her baby. Providing a well bedded and clean area for her to lie down and have the baby is ideal. Once the jenny has the foal, she and the foal should be watched carefully to make sure everything is alright and the foal starts to try to get up within a couple of hours of birth.

Care should be taken to make sure that the foal nurses properly from the jenny after foaling. Baby donkeys need to have not only the milk from its mother but also natural daylight which helps to produce vitamin D. This is because the milk itself won’t provide enough vitamin D. Therefore, providing regular, daily turnout for both the mother and the baby donkey is extremely important. Providing daily turnout also allows for the baby donkey to learn how to walk, trot and run which helps to build its muscles and lungs.

Mothers will teach the baby donkey manners and discipline. Also, having contact with other donkeys or horses will allow the baby donkey to learn to interact within a herd environment.

donkey foal
A foal on a farm

Donkeys might reject their babies

In the case that the jenny may reject the foal, it is also important that the foal receives the colostrum. Some jennies will allow for a person to milk her out which then can be fed to the foal, while others won’t allow to be milked out, and then a supplement must be used for the baby donkey.

A baby donkey that is rejected by its mother or when its mother dies is called an orphan. If the baby donkey is an orphan, it must be cared for by a person or another donkey (some non-mother donkeys will accept baby donkeys as their own) for a minimum of 5 months. There are ways to try and work with a jenny that rejects the baby donkey to get her to accept it. However, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Cow’s milk or goat’s milk can be used as a supplement for foals. However, goat’s milk has smaller fat particles which are often easier to digest for a baby donkey.


The average length of time that a baby donkey stays with its mother is about 4 months but can be as long as 6 months. This is unless something happens like the mother rejects the foal or the jenny and foal are living in the wild, then it is typically longer.


  • Julianna R

    Julianna is an ardent animal lover who has multiple experiences dealing with farm animals. She has worked as a pet care specialist and loves animals that come in all shapes and sizes. She is a writing enthusiast too and loves to tell her stories to the world through her words.

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