Pregnancy problems

How to Know if a Donkey is Pregnant

Graham Harper
By Graham Harper, Journalist specialized in animal welfare. May 30, 2017
How to Know if a Donkey is Pregnant

There are not many things that are cuter than a little donkey foal. If you are lucky enough to get first hand experience with a donkey's pregnancy and the birthing process, you must be informed. It is quite difficult to spot pregnancy in a donkey during the early stages. But, AnimalWised have a comprehensive guide for you to spot those signs and symptoms. As well as what to do and what not to do during the exciting birth. Keep reading as we explain how to know if a donkey is pregnant.

You may also be interested in: How Do I Know if My Cat Is Going Into Labor?

Symptoms of a pregnant donkey

The most obvious sign is quite simply an absence of heat periods, but these are often seasonal anyway.

The pregnant donkey (or jenny) may just look a little fatter for a long time and this fatness may only resemble pregnancy in the last month or so. It is also hard to spot pregnancy when you view a donkey from the front or back. Their pregnancy bump will be lower in the belly than normal excess fat and usually lean more to one side. specially if the donkey is viewed from the front or back. The bulge will be lower in the belly than normal fatness, and will very likely be more on one side than on the other.

Around 3 weeks before birth, her udder will be swollen due to milk production (lactation). Furthermore, she may even exude some milk a few days before the birth.

Shortly before birth, she will also exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

  • Her pelvic muscles will slacken and the bones around the top of her tail will become moveable.
  • The lips of her vulva may swell.
  • She will be more docile than usual.
  • More restless.
  • Have a lack of appetite

How long is a donkey pregnant for?

A jenny is pregnant for anything between 10 and 14 months. It is important to state that if the foal is born at 10 months, they are not deemed premature. For most of the gestation period, it is very difficult to know when a donkey is pregnant or not.

How to Know if a Donkey is Pregnant - Symptoms of a pregnant donkey

What happens when a donkey gives birth?

No matter what role you play in this donkey's life, your responsibility is to observe the birth and ensure nature is working its magic. Of course, please consult your vet if you have any questions regarding the preparation for the birth. Likewise, the aftermath.

How long is the donkey birthing process?

The whole birthing process takes about an hour from the first contractions. After her waters break (i.e. when the amniotic sac is broken inside the mother), the foal usually comes out forelegs first. On some occasions, the foal may come out in a different position. At this stage, it is important to clear the foal's mouth and nose of mucus - if the jenny seems relaxed enough for you to intervene.

If the foal doesn't seem to be appearing, help can be given by reaching in with a thoroughly disinfected arm. This is to ensure the front hoofs and head are pointing in the right direction - i.e. outwards! Fingernails must be cut to prevent scratching. If the foal is stuck with only one foot out, they may need a gentle push back in order to ensure that their forelegs and head are not bent backwards.

How to Know if a Donkey is Pregnant - What happens when a donkey gives birth?

Finally, when the adorable foal is out and the mother has rested for a few moments, their collective movement will break the umbilical cord naturally. Do NOT break or cut the cord, it should remain intact for as long as it can.

After less than an hour or so, the mother will pass out the placenta - which she may or may not eat- and start licking her baby all over.

The foal will of course struggle to stand at first, and keep on falling. If the jenny is an experienced mother, she will guide her baby to her udder once they have managed to stand, albeit shakily. Otherwise, if she is confused as to what should happen, for longer than an hour, then you can intervene.

This moment is of high importance as the foal needs their mother's milk (otherwise known as colostrum) to fight off diseases in their early stages of life. This milk must be taken within two hours after birth if possible.

How to Know if a Donkey is Pregnant -

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Know if a Donkey is Pregnant, we recommend you visit our Pregnancy problems category.

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Georgetta S
Hello, I have a pair of donkeys. They will be 2 years old in 2 months. The male constantly rides the female and breeds her approx twice a week. This has been going on for several months now. The majority of the time he just jumps on her back or find along side her biting and holding on to her neck. We have never had donkeys before. Is this normal behavior?
My Jenny has been bred to a miniature horse she has two black looking nodules in her lower vagina is this normal
I have two questions concerning the statement, "At this stage, it is important to clear the foal's mouth and nose of mucus - if the jenny seems relaxed enough for you to intervene." 1. what if the jenny will not let you intervene, will the foal be ok? 2. What do you use to clear it with, anything specific, like a towel? Thanks for your advice.
Administrador AnimalWised

If the mother does not let you intervene, but is not clearing away the mucus themselves, then it is essentially an emergency as the mucus can clog the airways and stop them from breathing. You will have to find a way to approach safely, not something easily done and not something you should do on your own. A clean towel will be advisable. Paper towels will not suffice and can leave unhelpful debris.
Hi there, I have a female donkey and am not sure if she is pregnant she has run with a jack before we got her.She has been passing urine and smelling it after and making funny noices with her mouth could you please tell me why she is doing this she has only just started this and we have had her for 4 months, I am unsure of her age thank you for your time Kind regards Sandra
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Sandra
Passing urine can be linked to both pregnancy or a urinary tract infection. Donkeys often make noise when they are stressed. In this situation we recommend consulting a veterinarian to find out whether or not your donkey is pregnant. Common signs of pregnancy in donkeys include: absence of heat periods, weight gain and a visible pregnancy bump in the lower belly.We hope this helps!
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How to Know if a Donkey is Pregnant