There are estimated to be 50 million donkeys (Equus asinus) and as many mules worldwide. They can be used for such applications as riding, driving, flock protection, companion, breeding, and training calves. Donkeys and mules are not small horses. They have anatomical and physiological differences compared to horses and their care requires special consideration. Structural differences compared to horses mean that they require specialized tack and harness for riding and driving (1).

Authors: Heather McClinchey MSx; Jeffrey Sankey , BSc, Ontario Veterinary College, Unversity of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada and Dr. Bob Wright, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Fergus, Ontario, Canada

Donkeys allowed to graze freely on rich pastures may be prone to obesity, laminitis (founder) and hyperlipidemia (excess of fat in the blood).

When you hear this phrase, a picture probably pops into your mind -- someone trying to drag a mule forward by a rope while the mule resists, digging its hooves into the dirt and refusing to budge. Or maybe you're picturing a donkey . If so, are both animals stubborn? For starters, let's discuss their differences. A mule is not an animal species, like a horse or donkey. It's a hybrid, or the product of two other species -- in this case, the pairing of a male donkey with a female horse. Donkeys have 62 chromosomes and horses have 64; mules are born with 63. This odd number of chromosomes means they can't reproduce [source: Lucky Three Ranch ].

Because they are hybrids with an odd number of chromosomes, mules, which are produced by breeding a horse and a donkey, are not generally able to reproduce. Mules have 63 chromosomes, while horses have 64 and donkeys have 62. In very rare cases, female mules have become pregnant after being bred to purebred horses.

Even though mules are incapable of reproducing in nearly all cases, they do still produce reproductive hormones and have urges to mate. For this reason, most male mules are gelded to make them easier to handle and more social. Gelded male mules are sometimes referred to as "John mules," while intact male mules are often called "stallion mules." Female mules are often called "Molly mules" or "mare mules."

Although often used to refer to any offspring of a horse and donkey pairing, the term "mule" technically refers specifically to the offspring of a female horse and a male donkey. When a female donkey and a male horse are bred, the resulting offspring is called a "hinny." Like mules, hinnies are sterile and have 63 chromosomes. Hinnies and mules have similar appearances, though hinnies tend to have rounder, more donkey-like hooves than mules. Hinnies also tend to be smaller than mules, and their heads tend to be more horse-like, featuring shorter ears and more refined features.

There are estimated to be 50 million donkeys (Equus asinus) and as many mules worldwide. They can be used for such applications as riding, driving, flock protection, companion, breeding, and training calves. Donkeys and mules are not small horses. They have anatomical and physiological differences compared to horses and their care requires special consideration. Structural differences compared to horses mean that they require specialized tack and harness for riding and driving (1).

Authors: Heather McClinchey MSx; Jeffrey Sankey , BSc, Ontario Veterinary College, Unversity of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada and Dr. Bob Wright, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Fergus, Ontario, Canada

Donkeys allowed to graze freely on rich pastures may be prone to obesity, laminitis (founder) and hyperlipidemia (excess of fat in the blood).

When you hear this phrase, a picture probably pops into your mind -- someone trying to drag a mule forward by a rope while the mule resists, digging its hooves into the dirt and refusing to budge. Or maybe you're picturing a donkey . If so, are both animals stubborn? For starters, let's discuss their differences. A mule is not an animal species, like a horse or donkey. It's a hybrid, or the product of two other species -- in this case, the pairing of a male donkey with a female horse. Donkeys have 62 chromosomes and horses have 64; mules are born with 63. This odd number of chromosomes means they can't reproduce [source: Lucky Three Ranch ].

There are estimated to be 50 million donkeys (Equus asinus) and as many mules worldwide. They can be used for such applications as riding, driving, flock protection, companion, breeding, and training calves. Donkeys and mules are not small horses. They have anatomical and physiological differences compared to horses and their care requires special consideration. Structural differences compared to horses mean that they require specialized tack and harness for riding and driving (1).

Authors: Heather McClinchey MSx; Jeffrey Sankey , BSc, Ontario Veterinary College, Unversity of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada and Dr. Bob Wright, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Fergus, Ontario, Canada

Donkeys allowed to graze freely on rich pastures may be prone to obesity, laminitis (founder) and hyperlipidemia (excess of fat in the blood).

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Posted by 2018 article

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