In their natural environment, donkeys are herbivores that mainly feed on grass, hay, and straw. However, most donkeys also like to eat fruits and veggies such as apples, carrots, bananas, pears, and turnips.

This leads many donkey owners into thinking their donkeys can eat all kinds of food, including bread. While donkeys can consume bread occasionally, it’s not the most suitable food option for them, which we’ll explain throughout the article.

Keep reading to learn the effect eating bread has on donkeys and why it’s not a good idea to feed it to your donkey.


What Should Donkeys Eat?

Donkeys are monogastric herbivores, so their primary diet consists of plant-based foods. They are designed to feed on leaves, grass, and other wildly available natural foods they can find in their surroundings.

While there are many foods you can feed your donkey, most of them should be given in moderation. Otherwise, your donkey could experience a range of health issues, which could be harmful in the long run.

So, which foods should donkeys eat? Typically, a donkey diet should consist of:
  • Straw
  • Hay
  • Silage
  • Grass
  • Dried sugar beet pulp
  • Succulents

miniature donkey eating
Image Credit: babeaudufraing, Shutterstock

Check out the chart below to see how frequently you should feed your donkey with specific foods and which foods to avoid.

Feed in Moderation
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Turnips
  • Pears
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Fresh mint
Do Not Feed
  • Cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower
  • Potatoes/tomatoes
  • Onions/garlic/leeks
  • Products that contain animal products
  • Dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Human food
  • Caffeine and alcohol

Can Donkeys Eat Bread?

Donkeys have outstanding digestive systems and can easily break down all kinds of foods. As we mentioned earlier, donkeys can eat bread, but it’s not the most suitable feeding option for these animals.

While they can consume bread, it’s not something you should practice in their regular diet as bread is too sugary. Also, the grains in bread are quite rich and typically hard to process. As donkey bodies are not built to process that amount of sugar, if you feed bread to your donkey frequently, it could quickly cause issues.

How Often Should Donkeys Eat Bread?

Most donkey owners give bread to their donkeys as an occasional treat, which is completely okay. As long as you feed bread to your donkey sparingly and include it in their diet from time to time, nothing bad should happen.

While it’s up to your discretion to choose the amount of bread you give your donkey, keep in mind that bread is high in sugar.

If you want to provide more bread, cut down on other sugary foods to create a balance. Too many sugary foods can quickly make your donkey obese and cause other health issues, including laminitis.

To prevent your donkey from getting sick, we advise feeding bread from time to time and as a treat instead of an actual meal.

close up donkey eating bread
Image Credit: Matthew Clemente, Shutterstock


Is Bread Good for Donkeys?

Bread might not be the best food choice for donkeys because of its high sugar, but in reality, it’s not all that bad. While there are many downsides to feeding bread to donkeys, it also has some benefits for them.

Potential Benefits of Feeding Bread to Donkeys

Let’s start with the positive sides of feeding bread to donkeys. Bread can provide your donkey with some valuable nutrients which are essential for your donkey to have enough energy throughout the day. However, you can only experience the positive sides of bread for donkeys if it consumes it in moderation.


Bread typically contains a lot of fiber which promotes positive gut health and helps with digestion while also helping to prevent overeating.


Although the protein percentage in bread commonly isn’t very high, it still contains protein. As this nutrient is essential for bone and muscle development, it benefits donkeys.


Bread contains carbohydrates that represent the main energy source for the bodies of most animals. Carbohydrates serve as the fuel which gives donkeys energy to go through their daily activities.


Bread is also rich in micronutrients such as:
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Riboflavin

Disadvantages of Feeding Bread To Donkeys


Donkeys don’t need a lot of sugar in their diet, and bread is high in sugar. Because of that, giving a lot of bread to your donkey could jeopardize its health. Sugar can cause equine metabolic syndrome and lead to obesity.


Can You Feed Bread To Baby Donkeys?

While adult donkeys can occasionally consume bread, you shouldn’t feed bread to baby donkeys (foals). Their bodies and digestive systems are still developing, and bread would harm their stomachs. Typically, a foal nurses from its mother until 8 months old and doesn’t need other foods in its diet. As a foal ages, generally avoid bread and opt for hay or pasture to introduce to them. Providing some healthy veggies is also a good idea, as long as you avoid vegetables from the brassica and nightshade family.

feeding donkey with bread
Image Credit: g_saka, Shutterstock

Tips For Feeding Your Donkey

Here are some tips for feeding your donkey that will help it become healthy and strong.

  • Feed your donkey with high-quality foods
  • Avoid any type of spoiled food
  • When making diet changes, ensure to do it gradually
  • Donkeys prefer to eat often and in small amounts
  • Don’t overfeed your donkey
  • Avoid harmful foods, human food, and foods high in sugar
  • Always provide a clean water supply
  • Don’t feed grass clippings to your donkey


Final Words

Donkeys can eat bread, and it can affect them positively if they consume it in moderation. However, if donkeys eat too much bread, they could become obese and develop health problems. Because of that, you should provide bread as an occasional treat only instead of including it in their regular diet.

Featured Image Credit: Evgeni Tcherkasski, Pixabay