Donkeys – transport

Information about the requirements for transporting donkeys from one location to another.

Donkeys must be transported using suitable and appropriate vehicles.

The property where donkeys are kept must have a Property Identification Code (PIC).

All movements should be recorded in a travel diary.

Donkeys do not have to have their movement recorded with NLIS.

Approved activities Category
Loading and unloading animals onto transporters 3

Donkeys used in schools may need to be transported when purchased, sold, moved from paddock to paddock, for veterinary attention or in an emergency situation. It is important to be aware of aspects of transportation that may cause stress to the animals so that measures can be taken to make transport as pleasant and safe as possible.

Donkeys are generally cooperative travelers however this does not mean that they do not find the process stressful. Consideration and planning should be given to the following:

  • temperature
  • water
  • compatibility/not isolating animals
  • emergency situations.

As with all animals, adequate ventilation is required when transporting donkeys. During hot weather, it is recommended, where possible, to transport in the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. Transporting donkeys during hot weather can increase the risk of heat stress and dehydration.

In cold conditions ventilation may need to be restricted to prevent animals from becoming too cold due to wind chill factor. This would be an unlikely problem in an enclosed trailer or when multiple animals are traveling together. However, stock crates without solid walls, can expose donkeys to excessive wind and rain.

If donkeys need to be transported for a extended periods of time (4 hours or more) or during particularly hot weather, water and a small amount of feed should be provided. As with horses, it is not recommended to transport donkeys continuously for more than 10 hours without unloading them and allowing them to move around, drink and eat.

It is a good idea to carry some extra water when transporting animals in case animals appear to be over heating or in circumstances where donkeys are in transit for longer than planned.

The longer the trip, the more space each donkey will need. This prevents them from squashing each other, trampling, faeces contamination and overheating from a build up of body heat.

It is also important to avoid transporting animals together that have had a history of fighting or are incompatible. This is less relevant if using a horse float or truck with dividers for transport.

It is essential when transporting any animal to have an emergency plan and be prepared. There should always be enough correctly fitted halters for each animal being transported. A first aid kit should also be carried containing saline solution, pressure bandages, swabbing and antiseptic.

Loading and unloading

Vehicles suitable for the safe transport of donkeys should have the following safety features:

  • The interior and the doorway of trailer should be high enough to prevent head injury
  • The floor should be covered with non-slip rubber
  • There should be no gaps in the floor, lower wall or loading ramps where donkeys can catch their feet and legs
  • Gaps between the tailgate ramp and trailer floor should be covered.
  • There should be adequate ventilation.
  • The trailer should be free from any sharp edges or protrusions that may cause injury.

Suitable vehicles include horse floats/trucks and cattle/animal trailers. Sheep trailers are not an appropriate method of transport due to the height.

Donkeys that have been trained to tie up can be tied up in a float or truck as a horse would be, however, it is also appropriate to have donkeys standing loose in the trailer, truck or float similar to transporting cattle.

When unloading, it is important to do this in a controlled manner to prevent injury. If donkeys have been tied up for transport it is essential that they are untied prior to opening any unloading doors or ramps. This is to prevent animals pulling back and slipping or panicking in the trailer which can result in serious injury. Donkeys should be walked out slowly and controlled to ensure they do not fall or slip and have time to be aware of any step-downs.

If donkeys are not tied up in the trailer/truck/float, a headstall can be placed on them prior to unloading to ensure they disembark the trailer safely. Alternatively, the trailer or float can be parked in a safe enclosed area to allow the donkeys to unload in their own time, as long as the step down or ramp is safe. Another donkey or some feed can be used to encourage the others to follow out of the trailer or float.

Training donkeys to load and familiarising them with the trailer or vehicle is best performed when there is plenty of time to perform the task in a patient and calm manner. This will increase the donkeys’ willingness to load and prevent stress when transport is required.

Donkey being led by a handler Donkey being led by a handler
Image: It is important to have donkeys trained to load

It is also important to have animals trained to load in case of emergency. Evacuating animals is much easier, safer and quicker, in the case of an emergency, if they are previously trained and willingly load onto a vehicle.

Transportation during early pregnancy typically does not cause problems, as long as the donkey is accustomed to transport and will not become highly stressed. Transport during later stages of pregnancy should be avoided where possible. Seek veterinary advice before transporting a pregnant donkey.


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