Book Review: Donkeys: Miniature, Standard, Mammoth

Donkeys:  Miniature, Standard, Mammoth:  A Veterinary Guide For Owners And Breeders, by Stephen R. Purdy

I must admit that of all the books I have read on donkeys this is the one that I enjoyed the least.  Admittedly, that is not the fault of the author, but simply a recognition of the fact that his aims and mine are not the same.  I tend to enjoy thinking about donkeys with regards to their personalities or quirkiness or intelligence and I enjoy reading about their history as well as how they can be cared for and even how they appear in scripture.  None of these are matters that the author is particularly interested in, as he is focused narrowly on the question of how to care for the health of donkeys with special interest in the breeding of donkeys, which is an area that I have little interest in, which definitely affects my enjoyment of this book.  That is not to say that this book is by any means bad, but it simply is not as much fun for me to read this sort of account as it is for me to read something that is aimed at a wider audience.

This book is about 150 pages overall and is divided into several chapters.  The book begins with a very brief history of the donkey (1) and then moves on to discuss ways that the donkey is different from the horse in terms of its facial structure and genetic makeup, among other things (2).  There is a discussion of nutrition (3) as well as herd health (4).  The author then turns his attention to infectious diseases (5) as well as the issues that donkeys sometimes have in their digestive system with colic (6).  After that the author examines the musculoskeletal system and the problem that donkeys have with arthritis and other concerns in their feet (7) before closing the main part of the book with chapters on reproduction (8), including field breeding and anatomy, and then pregnancy, neonatology, and lactation (9), so that breeders may be able to care for pregnant mares as well as baby foals.  After that there are three appendices which provide normal physical examination parameters for donkeys, donkey reference ranges for blood hemogram and serum chemistry tests, and then resources for donkey owners after which there is a glossary and index for readers to find materials.

Nevertheless, even if this book is not written to appeal to me it is certainly an informative book about how to take care of donkeys.  Donkeys are truly animals with global importance and they are also animals whose care is somewhat more complicated than many other animals, especially when it comes to dealing with feet, something I can personally relate to given my own foot issues.  It is also interesting to see just how much donkeys are affected by colic, knowing how digestion is something that particularly matters to me when it comes to my own health.  I am not sure the extent to which the writer is attempting to encourage readers to empathize with the health concerns that donkeys face, but in his focus on matters of health and nutrition the author clearly is looking to help breeders maximize their income through providing the best possible health for their donkey herds, which is likely to be an expensive proposition when one considers all of the ways that donkeys would require potentially costly care when it comes to deworming or having their shoes replaced or dealing with various diseases or receiving the right kind of feed.  Perhaps the wise reader would reflect on this book and temper the expectations for wealth from one’s breeding efforts.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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