Here at Gemini Connect, we love donkeys, as evidenced by our donkey figurine collection below. As a result, it makes total sense that when we drove by a sign in Mount Vernon for miniature donkeys, we just had to stop and see what that was about. We collected the name of the miniature donkey business, JF Ranch Miniature Donkeys, and made plans to come back a couple weeks later to actually meet the donkeys and the owners.
JF Ranch is owned by Julie Jones and Todd Frankenfield. Their path to breeding and raising miniature donkeys began about 15 years ago when they fell in love with a friend's minis. They purchased their first jack (uncastrated male) and jennet (female) miniature donkeys from Meadowood Farms, owned by Loyal McMillian, who is part of the Nordstrom family. Today, Julie and Todd have a full host of miniature donkeys of all sizes, colors, and ages. Their miniature donkeys are bred and sold to others such as our friends at Hoehn Bend Farm .When we stopped by to visit, we found ourselves in a pen full of baby miniature donkeys and were instantly bombarded by them!
What is a miniature donkey?
In contrast to larger donkeys, miniature donkeys have a sweet, loving, and naturally curious disposition. They love attention and will vie for it every chance they get. Julie described the miniature donkeys as being more like oversized dogs, and we couldn't agree more. We spent an easy hour walking around the farm stopping to pet and play with them as Julie went on to recite their names and personality quirks.
We learned that these adorable creatures are a breed of their own and are not bred down from larger donkeys. They are native to the Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia but have made their way around the world. Currently, there are over 40,000 registered miniature donkeys in the United States. To be considered a miniature donkey, it must be under 36" or less that the shoulder, with the smaller ones being more prized. They also have incredibly long life spans averaging between 25-35 years.
Why have a miniature donkey?
Given their small statures and tame personalities, miniature donkeys typically aren't treated like their larger counterparts. Many people will keep them as pets, but they do need large spaces to roam, so farms are preferable. It's also important that pet owners choose a gelding (a castrated) donkey rather than a jack (uncastrated donkey). Miniature donkeys can also be trained to barrel race and do other sports and competitions, or they can be used as a pack donkey, as they were originally used in the Mediterranean. No matter what they are used for, one thing is for sure: these animals are incredibly cute and will steal your heart!