Donkeys and Mules


Donkeys are close relatives of horses.  The horse (Equus caballus) and donkey (Equus asinus) are members of the family Equidae. Donkeys have longer ears and smaller hooves than horses.  They also have a sparser mane and tail.  The sound they make is a bray.

Males are called jacks, while females are called jennets.  The Spanish word for donkey is “burro”. Today, the word “burro” refers to feral (wild) donkeys, while “donkey” refers to domestic donkeys.

Five breeds are recognized and registered in the United States: the Mammoth (or American Standard) Jack, the Large Standard Donkey (or Burro), the American Spotted Ass, and the Miniature Mediterranean Donkey. Mammoth Jacks are the largest.  They must be at least 56 inches high at the withers (top of shoulder). Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys are shorter than 36 inches.


A mule is a hybrid, which is an offspring resulting from a cross between two species.  A mule results when a mare (female horse) mates with a jack.  The offspring which results when a jennet mates with a stallion (male horse) is called a hinny.  Most mules are sterile and cannot produce offspring of their own.

Mules are hardy animals with stubborn personalities.  They were popular work animals during the early history of the Unites States.  George Washington and Henry Clay were the first people In the U.S. to make using mules popular.  The first jack to enter the U.S. was given to George Washington by the king of Spain.

Mules can withstand hotter temperatures and have fewer digestive and foot problems than horses.  Mules can transport goods to places cars and trucks can’t reach.  People use mules for doing work, packing, riding, pulling carts, pets, and companionship.  There are draft, pack/work, saddle/driving, and miniature kinds of mules.



Goats have provided people with milk, meat, and wool since prehistoric times.  Goat’s milk ranks third in the worldwide milk production, behind cow’s milk and buffalo milk.  It has a tangy flavor and because its composition differs slightly from cow’s milk, it can be safely drunk by people who are allergic to cow’s milk.

Adult male goats are called bucks or billy goats.  Adult female are called does or nanny goats and a goat less than a year old is called a kid.  Most goats live from 8-10 years.

Wild Goats

Wild goats live in rocky and mountainous areas.  They eat almost any kind of vegetation including bushes, leaves, and tree bark.  There are five species of wild goats. One of these is the ibex which can be found in the Near East, Sudan, Siberia, the Alps and on the Greek Islands.  The Rocky Mountain goat, found in Canada and the U.S., is not a true goat but a “goat antelope.”

Domestic Goats

Domestic Goats produce more than 1 ¾ billion gallons on milk and large quantities of wool.  Major breeds of dairy goats are the Saanen, Toggenburg, and Alpine. The Anglo-Nubian, or Nubian goat, is the most popular milk-producing goat in the United States and Canada.

Major wool-producing goats include the Angora and the Cashmere.  Angora’s wool is called mohair and comes from the outer coat of soft, shaggy white wool.  The Cashmere’s wool is called cashmere and is obtained from the goat’s fine, silky fleece which lies under a coat of long hair.

Domestic goats are kept in stables or graze freely and eat corn, oats, hay, roots, and silage.



Horses have a good sense of smell, sharp ears, and keen eyes.  They have strong teeth but eat only grain and plants, never meat.  Most horses also have good memories and can learn to respond to the slightest signals.  The life of an average horse is between 20 to 30 years.  Horses are commonly divided into the following three groups:


These horses tend to have small bones, thin legs and usually weigh less than 1300 lbs.  Included in this group are such popular breeds as the American saddle horse, quarter horse, Arabian, Lipizzan, and Appaloosa.  Cowboys used quarter horses for rounding up cattle because of their ability to start, stop, and turn quickly.

Heavy (Draft Horses)

As their name implies, these breeds of horses have large bones, thick sturdy legs, and can weigh more than 2000 lbs.  The Shire, the largest horse, developed in England after King Henry VIII had all horses less than 5 feet high destroyed as useless.  This group also includes the famous Budweiser horses, which are Clydesdales – a popular breed for pulling wagons in parades.


A pony is a horse that stands less than 58 inches high and weighs less than 800 lbs.  Ponies eat grass and hay and generally live longer than large horses.  A full grown Shetland Pony stands only 32-46 inches high.  Farmers in the Shetland Islands, north of Scotland, used to use these ponies to pull plows and wagons.  Miners in Wales developed the Welsh Pony to work in the coal mine tunnels.  Other pony breeds include the Hackney and the Irish Connemara.



Pigs, which originated in Europe and India, were the earliest animals to be domesticated.  They grow rapidly, averaging about three pounds per day.  Pigs average 10-15 piglets a litter.  Piglets weigh around two and a half pounds at birth and can reach 250 pounds.  Breeds of pigs can be distinguished by their hair color and whether they have droopy or erect ears.

Popular Breeds of Pigs


Yorkshires originated in England around 1893.  They are large animals, white in appearance, and have erect ears.  Yorkshires are excellent mother.


Durocs vary from light red to dark red color with drooped ears.  They are noted for their rapid growth and they also have excellent mothering abilities.


This breed originated in Kentucky in 1893.  Hampshires are black with a white belt around the shoulders and front legs and they have erect ears.

American Landrace

The American Landrace is a young breed, having originated in 1950 in Denmark.  Characteristics include large, white and long bodies.  American Landrace also have large drooping ears.

Poultry and Waterfowl


Poultry classifies Birds that are kept for eggs or meat. It includes chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and various other birds. Breeds are distinguished by descent, and physical characteristics such as plumage and color.


Three popular American breeds are Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, and New Hampshires – all of which lay brown eggs. Plymouth Rock is the most common meat-producing breed.

The White Leghorn of the Mediterranean breeds is the most common for commercial egg production. Its white eggs are the typical grocery store variety.

Males under the age of one year are called cockerels and males over one year are called cocks. Females under one year are called pullets and over one year, hens.


The American wild turkey, originally domesticated by the Indians, is the ancestor to all domesticated breeds. A full grown turkey can reach a height of three to four feet with a wingspan of four to five feet. The weight range for domestic turkeys is up to 60 pounds for a male and up to 26 pounds for a female.


Male ducks are referred to as drakes and females take the more common title of duck. Mallards, despite being classified as a species of river ducks, can generally walk on land better than other species. Pochards include the canvasback species, a favorite of North American hunters.


There are at least 15 species of geese and many more subspecies. The well-known Canadian goose is classified as a Black goose because of its black bill, feet, head, and neck. The classic barnyard goose is a Gray goose. These geese have gray or white heads and brownish to grayish or white bodies. Male geese are called ganders and females are referred to as geese.



It is believed that catholic monks were the first people to domesticate rabbits.  It is known that there was a great deal of trading of rabbits between the monasteries as early as 1194.  Since then, over 40 different breeds of bunnies have been developed.  Animals vary in size from the 2 lb. Netherland Dwarf to the Flemish Giant which can weigh over 15 lbs.!!!

Rabbits are raised for many different reasons; show, pets, fur, wool, scientific research and meat.

Bunnies are an excellent choice as a pet.  They can live as easily in a small apartment as in a large backyard.  They can be house trained much like a cat and they require no vet visits for immunizations.

They return hours of amusement and love since they easily bond to humans.

You should never buy a bunny to keep another bunny company.

These are very territorial animals and do not live well with another rabbit.

Some of the more popular breeds for pets are:

Holland Lop

  • Approximately four pounds when fully grown
  • Very friendly
  • Has ears that hang down
  • Comes in a variety of colors

Jersey Wooly

  • A tad smaller at 3 ½ pounds
  • Long Wooly coat but very manageable requiring some grooming
  • Extremely friendly and charming
  • Personality in Buck and Doe about the same

Mini Rex

  • Approximately 4 ½ pounds when fully grown
  • Fur which is 5/8” long. Appears to have a velvety texture
  • Friendly


Popular Breeds of Sheep

A breed is a group of sheep that have the same kind of wool and the same origin.  There are more than 200 breeds of sheep in the world today.


This breed originated in the Cheviot Hills on the border between England and Scotland.  The face, ears, and legs of the Cheviot are free from wool and are covered with white hairs.  The nostrils, lips, and feet are black.  Cheviot are good milk producers and have a medium textured, easy-to-spin wool.


Originating from Hampshire, England, this breed is one of the most popular.  The ears, face, and legs are dark brown to black.  The wool is of medium grade and is easy to spin.  A mature ewe will shear about eight pounds of fleece a year.


The Shropshire originated in Shropshire and Staffordshire counties in England.  The faces, ears, and legs are deep brown and the wool is a medium texture. Shropshires are a good milk producers and are good for breeding.


The Suffolk breed originates from Suffolk, England.  The faces, ears, and lower legs are black and are not covered with wool.  Suffolk sheep are excellent milk producers and adapt very well to different temperatures.  Their wool is a medium grade and easy to spin.


This breed originated in Dorset and Somerset counties in southern England.  Their faces, ears, and legs are white and virtually free of wool.  Their nostrils, lips, and skin are pink while their hooves are white.  Dorset sheep produce a lot of milk, and unlike most other breeds of sheep, can give birth at any time of the year. Their wool is a medium fleece and is good for hand spinning.


Corriedales originated in New Zealand where lamb and wool production are very important.  A mature ewe will shear 15 to 25 pounds of wool a year.  The wool is noted for its length, brightness, softness, and distinct crimp.  The face and ears care covered with white hair while legs have a heavy covering of wool.

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