There are only a few hundred donkeys turned-out in the New Forest, compared with thousands of ponies and cattle. But they are quite visible, often seen roaming in villages such as Beaulieu.
Donkeys are smaller and generally more docile than New Forest ponies. They are extremely hardy and can survive on the Forest all year round without having to be returned to the commoners’ holdings over winter. However, they are prone to lameness if their hooves are not regularly trimmed.
Donkeys prefer browsing trees and bushes to grass, and are occasionally unpopular with their human neighbours for nibbling an appetising hedgerow!
Commoners pay the same marking fees for donkeys as for ponies. Unlike pony stallions, male donkeys (jacks) are allowed to stay on the Forest all year round. Female donkeys are called jennies. The foals command a high price and can sell for £500 – more than double the value of a pony foal. Donkeys are generally kept as pets although they can be used for riding by children.