|Bay, dark bay, black
|Draught, farm work, various physical duties
|Docile, calm, easy to work with
The Grand Noir du Berry donkey is a French breed known for its working ability and calm temperament. It was particularly common in Lignieres, Nerve, and Allier. However, the distribution extends to central and Northern France as well.
It is nearly unheard of to see this species outside of their native land—and these days, it’s pretty rare to find them in familiar territories, too. But let’s learn more about the specific breed and all it has accomplished over time.
Grand Noir du Berry Foals
3 Little-Known Facts About Grand Noir du Berry Donkeys
1. Grand Noir du Berry donkeys worked dutifully.
Today the Grand Noir typically accompanies trackers on the trail. They are used for both leisurely and competitive purposes.
2. A Grand Noir du Berry donkey was in a film.
In the old French film “Jour de Fete” from 1947, several scenes featured the Grand Noir! This goes to show the absolute importance and popularity of this particular donkey at that time. Even films reflected just how prevalent the breed once was.
3. Grand Noir du Berry donkeys helped impoverished people tremendously.
Even though this donkey is used for different purposes today, it used to lessen the workload agriculturally. Most of these donkeys lived in severely impoverished areas that relied heavily on the breed to get by.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Grand Noir du Berry Donkey
The Grand Noir du Berry donkey is a very intelligent breed, capable of learning challenging concepts. Like all donkeys, this particular breed has an incredible memory and full ability to learn in the right environment.
There was a study done in 2013 by The Donkey Sanctuary. Scientists found that donkeys have insanely efficient problem-solving skills at the exact same rate as dolphins and dogs, which is huge. Because of their retention, they can also harbor bad memories for a long time.
So, if a donkey has been abused or has undergone any neglect or poor situation, they can remember it for a long time. Much like horses, donkeys can also gather trauma and have behavioral problems because of it.
It’s important to remember that when you own a donkey, this creature has a vast amount of emotional intelligence. It would help if you always treated them with respect and kindness, so they can efficiently live their life.
Are These Donkeys Good for Families?
Because the Grand Noir is a very calm, docile donkey, they make really excellent additions to farms of any size. They are effortless to handle, making them fantastic first experiences for children who are learning the ropes on the farm.
You can expect a gentle, doting personality, providing an easy-working team to get the job done.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
Because donkeys are large creatures, caution is always warranted if you have them around other pets. But just like most farm animals, this donkey breed gets along very well with other animals, permitting they’re not pushed or tested.
If you have a particularly invasive dog who is annoying your donkey, the donkey might have a negative reaction and can kick as a consequence. This can wound smaller animals, so caution is always advised when you have any smaller animals around your donkey.
With proper introductions and supervision, donkeys will make a charming addition to your barnyard.
Things to Know When Owning a Grand Noir du Berry Donkey
The history of the Grand Noir du Berry donkey is a bit muddy. It is speculated that the breed was influenced by imported donkeys from Algeria during the 1950s, according to Wikipedia. In 1993, the Association Francaise de I’Ane Grand Noir du Berry Came into fruition.
Today, the current population is estimated to fall around 1,300 – all-encompassing central and northern France. Unlike in the past, these donkeys are used primarily for competition and leisure today.
Food & Diet Requirements
The exact brand you purchase for your donkey is completely up to you. However, donkeys require a high fiber, low protein, reduced carb, and low sugar diet. Typically, the feed contains barley, straw, or oat straw. Unlike some other grass-fed animals, you have to restrict a donkey’s grazing perimeter.
Sometimes certain donkeys can have a sensitivity to eating straw, hay, or grass. The typical reason for this is poor dentition, requiring the help of a dentist who specializes in farm animal breeds.
Breeds like the Grand Noir are very much bred for working purposes. The temperament combined with its large size makes it ideal for multiple avenues of job duties that include carrying, pulling, towing, and so on.
Donkeys are typically selected for these duties because they are slower-paced and easier to handle than horses. But that does not mean that they can’t get rowdy from time to time.
Donkeys are also excellent guardians of livestock. These animals are large and capable. If they sense a threat, they are not afraid to take charge of the situation and correct it. That is why farm owners often have a donkey in the field to protect other smaller farm life.
The concept of donkeys getting a bad rap for being stubborn didn’t come from thin air. Donkeys can be incredibly particular sometimes, simply not wanting to do the task at hand. This is a big inconvenience in certain instances, but it’s manageable nonetheless.
Donkeys are very emotional creatures that are capable of retaining tons of information. Some of them can be hard-headed, requiring a little more coaxing or a firmer hand. You can expect optimal results if you work with your donkey in a patient and respectful manner.
But it would be best if you never used negative reinforcement to try to get your donkey to do what you want. It’s always best to come from a place of complete complacency than to get emotional alongside them.
Typically, intact males should only be handled by very experienced people. You should not have a child or novice owner teaching an intact male, as it can cause injury or harm if they get upset.
You’ll have to keep up with routine brushing, hoof care, and general hygiene with your donkey. It is essential that you properly care for them to keep them their healthiest.
Luckily, when it comes to the coat, donkeys don’t need an awful lot of maintenance. You can do general brushing to remove dust, mud, and dirt. The rest is a breeze as long as you keep their coat debris free.
On top of routine coat care and other general maintenance, hoof care is of utmost importance. You should always have a farrier on hand who can help you out with your donkey’s feet to prevent any issues.
Health and Conditions
Like any other animal, donkeys require vet care from time to time, although if you are an experienced owner, you can give routine antibiotics and other tasks in your own barn. But for more advanced issues, it’s best to rely on professionals.
With appropriate care, donkeys are usually very sturdy animals with very few health conditions. But there are some things to consider. Here are the top problems donkeys typically face.
Male vs Female
The first notable difference between male and female donkeys is that the males are called jacks, and the females are called jennets. Even though donkeys only have 62 chromosomes and horses have 64, they can still breed to create mules. These offspring are always infertile.
While females tend to stay pretty relaxed, the hormones in an intact male donkey can be challenging to deal with. These males can get hyper-aggressive and even hurt or kill other small animals on the farm due to aggressive tendencies.
To prevent this entirely, it’s best to keep intact males away from other animals to the best of your ability. Intact males are also not the best choice for small children to handle. They can be very rambunctious and hard-headed.
It’s best to stick with female donkeys if you’re looking to be pretty hands-on.
If you live in the United States, you obviously can’t obtain one of these beautiful donkeys. However, that shouldn’t stop you from admiring this wonderful breed and all of the hard work they’ve accomplished over the years.
While numbers remain pretty scarce in their homeland, we hope that breeders’ associations will keep this breed up and running for many years to come.
Featured Image Credit: Ane grand noir du Berry La Celle-Condé (Image Credit: Eponimm, Wikimedia Commons CC 4.0 International)